Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 Ways to Make Sure you Ace your Next Phone Interviews

Employers often use the phone interview as a screening tool to evaluate potential candidates prior to an in-person interview. These interviews are a critical first step toward your successful job search. Take these interviews seriously, don’t just “phone it in.” In other words, just like an in-person interview, the more prepared you are, the greater your chances of success.

Prepare in advance and have your materials handy
Do your research on the company, prepare your list of features and benefits you can offer the company, and write out the questions you want to ask. Spread your materials across a desk or table top so that you can easily grab them as needed during the interview.

Make sure you have a good phone connection
There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone that keeps dropping calls, or that you can not hear because of a bad connection. Use a landline whenever possible. If that is not an option for you, ensure you are in a location that has good cell service to avoid bad connections. Consider using a quality headset so that your hands can be free to grab your materials as needed.

Avoid distractions
Kids, dogs, televisions, and radios are just a few examples of the type of background noise you want to avoid during a phone interview. These items will be a distraction to both you and your interviewer and will detract from your level of professionalism. Find a quiet place where you can avoid any distractions during your phone interview. Also avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum during the phone call.

Overcome the fact that they can’t see you
Since you are not face-to-face, they can’t see your facial expressions and it is more of a challenge to ensure your personality shines through. It may feel a bit strange, but set up a mirror in front of you when you are doing a phone interview. Make eye contact with the mirror and your voice will become more confident. Smile at yourself during the interview and they will hear the smile in your voice.

A few other non-verbal communication tips:

>Be sure that you are speaking clearly and a bit slower than normal to ensure they understand what you are saying.

>Avoid sarcastic remarks or jokes that may fall flat without the context of facial expressions.

>Dress professionally during the phone interview to remind yourself of the situation. It is hard to be professional when you are interviewing in your pajamas!

Follow up just like an in-person interview
During the interview, be sure to get the interviewer’s name and job title. When the interview is complete, send them a thank you note. Thank them for their time, remind them of what you discussed that makes you a good candidate for the job, and express your desire to move forward in the interviewing process.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy and Your Career

I immediately rebuked myself after I pressed the button for the elevator to take me to my sixth floor office. "You dummy!" I said to myself, "you said you wanted to take the stairs this week!" But it was too late: the elevator had been called. So I had a choice in front of me: to do what I had originally intended (stairs) or to not "waste" what I had produced (elevator)?

This conundrum-well-documented in behavioral economics-is known as the sunk cost fallacy. We think that we make rational decisions with our time and money, but we actually experience a high amount of emotional investment in our efforts to the point where we make poor decisions in order to get the most out of something that we can never get back.

The primary motivation in the sunk cost fallacy is an aversion to waste. Let's pretend that you have set a goal to start eating healthier but you don't want to throw out or give away all of the junk food in your house. You can view this decision from two perspectives: in one, it makes sense not to waste what you have already purchased with your hard-earned money. But the other perspective is that the food can't be taken back so why consume something that will ultimately be detrimental to you? The former perspective buys into the sunk cost fallacy; the latter counters it.

The time and energy we have put into our careers-be it in schooling or training-is a sunk cost. There is no way to get it back. But we tend to cling to miserable careers because of the sunk cost fallacy, becoming emotionally attached to our past educational investment. We become the person who wants to eat healthier but ends up on the couch consuming junk food because it was too painful to throw it out. It's natural to not want to be wasteful, but when the waste is a sunk cost and it interferes with your broader, more resonant career vision, you need to make decisions that will direct you toward it.

If you don't want to be a physician anymore, you can stop. This one did. Or let's say that you are a Harvard-educated attorney but you really want to be a comedy writer. You can stop. This one did. There are countless examples of famous and not-famous individuals who chose to abandon their attachment to their past careers and embrace their new vision. They didn't succumb to the sunk cost fallacy. Ask yourself these questions to gauge if you are doing so:

How am I letting my past career keep me from a more resonant future career?

What am I not willing to let go of in the career I dislike, and how is that holding me back?

What about my past career am I afraid of abandoning?

What can you celebrate about your past career that will make you successful in your resonant one?

When the doors of the elevator opened I stepped in...only to step out again. I enjoyed hearing them close behind me as I headed into the stairwell. I felt bad calling the elevator in the first place but felt good about overcoming something that couldn't be undone because I made a choice that was better for me. The wisdom was most definitely worth it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Interview Like a Pro Even When You're Not

Sure, most post grads have been on an interview before. We've all had jobs at the local grocery store or had internships that helped connect classroom studies to real life. Interviews are always nerve-wracking and now that you're a post grad you're facing career interviews which can seem even scarier. You may have never had an intense interview or you feel the pressure to really outshine the other candidates in this economy.

Here are some tips on squashing your nerves and acing your first interviews as a post grad:

1. First off, it’s normal to feel anxious and nervous for job interviews. Unless you happen to have nerves of steel, I guarantee you'll be a little shaky and worried. Keep calm by getting prepared. Familiarize yourself with the company and the job you're applying for. Learn the basic facts about the company and prepare a few words to share about why you want to work there and why you're passionate about this company instead of other similar ones. Even if you're applying around to similar jobs, make your interviewer feel like you want to work there and only there.

2. Sell yourself not only by talking but by showing. Bring samples of your best work from college or internships and bring your resume and cover letter. Instead of just saying that you're a great graphic designer, you can show them how awesome you really are and what kind of work you've done. If the job you're looking for doesn't really allow for samples, bring along your college transcript to make sure they see your amazing grades and classes you took that pertain to the job.

3. Be confident but not cocky. Scour the Internet for sample questions that an interviewer might ask (bonus points if you find some for the type of job or company you're applying at). Practice with friends, family, and counselors about what type of answers you should give to sound confident and skilled, but not cocky or fake. Remember to be true to yourself and don't make the interviewer think you're someone you aren't. There is a difference between giving the best answer and the best answer for you. Always choose the best answer for you.

4. Remember that if you don't get the job it is not the end of the world. If something happens and you totally screw it up or you get a gut feeling you don't want to work there, it is okay. The right job will come along at the right time. Don't beat yourself up because as a post grad, you're always learning and making mistakes is a good part of that.

Now tell us, what are your tried and true interview tips?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Being Coachable Is Key to Career Success

There is no question that companies want employees who are coachable. As the pace of business quickens, companies expand globally, new technologies surface, and employers expect their employees to adapt quickly, learn new things, and take on more responsibilities. Thus, being coachable becomes even more important to your career success. The question is: Are you coachable? Following is a list of actions you can take to develop character traits that will make you more coachable.
  • Strive for continuous improvement, professionally and personally.
  • Display an Interest in learning and trying new things.
  • Set and pursue career goals and objectives.
  • Own your career and give it direction, but be flexible enough to change direction if needed.
  • Be willing to learn and apply new information, processes, techniques, and work habits.
  • Accept feedback concerning work performance, habits, and attitude.
  • Allow ample time for changes to take effect.
  • Be accountable for your actions and outcomes.
  • Use active listening techniques and follow instructions.
  • Don’t assume you have all the answers; consider other perspectives and ideas.
  • Step outside your comfort zone and stretch yourself professionally.
  • Maintain professionalism and respect others, even in challenging situations.
Others can help with this process if you open yourself to being coached professionally. A good manager can help you with professional development as opportunities arise on the job and, of course, through constructive performance reviews. A professional mentor can also be a great coach. Look for someone who has many years of experience in your occupation or industry—it’s even better if he or she works in the same company as you. Another option is to employ the services of a professional career coach; however, before hiring a coach, be sure to look into that person’s qualifications, credentials, services, fees, and client referrals.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is Working from Home Right for You? Ask Yourself These Questions.

As technology advances, more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home, at least part-time. Also, many entrepreneurs run their businesses from home to save overhead and avoid the cost of a physical office. As someone who has worked from home for the last 7 years, I know very well that there are pros and cons to the situation.

Take it from someone who knows, working from home is a constant challenge and a daily blessing all wrapped into one. I work hard every day to make it work for me. How do you know if it will work for you? Take the quiz below to find out if you are suited for working from home.

Are you self-motivated?
When you work from home, there is no boss looking over your shoulder. There is no one to see if you are working in your pajamas or sweat pants. Productivity can be a challenge when you work from home if you don’t have the self-motivation to get the job done.

Do you have discipline?
When you are home, there are always chores calling your name. A task that should have taken you 15 minutes ends up taking an hour because you stopped to fold laundry in the middle. When you work from home, it is best to treat your job like an office job. That means no dishes, laundry, or television during work hours!

Are you easily distracted?
Kids, dogs, internet surfing, television, the book you are reading; the distractions are endless when you work from home. The people who are most successful at working from home schedule time in their day to “goof off” and enjoy the distractions of their home.

Do you mind working odd hours?
When your office is at home, you can work most any hours. I sit writing this blog at 5:30 am. I would never go into an office at this hour. I make the sacrifice to work early in the morning and late every night so that I can pick my kids up from school, go on their field trips, help them with their homework, and put them to bed every night.

Are you able to easily separate work and home life?
When you work from home you need to find a balance, otherwise you will end up resenting your work. Make the rules of how your home life will interact with your business and how your business will play a role in your family. Then make sure everyone in your home – including you – is aware of and committed to sticking to those rules.

Do you have a space that you can dedicate to an office?
It is best to have a room that you can walk away from and close the door when you are finished working for the day. However, if that is not an option, set aside a corner of a room where you can avoid distractions and concentrate to get your work done for the day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Start Early to be Prepared for your Military Transition.

I teach part of a Transition Assistance Program for military veteran’s in my local area. I often meet people who are 12 to 18 months from their retirement date in my class. Many would say that they are starting too early. However, I disagree with this statement. I believe it is never too early to get started when preparing for a successful transition from a military to civilian career.

Here is a schedule you can use as a guideline for your military transition:

18 months before separation
* Attend your Transition Assistance Program on your military base..
* Define the type of career field and position you would like to pursue when you make your transition.
* Perform research on your career field of choice. Define the skills, qualifications, and education that are required in this field.
* Gather all your performance evaluations, awards and decorations, training programs, and certifications you have attained during your career.
* Review your career and define the relevant transferable skills you have attained during your career.
* Begin to prepare your resume targeted toward your career field of choice.
* Make contact with your network. Identify previous peers, former supervisors, and subordinates who work in companies or industries that you would like to target.

12 to 18 months before separation
* Refine and finalize your resume. Ensure it is targeted to the position for which you would like to apply and that the resume has translated your skills and accomplishments into “civilian” terms.
* Ensure all your networking contacts have a copy of your resume and are aware of the type of position you are seeking as well as your date of availability.

6 to 9 months before separation
* Consider attending another Transition Assistance Program on your military base to refresh your memory and refine your knowledge.
* Begin preparing for an interview. Create a list of skills and benefits that you can offer a company. Write STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories that demonstrate your ability to employ your most marketable skills.
* Begin actively attending career fairs in the market where you wish to live.
Start the federal application process if you are looking to work for the federal government.

3 to 6 months before separation
* Touch base will all your networking contacts again. Let each person know your separation date is imminent and request 15 minutes of their time to discuss the opportunities in their company.
* Begin actively applying to open positions in the civilian workplace. Apply to job postings on company websites as well as job boards such as www.indeed.com and www.careerbuilder.com.
* Refine your interviewing skills. Ensure you are prepared to answer questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “what are your strengths” by defining your marketable skills, benefits, and accomplishments.

You Made a Mistake...Well Done!

If you have ever applied for a job, there is a high probability that you have committed one or two (or more...) faux pas during your job search. I, personally, have been on the business end of behavioral interview questions that had me staring like a deer in headlights, missed an interview because I misread the time I had put into my planner, and-in high school-I went to a scholarship interview in jeans and a plaid shirt.

You may think that it took a lot of pride-swallowing to write what I did above, publicly out myself for engaging in such foolish behavior and making such dunderheaded mistakes. However, you won't catch me slapping more forehead and saying "Ugh, what an idiot I was!" Not anymore. Because when it comes to the mistakes of my past, I've moved past beating myself up and moving towards celebrating them.

Job search mistakes can be described in three ways: they're inevitable (we're all going to make them), potentially debilitating (we can beat ourselves up about them in perpetuity), and they're rich in information (we can learn a lot from them). Most job seekers either deny the first and wallow in the second; they perpetually lament their screw-up and-at worse-internalize the mistake to make it a reflection of them as a person. This is a dangerous, slippery slope to be on because it leads to misery and self-sabotage. The only thing possible from this perspective is a career destiny of struggle and hardship.

In contrast, embracing the lesson in the mistake will help you to become a more sharp candidate. You commit to never making it again and become all the more vigilant to its appearance. You become a sharper, more focused candidate that improves with every application, every interview. In fact, you can even use the mistake as a potential answer to an interview question! The mistake becomes a source of power, not weakness.

Make a commitment to yourself: from this moment on, cherish your mistakes. See them as the wonderful lessons that they are. Talk about them and what they taught you with pride. Your attitude will improve and you will start to see success creep into your career life much more quickly. Because the candidate who never learns from mistakes is one who lacks true inner-wisdom and insight.

Be bold, dear readers, and fail forward.

Your assignment: On a piece of paper create a two-column chart (like a t-chart). In the left-hand column write "Mistake I Made" and in the right-hand column write "Lesson I Learned." Compile your list of job search mistakes and the corresponding lessons you have learned that will make you a better applicant. Put this chart in a place where you can see to keep yourself both grounded and motivated in your search.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How To Make a Successful Blog To Give You An Edge In the Job Market

Maybe you've been a blogger for years but never realized that having one could help you in the job world. Or maybe you never had the idea of starting a blog until now, when you heard all the success stories of blogs becoming famous. Whatever reason you have for starting a blog, I suggest you start soon! Starting a blog is a great way to get noticed and even have a little fun and meet new people.

Here are some tips on starting a blog that can help you land a job:

1. Cater your blog to the niche you'd like to jump into. If you just got your degree in journalism and dream of having a fabulous magazine job, start your own. I've heard many success stories of people starting online magazines that grow into something they never imagined. It doesn't matter what you got your degree in or what job you'd like to have but starting a blog about that field will keep you close to it and share your knowledge and skills.

2. Dig into other blogs and get your name out there. Electronically meeting and networking with people from all over the world who love the same things you do can get your foot in the door just about anywhere.

3. Always be professional. It doesn't matter what type of blog you have, but remember to keep it professional. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, keep things positive, and never indulge too much personal information. When you're blogging, simply remember that you want to make sure you wouldn't be embarrassed if a potential employer were to read it.

4. A blog allows your skills and knowledge to shine in a way that is different and more personal than a resume and cover letter. By allowing potential employers to see a different and unique side of you, it can give you that edge you need to land the job.

5. Once you dive head first into the blogging world and being to connect with other bloggers, you never know who you may meet. Make sure you have an "About Me" page filled with your credentials, Linkedin profile, your resume and photo. Your dream employer might just find you before you find them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Looking for a Flexible Work Arrangement

Many job seekers desire a flexible work arrangement, particularly those wishing for a better work/home-life balance. Advancements in technology and remote access to office networks, systems, and people have made flexible work arrangements more feasible for many employers and employees. Some employers are even discovering advantages to these arrangements, for example, by saving money on office space, being able to attract top job candidates, and improving employee retention.

Making Work Arrangements More Flexible

Following are some of the most common arrangements for flexible work schedules:
Part time: Working less than 40 hours per week (typically between 17 and 25 hours).
Flex time: Adjusting daily start and end times to accommodate earlier or later arrivals (based on a standard 9 to 5 shift). An example: Working a 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. shift.
Compressed work week: Working a 40-hour, full-time schedule within a compressed work week, for example, a four-day week.
Telecommuting: Working from a remote location, usually a home office.
Job share: Sharing job responsibilities with another employee by splitting hours in a work week.

Searching for Opportunities

To research whether companies of interest offer flexible work arrangements, look for careers and job postings on the company website. Inquire within your network and explore other websites, like glassdoor.com, that provide company reviews based on anonymous employee feedback.
If a company recruiter arranges an interview for you, ask about the company’s work schedule, which may lead to an informal inquiry about whether the company allows flexible work arrangements. If you interview for and are offered a full-time position but are still interested in a flexible arrangement, consider exploring the topic during negotiations. If the employer seems skeptical, propose starting small–maybe suggest a trial period or working a half day from home each week. If the employer opposes any flexible work arrangements, carefully consider whether this is the right job for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arrogance versus Confidence. 5 Arrogant Behaviors to Avoid.

In previous a previous blog post I extolled the importance of confidence in the job search process. However, today I want to explore the difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence for a job seeker demonstrates competence and professionalism and has the ability to inspire a hiring manager to add you to their team. Arrogance, on the other hand, is off-putting, makes people uncomfortable, and often motivates the hiring manager to show you the door.

Many people fail to see the difference between the two characteristics. However, the best way I can think of to explain the distinction is that confident people see themselves as one of the smart and talented people in the room, where arrogant people see themselves as the ONLY smart and talented person in the room. Confident people believe in themselves, while arrogant people believe that they are better than others.

Here are some behaviors to avoid if you don’t want to be considered arrogant:

* An arrogant job seeker sells themselves in an interview as the one and only solution to an employer’s problems. They speak as though the employer’s company will not survive unless it makes the choice to hire the arrogant job seeker immediately. Alternatively, the confident job seeker takes the time to research the company’s needs and problems and presents their skills and accomplishments in terms of how they could potentially benefit the employer.

* Arrogant people think that they are the only ones who have something important to say. Arrogant people often interrupt others and are not considered to be good listeners. Confident people listen to others with an open mind. When arrogant people do listen, it is often so that they can tell you why you are wrong.

* Arrogant people have the answer to every question, even when they really don’t know the answer. Confident people are willing to say “I don’t have an answer, but I will find out and get back to you.” Arrogant people often position themselves as the expert in every subject. No matter what is being discussed, they have read an article, know someone, or have something to add – even if it is not relevant to the conversation.

* Arrogant people do not admit mistakes. When something goes wrong, an arrogant person will place the blame on someone else. A confident person can admit when they make a mistake, apologize for any oversights, learn from their mistakes, and move on.

* Arrogant people have no respect for other people’s time and think nothing of being late to an interview or meeting. When a confident person is late, they are quick to apologize for making others wait at their expense.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top 5 Ways to Deal with Job Rejection.

Many of us have heard the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me” in a breakup in our lives. In that context, it may not always be true. However in the job search, this statement often rings true. The reason we did not get the job will most likely never be known to us. Often, the cause was something out of our control, and no matter how well we prepared or how much we aced the interview we had no chance to get hired.

I was talking to a client over the weekend during an intensive interview counseling session and we discussed this very matter. I let her in on a secret a career sales professional once taught me. His philosophy was SWSWSWN. That stands for “some will, some won’t, so what, next!” The combination of this positive outlook on the outcome of the job search and the top 5 coping strategies should help you return to a positive frame of mind the next time you don’t land the job.

Don’t take it personal.
There are so many factors that go into a company’s decision whether or not to hire. Don’t see it as a personal affront to you if you are rejected. Instead, realize that you have talents, skills, and attributes that you can offer the right company in the right position. When you view job interviews as the end-all measure of your professional worth, you will very quickly damage your view of self-worth.

Learn something from every experience.
I believe there is no such thing as a wasted interview. Every time you interview for a job, whether it is the right fit for you or not, you get more comfortable talking about your skills and the benefits you offer a company. After every interview, ask yourself several questions such as, what questions did I feel unprepared to answer? What can I do differently in the next interview to achieve better results? Did I know enough about the job and the company going into the interview to be successful? Focus on the opportunity for growth and move forward to the next challenge.

Accept responsibility, don’t blame other people.
Accepting responsibility is very different than berating yourself. Take account of your interview performance, accept where you went wrong, and take steps to overcome these same barriers the next time you get a chance. Don’t be critical of the interviewer or the company when talking to family members or colleagues, you never want to burn a potential bridge for your career.

Seek positive support.
You are not alone in the job search. Countless other job seekers are going through some of the same challenges that you face. Seek networking groups where you can gain new information, bounce ideas off one another, and positively discuss the process. Surround yourself with positive people who support you and believe in you and try to avoid those people who are critical and negative.

Network your way to success.
View every encounter as a networking opportunity. Even when you get a rejection from an interview, contact the hiring authority, thank them for taking their time to consider you as an applicant, and ask them to keep you and your qualifications in mind for any future positions or with any industry colleagues who may be hiring for similar positions.

Keeping Success In Your Sight

When I was a student in a motorcycle safety class years ago, the most memorable piece of advice my instructors passed on to us students was this: you go where your eyes go. As you ride in the moment, aware of your surroundings, your eyes are your strongest asset to keep you from crashing. Your body naturally responds to where you are looking, and-with practice-you become one with your bike.

It's easy to see how this fundamental of safe riding is an analogy for career success, particularly through a transition. Life can seem like a topsy-turvy mess when weathering the storm of a lost job or a job that has yet to materialize. Stress, frustration, and desperation can cloud your vision. If you're not careful, you could end up in a nasty wreck.

Where are your eyes pointed? Safety in your career isn't holding one job for the rest of your life: it's how that job fulfills your long-term career vision. If you're committed to and holding a vision, transitions-be they voluntary or involuntary-aren't considered disruptions but opportunities for growth.

Use the following questions to help you align a vision and refine success:

How would I articulate my career vision?

When looking back on my career, what would I like to have accomplished?

Where do I feel empty/lacking in my career, and what does this tell me about my ?

What past work experiences have brought me closer to my vision?

What important goals have I achieved, and what goals do I have yet to fulfill?

Cruise into a career that is uniquely yours by keeping the bigger picture in mind. Set your eyes on your vision and don't let it escape your sight. Become at one with your career.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Find Post Grad Support Online

Sometimes post grads can feel really alone. You're out of your college bubble, perhaps living back at home minus your friends, or you moved to a new city for a new job where you don't know anyone. It is easy to get lonely and forget how many other post grads there are out there, feeling the same way you do. Today I'm bringing you some websites designed specifically for twenty something post grads:

1. The Next Great Generation: http://www.thenextgreatgeneration.com/tngg/

This website is designed for 18-27-year-olds and covers just about every topic. They encourage twenty somethings to write for them and get involved in discussions on everything from technology, politics, culture, lifestyle, to entertainment and more. It is a great place to explore topics on careers, job searching, and tips for being successful as well as a place to escape and learn about the newest technology and entertainment news.

2. Scour the Internet for post grad blogs. These blogs can cover everything from life after college, true stories, career and job search advice, even help if you're going through a "quarter-life crisis".

Here are some of my favorites:

The Post Grad - http://www.the-postgrad.com/

The Real Post Grad - http://www.therealpostgrad.com/

The Post Grad Blog - http://thepostgradblog.com/

3. Twentity - http://www.twentity.com/

A website started by a self-proclaimed clueless graduate, this website answers all of your questions as a post grad. How will I find a job? How will I survive on my own? How will I maintain my relationships? This life coach helps all you twenty somethings that need a little help.

4. 20 Something Bloggers - http://www.20sb.net/

Are you a blogger with a lot to say? Looking to gain a job from your awesome blog? Join this website that hooks you up with thousands of other bloggers in their twenties, most of them recent college grads. Similar to Facebook, you can make a profile, chat with new friends, join groups, and of course get your blog's link out there. You can find plenty of other interesting blogs to help you feel less alone.

5. Love Twenty - http://www.lovetwenty.com/search/label/CAREER

Love Twenty is mainly geared for the girly post grads, but contains a lot of useful information. Check out their "Career" section to find interview tips, resume advice, and so much more. Love Twenty also specializes in talking openly about friendships, beauty, health and fitness, and style. You'll feel like you're talking with your friends as you read!

We all know that websites can't replace the helpfulness of talking with a friend who is a post grad just like you, but they can help. You can gain advice and tips from other people your age who have had experiences first-hand. You can connect with other post grads who have similar questions or answers to your questions. You can build your resume by getting involved with the sites you grow to love. Whatever your motivation is to connect with these sites, I hope you find what you're looking for!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Avoid Job-Seeking Blunders

When job seeking, you should be professional, persistent, and prepared, and you should always try to maintain a good attitude. It helps to avoid some obvious and not-so-obvious blunders that job seekers frequently make.

Use Common Sense

Although some actions may appear to be common sense, job seekers occasionally make the following errors as a result of overlooking the obvious, rushing too much, or not paying attention to detail:
  • Omitting or presenting incorrect contact information in job-search correspondence.
  • Applying to positions for which you are unqualified.
  • Neglecting to submit required information specified in a job posting.
  • Underestimating the importance of networking. However, it is also important to be selective about whom you share job search information with; for example, it is not a good idea to share your job search efforts with casual acquaintances at your current employer.
  • Arriving to an interview late.
  • Ignoring or not following up on job prospects.
  • Acting or dressing in an unprofessional manner.

Practice and Polish

Like many things, with job-search practice you get better results. Avoiding the following blunders becomes easier with experience:
  • Arriving unprepared to an interview. Always research the company in advance and consider ways you can add value. Bring questions to the interview and use verbal and body language that suggest you are interested in the job.
  • Being ill-informed, unprepared, and unrealistic about salary. With current salary data readily available, employers expect job seekers to be in the same ballpark when it comes to salary expectations.
  • Disregarding the value of an online professional presence. Consider creating a professional profile on LinkedIn, for starters.
  • Limiting your job search to online job boards only. Many jobs never find their way to online job boards; often, these are discovered through networking.
  • Overlooking the importance of sending a thank you. Always follow up after an interview.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Realistic Optimism. How to be an Optimist without Denying Reality.

An optimist sees the favorable side of events or conditions and expects a favorable outcome. This is truly a vital part of success. However, there is a very big difference between believing success will come your way and believing success will come easily to you. The realistic optimist believes they will be successful, but understands that they will have to work hard, plan, persist, and make the right choices to make success happen.

If you are realistic about the obstacles or challenges you may face along your path to success, you are able to plan for them. An unrealistic optimist may say this is a negative approach. However, expressing concerns and thinking about potential problems is actually very proactive. Here are several ways to ensure your success at achieving your realistically optimistic goals.

Prepare and Plan
One of my favorite quotes is “luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” No matter the opportunity that may arise, if you are not ready for success you may not be able to take advantage of that opportunity. Don’t simply react to whatever comes your way. Be proactive and make a plan for anything you imagine may come between you and your goals.

Work Hard
People who are not successful often believe that success is simply a matter of luck or of being in the right place at the right time. However, ask any successful person and they will tell you that success is proportional to the amount of work you are willing to put in. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” To reach expert level, researchers agree that 10,000 hours of practice is the minimum that is necessary. Are you willing to be exceptional?

Believe in Yourself
How can you expect others to believe in you, unless you first believe in yourself? Of course you will make mistakes along the way. Accept those mistakes, own up to them, and then learn from them so that you don’t make them again.

Persevere and Persist
The dictionary says perseverance and persistence are the steadfast continuation toward a course of action in spite of opposition, difficulties, or obstacles. Many experts think that failure is one of the keys to success and that your rate of success is directly proportional to the number of times you fail. In fact, it was Thomas Edison that said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fake it Until you Make it! The Art (and Necessity) of Faking Confidence.

I have two daughters that are 2 years apart. The older daughter is brimming with confidence – bordering on arrogance. The younger daughter has almost no confidence. Same parents, raised in the same household by my husband and I, but they are so very different. I work every day on helping my younger daughter to believe in herself and find her identity because as a professional I know how important confidence can be to success.

Confidence is critical in the workplace, whether you are employed or looking for a job. When you have confidence, people automatically assume you are competent. If you are unemployed and you lack confidence you will find it even harder to land that dream job. Most likely, if you lack confidence your job search is lacking in the following areas:

Networking. People who are unsure of themselves are less likely to take risks, ask for assistance, and go out of their way to meet new people.

Communicating your value. Whether you are writing your resume and cover letter or talking about yourself in an interview, you must focus on your strengths and accomplishments.

Improving your career from job to job. No matter the state of the economy, if you have confidence and a firm grasp of the value you can add to a company, you can improve your job situation by effectively marketing your skills and benefits. The people who lack confidence often take the first job that comes along because they don’t believe a better opportunity will present itself.

Negotiating salary. People who lack confidence are hesitant to negotiate salary because they do not accept the value they bring a company. Identify your strengths, skills, and accomplishments to define the benefits you can offer a company, then ask to be compensated accordingly.

So, if you are lacking confidence the first step is to ask yourself why. The next step is to do something about it. Here are some tips to get you on the road to self-confidence.

* Fake it until you make it. Confidence can be faked when you meet someone. Hold your head high, look them in the eye, shake their hand with enthusiasm, and stand up straight. Body language goes a long way toward projecting confidence. Chances are when you start “faking” your confidence, you may just start to believe it yourself.

* Take the time to identify your strengths and give yourself credit for your accomplishments. By making this list, you will not only boost your confidence, you will also prepare to speak confidently about yourself in an interview.

* Accept who you are, admit your mistakes, and move on. Do not compare yourself to others, simply accept that you are unique and have a combination of talents and strengths that no one else has.

* Surround yourself with positive people and situations. Job searching is challenging enough without the support of friends and family. You may need to seek the support of a career coach or resume writer to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

The "Mes" Have It: Why You Fail In Your Job Search

That's just not me

My leadership coaching class was in the midst of practicing a technique called "calling forth," which-for the uninitiated-means to confront a client's issue with authenticity, connection, aliveness, and fierce courageousness. Basically, we were to get in the client's face for the sake of the client...even if it meant being fired in the process.

For emotive types, this is difficult. We're "touchy-feely;" we don't want to hurt anyone. We want to coddle and take care of and support. But our instructors called us forth to let go of our notion that the client is someone who needs to be taken care of and couldn't take our fierce love. They pushed us into the realm of hyperbole; we were yelling at our clients, making them stand on their heads, forcing them to lay down, and engaging in many other "abnormal" behaviors to get them to confront their issue.

But some of us struggled because getting in someone's face "just isn't 'me'." We struggled because of this idea of what "me" is.

Job searchers do the same thing. They use methods that feel comfortable for them; not ones that give them results. "It's just not me to network with strangers." "It's just not me to make a follow-up phone call." "It's just not me to ask a former colleague to help me make networking connections."

Where you are afraid to go is exactly where you need to. And don't bother asking where that is...you know where.

The Daily Leap has a wealth of job search tips and techniques that quickly put the days of unemployment behind you. Click this link, find three that are the most uncomfortable for you, and do them. These, the ones that are most in conflict with your idea of "me" will be the ones that you lead to success. You will feel bolstered by your boldness and alive by confronting your discomfort.

Don't let your insecure "me" get in the way of your goals and dreams. Go where the discomfort is.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Found out you hate the job you went to school to get? How to move forward

There are a lot of articles out there about newly graduated bright-eyed twenty somethings not being able to find a job. What happens if you're lucky enough to find a job in your field shortly after you wear your cap and gown, but realize this field is not for you. You can sulk that you wasted four years of studying to wind up hating the type of job you chose or you can take action. Pick yourself up and move forward.

First of all, give it time. New jobs are rarely easy and you have to decide whether you dislike the company you're working for, the atmosphere, the work, etc. If you truly decide after time that you won't ever be happy working in the field you thought you'd love, it is time to look at your options.

Next decide whether you can find a job you'd be happy with in relation to your degree. For example, my degree in journalism allows me to do all sorts of writing and I'm not necessarily confined to the local newspaper desk. Be sure to research all of the jobs that apply to the degree you chose - perhaps you can find a job you love that you never thought you could get with your degree.

If you're out of options, it may be time to get some more schooling. Think about continuing your education by getting a Masters degree in a field you'll be more successful with. It is a great investment within yourself and can give you many more options when it comes time to find another career.

Lastly, take some classes or head to a trade school to learn different and new skills you've always considered, but never had the time to go for while in school. Taking classes and researching your options can help you figure out what degree and career you really want. Be sure to take internships that give you real world experience without confining you to a specific job or field.

Best of luck in finding the job of your dreams! It is never too late!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Preparing for Your New Job

If you’re about to embark on a new job with a new employer, don’t be surprised if you experience some uncertainty as you prepare for the transition. After all, changing jobs is one of life’s biggest changes. You may question your ability to perform well in your new role or to adapt to the culture and office politics. Or maybe you’re worried about establishing new working relationships. The following tips can help minimize your concerns and prepare you for your new job before you start.

  • Carefully review your official job offer and clarify any points of contention or uncertainty before accepting the job, or at least before your start date.
  • Take a tour of the office and check out your new workspace.
  • Ask your manager or a human resources representative what will take place on your first day. For example, are there documents you need to bring or should you plan to attend a new-hire orientation?
  • Familiarize yourself with the people and/or roles in your department. If an organizational chart exists, review it to get a big picture of the organization’s structure.
  • Talk with your manager about his or her expectations and priorities for the first several weeks so you can hit the ground running.
  • Get up to speed on the company by reviewing any available information on company goals and objectives, policies, processes, and key projects.
  • Ask your manager to help facilitate an introductory lunch with new team members, preferably before, but certainly within a few days of, your start date.
  • Get personal matters organized, such as lining up childcare and making sure you have appropriate attire.
  • Avoid taking on other major life changes at the same time (when possible) to allow yourself time to get acclimated to your new job.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The 5 Rules of Email Etiquette

Electronic communication has become the standard in today’s business world. Many people would rather send an email instead of making a phone call. However, in the job seeking and business community, you may be breaking some very important rules of etiquette in your email communications. Here are some general rules to help you ensure ALL your communication is professional and appropriate.

Don’t be too friendly or personal in your email.
No matter how well you know your boss, or how much you want to appear to be one of the team with that potential employer, business emails should always stay professional in nature. The tone of your voice, your sense of humor, and intent of irony does not always come through in an email. Before sending an email, read through the message and ensure the content can’t be misconstrued.

Don’t use email for sensitive subjects or when a phone call would be simpler.
Email is not the right place to have a disagreement with another person. You may come across as curt, unfriendly, or even angrier than you really feel – which may just escalate the situation. If you would not want anyone to read the contents of your email, it may be best to have the conversation face-to-face. If you find that you are emailing back and forth and not resolving the issue, it may be better to just pick up the phone and settle the issue.

Pay attention to spelling and grammar.
Professional emails are not the place to use the abbreviated “text language” that is so popular with texting or social media. Take your time when writing an email and check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar to avoid embarrassing mistakes. I once had a client who sent a post-interview thank you email after an interview in which they assured her a job offer would be forthcoming. Her thank you email contained a spelling error. No job offer was ever extended, she lost the opportunity due to a simple mistake.

Ensure your email address is professional.
Hotmama67@xyz.com or ilovebeer@abc.com are just a few of the emails I have seen on actual resumes in my career. Feel free to use whatever email you want for your personal correspondence, but always use a professional email address when corresponding in the business world. It is best to use something simple and professional that contains your name or first initial and last name.

Use the CC and BCC function properly.
The CC function, which stands for “carbon copy” should be used when you are sending a message to someone but also want to copy a few other people on the message. If you are sending a message to a large group of people, use the BCC – or “blind carbon copy” function. This will prevent you from sharing email addresses with a large group of people and will avoid cluttering the email with a large cluster of addresses.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to Wear your Many Hats with Style

I was talking with a client who is a project manager the other day. She was telling me about all the many hats she had to wear. She wore the coach’s hat to mentor her team, the fireman’s hat to put out all the problem “fires,” and the court jester hat to infuse some humor into even the most difficult situations, just to name a few.

Some of us have to wear many different hats in our professional – and personal – lives. However, if you don’t wear your hats properly, you could end up with a fashion – and business – disaster. Here are three considerations for the next time you have to change hats.

Don’t Over-accessorize!
Never try to wear all your hats at once. You have seen people who wear too many accessories, they look overdone and cluttered. When you try to fulfill too many roles – or wear too many hats – at one time, the quality and efficiency of your work suffers. Be disciplined so that whatever hat you are wearing at any given time is given your full focus. It is okay to try to wear several hats, but take them one at a time and be the best you can be at each role.

Know What Hat Suits you.
You have probably seen someone in a style that you liked, but when you tried it on it did not have the same appeal. The same can go for business hats. Know your limits and your strengths and understand that you don’t have to be an expert at everything. Surround yourself with people whose strengths match your weaknesses and delegate those tasks to them whenever possible. If delegating is not an option, find an expert or a mentor to help you overcome your limitations.

Recognize When you Have Outgrown your Hat.
Change is inevitable. Styles change and figures change. In the fashion world, you know when someone is not willing to “let go.” In the business world, you must be prepared to adapt to new technology, industry trends, and situations by remaining aware of when it is time to move on. You may just need to switch hats depending on the situation you encounter or people you interact with. However, sometimes you have to toss out old hats entirely because they no longer fit you.

Navigating Permanent Detours on Your Life's Career Road

Would you take career advice from a 10-year-old?

How about a 14-year-old?

An 18-year-old?

These questions may sound strange, but they are entirely appropriate when considering how we treat and navigate our careers. It's not uncommon to hear someone say that she's wanted to be a doctor since she was eight or a veterinarian since she was six. That elementary school child's dream then influences her adult professional life. But what happens when she decides that she doesn't want to follow that advice anymore? Or she questions whether it was good advice in the first place?

It takes a lot of courage to say "this career isn't for me," the amount of courage increasing the farther one has progressed into it. Not only is there a sense of personal failure associated with it but, depending on the profession, one could experience extreme blow-back from family and friends. For those struggling in a career that they made be very good at but they don't feel is right for them, keep these in mind:

It's okay to change: Whether you are a doctor, a saleswoman, an engineer, or an administrative assistant, if your career is no longer resonating with your values or who you want to be as a person, it is okay to find something new. Give yourself permission to believe this.

Your loved ones will act how they are supposed to act: When you get to the point that you are able to vocalize your intent to leave your career, those that care about you the most could react with everything from a "what the heck are you thinking?!" to a "you go get 'em, tiger!" Both reactions are exactly what they are: reactions. Whether the world is for you or against you, maintain the perspective that this decision is for you and will lead to a more satisfying life.

You may need help: If you know that your current career isn't for you but you don't know what to "do," don't hesitate to get some help. A career coach is a great resource to help you get in touch with the values you want to connect with in your career. Assessments such as the MBTI or the Strong Interest Inventory can give some guidance on how your natural interests and preferences align with vocations that are worth exploring.

Career changes can be difficult, but not as difficult as laboring in a field that you do not love. If you fall into this category, my thoughts are with you as you self-assess and explore what makes a fulfilling life for you. Your career road is for you and you alone to drive. You must enjoy the ride.