Tag Archives: job search tips

Phone Interviews: Impress in 30 Minutes or Less

phoneinterview_oct2014_webWhen you’re on the hunt for a new job, you know that interviews are just part of the process. You may love them or hate them, but they are expected and shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, these days more and more employers are using phone interviews to screen out candidates, which could cause anxiety for some job seekers

Forbes explains that this allows employers to “sort through candidates without committing to the expense and time required for on-site meet-ups.”

Job board and career advisement site Monster.com echoes the same observations. “Many companies use phone interviews as an initial employment screening technique for a variety of reasons. Because they’re generally brief, phone interviews save companies time. They also serve as a more realistic screening alternative for cases in which companies are considering out-of-town, or out-of-state, or international candidates.”

With that reality in mind, it’s important that job seekers begin to anticipate the likelihood of phone interviews. Here’s five tips to help you ace your next phone interview and make the right impression within the first 30 minutes.

Treat It Like Any Other Interview
As one hiring manager told Yahoo Finance, “A phone interview is still an interview, not an informal phone call with a friend.” You still have to be ready to put your best foot forward. SO, be ready for some tough interview questions.

Set Yourself Up For a Win
Before your phone interview, you need to have confirmed several pieces of important information. Double-check the exact time of the call; find out the anticipated length of time the call will last; and clarify who’s calling whom, and who will be on the call. All of this information will help you know what to expect and be better prepared for the interview so you’ll make a good first impression.

Check Your Sound
Obviously you want your phone and environment to be conducive to the best call possible, but there’s another sound element that’s even more vital: the sound of your own voice. In fact, Forbes found that a job candidate not sounding awake, alert, and excited is the number one phone interview mistake. “Without visual cues, interviewers are paying extra close attention to the content of your answers and anything else they can glean from your voice. So, lackluster answers or low energy could be interpreted as a lack of interest…”

That means you need to be fully awake, have warmed up your voice, and have a smile on your face by the time the phone rings so they’re immediately impressed with your voice.

Do Your Homework
Just like an in-person interview, you should thoroughly research the company, position, and interviewers prior to the scheduled call. One of the plus-sides to phone interviews is you can have all your notes spread out and readily available to you during the conversation. However, don’t think you can research on the fly while you’re talking with the potential employer. You want everything organized in front of you so that when you need to reference your notes you aren’t distracted and the interviewers don’t hear the sound of rustling papers or typing. Being prepared to ask a thoughtful question or make an insightful comment will start the interview out on the right foot.

Be an Active Listener
In a phone interview, you don’t have the luxury of facial expressions or body language to aid in your listening and comprehension – you have to utilize your active listening skills. This is important throughout the entire phone call and vital to giving an overall good impression, but it’s especially important for the beginning of the call. You’ll want to match the names of the interviewers to their voices, allowing you to better phrase and direct your responses as the interview proceeds, and help you in the very important follow-up process.

US News explains it this way, “Employers usually have far more qualified candidates than they can interview, so they’ll look for ways to narrow down that pool. If you sound low-energy, unfriendly, distracted, or simply unprofessional, or if you chronically interrupt or don’t communicate clearly, they’ll put you straight into the ‘no’ pile.”  That means you must learn to ace phone interviews if you hope to impress potential employers and land the job you want.

What have been your own experiences with phone interviews? How do you prepare for and treat them differently than face-to-face interviews? Tell us in the comments section below!

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

Three Skills You Need to Land Your Next Job

3_most_important_skills_webIf you’ve experienced struggles and rejection during your job search, you may feel like you’ll never be able to understand what employers are looking for in job applicants. Thankfully, new survey results reveal the top three hard skills that hiring managers believe candidates should posess. Rather than “soft” skills like etiquette, communication, and time management, hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that can be measured, like typing speed or proficiency in computer programming.

In a survey of 115 Express Employment Professionals offices, the three most important hard skills for applicants to have are experience, technical ability, and training.

1. Experience

For the second straight year in this survey, experience not education, was ranked as the best hard skill to have. Employers want to know that a job candidate has a background in and knowledge of an industry or a field before hiring them. A survey earlier this year by career website Glassdoor supports this, finding that three out of four college educated workers agree that “employers value work experience more than education.”

“While education is still valued as one piece of the puzzle for a successful career, we’re seeing a shift in the workplace in which most employees feel gaining the latest skills relevant to their job and industry is more valuable to help advance their careers,” said Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert.

2.  Technical Ability

Want to show a potential employer the skills or knowledge you have? Highlight any technical abilities you have by showcasing them in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. If you can give specifics about the programs, software, or equipment you are proficient in, you’ll set yourself apart from candidates who focus on traits that employers find less important in the hiring decision.

3. Training

Have you taken a secondary education class on a word processing program or personal finance? Did you earn a Certified Technical Education (CTE) that provided you the training needed to be a welder, IT technician, or legal secretary? If not, you may want to consider the training opportunities available to you, as employers ranked “training” as the third best hard skill an applicant can have.

If you want to learn why CTE may be the right path for you and why some of the fastest-growing jobs are in fields that require a CTE, check out the white paper “Caution: College May Not Be For Everyone.”

How do you showcase these important skills to potential employers? Share with us in the comments section below.

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

Touch Down! 4 Game-Changing Career Moves

touchdown_career_moves_webWith fall comes one of the most beloved American pastimes – football!

Beyond the joys of tailgating, catching up on your Fantasy Football team, or getting together for chilly games, football can also teach us a lot about business success. What we learn from one of America’s favorite sports demonstrates that serious training, making plays in overtime, and judging strategy are as easily applied to your career as it is on the 50-yard line.

So suit up, put your game face on, and check out these tips on how to apply football strategies to your career advancement.

1. Change Strategies Mid-Game

In 1940, the Chicago Bears were the underdogs in American football. They faced the superior Washington Redskins, and much to everyone’s shock and awe, beat them 73-0.

That game was one of the biggest upsets in football history. So how did a team with no shot of winning absolutely crush the more talented team? Did they cheat? Were they just lucky?

Neither. The Bears realized their current strategy wasn’t working, and they made adjustments. The team created the now-famous “T formation,” representing the first time a team created a new strategic formation in the middle of a game.

Like the Bears, if your strategy isn’t working in your favor, consider trying something new. Feel like you’ve earned a raise, but just putting in the hours and doing a job isn’t getting it for you? Re-strategize, collect supporting materials, and consider openly asking your boss for a raise.

If your management style isn’t inspiring your employees, change tactics and research different management techniques to get the results you want. If your resume and cover letter aren’t getting the responses you need, rewrite and reword it to highlight your abilities.

Today, coaches constantly look at which strategies work for their team and which are no longer effective. As an employee, you should do the same.

2. Never Stop Training

Every team from the little leagues to the NFL knows that consistent training is vital to the success of an organization. So, identify your key strengths and find ways to regularly improve them.

If your company offers training seminars or opportunities to cross-learn, take advantage of that offer. If you can take a night class to better your chances for a promotion or raise, invest in that education. If you have a weakness, work with coaches or teachers to increase your skill in those areas. In a team setting, you must also learn to trust co-workers and management to do their jobs in order to allow for the win.

By focusing on training and skills, you can create the best opportunity for team success and personal achievement both on and off the field.

3. Pick the Right Team, Play the Right Spot

In football, the right players have passion and drive. In business, passion and drive are just as important, but you need to find the right team for your skills.

What sets top performers apart from other team players? They’re excited, passionate, and invested in what they’re doing every day. You can’t fake passion, so if you have a career you love, you’ll help bring in the win for the organization. But, if you aren’t in a position that allows you to make the big run or go for the down, find out what you need to learn or accomplish in order to move up.

Your management team wants you in the right position too, but they won’t know where to put you if you don’t speak up.

4. Make the Big Play On the Fourth Down

Going for it on the fourth down is a gamble in football games. According to some analysts, being more aggressive on the fourth improves a team’s chance of winning, but coaches rarely make that call.

If you’re in a situation where you can make a big move, especially with a lot on the line, you might want to take the chance. Sure, you may be guaranteed a few points by playing it safe and taking the easy route, but working hard and having faith that a big move may win the game could pay off.

For instance, say you aren’t going to meet your sales quota this month. You have enough sales to slide by, so should you run the risk of making a big push on cold calls to gain a few more?

Absolutely. Of the 10 or so calls you make to companies, you might just score that touchdown and land your biggest client.

You’ll never know if you don’t go for it on fourth down.

What are some business lessons you’ve learned from football? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

3 Steps to Detoxing Your Social Media for Your Job Search

detox_socialmedia_webIn June, CareerBuilder released findings on the number of employers turning to social networking sites to research candidates. The 2014 survey, conducted by Harris Poll, found that 51% of employees who research job candidates online said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up 8% from the previous year and 17% from 2012. Only 12% of employers surveyed said they don’t currently research candidates on social media, but they also reported that they plan to start in the near future.

If you think your online presence could be poisoning your job chances, it’s probably time to detox your social networks and rid your accounts of content that could keep you from getting a job.

Step 1: Get Rid of the Harmful Stuff Fast

When it comes to detoxing your social media, the first thing to do is to remove anything harmful from your accounts. The CareerBuilder survey reported that some of the most common reasons employers gave for passing on a candidate included:

  • 46% for provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
  • 41% for information posted about the candidate drinking or using drugs
  • 36% for bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee
  • 32% for poor communication skills
  • 28% for discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 22% for lying about qualifications

As you start to detox your social accounts, think about what employers are and are not looking for in a candidate. Take a look at your history online and search for anything that could be considered unprofessional or could be misconstrued. If it hurts your chances of getting hired, ask yourself if it’s worth keeping. Then, start deleting. Edit errors. Remove inappropriate posts you’re tagged in. Change your profile photo if it doesn’t reflect the professional image you’d like to portray.  Really take some time to investigate your accounts. It may not be enough to switch out your Facebook profile photo for example. You may also need to delete some of the old profile photos entirely from your account to keep people from looking at your profile history. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to let go of the past for a brighter future.

Step 2: Setup Boundaries and Check Privacy Settings

Once you’ve deleted the things that could be harmful to your job search from your social accounts, take a look at your privacy settings. If you don’t want potential employers looking at your Facebook page for example, make sure only your friends can see the information you share on your profile. If you’re going to leave your Facebook profile open, turn on your Timeline review so you can approve posts you are tagged in before they appear on your page. If you don’t approve a post that you’re tagged in, remember that you may still need to go remove the tag from your friends post. Facebook and other networks are constantly updating their privacy settings, so it’s important to stay up to date on your settings to know who can see your accounts.

Now that you’ve checked your privacy settings and cleaned up your accounts, take some time to think about what you will and will not post in the future. Give yourself some boundaries or create some rules of thumb to follow to keep your social media free of job killing toxins. Tell yourself you will proof read every status update before you post it and try reading your updates out loud before you share them. This will help you catch any grammatical errors and give you time to stop and think about whether or not you should even post it.

Step 3: Replace the Bad Stuff with the Good Stuff

Your social media presence doesn’t have to be toxic to your job search. In fact, it can actually help you get an interview or even a job! While the CareerBuilder survey found that 51% of employers didn’t hire an applicant because of something they saw on social media, 33% of employers also said they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate as well. And, 23% said they found information that directly led to hiring the candidate!

Some of the most common reasons employers gave for hiring a candidate based on their social networking presence included:

  • 46% of employers felt the applicant was a good fit with their company culture
  • 45% said the candidate’s background information supported their qualifications
  • 43% said their online presence conveyed a professional image
  • 40% said the applicant was well-rounded and showed a wide range of interests

If you want to make the most out of your social media networks to help you land a job, then replace any harmful information with beneficial information that could actually help give your career a boost. A great place to start is with your LinkedIn account since it’s already geared toward helping you make professional connections online. Take time to fill out as much information as you can. Provide links to your work. If you volunteered for something in your community, post about it on all of your accounts. Share industry related information to help show that you’re an expert in your field. Detoxing your social media isn’t just about getting rid of what’s bad. It’s about sharing the good things. Find ways to demonstrate your skills and abilities as well as your personality and your strengths, and you’ll be well on your way to having a robust and healthy image online that could help you stand out from other applicants.

How do you ensure your social presence is free of job-killing toxins? Share about it in our comment’s section below!

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

3 Extreme Job Search Tips

extreme_tips_webIf you’ve been on the job hunt for any time at all, you’re probably very familiar with the common pieces of advice. There are hundreds of tips out there, ranging from how to keep your job search low-tech and what to wear for success to how to find new leads and using apps to organize your hunt. They are all good to apply to your specific job search situation as-needed. But, it’s also important to consider some new ideas on finding and landing the job you want. So, here are three outside-the-box tips you might want to consider.

Be Slow To Apply
It’s always exciting to find a potential job, and your first reaction is usually to apply right then and there. According to Forbes, though, Isa Adney, author and blogger, says, “Applying is the last thing you should do.” Instead, Adney advises that you should first “research that company and the professionals who work there, and reach out to someone at the company before you apply for the job, letting them know you admire what they do and would love their advice.” You should scour your social media accounts to see if you have any connections with employees at the company you could talk with and potentially use as your advocates and references.

Ignore Position Titles
Job titles often differ from company to company. For instance, at one employer a specialist position could be higher than a coordinator position, while at another company it may be the opposite. Don’t base your decision on whether to apply or not on the position title. Thoroughly read the job description and then see what your research of the company, department, and position title turns up. Also, keep in mind that there are probably other jobs out there that you would be good at that have a different position title than what you’ve been searching.

Create a New Position
Sometimes businesses don’t know that they need to hire someone, or aren’t actively seeking a new employee at the moment. So don’t just rely on posted job openings. If you know of certain companies that you’d like to work for, come up with how you could specifically use your skills and experiences to help that business and get in contact with professionals there. As the Forbes article states, “Don’t just sit around waiting for your ‘dream job’ to open.” Teri Hockett, chief executive of a career site for women, also suggests that after learning of challenges the company is facing, either from employees or public information, “you can craft a solution that you can share directly or publicly through a blog, for instance.” This could get you noticed and also get your foot in the door.

It’s easy to get into a regular routine of how you search for jobs, and then find yourself in a job-hunt rut. But seeking out some new advice and thinking of extreme job search tactics will help you get out of that rut, and may even help you finally land the perfect job.

Do you have any unusual tactics when searching for a job? Has one of those unconventional ideas helped you get a great job? Please share your experiences with us below in the comments section below.

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

Top 10 Job Search Tips of All Time

No.10Sign A successful job search is definitely not easy. First, you have to find a job you’re interested in. Next, you have to apply and wait for an invitation to interview. After that, you have to prepare for the interview, and then you have to follow up. And, that’s just the basics – there are many more small steps along the way that make things complicated and sometimes overwhelming. So, we put together our top 10 job search tips of all time – to keep you from forgetting an important step along the way.

1. Broaden your job search

2. Build a network

3. Write a top-notch résumé

4. Submit a cover letter with your résumé, every time

5. Research your potential employer’s company

6. Practice answering common interview questions

7. Prepare to ask the interviewer questions

8. Be sure to dress for success

9. Bring the proper items to an interview

10. Follow up after an interview

Landing the job you want takes time and effort. Rarely does the perfect opportunity just fall in your lap. But, you can make your job search process simpler by following these top 10 tips of all time.

Tell us what you think – did we miss one? Share your job search tips in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.