Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Top 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Can do about it

With the upcoming new year, millions of people will set New Year’s resolutions, only to soon fail and go back to old habits. Instead of advising people about how to set better goals, I thought it would be better to look at what I think are the top 3 reasons people’s resolutions fail.

A FranklinCovey survey conducted in 2007 showed that 35% of respondents broke their resolutions by the end of January and 77% of respondents admitted to breaking their resolutions some time during the year. This is the first of 3 blog entries. Check back next year (also known as next week) to find out reasons 2 and 3 to ensure these are not the cause of your own downfall.

Reason #1 – Your resolutions are what you think you SHOULD do instead of what you WANT to do

I should start exercising, I should lose weight, I should stop smoking are all examples of what people say to themselves before setting a New Year’s resolution to do just that. The problem is that we are basing our resolutions on other people’s expectations, by what we see in a magazine, or see on television. However, we have no true motivation to achieve these goals.

The Solution:
The only way you will stick with a goal is if it means something significant to you. The first step to overcoming this obstacle is to evaluate why you are setting your particular resolution. Is it because you really want to do it, or because it is what you think you ought to do? In the same 2007 FranklinCovey survey mentioned earlier, 33% of respondents admitted that they were not committed to the resolutions they set.

When setting your resolution, think about committing yourself to one or two goals – no more – that will make you truly happy. Don’t just focus on the goal, but instead focus on why you want to achieve that goal. Instead of saying I want to stop smoking, say to yourself, I am going to stop smoking to improve my health and increase my energy and stamina when playing with my kids. By tapping into the reason or motivation behind the goal, you are more likely to commit yourself to achieving your goal.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to Optimize Holiday Party Networking Contacts

Most holiday parties have come to a close and although you may
still have some opportunities at the upcoming New Year’s Eve parties, it is
time to plan how you can take full advantage of the new contacts you made
during holiday festivities. Congratulations to you for going out on a limb and
taking the initiative to make new networking connections at these events. However,
now you may be asking yourself what to do next. Here are some tips to help you
optimize these new relationships.

> Follow up with these new contacts as soon as possible.
If you have not yet touched base with your new contact, it is time to reach out
to them. The longer you wait, the more likely you will be forgotten in the
bustle of the holidays.

> Use the upcoming new year as an ice breaker. Send your
new contact a card, email, or voice message with wishes for a Happy New Year
and inquire about the remainder of their holiday since you last saw each other.

> When you make the initial contact, remind them where
and when you met and who introduced you. Use the topic of your conversation –
your shared interests or goals – as a reminder of your conversation. Remind
them of how you can be a resource for them and clearly express what you are looking
for from them as a networking contact.

> Search for the person on social networking sites such
as and This is a way to
reconnect without asking for too much of their time.

> Don’t wear out your welcome before you make an honest
connection. Keep in mind that people are often just returning from work after
an extended absence and they may not be able to get back to you right away. Be
respectful of their time, their schedule, and their other commitments.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Five TED Videos to Inspire Your 2012

2011 was a banner year for internet video, with musicians, commercials, and animals making waves. But the best videos aren't necessarily the most popular, and I have compiled five of my favorite TED videos to inspire and guide your 2012.

Trying something new: Matt Cutts, in his short put powerful TED talk, inspires his audience to try something new for 30 days. The lessons he learned changed his life and will inspire you to change yours. What could you do for 30 days that would positively impact your career?

Reframing regret: Kathryn Schulz begins her talk discussing the biggest regret of her life-her tattoo-and ends up confronting her listeners to think about what they regret and how those "bad choices" are actually a springboard for important life-lessons that guide. What have you been regretting that you should now start celebrating?

Passion: This talk features an app developer...who happens to be 12-years-old. Hear his story and reflect on how you are letting your passions drive you in your life. What are you passionate about, and how are you acting on those passions?

Simplicity: How much stuff do you need? Graham Hill challenges his audience to contemplate the nature of their belongings and their desire to consume, consume, consume. How much happier would you be if you ruled your possessions instead of them ruling you?

What matters: Ric Elias was a passenger on US Airways flight 1549 that crashed into the Hudson River in January 2009. Surviving what in many cases would have been certain death, he reflects on the three things he learned through that experience. What truly matters to you in your life, and how are you living based on those beliefs?

Make 2012 the year of you and your career.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. A Must-Listen Interview for Job Hunters

2. New Ways to Make the Most out of a Career Fair

3. How Blogging Can Help Your Career

4. 22 Game-Changing Job-Search Tips from a Recruiter

5. How Twitter Hashtags Can Help You Find a Position

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cover Letters Act As Valuable Communication Tools

Job seekers might ask: Is it really necessary to submit a cover letter with a resume when applying for a job? The answer is yes. A cover letter serves as an introduction between the job seeker and the prospective employer. In it, you introduce yourself, identify the position of interest, and summarize the unique value and expertise you can bring to the organization. Cover letters may also help to explain a unique situation, like a gap in employment or why the job seeker is transitioning to a new industry. When written well, a cover letter should draw the reader into wanting to read the accompanying resume—with the ultimate goal of securing a job interview.


The key elements of a cover letter include a salutation; an introductory paragraph; two body paragraphs highlighting the applicant’s experience, skills, and accomplishments; and a closing paragraph requesting an interview or other follow-up steps. To be completely effective, customize the letter to address the position and company you are applying to.

Cover Letter Templates

The great news for job seekers is that numerous cover letter templates are available to help get you started in writing a targeted message intended to resonate with a particular audience or communicate unique experience. Many custom templates are designed for specific situations, like a first-time job seeker or someone wishing to highlight transferable skills in an attempt to transition occupations. Most templates are typically easy to use, and most are available for free online.

Much as you might be tempted to skip the cover letter, think twice. A cover letter is a great tool for capturing the interest of your audience and selling yourself, while allowing a little bit of your personality to shine through too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pros and Cons of Discussing War Experience on a Military Transition Resume

U.S. veterans with war experience on their resumes are sometimes having a difficult time finding work. This is a subject that I find upsetting since I am thankful beyond words for our veterans who have been overseas fighting in any of the conflicts our country is involved in. However, there are many people out there who are engaging in passive discrimination when they discover that veterans have war experience.

Whether you disclose your overseas experience is your own choice and I would like to offer what I feel are the positive and negative aspects of listing war experience on a resume.

> The main reason veterans are being discriminated against is due to the fear of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Employers fear that the veteran employee may be suffering from PTSD and will therefore not be an effective candidate.

> Most civilians don’t know about all the screening, testing, and reintegration training that veterans go through before they transition back to their regular life state-side. This lack of knowledge may also be the cause of a bias against hiring war veterans.

> There are some people who are fundamentally opposed to the war effort in which you served. This is usually based on their personal opinions, belief, and political persuasion. Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing whether or not this could be an issue when you send in the resume.

> Being able to demonstrate leadership under the pressure of a battlefield situation is a testament to your management skills.

> In many fields such as law enforcement and intelligence analysis, the real-world experience from war makes you more valuable to an employer.

Whether you decide to discuss your war experience or not, highlight your most relevant military experience and translate your military terminology into understandable terms that civilians understand.

Holiday Job Hunter Tips

The holidays can be a tricky time if you're newly graduated. You may be tempted to slide right into party or relax mode and forget all about job hunting, internships and networking. Please don't give up hope for the holidays! Here are some tips to use the holidays to your advantage to score a great job:

1. If you haven't been able to find a job in your field yet, do take a seasonal job. Working at a retail store may seem like the last thing you want to do right now, but it could lead to some great contacts. If you can find a seasonal job in a field that you may be interested in, take it! You never know where it may lead you.

2. Use holiday parties to network. Suck it up and join your parents or relatives to their holiday parties if they can bring guests. Bring business cards or your contact information and try to talk to everyone. Again, you never know who you may meet or you may find someone who knows someone who can help get you a job. Remember to be pleasant, polite and dress well.

3. Join professional groups that are related to your field. They may be holding holiday parties that will allow you to meet with other professionals in your desired field. Find any opportunities to party and network!

4. The holidays are a great time to remind the people in your network that you're still searching for a job. Sending nice e-cards or emails to wish someone a happy holiday is a nice way to get back in touch with someone if you aren't sure how to reconnect.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to Consider before Recommending a Friend to Work with you

The holidays make most everyone feel more generous and giving. While it is easy to empathize with a job seeker who asks you for help, you need to remember that when you recommend a friend, colleague, or someone in your network you are putting your own reputation on the line. To avoid the potential for backlash on your own career, consider these areas before offering a personal recommendation for someone to work in your company.

Work History
We often know our friends from a purely social perspective. However, ask yourself what you know about their employment history, previous performance, and work ethic. I have a friend who is one of the nicest people I know. He is kindhearted, generous, and very personable. However, when I sat down and evaluated his employment history, there were a lot of red flags in his past. I may think twice before giving him a personal recommendation.

Unless you have worked with someone previously, it is difficult to know how their personality will manifest itself in a work environment. Try to assess your friend’s goals and work style to determine, in advance, whether or not they would be a fit for the job they are seeking.

Future Working Relationship
Working together has the potential to seriously damage a relationship. What happens to your carefully cultivated professional reputation if your newly hired friend begins telling stories about you as a geeky high school kid? What happens if down the road one of you has to manage the other, or terminate the other person? Before you recommend a friend to work in the same company with you, lay down clearly defined boundaries and rules that clarify your work and personal relationships.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Three Mind-Over-Matter Ways to Influence Your Career

Do you feel that you spend your time productively?

What a loaded question. There are those who 'do' but when they turn around to see what they have done are not happy with the result. There are also those who create lists of tasks to accomplish but find themselves spending time in ways that are not productive.

Is it that our accomplishments are meaningless (as in the first scenario) or that we are lazy (as in the second scenario)? Or do we need to use our mind in different ways?

The ramifications of this on our careers is obvious: there's a camp of job seekers or driven employees who think that producing makes them successful, but they are not mindful about what they produce and how it helps to get them where they want to go. There's also a camp who aspire to accomplish, but end up disappointing themselves with how little they produce.

So what should one do if they are feeling productive but unaccomplished or unmotivated? Follow the advice of these experts to turn time in your favor.

Do Less: Tony Schwartz writes in the Harvard Business Review that to accomplish more in your work or personal life that doing less: taking breaks and disengaging from work. He sits two studies-one by NASA and one by a performance expert researching violinists-that looked at the impact taking breaks has on one's productivity and the results showed a positive correlations between breaks and performance. Whether you are looking for a job or looking to advance in your career, disengaging from work for a small period of time can make you more productive than trying to slog through to get "something" done.

Proactively Schedule 'Thinking Time': Software developer Jacob Gorban advocates not just taking a break from work but devoting that time to thinking. By spending his Monday mornings thinking about his week, working on the "important, not urgent" stuff, and creatively sketching out ideas for future projects and products, he feels more clear about what his week should look like and works toward accomplishing his goals. Schedule intentional thinking time in your week to align yourself with what's important to you and what you want to get done.

Engaging Your Creative Mind: Some people feel that they simply are not creative, but it turns out that engaging your creative mind is a process that anyone can do. By creating an environment where you tap into your creativity, difficult problems are approached and solved from a new perspective and you create the seeds to do some amazing work by breaking down barriers that you have created for yourself.

Utilize these strategies and write in the comments below your successes or your struggles!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Don't Forget Common Sense in Your Job Search
2. Why Patience Kills
3. How to Get the Most out of an Informational Interview
4. Questions to Ask When Networking
5. Should You Consider "Reinventing" Yourself Today for Tomorrow's Jobs?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Promote Study, Work, or Travel Abroad Experience when Job Searching

If you have study or work abroad experience, including volunteer work, or international travel experience that has exposed you to different cultures, people, and situations, you should promote this in your job search. In today’s increasingly global workplace, employers value those who have knowledge or experience with different cultures and backgrounds. For job seekers, this could mean an important competitive edge.

Your experiences in a different country and culture may have enriched you in ways that are desirable to prospective employers. Following are some marketable qualities you may have developed as a result of your travels.

  • Increased sense of cultural awareness and sensitivity to the customs, beliefs, and behaviors of others
  • Expanded knowledge of another geographic area(s) and its economy, government, resources, history, etc.
  • Strengthened communication skills, particularly the context in which messages are communicated and how they are perceived
  • Strengthened second language skills
  • Heightened self-confidence and independence
  • Increased willingness to learn and try new things

If you developed any special skills as a result of your travels, be sure to highlight this in cover letters, resumes, and job interviews. The experience is even better if you can relate it to the job you’re pursuing. For example, does the company you’re interviewing with have operations, customers, or even suppliers in a country where you’ve studied, worked, or travelled? If so, how might your knowledge of that country’s customs, people, or language translate into advantages on the job?

Lastly, whether you’ve had opportunity to experience another country’s culture firsthand or not, it’s important to be respectful of other backgrounds, cultures, and opinions. Consider that cultural diversity—or any type of diversity in the workplace—can promote a broad spectrum of ideas and solutions that can strengthen the overall organization.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Post Grad Problems and Solutions: Parental Pressure

As a post grad, you've had people telling you what to do your whole life. Your teachers, professors, friends, family and especially your parents. Parents are all different and have different styles of parenting. Some students have laid back and supportive parents that just want their children to do what they love. Others have strict and overbearing parents that only want their children to follow their footsteps or go into a certain field. Perhaps you have a mix of the two.

A common post grad problem is often lining up what you want to pursue with what your parents want you to do with your life. How do you let them know that you're now an adult and need to make your own decisions that pertain to the rest of your life?

1. Write them a letter. This may seem odd, but think of it this way: when you give someone a letter, it allows you to get all of your feelings out and revise what you want to say until it sounds perfect. This way they won't be able to interrupt you and you won't get frustrated and start an argument.

2. Offer your goals and ways you are going to achieve them. Selling yourself with a plan you have set in motion will help ease your parent's mind if they are worried about your career path.

3. Find an ally. Find a friend, mentor, professor, boss, etc. that can lead you in the right path and give you positive affirmations and advice. If you don't have your parent's approval, you can find another great person to fill that void.

4. Take a good, hard look at your career and life goals. If your parents are worried about your career path, perhaps they are right in doing so. Determine if they are aren't supportive, just want you to follow their footsteps, or if your goals are potentially unreachable.

Create Your Networking Contacts List

In Tuesday’s blog post, I discussed creating a comprehensive networking strategy in which I mentioned building a networking contact list. I challenge you to make a list of at least 50 networking contacts. When asked to create a list like this, most people automatically say “I don’t possibly know 50 people.” This stems from closing your mind to all the people you have contact with and assuming they can’t possibly help you. I implore you to open your mind.

You should make this list and maintain regular contact with the people on your list, whether you are actively job searching or happily employed. Should the unfortunate unemployment situation present itself to you, the better prepared you are, the faster you can start networking to achieve results. Here are some ideas to help you build your list.

Friends and Family
This is the obvious place to start. However, keep in mind that most people’s friends and family may not know exactly what you do and they certainly don’t know what makes you good at your job. Don’t be shy about telling them.

Past Co-workers and Supervisors
Chances are, these people are still in the same or a similar industry. These people know your skills, work ethic, and personality and may be a very effective place to start networking.

Vendors and Business Contacts
As above, these people see you at work at know your skills. They also probably work with similar companies and can be an excellent source of “insider information” on job openings.

Sports and Recreational Activities
If you are involved in any activities, your classmates or teammates know you well. However, they probably don’t know what you do for a living.

Whether it is your school or your children’s school, this is a great way to meet a variety of people across diverse career fields.

Doctor / Dentist
Imagine how many people your doctor and dentist come into contact with every week. They talk to their patients and get to know them and they are the perfect networking conduit for you.

People You Come into Contact with Every Day
Hairstylists, retail salespeople, mechanics, and bank tellers are among the people you interact with. Don’t be shy, tell them what you do for a living and make connections through their diverse network of customer contacts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Networking Strategically – 3 Steps to More Effective Networking

You have most likely heard of the importance of networking in the job search process. The numbers of varying surveys range from 40% to 85%, but the message is clear, a high percentage of job seekers are obtaining their jobs through networking efforts.

Networking is really nothing more than talking to someone about what you have to offer a company and what you need. However, like anything, the more strategically you approach networking, the more success you will acheive. Here is a 3-step process that will help you optimize your networking efforts.

Step 1 – Assess Yourself to Develop a Focus
It is very difficult to sell a product about which you know nothing. Make no mistakes, the job search process is an exercise in sales and marketing. Therefore, before you can effectively network to promote yourself, you must first get to know what you have to offer. Define your skills, identify your values, clarify the role you see yourself taking in a company, and decide the type of work environment you prefer.

Step 2 – Define your Networking Strategy
Take some time to make a list of your networking contacts. When you open your mind and don’t discount anyone as being unable to help you, the possibilities are truly endless. In addition to the people you know or come into contact with, consider a few other possibilities for networking such as informational interviewing, job shadowing, and internships. Check back on Thursday for some tips and ideas regarding who you can add to your networking contacts list.

Step 3 – Create your Self Introduction
A self introduction – also called an elevator speech or 30-second commercial – is your way of quickly and concisely summing up your background and experience, how you can help an organization, the definition of your target employer, and what assistance you are looking for. This earlier blog post goes more in-depth on how to create a self-introduction. You must at least memorize your key “talking points” so that when you find a networking opportunity – no matter where you are – you can intelligently and persuasively talk about your unique selling points.

Monday, December 12, 2011

7 Diverse Apps to Help You in Your Job Search

Welcome to the age of the app. Since 2009, the software tailored for smartphone and tablet use has come at us full-force, changing entertainment, productivity, and other areas of our lifestyle. Tech-savvy job seekers have utilized apps as another method to market themselves, browse job listings, or prepare for interviews. Get acquainted with the apps below to add more weaponry to your job-search arsenal.

*Note: Most of the apps below are available through the Apple App Store or the Android Market. Prices may vary.

LinkedIn: One of the more popular apps around, the LinkedIn app allows you to update your LinkedIn profile, search others' profiles, and search for positions while on the go.

Twitter: Job-seekers are turning to Twitter to find employment by following the Twitter feeds of the companies they are most interested in (many of these companies have job-specific accounts in addition to their normal corporate ones) and to stay in touch with recruiters and network with others. For those who are simply looking for jobs,'s search aggregation technology puts jobs from many sources (newspapers, specialized-job search sites, large career-based websites like Monster, etc) in one convenient location. Its app maintains its reputation for simple design and depth of postings.

Craigster: Many career fields (such as writing and graphic design) heavily rely on Craigslist to post positions, and Craigster creates a user-friendly interface to browse positions.

Pocket Resume: A creative app that allows you to design, display, and send your resume to others.

Great Career: This career-maintenance app, created by Stephen Covey of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, helps job seekers get connected with their values, contributions, and relationships to not job find a job but to create a career that is rewarding and fulfilling for them.

Evernote: While not technically a job-search app, Evernote is an award-winning app that helps you stay organized by allowing you to create text, audio, and photo notes while providing many options for note organization and syncing.

Stay on the cutting edge of your job search apps that will make you a more savvy job searcher.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Why You Need a Photo on Your LinkedIn Profile
2. How To Rock An Informational Interview
3. Get a Job in December
4. Developing Executive Presence
5. Improving Communication Skills for Job Search Success

Friday, December 9, 2011

Determining Your Career Path after High School

If your high school graduation is right around the corner, or even a year or two away, you may be feeling unsure, and even overwhelmed, about choosing your future career path. These feelings are normal. The important thing is to become familiar with the options available. The following list may help.
  • Pursuing a 4-year or 2-year college degree program
  • Enrolling in a trade or vocational program
  • Joining the military, perhaps for a career or in exchange for college tuition assistance
  • Securing a full-time job after high school for the long term or to save money for college
  • Traveling abroad to gain cultural experience or work with an international volunteer organization

Whatever path you choose, before you decide, be sure to invest time exploring your interests, aptitude, and strengths, and the career options that align with these. Following is just a sampling of activities that can help you make an informed decision about “What next?”:
  • Dismiss stereotypes regarding occupations; keep an open mind to possible career paths.
  • Recognize and leverage the abundant career information and resources available through your school, the library, the Internet, etc.
  • Talk to counselors as well as parents, teachers, and other trusted adults.
  • Take aptitude, interest, and personality tests to help identify careers you’re well suited for. Many are free and available through your school’s career center.
  • Research careers, related educational and/or training requirements, projected job growth, job descriptions and tasks, salaries, etc.
  • Look into post-secondary schools and programs based on your career interests. Consider their academic reputation, suitability for your field of interest, cost, location, culture, etc.

After doing your homework, your options and career direction may be much clearer. Then it’s time to create a plan and start working toward it. Put yourself on a future path to success.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Did you Leave your Last Job? The Do’s and Don’ts of Answering this Interview Question.

This is a common interview question that has the potential to have a negative affect on your interview. Even if you are currently employed, your interviewer may ask you about your motivation for seeking a new position. Often, employers ask this question to try and define your motivation. However, more often than not, they are fishing to see if you will reveal your “dirt” or will speak negatively about a former employer so that they can gauge what kind of an employee you will be.

As with all interview questions, the key to answering this question is to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you be ready to take the focus off the past and shine on your future in your next interview.

Don’t ever talk negatively about a former employer, no matter how much you think you were in the right. When you talk down a previous company or boss, it automatically leads the interviewer to think you are a difficult, problem employee.

Do show the interviewer that you have researched their company and have a solid reason that you want to work for them. Demonstrate your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the company with an answer such as, “The opportunity to work for the aerospace industry’s leading propulsion engineering company on the new P229 engine was an opportunity that I had to pursue.”

Don’t give the impression that you are hard to please. When you give answers such as ‘I was not being challenged’, ‘I was being underutilized’, or ‘I was bored’ make you sound like someone who may also leave their company as soon as the going gets tough.

Do stay positive. Talk about what you really liked at your former employer and express that you can’t wait to be involved in that area with this new employer. Explain in the interview that you discovered you really enjoy and excel at a skill that you know you can expand upon in the new job. Working as part of a team, helping people, working independently, and managing projects are all examples of what you use in this answer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Learn to Disconnect from Work for the Holidays

I love being a freelancer at this point in my life. The flexible schedule, the different projects constantly changing from different companies and the ability to work at home in my pajamas are all pluses. One of the only downsides is that while my schedule is flexible, it also has the ability to force me to work constantly. I've learned that if you don't set boundaries, as a freelancer you could be working all day and night and even weekends if you have enough work. Unfortunately, sometimes I get asked to do assignments right away at 8 p.m. at night.

This could be the case for anyone who works a job where their boss has their email addresses and phone numbers and contacts them day or night. Some people take work home with them. This can be a slippery slope that leads to extreme stress that could even lead to illness. Especially around the holidays, when you have holiday to-do lists, presents to shop for, and parties to host. How do you let yourself take a break if you've become a workaholic?

1. Set hours for your work time whether you're a freelancer or a regular 9-5 worker. Stop responding to emails at 6 p.m., for example, unless it seems to be an emergency. You may have to talk to your boss about what an emergency entails. Something may seem like it could wait until the morning, but they consider it a priority task.

2. If your boss gives you grief over not being available 24/7, explain that you need time away from work to enjoy your life. If you do not get this time, you will be too stressed and will not be able to give your best work.

3. Take time off for the holidays. Even if you're a new post grad and don't have vacation days yet, take a few days off without pay if you have to. This may seem like a waste, but it will help keep you sane. Enjoy the holidays and spend time with family and friends to recharge for the new year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Preparing Strategically for Behavioral Interviews

The behavioral interview is based on the premise that you can predict an employee’s future performance in a job based upon their history facing similar situation. This type of interview is focused solely on your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing.

Questions that start with “tell me about a time when,” “how would you handle it if,” and “describe a situation where,” are examples of behavioral questions. When an employer asks a behavioral question, they expect an example or a story that focuses on the skill or ability in question. Vague answers with no concrete examples will not do in this type of interview.

How You Should Answer Behavioral Questions
You may have heard of the PAR formula; this is an acronym for the formula that you can use to answer behavior-based questions. When telling a story, you want to have a beginning, middle, and an end to the tale.

• The P stands for the problem you solved or task you took on. In other words, you need to set the stage for the story. Provide a brief description of the situation you were faced with.
• The A stands for the action you took to solve the problem. This is where you tell the interviewer what you did, as well as who and what were involved.
• The R stands for the result of the situation. Discuss the outcome of the situation, talk about the end result, focus on your success, and expand on what you learned from the experience.

How You Can Prepare for Behavioral Questions
• Before going on an interview, you must prepare yourself in order to be successful. Start by researching the company and the job to determine the skills that will be most valuable. Based on your research, define the five most important skills that you possess and write a PAR story that proves your hands-on experience using that skill.

• Whenever it is possible, quantify the results you achieved with numbers, dollars, and percentages to provide a scope of what you have done. Numbers help the employer to quantify the value you can bring to their company.

• Be prepared to talk about negative examples. For example, be prepared to discuss how you handle failure, what you do when things don’t go as planned, and how you overcome obstacles. Use negative examples to show that you can overcome adversity, that you can learn from your mistakes, and that you are aware of your shortcomings and are able to improve yourself.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Employees May Need to “Onboard” Themselves

“Onboarding” is a term many companies use to describe the process of integrating new employees. It goes beyond the basics of “employee orientation,” which often refers to helping new employees sign up for benefits, set up computer access, meet a few key people, etc. Onboarding is broader than orientation and designed to help new employees gain a deeper understanding of the company, its culture, and how the employee’s role fits into the organization. The ultimate goal of onboarding is to help the new employee achieve productivity as soon as possible. Where orientation typically lasts a few days, onboarding is a process that extends several weeks or even months.

Many employees—perhaps even you—have experienced the “sink or swim” approach that results from the absence of an onboarding process to help foster success. Next time you start a new job where an employer isn’t proactive about onboarding you, take the initiative yourself.

Here are some steps you can follow to help onboard yourself:
  • Ask for tools and resources necessary to do your job.
  • Within the first few days of starting your job, schedule a meeting with your manager to set short-term and annual goals, as well as expectations for your role.
  • When possible, review pertinent materials before you start, especially those that will help ramp you up on company initiatives, client business strategies, goals, or projects.
  • Request meetings with internal subject matter experts early in your employment so that you can obtain background information on topics relevant to your role. Often, your manager or another department representative can arrange this in advance of your start date.
  • Ask who will be training you. At the very least, ask to have access to someone who can help acclimate you and answer questions related to your role.
  • Go out of your way to introduce yourself, promote conversation, and forge relationships in the early months of your employment, particularly if you can gain further insight into the company, key players, and your role.

Expectations: Not Just for New Hires

How would you define 'success' in your current position? Now, reflect upon your that what your supervisor would say?

Are you sure?

Job roles and responsibilities are not as black and white as one might think and the work world is complicated by divergent, conflicting, and unknown expectations. Some positions call for results to be met, period. Others call for results to be met but by a certain method. Where does your work fall within this spectrum, and what have you done to align your behaviors and output with what is being asked of you?

Like a relationship between you and a significant other, the relationship between you and your employer should be a dynamic of open communication and as free as possible from assumptions. To ensure that you are in alignment with expectations, partake in some self assessment by answering the following questions below:

How do I see my current work contributing to department priorities?

What metrics am I using to measure my success, and how does my work compare to those metrics?

How do my work methods support the teams that I interact with?

What upcoming problems or opportunities do I need to be prepared for?

These four questions are the beginning of a conversation between you and your supervisor to ensure that you are not just performing to standards but that you know what the standards are. In a meeting with your supervisor, modify the questions slightly to ask them to him/her. Share your responses and see how well both of yours correspond with each others. It could be that you are on track, but it could also be that you need to make adjustments. Regardless, you will be rewarded by demonstrating your proactivity and initiative.

Take the guesswork out of your performance and help drive expectations of you to feel better about the work you produce and what you contribute to your organization.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

High 5 Weekly Career Transitions Roundup

This is our weekly roundup of some of the best career-related articles, interviews, blogs, etc., we've read during the week. We share these every weekend so you have some great resources to prepare you for the coming week. Enjoy!

1. Networking: Friends Lost But Not Forgotten

2. Value: What the Employer Really Wants to See in a Resume

3. How to Keep up the Job Hunt During the Holidays

4. Are you killing your forward momentum?

5. Three Ways to Overcome Career Anxiety

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do you Have Any Questions for Me? Don’t Miss This Interview Opportunity.

When an interview is drawing to a close, the interviewer often says “I don’t have any more questions, but do you have any questions for me?” All too often, interviewees do not take advantage of this golden opportunity to take back a bit of control in the interview. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of this opportunity the next time you are faced with the situation.

• Always ask questions when given the chance. When you do not ask questions in the interview you appear either disinterested or unprepared.

• Often hiring managers do not want to offer a job to someone they do not know whether or not will accept. Use this question session to clearly communicate that you are interested.

• Prepare your questions in advance and write them down. This will be one less thing you need to commit to memory.

• Research the company thoroughly and use your questions to demonstrate your knowledge and preparedness. For example, you may ask “I see that the ABC Company is your biggest competitor. I know they recently launched a new version of the software you both license. What is your strategy to counterbalance this new release?”

• Show interest in the interviewer by asking them what they like about the company, asking about their career path within the company and how they view the company culture. Use their answers to make your assessment of the company climate and whether or not it is a match for you.

• Identify and address any concerns they may have by asking, “Do you see any areas or qualifications where I may be lacking for this position?” This will allow you to overcome their objections and provide additional information about your skills and experience that may not have come up during the interview.

• All questions should relate to the company or the job. Never ask about salary, benefits or time off.

• A few examples of appropriate questions:
* Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
* What is the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
* What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of this job?
* What do you think is the greatest threat/opportunity facing the organization in the near future?
* Why did you come to work here? What keeps you here?
* When will you be making your decision, and how will I be notified?