Tag Archives: interviews

5 Steps to Getting a Job Offer

From job search to interview to final offer, we’re here to help.

A job search is stressful for numerous reasons. Chief among the rest—you need money to support yourself and your family. Secondary concerns include finding your professional persona, the sheer force of will and attention it takes to job search for hours every day, and the fear that comes after each interview (did I get the job or not?).

Here at Movin’ On Up, we recognize that all of these stresses make it hard to keep going. It can be easy to give up. But we won’t let you. We’re here to encourage you with a plan for each stage of the job search process.

  1. Job Search

Searching online. Networking. Social media. All cogs in the job search machine. You have to search to get a job—that much is obvious. The problem is the job search is a job in and of itself. If you really want to get anything out of it, you have to put time into it. Eight hours a day if you can. It’s not just a hobby or a side activity. When you’re unemployed, the job search is your job. Except that you won’t see a payoff until you land the job.

Don’t forget to organize the needs a job must meet for you. These include salary requirements, paid time off, and insurance requirements, among other things. If you aren’t sure what kind of salary you should be shooting for, go online and find out what others in similar positions are being paid. Glassdoor.com is a great resource for this.

What can you do to make the search easier? Job search in bursts. Don’t spend your entire day staring at the screen. Take a break every once in a while to take a walk or talk to a human being.

You should also set goals and keep track of your progress each day. That way you’ll see that you’re making headway every day, bit by bit.

Above all else? Vary your job search. Don’t put all of your eggs into the online job search basket. Talk to a recruiter at a staffing agency. Attend networking events. Politely and tactfully ask friends and family members if they know of any job openings. Be on LinkedIn and Facebook—even if you don’t see the point in social media, there’s no reason not to be online. Creating an account is incredibly easy.

If your talent is something you can develop in your spare time, do it. If you’re a writer, write. Try to find some freelance gigs. If you’re a receptionist see if you can improve yourself in that area with online training. Your personal development plan will vary depending on your job field.

Avoid locking yourself into one type of job. Look at your skills and apply them to other industries. It’s much easier to find a job when you have a job. So, even if the job listings you see aren’t for your dream job, those jobs can nonetheless be stepping stones on your way to the top.

  1. Before the Interview

Congrats! All of that hard work has paid off. You have an interview. Now what?

Don’t let your job search efforts go to waste. Treat this like the last interview you’ll ever have. Research the company online. Know their mission statement and their company culture. Try to find information on what could be your future department and who your interviewer is. If there are any videos online, find them! The first step to succeeding in any interview is being well prepared. Start a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview. You want the interviewer to see that you truly want the position.

The night before your interview, try to get rid of anything that could possibly make you late. Set out your clothes, find your keys, and get plenty of sleep. Make sure the coffee is filled, and figure out a healthy breakfast plan.

Use Google maps or another navigation tool to plan your route ahead of time. Doing all of this now will make the next day much easier.

  1. The Interview

This is it. You’re in the interview room. First thing? Be nice to everyone. Even if the receptionist spills coffee all over your shirt. You never know who has a close relationship with the boss, and you want to look good. Plus these could be your future coworkers! There’s no reason to bring a bad attitude to work.

Once you’re in the room with your interviewer, shake their hand. Make eye contact. But try to avoid staring into their eyes the entire interview.

Answer any questions with the truth. The short truth. Don’t talk about your family or your feelings. Those are important, but not to your interviewer. Not now at least. Save those stories for when you get the job.

And when the interviewer asks if you have any questions? Say yes. Then ask the questions you carefully prepared the night before. They should be about the position, about typical days in the office, and about the company culture. Questions that are not only helpful for you, but also show your interest in the company itself. Make sure to ask about next steps. When you know the company’s plan for next steps, you can adapt your follow-up plans to that schedule.

  1. After the interview

As soon as you can, write a handwritten note to your interviewer. Reference your interview with a note about something you truly found interesting. Remember, you want to show that you care.

Since you definitely nailed the interview, pour all of that positive energy into continuing the job search when you get home. Show them all how awesome you are.

If you don’t hear back within the time-frame specified by your interviewer, don’t be afraid to contact them again. Bring up another reason this job is right for you, and then let it go.

  1. The job offer

It’s finally happened. You got the call. Now you have to negotiate. Be smart. You know your budget and how much money you need (at least at a minimum). If interviews are few and far between, you may need to choose between waiting longer for your dream job and taking something not as great in the meantime. Just remember—this one job doesn’t have to be the end all be all. Any job is better than no job when you have bills to pay.

Have any questions about any of the job search steps? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Age Discrimination in the Job Search

The job search involves plenty of rejection—most of us have experienced it to some degree. Unless a particular interview question stumped you, it’s usually difficult, if not impossible, to know why you didn’t get the job. However, when you’re over a certain age, there’s a chance another factor is at play.

Maybe they said you were overqualified even though you knew the position was a stretch for you. Or perhaps they asked extensively about your computer skills, and didn’t seem to believe your answers. It’s even possible one of your friends worked for the company, and you knew for a fact it came down to you and one other applicant with the same skillset as you. But they were younger.

Age discrimination in the job search is a problem. As reported by Workforce, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination complaints have risen dramatically in recent years. In fact, “between 1997 and 2007, 16,000 to 19,000 annual complaints were filed, compared to 20,000 to 25,000 filings per year since 2008.”

In the face of such odds, finding a job can seem hopeless. After all, you can’t change your age—it’s a part of who you are. So what can you do?

Revise Your Resume

If you aren’t getting interviews and think it may be due to your age, remove any graduation dates from your resume. Although this can be a minor red flag to potential employers, it’s better than being completely discounted because of your age.

Next, only put the last 10 – 15 years of work history on your resume. Everything else has to go. This work experience is what is relevant, and best reflects your current skills. Your older work experience is by no means worthless, but the lessons you learned in those positions are hopefully reflected in more current job responsibilities. Most importantly, listing such a long job history can make your age more obvious.

But what if you haven’t been in the workforce for a number of years? This is a common problem faced by stay-at-home parents, individuals that suffered long-term illnesses, and those who spent years taking care of sick friends or relatives. One thing you can do is retool your resume to focus on accomplishments. Make a functional resume that centers on skills and abilities first and the companies you worked for second. This can help the reader focus on what you are capable of as a worker rather than when you last held employment.

Train Up

Various certifications or degrees make sense for certain jobs. If you want to apply for a job requiring special training, make sure to get the required education. If you’re already competing with other applicants based on age, you don’t want to compete with them on education as well.

Online Profiles

If you are applying for a professional position, you might want to create a Linkedin.com account. LinkedIn is the go-to networking tool for professionals. Research what a LinkedIn profile account should look like (you will need a professional headshot, as well as a well-formatted online resume).

You also may want to consider creating (or, if you already have one, updating) your Facebook account. Employers like to see that you have a life outside of work, one that supports their mission and values. You can also set certain restrictions on what people view on your Facebook page.

Interview Honestly

Hopefully your updated resume got you in the door. Now is your chance to shine. When you meet face-to-face, it’s obvious that you’re older. But still avoid actually mentioning your your age. Steer clear of dates as well.

Let them know why you’re right for the job. Talk about moments when you successfully delivered measurable results, not stories about how many years of experience you have. Your experience should come through in your accomplishments. Some employers stereotype mature applicants as being “tech-challenged,” so, if you have experience with technology, find an opportunity to mention that as well.

Use a Recruiter

If none of the above works? Consider a recruiting service. Because of their connections to local businesses, recruiters know about jobs you might never hear about. They’re experienced with helping others in your same situation. Their services are often free, so using a recruiting service can basically be two times the job search power for zero extra cost.

Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa, and can help out with these kinds of problems. If you have any questions about your job search, feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.

 

Have you been discriminated against because of your age? If so, were you able to work around it to find employment? Let us know in the comments below!

What to Do When You Really Are Overqualified

Your interview felt perfect. You knew all the answers and your resume was shining with experience. But you didn’t get the job. They said you were “overqualified.” It wasn’t an excuse. They meant it. You really and truly were overqualified.

Think you may be overqualified for the jobs you’re applying for? Here are our top tips to help you ace your next interview regardless.

Make Sure You Want It

Before doing anything else, you need to figure out whether you actually want this job or not. There are two main reasons companies turn away overqualified applicants. The first is lack of funds. They don’t have enough money set aside to pay what your experience is worth. The second is that you could be a flight risk. A late career change may be seen as a risky hire. They don’t want your time at the company to be a short detour from your main career path.

So before even applying to a position you’re overqualified for, decide why you want the job. Is it because you’re ready for a career change? If so, make sure you realize it could mean a pay cut. What matters is where you are in your life now. What you want now. Not your past salary or education. And be prepared stay at this job for at least a few years. If this is what you want, you need to commit.

Leverage Your Network

Now that you know you truly want this, it’s time to let your network know. If your potential interviewers are skeptical of whether you actually want the job or not, it’s time to bring in backup. They are more likely to trust a mutual acquaintance over a faceless applicant.

Your network can also help you find job opportunities. You might have a contact out there with a friend who would love to hire someone overqualified, but just doesn’t have the budget. You’re a perfect fit, but your contact won’t ever know it if you don’t tell them!

Tailor Your Resume

A resume is usually a chance to go all out. It’s a chance to shine, to list all of your accomplishments for the world to see. But when you’re overqualified, perhaps not all of those accomplishments are related to the position you’re applying for. It can be difficult for human resources to sift through a packed resume to find which accomplishments match up to the position.

A resume tells a story. It paints a picture of you as a potential employee. But if there are too many brush strokes, the end result might be a painting that’s too fancy for the room in which it’s being placed. Consider your words carefully, and customize your resume for the position. Focus on skills first, then accomplishments.

This is where staffing agencies can help. Recruiters are your advocates and personal brand ambassadors. Their insider knowledge allows them to highlight and promote your most marketable skills. As noted by Bettye Taylor, a recruiter from a local Express office, “a recruiter can sell the transferable skills where they will be noticed, versus those skills being glossed over when submitting a resume to a website.”

And retooling your resume can show real results. “Many times I’ve had candidates reconstruct their resume from a chronological one to a functional one, highlighting those top three to five transferable skills and functions, and then list accomplishments and achievements under those,” she says. “You won’t believe what a difference that makes.”

Be Honest

When it comes to the actual interview, be honest. Address the elephant in the room. Let the interviewer know why you’re interested in the position. If it’s because of a career change, let them know why you’re making that change. Tell them that you’re really in this for the long haul.

And be positive! Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by thinking they’ll just tell you you’re overqualified. Interviewers want to see that you’re an actual human being they would enjoy working with. So be real!

Have you ever been rejected due to being “overqualified?” Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Poll Results: What Training Style Do You Prefer?

Toward the end of March we asked our Movin’ On Up readers what their preferred training style was: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, or ‘Other.’ We wanted to find out how our readers learn. We’ll start off with the results, and then review interview tips for each type of learning style.

Results

So, what did our readers have to say? Forty-eight percent of you identified as visual learners. Another 39% connected as kinesthetic and tactile learners. Eight percent chose ‘Other’ (mostly deciding you were some combination of all three learning methods), and only 5% identified as auditory learners. Here’s what all of that means:

Visual Learners

These learners associate memories and topics with things they can see—pictures, images, and their own spatial understanding. To prepare for an interview, take in as much information as possible. Read every website, memorize relevant terminology, and take a look at a few graphs and diagrams.

“I get my interview tips from online blogs and webinars. Flashcards are my favorite way to memorize facts about a company,” says a visual learner.

Auditory Learners

These audiophiles associate memories and topics with what they hear—sounds and music. Find videos and podcasts, both from the companies you’re interviewing with and from individuals and businesses prominent in the field. Consider recording questions to quiz yourself with and listen to them before bed.

An auditory learner might say “Podcasts are my go-to for interview tips. If I do read a blog or something, I usually put on some of my favorite music.”

Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners

They prefer to use their body and sense of touch to remember and process things. Think of this as the “hands-on” learning method. You might not be interested in all of the research visual learners do, so get used to prepping in a different way. Try to find friends to hold mock interviews, and really experience the interview in your mind.

“I try to get as hands-on as possible when it comes to learning about interviews. Seminars are great, especially if I actually get a chance to act out interviews or do a little role-play,” notes a kinesthetic learner.

Other

Those that chose ‘Other’ opted for a combination of all three learning methods.  A mix of interview prep techniques will be best for these types of learners. That custom mix will get you interviewing like a pro in no time!

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Anything else you want to tell us about your preferred training style? Let us know in the comments below!

When it’s Okay to Ask About Pay

ask_about_pay_webIf the world were perfect, hunger would be eradicated, chocolate wouldn’t have calories, and you could go in to every job knowing exactly how much you’re going to get offered. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. So, how do you find out a job’s salary when you’re in an interview?

Depending on the company, the salary range might be posted in the ad. However, these numbers are usually “commensurate to experience,” meaning companies want to evaluate candidates’ work history before offering a hard number. This is not uncommon. Don’t go into an interview expecting the exact number that is listed, because nine times out of 10 you won’t be offered that.

If the job description doesn’t include a salary range, you’ll want to research what a typical salary for that position might be before the interview. This will give you an idea of how much the employer might be willing to offer.  There are several websites available out there that can help you accomplish this.  What range you fall into is determined by your education and experience, the size of the company, as well as where you live. Pay for a job can vary widely depending on location. Companies want to make sure they are getting the most qualified individual and are willing to pay for that experience.

At some point in the hiring process, you might be asked about your salary expectations. If this happens in the early stages of the interview process, try to deflect. Show the people you are interviewing with that money isn’t your first priority—because when it comes down to it, you are working with people on projects. Focus on finding out more about the job itself, because there will be plenty of time to discuss dollars and cents down the road.

In general, it’s best to let the employer bring up salary. In many circles, it’s considered gauche to ask about salary upfront. Sure, you could work it in to the conversation, but you may risk putting them off in the process. According to experts, it’s best to wait for the potential employer to bring up the topic of salary—and it will be brought up. We all work to make money, so whenever the salary discussion comes up, figure out what salary you want, and then ask for a little more to allow room for compromise.

This is where your salary research will pay off—by having a competitive wage ready, you’ll not only feel prepared and confident, but they will appreciate that you did your research. If you aren’t comfortable with naming a number, use key words and phrases like the following:

  • “I’m very excited to work with you, and trust you will offer a fair and competitive salary.”
  • “I would like a salary comparable to my experience and value.”
  • “Money is important, but there are other topics that are relevant that we should discuss. Could we revisit this question later, after we discuss the company and the position more?”
  • “Until I know more about the position and benefits, it’s difficult to give you a hard number.”

If you can, avoid naming an exact figure.  You might be short-changing yourself.

Remember, it isn’t just the salary that counts. There are other perks and benefits to working with an organization that should be considered—such as 401(k), insurance, vacation, and health benefits. Remember to get the big picture from whomever you’re interviewing with—it isn’t always about the salary.

Do you have any tips for asking about pay? If so, leave your tips in the comments below!

 

5 Tips to Communicate with Hiring Managers

communicate_with_hiring_managersSome job seekers think a top-notch resume is everything they need to seal the deal on a new career opportunity. It’s definitely part of the process, serving as your go to tool to help get your foot in the door at a company and hopefully land an interview with a hiring manager. But, once you land the interview, the real pressure begins. An interview usually means that you’re a top candidate for a job but are still in competition with a few other equally qualified individuals.

So, how do you become the standout applicant who gets the offer? Here are a few top tips on what hiring managers are looking for and how to communicate with them to increase your chances for success.

1. Be professional.
From your very first email or phone call with a hiring manager to the end of your interview process, you are being observed for your professionalism. In all communication, respond in a timely manner, check your spelling on emails, and keep your tone kind and business focused rather than personal. Once you have been asked to come in for an interview, brush up beforehand on your business etiquette tips and ways to dress to impress. Remember to arrive 10 minutes early with extra copies of your resume and a notepad in hand. Your goal should be to make a great first impression and then continue impressing those you meet.

2. Be genuine and show your personality.
Hiring managers are going to work with you if you get the job and are also going to be held responsible for hiring you, too. So they want to make sure you’re a good fit for the company’s culture and the team you’d be working with. Being in competition with other applicants who are also trying to make a great impression, you need to show the hiring manager why you’re the best fit. Connect with their personality during the interview and the odds will be more in your favor.

3. Know your motivations.
A hiring manager is curious about your motivations. Why are you looking for a new job? Why are you applying for this job? Why do you want to work for this company? What are your biggest career motivators? Be ready to speak to these questions honestly, positively, and professionally. A hiring manager will also check to make sure what you say matches up with the research they’ve done on you and what your references say about you.

4. Do your homework.
The interviewer wants to test your knowledge about the company and the job you’re interested in. You should be prepared to talk about what they do, know how long the company has been in business, if there are multiple locations, and what types of programs they offer. You’ll also want to be ready to explain how your skills fit the position and duties of the job. Do your homework in advance and know why you’re the best candidate for the company.

5. Follow-up after your interview.
If you really want the job you applied for, don’t forget to send a thank you to the hiring manager. They took time out of their day to meet with you, so the least you can do is thank them. Although it’s great to write a thank you and mail it, that takes a little time. A nice email sent a few hours after your interview will accomplish the same objective of letting them know you appreciate the time they took to interview you.

Share some key points you learned about the position and the organization, re-emphasize why your abilities are a great fit, and communicate your excitement about potentially joining the team. Hiring managers are waiting for this information to see if you’re seriously interested.

Hiring managers want what’s best for their company so keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well prepared to ace the interview.

Do you have any other advice on how to communicate with hiring managers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Avoid Cultural Gaffes When Dealing in International Business

avoiding_cultural_gaffes_webWith technology at our fingertips, studying international business, taking internships abroad, and learning about today’s global marketplace is easier than ever. Ensuring you know how to recognize and respect business dealings of other countries is an important part of the process, so check out this post from guest blogger Heide Brandes.

Knowing business etiquette for foreign meetings can help make you a job search star.

When the Executive Director of Foreign Affairs for Taiwan presented his business card to me, I took it with both hands, studying the feel of the paper, the type of font, and the spelling of his name.

When I passed my card to him, he did the same. In Taiwan, and many Asian countries, the presentation of one’s business card is a serious event. It deserves respect and the time it takes to really look at the card and study it. Why?

It’s just considered good business. In America, we tend to slide our cards in a casual way across a board room table to everyone present, but that habit would be considered rude and even insulting in other countries.

Luckily, I looked up the business etiquette standards for Taiwan before my trip, so when the opportunity arose, I was able to honor my business associate by behaving appropriately.

In international business, first impressions are vital. To put a foreign partner at ease, you must avoid cultural gaffes, build trust, and know the customs concerning business wear, body language, handshakes, and more.

Clients thousands of miles away are easily reached in today’s society through video messaging, the internet, and email. So, knowing how to conduct yourself in other cultures is vital to having business success. Not only do you have the chance to impress foreign clients and your boss, you can also make yourself stand out on a global scale.

Do Your Homework
In some Asian countries, holding eye contact for too long is considered impolite or aggressive. On the other hand, Canadian businessmen emphasize eye contact as a way of showing respect and interest in what the other person is saying.

The best way to know what’s acceptable and what’s not is by doing your homework.

The acceptable business etiquette for any country can be found on the internet and in travel books, so it’s easy to educate yourself on the common practices. For example, if you are traveling to India, it’s good to know that ordering beef at a business lunch is considered rude since cows are sacred animals in that country.

Never be late to a meeting with Canadian business executives, as they value punctuality. And when dealing with the Japanese, let them initiate a handshake first because sometimes handshakes are not acceptable.

Set Your Ego Aside
In the U.S., Americans take pride in our strengths and our individuality. Holding heads high and portraying confident body language shows one is a capable and successful business person.

But in Japan, for instance, it is common practice to divert your eyes when dealing with a business partner in a higher position than you are. In business dealings, showing respect can mean the difference between a contract or a failure.

Admit Ignorance or “The Power of Apology”
If you do commit a cultural gaffe while dealing with foreign clients, apologize quickly and make it clear that you were unaware of your mistake.

Like you, foreign clients are on unfamiliar ground when doing business outside their home country. Apologize quickly and sincerely if you make a mistake and ask your client what the proper etiquette is, giving him or her the chance to explain.

The Importance of Food
In many societies, food is a ritual. With business dealings, the same theory applies. If you are invited to a lunch or formal dinner with foreign colleagues, brush up on the local dinner table manners. For instance, never put your chopsticks upright in rice, as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burned at a funeral in many Asian countries.

While eating with your hands is acceptable in India, it’s strictly taboo in other cultures. In France, politeness dictates that you rest your hands on the table instead of your lap.

Never Assume
Every society has its rules and quirks. It’s important to know or at least attempt to know the different customs of the clients you deal with in order to maintain a level of professionalism in your career.

How about you? Share your stories – both good and embarrassing – about dealing with foreign clients in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.