Saturday, June 27, 2015

Interview Screw Up? How to fix it.

Photo credit: Got Credit
Interviews are nerve wracking. You put yourself out there, lay it all bare, and hope they pick you. Nothing is more stressful or emotional than trying to sell yourself to a perspective employer, but what happens when you screw up that all important first meeting?

Did you get lost on your way to the interview? 
     You're late and can't find the place as you drive in circles. I know this one because the building I work in is hard to find.  Now the time is ticking and you know you're going to walk in that interview late.
     Here's what you do. Stop and call. Let them know you're having a problem finding the place and ask for directions. When someone calls in like this I give them careful directions and landmarks to help them get to us. Then I call the person they are interviewing with and let them know.
     To avoid this problem; Go the day before to scope out the place so you know exactly where you're going. Time the drive but give yourself an extra 15 or 20 mins to allow for traffic problems.

Did the interviewer keep you waiting too long?
     Don't spend the time staring at your phone. Even if you're in a room by yourself, someone may be checking on you. Random people walking by might really be looking to see if you're okay or getting upset at the wait. Employers don't want someone glued to their phone all the time. Turn it off and put it in your pocket. Relax, think of the interview questions you practiced. (See those here.)
     Understand most work places are busy. The interviewer might have received a phone call or had an urgent matter land on their desk right before you arrived. Not all things in business are predictable. Be understanding and don't give them an attitude.

You forgot your resume or references?
      It's always a good idea to bring a copy of these with you even if you already emailed it to the company. You want it in front of them and don't want to rely on them remembering your one resume out of the hundreds they probably received.
     If you forgot it, offer to email or fax it over with references. It's not as good as handing it over, but it's all you can do.
     One way to avoid forgetting is to keep a file with extra resumes in your car. This helps in two ways; You'll always have that extra one if you forget to bring it to the interview and you'll have one handy if you happen to meet someone who says their company is hiring. (I once got a job because I had a resume in my purse and handed it over as soon as someone mentioned they were hiring.)

Gotta pee?
     Don't be afraid to ask to use the bathroom if you have an urgent need by the time you arrive. It's better to stop at the nearest store before getting to the interview so you don't have to ask, but its really not a deal breaker. Quite a few people ask to use the bathroom as soon as they come in for the interview. We understand that some people drive a distance to get to us. You want to be comfortable when you're interviewing and not thinking about a pressing bladder problem. Ask politely and get in and out in a timely manner.

Interviews are like auditions. Bring your best and relax. A well prepared interviewee, has a good chance for landing the second interview.
Go get 'em and good luck!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Best Job Search Sites

With New Jersey's unemployment rate among the highest in the country, we all need to know where the jobs can be found. Here's a short list to help the hunt for that perfect job.

Indeed ~ Job site that pulls from other job sites to keep your search covered. Indeed also has a cell phone ap so you can search for jobs anywhere you go. I like their email alert. Put in what you're looking for in a job and as they pop up, Indeed sends you an alert. This is one of my favorite sites.

Monster ~ One of the most popular job sites will let you search jobs by state from this page. Post your resume and keep it updated.

ZipRecruiter ~ Has an easy to navigate site that makes finding jobs in your area easy. I like this site for it's user friendly search tools. Email alerts also available. This is a great tool. If you see a site that offers email alerts for jobs, sign up so you can be the candidate that sees (and gets) that job first!

Jobs2Careers ~ Another job search site that will help you find the perfect job to fit your life. One thing I couldn't find on this site was a distance button. So I could search within a certain amount of miles from home base. Not a great site.

If you're looking for a specialized job field do a search for that word and the word jobs.

Veterinary Jobs at iHireVeterinary.
Engineering at EngineeringJobs.

Post office jobs ~ Go to their website and see what's available. 

Search your state's website for their job list. New Jersey's list his here. 

ProBlogger ~ writing jobs. If you have any writing skills you might want to check out the freelance jobs here for some extra bucks.

Let's not forget Craig's List ~ Since it's free to post jobs here a lot of local employers use it. However, there have been a lot of horror stories about meeting people on Craig's List so be careful. If you find a job there, research the company online to be sure it's legit. Don't meet anyone in their home or at a location that seems sketchy.

Good luck and don't give up! The right job is out there.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cover Letters Get the Interview

The job you just applied for received over 100 applications. Sounds daunting, but this mountain of paperwork can be climbed and you can come out on top.
      Step 1. Read the job ad carefully. Inside that ad you're going to find key words. When the employer wrote the ad he described his dream employee.
     Step 2. Make a list of the key words within the add. If the ad says something like;
        Brand new pediatric dental office looking for a front office staff member with dental office experience. This person should be a team player who can ensure the smooth and efficient running of the practice as a whole. The ideal candidate will be friendly, enthusiastic, and have a positive attitude. Also, they should be a quick-learner, flexible, and have excellent organizational and customer service skills. Tasks include welcoming patients, scheduling appointments, presenting fees and discussing dental insurance benefits, processing dental insurance claims, tracking and calling patients with incomplete treatment, and all other front desk tasks. Great opportunity for a highly qualified candidate that possesses strong leadership skills. Salary based on experience. 
     The key words here are; team player, efficient, enthusiastic, positive attitude, flexible, excellent organizational and customer service skills, strong leadership skills. So you'd want to hook the person who reads your cover letter by using these words. This is what they are looking for, so be that person. 
     Step 3. Check out the website if possible. Google their name, email address, or phone number to find it. There might be more key words on their website you can find to use in your letter. 
     Step 4. Make your first sentence or two a hook. That means say something right up front to make them read on. Don't start with "I would like to apply..." They know that already, you gave them your resume. Try, "I'm looking for a position that will appreciate my positive attitude and excellent customer service skills." In that first sentence you've incorporated two key words from their wish list. 
     Step 5. If you can say something personal about their business, add that, too. The above ad if for a pediatric office so any experience you have with kids would be good to mention. If it's a construction office, you can admire something you saw on their website. 
     Keep it short and to the point. All your skills should be listed on your resume, so don't list them all here. A highlight or two that coordinates with what was asked for in the ad is fine, but most employers don't have time to read a book. 
     If you're not that great a writer google cover letters and copy them, BUT don't forget to add your keywords and personalize it to make it stand out from the crowd. Use the bones of those online letters, but you need to make them your own and tailored to the job for which you're applying. Every job you apply for should have a different cover letter that's been modified to reflect the job, key words, and how your skills would match. 

Good luck! Go get 'em! 

Weird Job Interview Questions; Be Prepared

Some employers go above and beyond to get the truth out of you. They want to know who you are, your work ethic, and how you'd handle extreme situations. To do this they ask lots of questions, some of which they might have downloaded off the Internet. (Google that!)

These could include;

1. Tell me about a situation at your last job where you had to deal with an angry customer?
     ~Don't tell them you yelled back or hung up the phone. That is very bad customer service and will lose you the job. Instead, talk about how you defused the situation by staying calm and offering a solution.

2. What would you do if you realized you made a big mistake at work?
     ~This is a hard one. If you admit to a mistake, don't make it too big a mistake. Think of an easily rectifiable one, or something equally insignificant. Everyone makes mistakes. Here you can interject how you're always careful and double check your work to avoid such situations.

3. Tell me about your the worst thing that ever happened to you on the job?
     ~This could be something as simple as a customer getting upset, but you can use this to explain how you helped the customer. Or it could be a situation that was beyond your control such as computer failure and losing work and how now you auto-save everything. Spin it to the positive.

4. Do you have any super powers?
     ~ A surprise question but one you can use to sell yourself. Tell them you are well organized, see all projects through to completion, love a challenge, etc.

Of course there are questions they can't ask such as age, lifestyle choices, or religion. (Except if it were a church hiring you-then religion would be a topic.)

Questions you should always prepare for;

1. Why haven't you worked in a year?
     ~ Be honest but don't explain too much. Tell them you have been looking for a job that offered....whatever this place offers? Do your homework and know the company to which you are applying. If there were any other factors, explain them in a way that you don't look lazy or like a moocher.

2. Why do you switch jobs every two years?
     ~ Again, be honest but put a positive spin on it. You left one for a better job offer or the new company had sudden layoffs?

3. What skills can you bring to this job?
     ~Another sell-yourself opportunity. Keep it positive. Make your answer expound on your get-the-job-done, and work-hard-with-enthusiasm ethics. Good computer skills? Product knowledge? Technical skills? Experience? Say it now!

4. Can you supply references?
     ~Go in with at least 3 references in writing. Preferably names of previous employers or coworkers. Keep them in your pocket (neatly-in an envelope) so they're ready to hand over when asked.

5. Tell us about the accomplishments you're most proud of?
     ~Although we love our kids, find something else. Make it something about you. Big project you worked on? Did you run the NYC marathon? Volunteer work?

Should you get that second interview - know they might ask the same questions but want different answers. The second interview is usually a step up. You'll probably be interviewing with a higher ranking boss and he might want to know something that's not in the notes of the first interviewer. So, think of other answers that will still leave them feeling positive.

Practice your answers. Are you ready to spout off answers to these questions?

Practice. Practice. Practice 

Look up other interview questions on the Internet and have your answers ready. Interviews can be nerve wracking, but if you practiced your answers, you'll be more apt to remember them when asked.

Good luck and Go Get 'Em!

Five Things that Ruin Your Interview

Five things that will blow your job interview:

     1. Late arrival. Be on time! Or maybe a few minutes early, but not an hour early. You were scheduled around the interviewer's work day. Respect that. Showing up 5 to 10 minutes early? Great! Showing up two hours early? DON'T DO IT! No you don't look anxious for the job or like a go getter. You look like someone who can't tell time or follow directions. In some companies there might be someone who has to keep an eye on you so you don't wander. You just screwed up their day. 

     2. Dress like a slob. Instead, dress like you want the job. Leave the t-shirt and hoodie at home and wear a shirt and tie. Or blouse and nice pants/skirt. Good shoes, no sneakers.  Make sure your clothing is clean. No stains. No missing buttons. 

    3. TMI. (Too Much Information) Don't say stupid things. We all know an interview can be an extremely nerve wracking experience, but keep your cool. Think about your answers. Go online and look up "Interview Questions." Most companies use the same type of questions so you might have an edge if you know the common questions. 
           a. Never tell them you smoked pot when you were younger or have a problem with alcohol. 
           b. Don't complain about your family. 
           c. Never say anything bad about your last boss or coworkers. 

     4. Bare your Ink. Tattoos. I love them, I have one, but cover them during the interview. Tattoos are one of those things people either love or hate. You don't know who you're meeting with or what their views are on ink. You want the job? Play the odds and cover the tats till you get the job. 

     5. Go empty handed. Be prepared. Bring a copy of your resume and references. Don't be digging in the phone to find numbers of your friends to put down as references. (Turn your phone off!)  If you don't have a resume, get one. Not a lot of work experience? Put volunteer work or special skills on it. Get help with that resume by someone who knows how to write one. Check with your local collage or library to find out where to get help. 

An interview is a chance to sell yourself to the company. Recite a list of the skills you have that fit this job before you go in so you'll have a better chance of remembering them when you're in the hot seat. If you have a friend or family member who'll practice interviewing you, do it! Practice can only make you stronger in when in the interview chair. 

Good luck! 

Four Things to Get that Job

Sitting at the front desk in a building that houses multiple companies, I see a lot. Job seekers come through, looking for that perfect match. Past my desk come many qualified candidates that ruin their chances with the same dumb mistakes. 
  • Be on time. Such a simple requirement, but one of the most important things in an interview. Look at it this way, if a person can't be on time for the interview how are they going to get to work on time? Do a drive by the day before so you don't get lost the day of the interview.
  • Dress like you want the job. Walking in wearing t-shirt and jeans doesn't show the employer anything but you're on vacation. Show them you want it. Wear a suit or nice pants and a button down shirt. Comb your hair. 
  • Come prepared. Bring a resume and a list of references. Put them in a folder so they don't get wrinkled. A crumbled piece of paper pulled from your pocket shows the employer you don't care enough to keep it neat.
  • Research the company on the Internet before your interview. Know what they do and find something special about the company to mention during your interview. Do your homework. Impress them with your knowledge of their company. 
I've seen too many potentially good candidates ruin their chances by making these dumb mistakes. Be on time, dress for success, be ready to sell yourself and do your research. These four things will put you ahead of the pack and increase your chances of getting the job. 

Job Interview BUST!

You scored that illusive second interview. Yehaw!
So, why did you tank?

Best piece of advice; Think before you speak.

Last interviewee that came into our company was great. A perfect fit for the company. The interviewers were impressed. They call in another manager to talk to the woman. He lasts in there for ten short minutes. Then she's walking out the door and he's shaking his head. So, what happened?

"I'm gonna be late some of the time. I really try to get in on time, but I just want you to know I probably will be late sometimes."


We should do a list of stupid things people say on job interviews. This woman evidently didn't want the job. Maybe she was on unemployment and just came to the interview to have something to tell the unemployment office? Because no one who wants the job would admit to being late.

More interview killers?

"I used to do drugs, so I dropped out of college but now I really need a job."
Never tell them you used to do drugs!

"I'm gonna need a lot of time off in the summer, because I have kids."
Don't apply for a full time job if  you can't work it. 

"Can you hire my friend too? He's in the lobby."
Never bring a friend to an interview.

"Sorry, I'm late. I couldn't find the place."
Be smart. Go the day before and find the place so you'll be on time.

"I'm not very organized."
Speak only of your strengths.

Remember you're there to sell yourself. No one wants to hire a problem. Brag a little, tell them everything you do well and list your attributes.  Another biggie? Dress well. Suits are the number one choice for men and women. It tells the company I respect you and really want the job. Even if you're interviewing at a construction company or warehouse, wear the suit.

Good luck! Its a jungle out there...