Communicating effectively during job search
Communication during the job search process is very important to successfully securing a position. As soon
as a hiring manager contacts you for an interview, your communication style and approach will be evaluated also. There
are two key components to consider when contacting anyone in the company you want to work for; method of communication and
content. Here are some tips for different situations:
- Scheduling the interview
- If you missed the call to schedule an interview, the best way to respond is to call the person back asap. If you
need to leave a message, be sure to request a call or email back to confirm the time/date for the interview. Give the hiring
manager a couple of options for the interview unless they only provided you one in their message.
appointments - The day before any interview - phone, video, or in person - it's crucial to call the person who scheduled
with you and confirm the time and method. This is especially important if you and the interviewer are in different time zones.
Don't do this via email - you want to speak with someone personally so there is no miscommunication.
up - After every interaction during the process, you need to follow up via email to the person. This includes any
administrative personnel who have assisted you in scheduling. Keep these communications brief and showing appreciation for
their time. In follow up to an interview, be sure to remind the hiring person what you discussed and the experience you have
that makes you the best candidate for the job.
Back to school for students means back to the job hunt
As students go back to school, some working parents may be moving back into the job hunt. Summertime is a slower
hiring time for most companies. As we move into the Fall, employers will be planning for first quarter 2019 and in certain
industries be hiring for the upcoming winter months.
- Consider industries that have historically more seasonal
hiring activities to get experience in skills that you need to progress. If customer service or sales is an area you want
to pursue but don't have significant previous work in that area, check for seasonal hospitality, restaurant, or special event
- Look for career fairs that specialize in hiring for your
industry. These could be posted through professional organizations and industry websites.
- Find new sources for information
on hiring trends and career planning through the public library or professional affiliations through LinkedIn.
Make the most of your summer
If you have finished your summer travel you should be taking advantage of this season to boost your resume content.
Whether you are planning a transition to a new field or a move in your existing company, the downtime of summer offers the
opportunity to build skills, learn new ones, or expand your repertoire of abilities for the next job.
Let your hobby teach you something. If you take time during the summer to head to the lake, garden, or another
hobby, identify what skills you can get from the activity. Can you build your planning, organization or communication abilities
while having fun?
- Technology is your friend. Between summer workshops and classes at the One Stop
Centers, there are multiple places to update your technological skills. Look ahead to the next job you want to have and figure
out what technical gaps you have to fill to get it.
- Helping someone can help you too. Taking time
to volunteer at a local organization will not only show your next boss that you care about others, but also allow you to increase
your own skills. Volunteer activities can also open up opportunities to learn new skills that could launch you into your next
Social media is a valuable tool in career transition
Anyone in the job search process should consider if they are maximizing the use of social media in the process.
Sites that are tailored to your industry, networking sites, and informational sites can all be valuable in providing helpful
tips and guidance on potential positions in companies. Facebook®® is a good source for some basic
information on the current ‘hot topics' a company is focused on and viewing the company's page before an interview can
assist in giving you insight into what is important for their organization currently. If you aren't maximizing LinkedIn®®
as a resource, here are some things to put on your to do list:
- Update your profile information
to be current with volunteer work or paid work experience you are doing.
- Request recommendations from previous supervisors
and colleagues that can attest to the skills you need to make the transition - communication, organization, technical skills
- whatever is most relevant to the industry or company you are pursuing.
- Check out the new ‘jobs' function
on the system - look on the right hand side to find positions that the search engine has found to match your past experience.
- Follow and join groups that are aligned with your transition, either by company name or by industry.
preparation for an interview, search for the company, department, and interviewer to formulate meaningful questions to ask
at the end of the phone or face-to-face interview.
Leveraging your mid-year review effectively
Some companies may make a mid-year review a formal process, while in others the employee needs to request this type
of discussion. Summer is a great time to carve out time with your manager to determine your current year's progress
and establish a go forward plan for the balance of the year. Employees who prepare for these meetings will have positive
outcomes and also feel empowered to work on professional development.
Understand what your objectives
are... The first step in having meaningful performance discussions with you manager is to clearly outline
your objectives. These may be corporate goals, department goals, project specific goals, or independent goals.
It's important that you not only know what you will be measured on, but how each criteria is weighted in evaluating your performance
Document, document, document... As the employee, you are responsible
for consistently documenting your activities throughout the year. This includes not only your successes, but also the
obstacles that you have encountered and how you dealt with them and overcame them. Don't rely on your manager to have
kept track of everything you have done - their responsibilities are broader than noting your actions.
open to critique and adaptation... When you are mentally preparing for these discussions, anticipate what
feedback you may receive from your manager. Be ready to take constructive input and make changes in your actions and
behaviors. Avoid appearing defensive by taking notes on the feedback and acknowledging that you are willing to continuously
learn. Bring your own recommendations on the areas that you want to develop in as well - cross-departmental training,
external soft skills training, mentoring new employees, etc. Planning ahead to share how you want to continue to professionally
develop will show your manager that you are committed to the performance discussion process.
For more information
about how to manage various areas of your career development, check out this book: https://www.amazon.com/deserve-raise-think-convince-boss-ebook/dp/B079RWXMZ6/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1530730085&sr=8-8&keywords=stacie+garlieb
What do the job description words mean?
Hiring managers are trying to attract a wide range of candidates for positions and the keywords in the job description
can give you an indication of whether you are going to be a fit for the position. A recent issue of HR Magazine describes
some phrases that are being used in recruiting to let prospective employees know what they are looking for. These are
some of the ones that you could find in the ‘requirements' and/or ‘qualifications' sections.
Skill level or training required.... Technical skills like programming, software knowledge, and computer
expertise could be expressed in various ways by an employer's recruiting language. "Digital native", "ninja",
and "guru" are a few of the newer phrases. So be sure that you aren't just looking for ‘expert' or ‘proficient'
to define the level of skill you need to have for the position.
- Personality traits preferred... Words
like ‘team-player', ‘outgoing' used to help signal that the job will require a high level of verbal communication.
Now "high-energy" and "enthusiastic" try to recruit candidates that can maintain a consistently positive
approach to their work culture.
- Specifics to fit the level of the job... One of the ways you can
quickly determine your ability to be a fit for the position is to look for content in the description that refers to categories
of specific requirements. These can include education level "minimum 3.0 GPA", language skills "bilingual in
Spanish", or licensure/certifications. Check out these phrases first to minimize the time you spend reading postings
that are clearly not a match for you.
Managing age gaps in the workplace
As baby boomers are staying on the job longer or transitioning to second careers, the Millenials are stepping into
their first management roles. This gap in age can potentially create challenges around communication, project management,
and company culture. Here are some considerations for workers on either side of this workplace situation:
Keep communication lines open and establish guidelines. Millenials grew up in the fastest growing technology
age and baby boomers were the first to use computers. The two generations have a love and hate relationship with using tech
for communication purposes. Every team needs to determine what communication methods will be most effective and when they
should be used. Texting or emailing may work for some teams or certain projects and other times face-to-face or
verbal phone communication will be necessary. Figuring out what works early in the work relationship is very important
so everyone is clear on how to make sure the teams is successful.
ways to work together and leverage strengths. Baby boomers have greater experience in their careers and working with
younger workers is an opportunity to share skills and ideas. Mentoring - formally or informally - is a perfect way to create
learning between the generations and to also help the team grow together. Millenials can gain skills and also contribute with
expertise in technology, new business concepts, and out-of-the box perspectives on projects.
- Respect tradition
but be open to change. This is important for every generation to acknowledge. Companies have certain policies and
procedures that have developed over time and should be respected. There are opportunities for both age groups to consider
options for change on less restrictive things like how projects are managed, resources employees can use for training, and
team involvement in community activities. Creating an open environment to discuss possibilities for change is crucial to success
in these new team dynamics.
What is blind hiring and how can it affect you?
The April issue of HR Magazine has an article about an old hiring practice that is starting to grow in certain industries.
The concept is called blind hiring and the objective is for employers to reduce, or ultimately eliminate, any bias for possible
discrimination in the hiring process at the earliest level of the recruitment for candidates. Depending on the method
the company uses, you may need to modify how you are writing your resume and cover letter to fit their guidelines, so here
are some different ways this practice could affect you.
- Don't include any identifying
information on your resume. Some companies are asking applicants to remove name, address, phone, dates, and any other
personal identifying information from their documentation. This way the hiring team only sees your experience and accomplishments
without any possible indication of your personal demographics.
- Complete an online assessment through a third
party to evaluate your abilities. This has been a common practice for companies that aren't doing blind hiring -
personality assessments, technical, and writing skills assessments are parts of several companies initial screening process
along with a resume review. For blind hiring practices, only the scores are provided to the hiring personnel and then candidates
are chosen to be interviewed based solely on the tests.
- Remove any sections with non-experience related information.
The debate on whether to include ‘hobbies and interests' sections on resumes continues with employers, but
in blind hiring these sections need to be removed prior to submission to the company. Including that you are a passionate
Little League coach could indicate that you have children. Noting that you volunteer for your church would signal your religious
preference. Ultimately this information isn't supposed to give you any advantage in the hiring process, so removing these
sections on all of your resumes is probably the best strategy.
What should you do when your interview seems like an American Idol audition?
You're pretty excited because you sailed through the online resume screen and right into the phone interview. After
nailing that, you were invited to meet with the manager for the job and he thinks you are someone who can be successful on
the team. So - now it's time to head into the final panel interview round with upper management and/or human resources.
You are confident about your ability to do the job, but sometimes a panel interview can spin out of your control. American
Idol is the ultimate panel interview - so think about how you are going to manage the situation if it heads down one of these
The interviewers are giving you ‘negative' body language. So visualize a contestant
starting to sing and it's WAY off key. The panel - even Luke Bryan - starts to make faces like they ate a raw lemon.
Even the most qualified candidates can find themselves wandering off into a bad answer. The best approach here is to
stop talking and ask them if you can give a different example. Say something like "I apologize, that isn't the
best example I can give you for that situation. A different time when I handled a difficult issue was..."
They have to listen to your new answer (song) and hopefully will forget your first performance.
One of the
panelists is becoming distracted. On the show, it could be Katy Perry finding her newest crush or Lionel Richie
and Luke getting up and dancing. In a job interview this could be as simple as one of the people checking their phone
while you are answering a question. The key here is to stay on track with your answer and pay attention to the other
panelists with your eye contact. If the person becomes re-engaged while you are speaking, pretend nothing happened and
show them that you are in control of answering the question effectively.
You are getting ‘buying signals'
from the panel. This can be a great - and terrible - thing to happen in an interview (audition). It's
wonderful that everyone is fully engaged and leaning forward and listening intently to you while nodding and whispering to
each other about how qualified you are. Avoid the temptation to start smiling too much and getting so internally excited
that you forget your answer (the lyrics) and fall off the rails at the end. Stay focused on what the question is and
provide the clearest example of how you used your skills to successfully produce results in that type of situation in the
How did the interview go?
This is a question you may ask yourself after a job interview and/or it may be a question you get from a significant other
or friend. So - how do you know how the interview went? There are some obvious and not so obvious ways to evaluate
how you did - here's a few:
- The interviewer's body language - when
you were answering, did the hiring person take notes on your responses? Did they nod as if they were acknowledging what you
were saying? Were they sitting forward in their chair showing their engagement with your conversation? These are all good
signs that you were making a positive connection with them.
- The interviewer's questions -
did the person ask follow up questions to clarify or get more details about your answers? How did the questions progress during
the interview - did they start more general and then become more specific in relation to your ability to do the position?
If the questions end up targeting your experience and how it will fit the opportunity, it's possible that the manager is identifying
you as a credible candidate.
- Your questions for the hiring manager - the best way to evaluate
how well you do in an interview is to ask key questions at the end that make the interviewer consider their judgement of your
abilities to do the job. Questions like ‘Based on our conversation today, is there any reason that you would not recommend
me to move forward in the process?" or "Is there any additional information I can provide you at this point regarding
my qualifications for this position?" will make the hiring person think about what you have or haven't told them.
It will also allow them to tell you where you may or may not have answered with enough impact to convince them that
you are a valuable candidate who they should continue to pursue. Even if the interviewer responds that you didn't give
enough information on a certain aspect of your background, you then have a chance to provide a different example. If
you don't ask a final question like this, you won't have any way to determine ultimately how you did in answering the questions.
Ten criteria to determine if you need a resume update
Updating your resume can be a daunting project which people try and avoid until they absolutely need to. But, waiting
until your next great career opportunity comes along to make changes will just cause you more stress. Find your last
updated resume version and run through this list to see if you need to schedule updating time this weekend:
Education is at the top of your resume - if you complete the education/training more than one year ago, move it to the bottom.
Certifications and/or licenses are out of date - if you are currently re-certifying, update the date even if it's in the future.
If not re-certifying, take it off. If it's a certification for something that never goes out of date, take the date off.
Professional affiliations are on there that you aren't a member of anymore.
- You changed positions within your company
- even if your title changed, but your main responsibilities didn't, you need to update it.
- Main job responsibilities
have changed - you manage some/more people, you manage new projects, you train people, you work cross-functionally...
You won an award(s) in your job or in professional or volunteering organizations
- There is new volunteering experience
to add or new experiences in your existing volunteering experience
- You learned new technical and/or computer skills
relevant to your job and your industry
- You have increased or learned new language skills to use in the workplace
You haven't updated your overall resume in the past year - at a minimum, review your resume every 6 months and make changes
Preparing for a 'bad interviewer' experience
It may be a phone or in person interview. It can be a bad interviewer for several reasons or opinions. So
how can you best prepare for someone who just doesn't know how interview well and/or how to ask meaningful questions?
Here are some quick tips not to be caught off guard:
- The interviewer who
reads your resume to you... This is the person who literally takes one of your bullet points and says "Tell
me about how you Managed a team of 4 project engineers to reduce costs by $20K monthly by analyzing new vendor contracts and
shifting production methods". The good news is that you should have already built strong stories around each of your
bullet points to nail this answer. The bad news is that this interview is going to be a little frustrating but hang in there
and focus on specifics and results to impress this person.
- The interviewer who only asks ‘standard'
questions... This interviewer asks "What are your strengths?" "What are your weaknesses?"
"Why should I hire you?" Anticipate these in various phrasings and get specific examples to help the person understand
the skills and experience you have that align with the job requirements.
Three interview questions you need to be able to answer
So you've landed an interview which is great but now you need to prepare.
Depending on your level of experience and industry, there will be specific questions the hiring person will ask. These
may be about skills pertinent to the role, licensure or certifications, and/or technical skills needed for the job.
But what are three general questions that you should always be prepared to answer?
Why are you leaving your current job/Why did you leave your last job? Bad answers would include
comments about how you didn't like your manager, had an issue with a client, or couldn't get along with your co-workers.
It is reasonable to identify that you want to change industries, gain increased experience in a certain area or move forward
and your previous/current employer will not allow that to happen. Be honest and tactful.
What separates you from the other candidates? This is a little bit of a potential ‘gotcha'
question. Obviously you can't know what qualifications and background the competition has. This is an opportunity
to highlight the top three skills the job requires with the best examples you have with the greatest positive impact you made
in a previous job. Sharing the ways you can provide value to the employer will always help the manager identify you
as qualified for the position.
3. What questions do you have for me?
"I don't' have any." - Wrong answer. There is no way you know everything about the job and expectations
even if you are interviewing internally in the same company. Ask about specific short term expectations and objectives,
challenges you can expect to encounter, and/or training opportunities. Prepare at least three questions that will provide
you greater insight into the job and the manager's goals.
Leading without a management title
Show initiative, ask others to join in, support team mates objectives
- these are all ways to lead in an organization without a management title. Leadership is a skill that can be practiced
long before you achieve an official role managing people. HR Magazine from SHRM highlights this topic in the current
issue providing guidance on how to lead in your current role.
People or projects - they both count.
It's important to remember that leading can involve projects and/or people so as you look for opportunities
don't ignore current projects that could use your input for direction.
Ask to join the group.
Check out committees that may be working on non-traditional activities in your workplace as alternative sources
to develop your leadership skills. These could include philanthropies, special interest groups, and training activities.
Look for ways to improve. As you are learning to lead, consider how you can improve leadership
methods from project to project. Identify informal mentoring that you can do in order to transition project management
into people management also.
Preparing for a transition into management
Moving into a management role takes preparation and planning in the
earliest stages of your career. Even if you aren't sure what level or type of management you may want to achieve in
the future, there are some key steps that can position you for that move.
leadership opportunities in your current role. Any promotion into management will require current managers identifying
your ability to lead. This doesn't mean that you have to show direct leading of peers. Leadership can be exhibited in many
ways including participation in internal committees, mentorship of new employees, and overall project management. Ask for
varied opportunities to exhibit leadership throughout your career to have a wide range of examples to share.
a network of supporters. Obviously, having your direct supervisor's support in moving forward into management
is helpful. Evaluate who else in the organization could chime in about your skills when the time for personnel discussions
arrives. Cross-training with other departments, involvement in general training activities, and positive interactions with
multiple levels of the organization can all be ways to build a supportive network internally.
successes and development opportunities. It is every employee's responsibility to track their own work successes
and professional development. Don't just rely on your annual performance reviews for this - keep documentation that shows
your work throughout the year. Remember that training you do shows your interest in life-long learning, which is a necessary
skill for future managers. Having a complete record of how you have provided value to the organization and continued to make
yourself a better employee will help everyone internally with a decision to move you into management when you are ready.
Social media networks could assist in the job search process
Depending on the field Phoenix job seekers are pursuing, social
media networks could simplify the process of identifying prospective employers and applying online. LinkedIn®
is becoming even more of a resource for workers who are transitioning into new positions or industries. Check out these
features of this network to maximize your online job search:
- Be sure to fully update your profile.
Before you use LinkedIn® or any other social network for job search, make sure you have a complete profile
that is up to date. The employer will appreciate that you are using social media appropriately and thoroughly.
for companies with a profile page. If a company has a page, there may be a separate ‘See Jobs' page
that you can click on. The program then searches for positions listed through the company to find ones that ‘match'
your background and skills in your LinkedIn® profile.
- Use the ‘Apply' button.
This is an easy way to get your resume to the company without going to their individual website page.
Make sure you click ‘on' to share your full profile with the company when you are applying. That helps
the employer review your background quickly.
- Ask for Introductions when appropriate. People
hire people, not computers, so making a contact within a company is always an advantage. Depending on how comfortable
you are with people in your Connections, you may find people in their networks that you can be introduced to via
LinkedIn® by clicking on the person you want to be introduced to and then sending them a message and
request for them to make an online introduction
Effective video interviewing requires planning
Employers have found that video interviewing can be very useful in
the early stages of the process when hiring candidates that don't live nearby. So if you are asked to have a video interview,
there are some key steps in planning that will give you an advantage.
location, location. Find a place in your home that you can be completely undisturbed with complete quiet. Since
the interviewer will be able to see you, there should not be anything in the background that would be distracting to the employer
- a blank wall is the best choice.
- Double check your technology. Identify what platform
or program you will be using and download it a few days in advance so you can make sure you won't have buffering issues for
the interview. Practice with a friend if you can to establish what volume you should have on both your microphone and your
- Prepare to be in person. A video interview is just like an in person interview
- it's important to dress in business attire, be prepared with answers for questions you anticipate, and write down questions
you want to ask the interviewer at the end of the discussion.
Three things to do at your job this week
The beginning of a new season is a perfect time to find new things
you can do at your job to increase your value and continue your professional development. Whether you have been in your
job for months or years, it's important to evaluate how you are working and look for ways to be a better teammate, leader,
and employee. Here are 3 things you can do at your job this week:
Share a skill. Every
member of a work team has certain skills that they personally define as their strengths. One way to help your team excel
and grow is to share your skills with your co-workers so they can get better too. If you are the techy person on the
team, find someone who consistently asks for help in that area and take time to show them something new that will benefit
future projects. If your strength is customer communication, share a ‘best practice' email with the team so everyone
can build that skill.
Ask your boss how you can help. This doesn't necessarily mean waiting
until there is a problem and then asking how you can be part of the solution, but that could be one way to help. Identify
how you could provide assistance on a project or on planning and ask how you can support your manager's efforts. The
key is to open the lines of communication so your boss knows that you are interested in supporting him and the team.
Learn - or plan to learn - something new. You could ask a co-worker with a skill you don't excel
at to help train you or share ideas on how you could increase your skill in a specific area. Or, you can find internal
training programs - formal, online, or informal. Or, you can determine what skill/function you want to learn and search
for external training. If you take that path the next step would be to have a discussion with your manager to establish
if the company will pay for the training as part of your professional development.
Some factors to consider in evaluating your next career opportunity
Whether you are a recent graduate searching for the first full-time
job or a tenured worker who wants to transition into a new opportunity, there are multiple factors to consider in evaluating
your next job. According to recent articles in HR Magazine®, a SHRM publication, depending on your stage in your
work life, some considerations will rank higher than others.
Younger workers determine whether a job is a fit
based on factors such as good pay, strong ethical culture of the company and having solid training. Employers that are
trying to attract more experienced workers are adjusting their compensation perks to include programming related to a greater
focus on wellness, professional development, flexible working and assistance with retirement savings and planning.
No matter which category you fall into, employers realize that employees' satisfaction is driven by respectful treatment,
a wide range of compensation types, trust between the employee and employer, job security, and opportunities to use their
skills and abilities. So when you are evaluating that next position, determine where you priorities lie, at this point
in your career, with these factors so you can best match your needs to what the company is offering you.
Use community resources to guide your career transition
Ready to make a move into an alternate industry but not sure which
ones are going to be the best in growth over the long term? There are places in your own community that have information
and people to help guide you. Check out these locations and resources in your area:
Community-based organizations - These can range from companies like Goodwill® to faith based services,
to demographic specific organizations. Search for career services and job search services and you may be surprised how many
places in your community are prepared with free resources to help you identify your skills and the industries where they could
be best used.
- American Job Centers - These are the hidden gems of resources for job search and transition.
Not only do the Job Centers have national and regional resources, they partner with local organizations to provide comprehensive
services to job seekers. Some of the information available includes; labor market information, current companies hiring locally,
training resources on all aspects of the hiring process, and economic development trend information for your area.
Labor market information can be one of the most valuable resources to review when considering an industry transition.
This is available at Job Centers or through your city's economic development department. Not only can you learn about
the industries with the highest growth and companies that are hiring, but oftentimes these reports include in demand jobs,
top skills desired by employers currently, and certifications or training that is necessary for the growing job sectors.