The Job Interview: “Dear Job Seeker…Your Resume Is Impressive, But…”

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Unemployment#18Unless you lived under a rock as a teenager, or, you stayed in your folks’ house playing video games in the basement, depending on your age, we’ve all faced rejection at some time or another.

As a working adult, opening your e-mail inbox to find a rejection letter, is every job seeker’s worst nightmare. It can be just as painful as finding out your main squeeze has been dating the entire high school football team (Don’t ask.).

Receiving the kiss-off from a company or a recruiter can be especially frustrating, after feeling like you nailed the job interview.

Some companies don’t even show job seekers the courtesy of a rejection e-mail. These companies just forget about you, leaving you wondering about the status of your application.

Of all the frustrating moments that a job seeker experiences in their quest for meaningful employment, receiving a rejection e-mail has to be the most ego-deflating.

Learning to handle rejection is just as important as learning how to conduct yourself during the job interview, itself.

The following list of things NOT TO DO, after receiving a rejection e-mail, was posted on foxbusiness.com last year. The suggestions are theirs. The analysis (including any smart alack comments that may pop up) is mine.

1. Forget Perspective.

As you sit there, beating yourself up over no getting hired, remember that  as my Daddy (Southern colloquialism for male parental unit) used to tell me, “There’s more than one fish in the sea.” Everyone gets rejected, at one time or another.Look back at what you have accomplished. While navigating Life’s Highway, this is just one small bump in the road.

2. Let Your Emotions Take Over.

It is very easy for others to tell you that not being hired for a job you want is “nothing personal”, especially after you believed that you did very well in the interview. If you are like me, you take a lot of pride in your professionalism and the knowledge you have gained during your job experience. To have someone devalue all that you have learned, through an impersonal e-mail, can really hurt. The hard part is to focus that emotion you are feeling and to turn it around in a positive direction.  Difficult, but not impossible.

3. Forget To Ask For Feedback.

Learn from the rejection. Why were you not hired? What was wrong with the way you presented yourself. If you are in the position to do so, ask the interviewer why you were rejected. While the company’s representative might not always be able to give you details, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Just make sure that your request is respectful and optimistic. If you are seeking employment through a recruiting service, they will tell you how you blew the interview, because their client, the company, will tell them why they do not want to hire you.  (Been there. Done that. Use the t-shirt to wash the car.)

4. Refuse To Improve.

In other words, take what you have learned from your rejection and try to “fix” what caused you not to be hired. Just remember, performing a frank assessment of why you did not get a job is different from beating yourself up, for days upon end, over being rejected for the position.

5. Don’t Stay Connected.

If possible, maintain a professional relationship with the company’s hiring manager. Even though they may not have chosen you for the position, you should still keep in touch with them. LinkedIn is a great tool to use for this purpose. If you are not a LinkedIn Connection with the hiring manager, make it so. That way, you may have the inside track on another position with their company when one becomes open.

6. Avoid Sharing Your Experience.

Everyone has a support system…family and friends who don’t mind listening to you vent. This is the time to utilize them. No man (or woman) is an island. “Whining” about not getting the job you wanted might embarrassed you at first, but venting is cathartic. It helps you blow off steam. (Why do you think I write this blog?) Most people have been where you are, and they all will have some sort of advice and guidance to share with you.

7. Give Up

Everyone, including myself, has wanted to throw in the towel, and say, “No mas!”, a la Roberto Duran. Please don’t.

NBA Legend Michael Jordan once said,

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

There is an old adage which states

It’s not how many times you fall down that matters. It’s how many times you get back up.

There is an old song from the movie, “Swing Time” (1936), which sums up the point I’m trying to make….

Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start All over again.

Don’t lose your confidence if you slip,
Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

Work like a soul inspired,
Till the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you’ll be a man, my son!

Will you remember the famous men,
Who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath,
Pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

Never give up. Never surrender.

– Allen

The Job Interview: The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

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unemployment17You did it! You walked right into that Interviewer’s office, sat down, and absolutely aced that Job Interview.

So…now you’re waiting to hear something…anything!

What’s taking so dadburn long?

What in the world could be the holdup?

Well…in some cases, the Human Resources Department advised that person you interviewed with NOT to contact you after the interview because the Legal Department wants to avoid any miscommunication and any nastiness that would result from it.

Or, HR could simply want to be in control. Go figure.

An individual, who is a major part of the hiring process could be sick or out of town. If the employer has to wait on them to return, that means that you, the candidate, has to wait, also.

Someone important to the hiring process may be tied up, trying to meet a deadline on an important project.

Someone important to the hiring process may have been fired or they have resigned, and they have to be replaced before the company can move forward.

It may be something more complicated, like the whole department may be in the process of being reorganized and the functions of the job, or, the very need for the job itself, is being rethought.

Or, the potential employer could decide that they need to find an additional candidate for the position, in order to divide the job you have interviewed for into two separate positions.

In most companies, the hiring process requires several people’s input to complete..

There’s a lot of time-consuming corporate machinations going on.

Meanwhile, your assignment is to wait…and wait…and wait.

So, what can you do to keep yourself busy while you wait…and possibly help your chance of landing the job you’re after?

Alison Green, who writes for usnews.com, published these suggestions in an article posted on September 12, 2012. The suggestions themselves are hers, the analysis (and any smart alack comments which may pop up) is mine.

1. Send a follow-up note.

This can be by email or snail mail. Don’t just thank the interviewer for the opportunity, but also state once again how interested you are in the position. Just don’t forget the name of the Interviewer. That’s kind of important.

2. But don’t follow up excessively.

Don’t be a stalker. Inquiring once a week is probably okay. Bug them everyday, and the potential employer will probably hit the delete key on your computerized file and throw your resume in the circular file.

3. Review the questions you were asked in the interview and how you did.

What questions made you stop a pause and little before answering? Don’t obsess and beat yourself up over the interview. Just review the interview to make sure that you presented yourself the way that you wanted to and keep moving forward.

4. Think about whether you want the job.

While you are waiting, you may want to consider whether the job will be the right fit FOR YOU. Are you going to be happy working there? Are you going to be comfortable with the staff, the business environment, and goals of the potential employer? As Eric Burdon and the Animals sang, “It’s MY life and I can do what I want.”. Don’t accept a job somewhere that you’re going to be miserable working at.

This point reminds me of the joke that happened one Sunday morning at a church out in the country. The Pastor was at the pulpit, delivering his sermon, when the sanctuary doors burst open, and in walks the Devil. Needless to say, the congregants all headed for the hills, except for one old farmer, sitting toward the front. The Devil walked up to him and said, “Foolish mortal, why did you not flee from me, like everyone else?” The  old farmer said, “Why should I be scared of you, Bubba? I’ve been married to your sister for 25 years!”

In other words, don’t make a mistake that you will live to regret.

5. Realize that hiring often takes longer than anyone involved thinks it will.

As I wrote earlier, the hiring process takes time. There is more to it than just a Candidate and an Interviewer. Think more along the lines of Gru and his minions from Despicable Me.

6. Keep applying for other jobs.

Even if you think you have the job, you may not. After all we have all been wrong before, even if we were only mistaken (old joke). Besides, applying for more jobs is a good way to burn off nervous energy while you’re waiting for your potential employer to call.

7. Move on mentally, if necessary.

Don’t just sit  there, do something! Move on. Don’t just sit there, beating yourself up mentally. Live your life. Move forward.

Now, all these suggestions are simply that: suggestions. How you handle the long, tedious wait to hear back from a job interview is up to you. However, don’t just while away the hours sitting in a bean bag, eating Cheetos, while watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger”. Your spouse will fuss at you.

Trust me. I know.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: To Be Silent and Thought a Fool Or To Speak And…

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unemployment16If you are an average American, chances are very good that you will have to go through multiple job interviews during your lifetime.

After you have survived these interrogations, you will probably second guess yourself:  Did I talk too much? Did I speak enough? Did I say something stupid?

Trust me. I speak from experience.

In August of 2013, foxbusiness.com ran a list of “10 Things Not to Say During a Job Interview”. The questions are the author’s. The analysis is mine (along with any smart alack remarks that may pop up).

1. “My boss at ABC Company was awful.”

It does not matter. You’re out of there. Plus, you are presenting yourself to the Interviewer as a complainer, i.e., a “bad attitude” employee.

2. “How much do I get paid? What about vacation time?”

Patience, grasshopper. All will be revealed in due time. “Ask not what the company can do for you, tell them what you can do for the company” (with apologies to Master Po and JFK).

3. “Did you know I ran cross country in high school?”

Great. What the heck does that have to do with the position that you are applying for?  Unless you’re going to be running around the building several times a day…

4. “I’m sorry, but I’m really nervous!”

Well, duuuh. The interviewer probably was also, when they applied for their job. It happens to all of us. Be cool. Be confident. Engage that winning personality of yours. Let them know that you are worth hiring.

5. “Man, I really need this job to pay off my credit card debt.”

Don’t we all. Any company worth their salt is going to run a background check on you. Your debt is not the interviewer’s concern. They have been charged with finding the best candidate for the position you are interviewing for. Concentrate on properly presenting your professional triumphs, not your personal challenges.

6. “I just need this job so I can fulfill my dream of being a CEO.”

Ambition can be a wonderful thing. However, the interviewer wants to know what you can do for their company today, and how good a fit you will be, right now, for this position.

7. “I need a flexible schedule to accommodate my in-home business.”

What’s your priority? Being a productive employee for the company you are interviewing for, or trying to get your own business started? A man cannot serve two masters. The interviewer will not be impressed by someone with split loyalties.

8. “What does your company do again?”

At this point, the Interviewer will probably look at you with that “Wow. Really?” look. This question definitely shows a lack of preparedness.

9. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember what I did during that internship.”

If you sleep-walked through your internship, what sort of worker are you going to be in their paid position? Interviewers are looking for potential employees who will be active and engaged.

10. “Wait, what position did I apply for?”

Are you kidding me? Again, a question like this one tells the interviewer that you just aren’t that motivated to work for their company. Why should they be interested in you, if you are not interested enough in them enough to remember what position you are applying for?

So, what should you say during a Job interview? Investopedia.com listed some suggestions in their article, published in April of 2010, 7 Things You Should Say In An Interview: (again, their questions…my analysis)

1. I am very familiar with what your company does.

I have found that the more research you do, the more Interviewers are impressed by how engaged you are.

2. I am flexible.

This is a great response, especially when they ask you which days and shifts that you are available to work. It demonstrates your work ethic and level of commitment.

3. I am energetic and have a positive attitude.

Go get ’em, Champ! This sort of positive statement and the attitude it displays,  is exactly what an Interviewer is wanting to hear from an applicant.

4. I have a great deal of experience.

This Statement lets the Interviewer know that this is “not your first rodeo” and that you will be ready to “hit the ground running”. In other words, you would a great fit in this position and you would easily assimilate into the corporate structure.

5. I am a team player.

Translation: I will do whatever is required of me to make this company a leader in the industry and to help foster a great work environment.

6. I am seeking to become an expert in my field.

This tells the interviewer that, if they hire you, you will continually seek to improve your skills and abilities while performing your job functions.

7. I am highly motivated.

In any job interview, motivation in the key. How motivated are you to get this job? How committed are you? The Interviewer wants to know. It is up to you to tell them.

So, the bottom line to all of this advice is…

Every  job interview is an opportunity to sell yourself to a prospective employer. By using the right phrases and presenting yourself in a professional manner, you maximize your chance of landing a great job and winding up in that cushy corner office on the ninth floor.

Do your research. Be on time for your interview. Stay calm…and “sell the product”…YOU..

Never Give up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

 

 

What the Heck Are Employers Looking For In a Potential Employee?

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Unemployment15One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. –Arthur Ashe

Whether you’re a fresh-faced neophyte, fresh out of college, or a grizzled veteran of the Business World, like myself, there is a universal question, which we all ask ourselves, while we are in the midst of a job search:

What the heck are employers looking for in a potential employee?

In a 2009 survey, commissioned by Careerbuilder.com and Robert Half International, American Employers said that aside from having the basic job qualifications, multitasking (36 percent), initiative (31 percent) and creative thinking (21 percent) are the most important characteristics in a job applicant. In that survey, they also asked six “workplace experts” to list 10 of the most common reasons employers hire employees, in no particular order.

The list topics are their’s. The analysis (including any smart-alack remarks that may pop up) is mine.

1. Long-term potential

Businesses are always looking to the future. They want to know if you will be able to grow professionally as an employee of their company? Will you be an asset, whose worth to the company increases with every passing year?

Or, will you take advantage of their free training and on-the-job experience and head off to greener pastures within a couple of years?

It’s a cliché that you have probably heard before, I know, but, hiring a new employee is an investment.

2. Ability to work well with others

One of the definitions of the word “corporation” is “any group of persons united or regarded as united in one body”. While your potential employer wants you to be a success and an asset to their business, if you are….ummm…a jerk or a drama queen…you will be more trouble than you are worth, and will be “shown the door”, with or without the “appropriate disciplinary procedures”, depending on how mad the powers-that-be are with you.

3. Ability to make money

Well…Duuuh. Do you think that they are going to hire you for your good looks? Unless you’re Christie Brinkley, that is. (Google her, kids.)

4. Impressive résumé

Whether you have the experts at a website like careerbuilder.com build a resume for you, or you ask a talented friend to help you,the fact remains that your resume unlocks the door to your professional future. It can be your “good first impression”.

5. Relevant work experience

If you want to travel in a new direction in your career, you have to show the potential employer that you have performed similar activities to the requirements they list in their job description. Somehow, you have to show them that your professional background makes you a viable candidate for their open position.

6. Creative problem-solving skills

As I used to tell the younger folks whom I managed, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Of course, their usual response was to look a me like a deer in headlights, But, I digress…

Basically, your potential employer is looking for the ability to “think out of the box”.

7. Strong online presence

Yes, boys and girls, they will be looking at your Facebook Pages, your Twitter Account, and your Personal Blogs. It is a great way for employers to find out who you actually are, and if the private individual matches the person they are interviewing.

8. Multitaskers who thrive on variety of projects

Just how mentally agile are you? Employers want to hire someone who can prioritize, organize, and produce. Employers do not want to hire someone whose work style is reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel at the Chocolate Factory.

9. Enthusiasm and initiative

“On it, Boss!” are the words than an employer wants to hear, when they give their employee a task to be accomplished. However, they not only want you to be able to follow orders, they want you to be able to anticipate them. Your potential employer wants you not only to be able to contribute to the bottom line, but also to be able to lead by example.

10. Good cultural fit

Employers want to hire someone who can hit the ground running, fitting into their Corporate Culture as seamlessly as possible.For example, an employer would not hire Stone Cold Steve Austin to be the host of a Tea Room: “Are you two going to have a seat, or am I gonna have to lay the smackdown on ya?”

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. Known as “Silent Cal”, he was a quite, introspective man, who spoke very little. However, when he did speak, he spoke volumes:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Therefore, in conclusion, as I am experiencing in my own job search, your success in finding meaningful employment will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

The preceding list is a very helpful tool. But the list, in and of itself,  will not land you a job.

Do your due diligence. Be prepared.

Do your “homework” concerning the company  that you are interviewing with.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Press on.

-Allen