Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Importance of Showing Gratitude After a Job Interview

You’ve probably heard that you should write a thank you note after an interview. But have you followed this important advice or ignored this step? Do you know if it affected your job search? Here are three major reasons why you should always write a thank you note following an interview.

1. It’s simple.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t write a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be a long, exhaustive letter. It can be a simple, handwritten note that expresses your gratitude to the employer for taking the time to interview you. Or, you could send a thoughtful e-mail, especially if you know the hiring decision will be made quickly. This is your chance to demonstrate your professionalism and show that you’d be a courteous addition to the team. Make sure to thank everyone you interviewed with and use proper spelling and grammar. Learn how to write a post-interview thank you note so you can follow-up quickly after your interview.

2. It sets you apart.
I recently attended a meeting where the guest speaker spoke about writing thank you notes. Out of 30 qualified candidates for her position, she was the only one that wrote a thank you note. And she’s the one who was offered the job. This just goes to show how important a thank you note can be in determining whether or not you receive a job offer. Sending a note doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a job, but it can help push you ahead if you’re on equal ground with other qualified applicants. Interviewers take notice of those who make this extra effort. So, set yourself apart by taking the time to write a thank you note to your potential employer. It won’t hurt your chances of getting the job if you send a note, but it might hurt you if you fail to send one.

3. It’s an opportunity to provide more information.
A thank you note gives you the perfect opportunity to provide further information to the interviewer. You can include information you forgot to mention during the interview that would reinforce why you are the right candidate for the job. Remind employers of your strengths or share new information that entices them to request another interview or extend a job offer. This is one more chance to make a great impression, so don’t pass it up.

Taking a few moments to write a post-interview thank you note can make the difference between receiving a job offer and having to continue the job hunt. Don’t forget this important step, because your dream job could be a simple thank you away.

Do you write thank you notes to those you’ve interviewed with? How has it affected your job search?

3 Tips to Identify Your Strengths and Land the Job You Want

When you start to look for a job, you will want to know your strengths so you can include them on your résumé and cover letter, and answer questions about your abilities during an interview. Knowing your strong points is important so you can show employers reasons to hire you. Whether you’ve been in the workforce for one year or 20 years, you have strengths as an individual and employee. Here are a few tips to help you identify your strengths and land the job you want.

Examine your experience. Look at the skills you’ve gained from previous jobs and volunteer work. Think about what you were good at and what you enjoyed doing. This list could include organizing, planning, leading others and problem solving, just to name a few. Do you remember receiving a compliment on a certain task or project? This could be an indicator of strength. Make sure to list this strong point on your résumé, and then elaborate on the task or project during an interview.

Evaluate your education. If you studied a certain subject in school or excelled in a specific area, it could be listed as a strength. Maybe you did really well in your math and computer classes. Good math skills can help you follow budgets, and computer skills can help you perform tasks like data entry. Make sure to consider special training you received or skills you acquired on your own, such as learning a foreign language or earning a special certification to show other strengths that could add unique value to an employer.

Ask your friends and co-workers. See what your friends and co-workers have to say about your strengths. They might say you have skills you may not realize, such as being detail-oriented, organized, collaborative, congenial or innovative. All of these characteristics can be sold to employers as strengths because they identify you as a person and define your work ethic. Also, ask them for specific instances when you’ve demonstrated these skills, so you could talk about them during an interview.

Your competencies and abilities make you unique. Save a list of your strengths so you can pick the important ones each time you apply for a job. Make sure to highlight how your unique strengths make you the perfect candidate for each job you apply for by using these tips.

How were you able to define your strengths during your job search? Did people around you help you see new strengths you didn’t realize you had?

Top 10 Go-To People for Good Job References

When you’re looking for a job, it’s a great idea to have a few references in mind in case you’re asked to list some during the application process. But, depending on your work history and what type of position you’re applying for, it can be difficult to come up with sources for references. Here are 10 great types of people to look to for references.

1. Former employer. The most obvious person to look for to get a job reference from is a former employer. Make sure this person is someone who knew of your work. Depending on the size of the company, this may be your direct supervisor or manager, or it could be the company owner. If you use a former employer, don’t use one who fired you due to performance or other job-related issues.

2. Current employer. Depending on your relationship and status with your current employer, this can be a good place to find a reference. If you’re subject to downsizing, are on a temporary assignment, or serve as an intern, it’s perfectly fine to ask your boss for a reference, because they know you’ll be looking for work. You can also ask your current boss to be a reference if you’ve simply grown beyond the current job you have and your employer supports this decision and knows you are looking.

3. Volunteer supervisor. If you volunteer for a civic, social or charitable organization, a supervisor or other high-level member of the organization can serve as a terrific reference and speak to your work ethic, attitude and willingness to go the extra mile.

4. Teacher or professor. Also consider people who have played a part in your education, personal or professional development, or job search. If they can speak highly of your work ethic, knowledge and application of job-related concepts, they could be a great source for a reference.

5. Business acquaintance. Sometimes, acquaintances you know through networking or professional development groups can be a good source for a reference, especially if they know of your work, have seen you in action or have a relationship with a customer or client who speaks highly of you.

6. Customer or client. Depending on the type of work you are pursuing, a current or former customer or client can serve as a reference. They can speak directly about your professionalism, timeliness and value to them, along with your ability to interact and form relationships. Sometimes, clients and customers will even take their business to the organization you join. When a customer or client speaks that well of you, it demonstrates your value to the organization beyond your ability to get the job done.

7. Former co-worker. In some situations, it’s appropriate to use a co-worker as a job reference, especially if they were on a team with you and you don’t think your employer or supervisor would make a good reference. But, tread carefully when considering a current co-worker as a reference, because you don’t want to create gossip, hard feelings, jealousy or maliciousness over the fact that you are considering leaving your job, because that never makes for a positive reference.

8. Teammate or group member. People you’re played with on sports team or fellow members of a hobby club or special interest group can make good references, especially if you have played a leadership role on a team or group outside of work. Those you’ve interacted with there will able to highlight a different element of your personality and demonstrate that you are a well-rounded person.

9. Fellow volunteer or board member. If you volunteer with a group or organization, fellow volunteers can make excellent references, particularly if they are in the same field you are pursuing. If you serve on a board with other business people, they can be an excellent source to demonstrate your professionalism and leadership.

10. Personal acquaintance. Depending on the type of job and the type of references requested, you can use a personal acquaintance as a reference to speak about your character and personality off the job. This type of reference can show how well-rounded, consistent, responsible and personable you are.

When you’re looking for references, select people who can speak to some aspect of your work abilities, character, leadership, work ethic or knowledge. Don’t forget to ask as a courtesy before you list someone as a reference. And always double-check that you have the most up-to-date contact information for every reference you select.

Who have been your best job references? Or, who have you thought about asking but aren’t quite sure?

5 Ways to Improve your Job Search

Are you trying to find a new job but feel like you’re stuck in a rut and no one will hire you? Do you feel like you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities and there’s just nothing left to do? Here are a few tips you can use to improve your job search and give yourself another chance to land the job you want.

1. Get help writing your résumé. A fresh pair of eyes will be able to help you spot errors that you simply don’t notice. If you haven’t revamped your résumé in a while, now is a great time to do so. Have you already asked for someone’s help but didn’t feel like it helped your job search? This time, ask somebody else, like a professional who interviews and hires candidates. Ask a person who is going to give you honest feedback and point out any flaws so you can improve your résumé. Try to have someone review your résumé who works in your field. They should be able to point out strengths and weaknesses of your résumé and help you modify important features, such as the layout of your document. Also, remember to tailor your résumé, especially your relevant skills, for each and every job you apply for.

2. Clean up your cover letter. Your résumé may state that you are creative, well organized and proficient on the computer. But, does your cover letter say otherwise? How you write your cover letter can say more than the words you use. An employer will notice if your cover letter is dull, unorganized, or lacks proper formatting, contradicting the claims you make about your strengths in your résumé. Create your cover letter to positively represent you and your talents. That may include reformatting or rewriting your cover letter altogether.

3. Practice your skills. Offering your time and talents free of charge to a company will show a potential employer what you could provide for their business or organization. This also gives you the ability to test out the organization, and see if you like working there. An internship can provide the perfect opportunity that will reap benefits for both you and the company. If you are unable to complete an internship, think about volunteering. Non-profit organizations are a great place to volunteer your time because they are always looking for people to help out with their projects. Whether you intern for a company or volunteer for a non-profit organization, you will gain experience and be able to improve your weak or out-of-practice skills before your next job.

4. Check your own references. Make sure your references know that you’d like to list their names as you apply for jobs so they aren’t caught off guard when an employer calls to inquire about you. Tell your references what types of jobs you’re looking for and why you want to work in that field. Be specific about why you want to list them as a reference and how they helped you accomplish certain goals. Mention projects or assignments that they helped you improve on and then thank them for their generosity. Discussing your previous successes will help them point out your strong points to employers. If they can’t remember who you are, it’s time to find new references.

5. Apply through a staffing agency. A staffing agency can help you expand your job search. When you interview at one, you’re actually interviewing for several jobs at once. That’s because agencies have opportunities for direct hire, evaluation hire or temporary employment for many different companies. If you receive a temporary position, that’s a great opportunity to network by talking with co-workers and learning about other job leads. On the job, you and the company can also decide if you are the right fit, which can potentially lead to a full-time permanent position. Agencies fill a variety of positions at many organizations, so they just might help you make the connection you need.

To find the job out there with your name on it, you have to earn it. So, try using these tips when you apply for your next job. You never know; one or all of the tips could be the key to landing your next job.

Which of these tips do you have the biggest challenge with?

Co-worker to the Rescue! 3 Secrets to Creating Allies at Work

Build Allies at WorkWho’s got your back at work? No matter what your profession is, it’s helpful to have an ally in the workplace. At times, every job can be competitive, stressful or difficult, that’s why having someone close by who supports and encourages you is so beneficial.

Build relationships. Creating on-the-job allies takes time and effort. Just working in close quarters several times a week isn’t enough to transform a co-worker into someone who will be there for you when times get tough. To develop meaningful relationships with those around you, be on the lookout for colleagues who are accessible and willing to invest time in you.

For relationships to flourish, you must also be willing to give of yourself to those around you. Look for opportunities to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. Smile when you pass co-workers in the hall, strike up conversations with employees from other departments or surprise teammates with breakfast or lunch one day. These small gestures of kindness are the building blocks for solid workplace friendships.

Don’t take advantage of the friendship. Once you’ve formed a few connections at work, the next step is nurturing and deepening the ties. An essential aspect of any relationship is respect. And one way you can show esteem for your co-workers is by respecting unspoken boundaries.

Your new friends are probably more than happy to help you out when you’re in a pinch or in need of some guidance, but be sure that you’re not crossing the line with your requests for assistance. Before you ask for a favor, always remember the golden rule, and treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

Remember to give and take. To have an ally, you must also be an ally. That means you have to be willing to occasionally stick your neck out on your friends’ behalf or go the extra mile when they’re in need of help.

Reciprocating kindness is an essential part of developing allies at work, or anywhere else. There’s no need to keep score of who did something nice last, but a general effort should be made to look out for others’ best interests.

Having people at work who support you can make a big difference in your level of success and your job satisfaction. So make the extra effort to be a friend to a co-worker today. You never know when you might need the favor returned.

Do you have good relationships with those you work with? What do you think it takes to be a good friend in the workplace?

5 Ways to Earn Respect from Your Co-workers

A new job also brings new co-workers, and that means getting along with new people. Figuring out what to say and how to act around different personalities can be tough when you start a new job. Here are five tips to help you earn the respect of your co-workers.

1. Have a great attitude. Be optimistic at work, regardless of the situation. Your co-workers will respect you when you are positive about your work. Expressing a good attitude even when you need help from others, shows that you are humble and willing to accept that others may know more than you do. To stay optimistic, talk positively about others, your work and every situation. Show your gratitude, and thank your co-workers when they offer help or guidance.

2. Develop a strong work ethic. Maintaining a solid work ethic demonstrates that you are the type of person who puts your best foot forward each day. Doing your work on time and helping others lets them know they can depend on you. You will be respected for your work ethic and dependability when others can rely on you to pull your own weight and get the job done.

3. Demonstrate integrity. Building relationships with co-workers should be based on trust. Be honest with them, and act in a manner that shows your genuine character. Follow company procedures and policies, and make decisions that will allow people to trust you and your judgment. Don’t allow your co-workers to doubt you because of the way you act or what you say. After your co-workers see that you act with integrity, their respect will follow.

4. Embody professionalism. Your appearance, behavior and speech showcase whether or not you have the ability to represent your position accurately. Dress appropriately for your workplace by following the dress code. Be aware of your behavior around others and be careful not to act inappropriately at work. And, watch what you say to others and how you say it. Prove to your co-workers that you are a professional.

5. Respect others. Be polite and courteous to others you work with. Respect their personal space, possessions, opinions and work. Show the same consideration to others that you would want to receive, and refrain from criticizing others’ suggestions or viewpoint. You can have a great attitude, strong work ethic, integrity and professionalism, but without respecting others you won’t receive respect in return.

Following the five tips above will guide you to earning respect from your co-workers. Don’t forget to be patient. It takes time to earn respect from others in the workplace, but it’s worth the effort in order to build lasting relationships with new people.

What tips do you have for others to earn respect in the workplace? Have you been able to earn respect at your job?