Recovering From Interview Blunders: Part 2

InterviewBlunders_pt2_Oct2011_webIn part one of recovering from interview blunders, we talked about the importance of acknowledging the mistake and apologizing. It could be worse to ignore the mistake and let it linger. Interviewers can be more forgiving than you expect, but what do you do after apologizing?

Falling down may be easy, but picking yourself back up can be the biggest challenge as you continue the interview. When you feel like you have a lot of ground to cover, just remember to keep your head.

Stay Calm and Professional

Many times it’s not necessarily the mistake that is judged, but how the situation is handled, that employers will notice. The important thing to remember is to remain calm and collected after a mishap, like receiving a phone call after forgetting to set your phone on silent, even though panicking may be your initial reaction. Don’t dwell on your mistake and focus on the question that is being asked so you can answer with confidence.

Always try to turn the situation into something you can use to show your professional skills. So what if you forgot your portfolio, didn’t bring extra résumés, or left a relevant fact off your résumé? If you’re quick enough, you can come up with a response like “I wanted to discuss the specific skills and accomplishments that are most important to the company. This way I can better demonstrate the sort of skills you are seeking.”

A good example of this is a scene from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness where Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, was arrested the night before his interview and had no choice but to show up wearing his painting clothes. Being calm, collected, and aware of his situation helped him get the job he was after. You can watch the clip below.

Please note, the video clips herein and their sponsors do not necessarily represent the views of Express and are used for educational purposes only.

You can remember this point with a brief history lesson. During World War II, the British government released a motivational poster and slogan to raise morale. Despite it being a popular fashion trend in today’s society, it can still have a lot of meaning if you remember it during your interview. If you’ve made an interview blunder, just “keep calm and carry on.”

For part three, click here!

Recovering From Interview Blunders: Part 1

Avoid Interview BlundersInterviewing can be one of the scariest parts of the job search. While being asked to interview means a potential employer is interested and feels that you are qualified for the position, you still only have a short amount of time during that interview to promote the best possible you. From the moment you step into the building to the moment you leave the parking lot, your actions, words, and posture will be compared and contrasted with other potential candidates. It can feel like one false move could cost you a potential career.

That scenario can make anyone looking for a job, especially their first, seem dreadful. Interviews are as big of an opportunity for you as it is for the employer. It’s a chance for you to see if the company environment and position is right for you. But, it is still a nerve racking process for some, and what you do influences all employers final decision.

You may feel like making small mistakes will mean all hope is lost for getting the job, but don’t give up so soon! Check out these tips to help you quickly recover from a big blunder and still show an interviewer why you are right for the job.

Acknowledge the Mistake And Apologize

Interviewers are human too and often understanding of the pressure you feel, but they will expect some mild form of apology or redemption if you make a blatant error. If you end up being late and neglect to contact the interviewer, quickly apologize, but resist the temptation to make up an excuse, just state the facts.

Companies and leaders have faced tremendous scrutiny when hiding and ignoring their mistakes. Remember Enron? Transparency is important in today’s business world. If you openly admit to a mistake and apologize, the interviewer can be impressed by your genuine character.

People are more likely to forgive than what most of us might think. Owning up to your blunders can be very disarming, especially if you understand the value of the lesson you learned. If you walk in with a noticeable stain on your clothing, you can say, “I’m very sorry about the stain. I didn’t realize it was there. In the future I’ll bring an extra change of clothes.”

Sometimes it may take you a few bone-headed mistakes to learn your lesson. If anything, you’re now ready to face whatever comes your way and have a leg up for your next interview. Do you have any interview blunders? Please share what you’ve learned and how to become a better interviewee.

For part two, click here!

3 B’s to go From Holiday Help to Full-Time Hire

holiday help to full time jobStaffing Industry Analysts, a global publication specializing in staffing industry news, data, and trends, is expecting hourly hiring managers to employ more temporary workers this holiday season than in the past holiday seasons. With seasonal hiring trends expected to increase, now would be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door with a company through temporary holiday work. While these jobs may only last a few months, try to see them as auditions where you can showcase your skills to potential employers. Also, when working through a staffing company, your work for a holiday client could be a good way to demonstrate your talents for full-time work with other client companies.

Working a holiday job gives you a chance to understand the company’s culture and values from the bottom up and will help make you a strong candidate for promotion when the job you really want is available. Kurt Kuehn, senior vice president and CFO of UPS, Inc., started as a temporary driver for the holiday season in 1977 and worked his way up in the company to eventually become CFO in 2008.

Check out these three B’s to help you stand out from the crowd, make the most of your temporary job, and possibly turn it into a full-time career.

Be Available
To better your chances of getting hired, offer to work flexible hours like weekends, nights and days on or around the holidays. The more availability you have, the more likely you are going to get more hours. You should treat the hiring process as seriously as any other job you have applied for. Dressing professionally for the interview and sending a thank you note or email afterwards will help you stand out. If you have a professional background, inform your interviewer and ask how you could be considered for other roles after being in a holiday position.

Be Attentive
Now is the time to flex those soft skills. Once you’ve been hired, look for ways to use your talents and skills to improve your work. Try taking on some extra duties, volunteering to lead team projects, working in other departments, or performing other tasks when opportunities arise. Working hard with strong enthusiasm combined with fulfilling duties the full-time employees usually avoid will help get your managers attention and increase your chances of them thinking of you when they need to fill an open full-time position.

Be Assertive
You should keep in mind that you are temporary, and there may be tasks of full-time core employees you aren’t eligible for. You could be qualified and there could be tasks in other offices that relate to your previous education or experience, but that isn’t your role as a holiday hire. You’ll have to earn their trust with your availability and determination, and letting your work speak for itself.  If you are working as a temporary associate working through a staffing company, let them know you would be interested in a full-time job and want to take a larger, more active part in the company you are assigned to.

With the holidays quickly approaching, the demand for temporary hiring will increase. If you are looking for work or are between jobs, consider temporary holiday work to earn some extra money while opening some doors to help you eventually find the right job that best fits you. Do you have any success stories where you moved up in a company after starting in a temporary holiday position? We’d love for you to share in the comments below.

Showcase Your Soft Skills and Make Them Shine

Showcase Your Soft SkillsWhen looking for a job, you’ve probably come across opportunities requiring experience using certain types of abilities called hard skills. Hard skills are technical or administrative procedures related to an organization’s core business that are easy to observe, quantify, and measure. Like a dentist’s ability to fill a cavity or a carpenter’s aptitude for crafting a chair.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are sets of interpersonal attributes that have to do with how people relate to each other: communicating, problem solving, listening, conflict resolution, giving feedback, and contributing in meetings. A secretary’s social ability to relate and take an active interest in visitors to an office is considered a soft skill.

Employers tend to put more emphasis on hard skills when describing a job, but soft skills play an important role in day-to-day operations and shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’ve just graduated from college and lack real world experience, are looking to switch careers, or are wanting to stand out from qualified applicants who share your skill set, you can bring attention to your soft skills on your résumé or interview.

Assess Yourself

You should have a list of hard skills and examples of what you’ve done with them from your education and previous work experience, but try to evaluate yourself and see what kind of interpersonal skills you have. Are you often in a leadership position? Have you produced good work when you were in a pinch? Do you know how to prioritize tasks and work on a number of different projects at once? Try listing your best qualities and adapt them to the job opportunities you are interested in.

Keep it Real

Think about specific examples of how you have used your soft skills. Just like hard skills, try to share how you used your soft skills to benefit a previous employer, school project, or group initiative. If possible, include any numeric data like money saved, teams managed, customers served, or people participated. Combining these examples with the accomplishment made from your technical skills will help you appear more well-rounded on your résumé and in interviews.

When you learn how to make soft skills work for you, they can go hand-in-hand with experience and hard skills to help you become more marketable and desirable to employers. What are some of your favorite soft skills and how have you used them to land a new job?

High Powered Foods to Buff up Your Breakfast

Powerbreakfast_oct2011_webFinding time in the morning to cook and eat breakfast can be a difficult task.  When living a busy and stressful work life, you need every minute you can get. Experts show breakfast is the most important meal of the day by relating skipping breakfast with type 2 diabetes. When you wake up, your body hasn’t consumed anything in more than eight hours and what you eat or don’t eat affects your metabolism and overall health.

Skipping breakfast can also lead to a lack of energy at work, which can impact your concentration and productivity. For many, settling for quick and easy items such as donuts, sugary cereals, and pastries on the way to work is normal, but those foods are unhealthy and can give you a short burst of energy with a sugar high that leaves you even more tired than before.

It’s important to have a mix of carbohydrates and proteins to not only give you a boost of energy, but also to help you maintain energy throughout your day. Most people know they need to eat better, but they may be tired of the same old bowl of oatmeal every morning. So here are some tasty breakfast ideas full of energy so your job performance can run on high-octane fuel.

Wonder Yogurt

Low-fat dairy products keep nervous systems going and can also keep you feeling full and satisfied. For extra nutrients, consider adding nuts or dried fruit to your yogurt. This can easily be put into a portable container and taken to work if time is of the essence. A quick way to add some variety and flavor to the healthier, but sometimes tasteless fiber rich bran cereal, is to replacing your milk with about eight ounces of lemon or vanilla yogurt. 

If regular cereal doesn’t sound appealing, consider layering granola or weat germ, fruits and berries, and yogurt into a parfait. There are several varieties and mixes of fruits you can try.

Super Smoothies

If you want to expand on using fruits and other natural ingredients but are constantly on the go, consider taking advantage of the breakfast smoothie. Not only are they sweet and flavorsome, but they’re healthy and give you energy too. Antioxidants and other phytochemicals in fruits can improve brain function and give you the same energy from your office coffee mug of caffeine without the midday crash.

There are several different recipes and combinations of smoothies that utilize common and exotic fruit. You can drink them during your commute or enjoy one at the office without disrupting your fellow co-workers.

Even though sugar from fruits is much healthier than processed sugar used in most pastries, try to avoid sugary smoothies and focus more on protein based smoothies as often as possible.

Whole Grain Heroes

Sometimes you’ll be stuck at a desk or station for a very long time, and you won’t always have access to a snack. Having foods with high protein like nuts and seeds keeps your metabolism under control and will help you stay full while at work because small amounts of fat help maintain energy and keep hunger at bay.

One easy way to make sure you get your whole grains and protein is to bake and prepare breakfast foods ahead of time. Foods like almond-honey bars can last for days and are easy to grab when you are in a hurry.

Just because work occasionally demands more of your time doesn’t mean you should ignore your health. Your well-being and energy can directly affect your job productivity and routine. Enjoying a nutritious breakfast doesn’t have to be time consuming and can help you tackle your busy schedule head on. What have you had for breakfast that keeps you full of energy?

Top Job Search Time Wasters And Tips to Avoid Them: Part 2

Job search time waste 2_Oct2011_webWhile there are many ways to make your job search more effective, there are little things that can slow down the job search too. You may feel like it will be easy to avoid getting distracted since you have a large amount of free time without a full-time job, but the newly found freedom can work against you. Sometimes, you could be slacking off in your search and not even realize it.

In part one of Top Job Search Time Wasters, we reviewed methods on how to avoid stress and the use of the internet to distract you from searching for a job. Here are a few more ways you could be wasting time during your job search and what you can do to avoid them.

Applying Anywhere

Aspiration during your job search is an important quality to have, but you also have to be realistic. Not only do you have to be ready to accept that maybe finding your dream job isn’t possible right after college or during this economy, but also know that being too broad in your job search can end up wasting your time.

If you’re not having much luck finding a job, it can get frustrating and you may resort to blasting your résumé for positions you may not be qualified for. Considering your résumé will more than likely only be seen by an automated keyword scanner that looks for specific words and phrases related to the job description, you’re hindering yourself. There are hundreds of frustrated job seekers doing the same thing, which is causing employers to be more selective of their candidates. The competition is too aggressive.

If you’re thinking about a role that requires a skillset that is different than your own or are wanting to switch careers,  find out what training and education you’ll need to get first before making the switch.

Safety in Solitude

Social networking sites like LinkedIn have made it easier for job seekers to connect with employers all across the world. But, don’t fall into the trap of making the internet your only source of networking and job finding. It’s easy to be a hermit and check job boards, but in-person contact is also important. 

Now is the time to reach out through your friends and family to find potential leads. Most people find a job through someone in their network. According to the New York Department of Labor, 70 – 80% of jobs are found through networking. Last year, we polled our readers they agreed that in-person networking is more efficient.

There are several places, sources, and methods for effective networking. When you meet new contacts in person, you can use social media tools to follow up and grow those connections into solid job leads.

Looking for employment can be difficult and a lot of hard work. Sometimes it’s good to stop working and relax your mind after a long period of searching and networking. But, with stressful times and increasing competition, it can be easy to give your mind a break and rest longer than you should. If you remember to avoid the traps that can keep you distracted, you can keep yourself ahead of the competition with your razor-sharp focus.