October 30, 2014

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The Worst Question to Ask During an Interview

Interviews are filled with questions for you, the interviewee. We can guarantee what the last question of every interview will be: “Do you have any questions?” Now, let’s be clear — your answer should always be yes. But you better have a roster of thoughtful questions queued up in your mind. Unfortunately, in an interview, there are such things as stupid questions. That may sound harsh, but there is an etiquette to interviewing and there’s a time and a place for certain inquiries. Here are the topics you should avoid completely:

1. Anything you could have researched yourself.
Don’t ask your interview to tell you more about the company or ask who the competition is. Those are “LMGTFY” questions — “Let me Google that for you.” You should have done that research on your own pre-interview.

2. Anything that has to do with benefits.
In the early-stage interview process, benefits like casual Fridays, vacation time, salary, and occasional work-from-home opportunities are not addressed. At this point, show an interest in the position — not the benefits. You can decide if the benefits are substantial once the job offer is in hand.

3. Anything that sounds sketchy or demanding.
Perhaps you already have another offer in hand and you’re wondering how quickly you can get a promotion at each job. Or you have a three week vacation to Asia already booked and you’re wondering how soon you can take a vacation. Or you often use up sick time and want to know how many personal days you get. Those questions can be asked after you have an offer in hand.

Now learn about what you should ask during in an interview with our recent post 3 Can’t-Miss Questions to Ask During Your Next Interview.

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October 28, 2014

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Wondering Why You Didn’t Get Hired?

There are a million reasons why you didn’t get the job — some are in your control and some are out of your control. That doesn’t make you feel much better does it? AOL Jobs wrote a piece recently on the 18 Surprising Things That Affect If You’re Hired. It remains to be seen whether these are all true or not, but the list is worth a look.

What’s Out Of Your Control
Let’s start with the worst first. Apparently the weather, the time of day, and whether your rival is interviewing the same day can all affect the outcome of our interview. Unfortunately, you can’t do much about any of that. If you’re feeling badly about not landing a job, just blame it on these factors and hopefully you’ll feel better. ;-)

What’s In Your Control
There is much that is in your hands. Think about your posture, your handshake, and eye contact. Do them all with confidence. Then move on to your nervous habits — don’t check your watch or phone and keep your arms in check. Don’t cross them tightly across your chest but don’t wave them around the room furiously either. Lastly, remember your manners. Be polite to the receptionist, make sure your hands are free when entering the interview so you can give a handshake (ditch the coffee first), and don’t sit down until you’re asked to.

Read more about surprising things that affect if you’re hired but remember — if you’re the best candidate, you’ll land the position no matter what. There’s no doubt about that.

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October 23, 2014

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The Referral Economy and Your Career

We’ve all heard of the sharing economy — you’ve likely participated in it. It started innocently. Perhaps you bought concert tickets from a stranger on Craigslist. Then you moved on to hiring a stranger to drive you around the city thanks to the Lyft app. Finally, you let a stranger rent your apartment for a week through Airbnb.

What it all comes down to is this: we’re starting to trust strangers again. The sharing economy is becoming the trusting economy. And this is only good for our careers. How? Because as the sharing economy becomes the trusting economy, the trusting economy has become the referral economy. Think of the growing importance of reviews on sites like Yelp and Amazon — and don’t forget LinkedIn.

If there was ever a reason to start growing your network and gain allies, now is the time. A beefed up LinkedIn profile includes personal reviews from at least one boss or coworker at each company you’ve worked for as well as plenty of endorsements for each of your major skills. And a well-connected network includes people from inside and outside your company, your state, and your industry. You never know where your next job opportunity could pop up.

Read about what networking really means as well as why networking is good for your mental health.

 

 

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October 21, 2014

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5 Things That Will Help You Critique Not Criticize at Work

There’s a difference between attacking a problem and attacking a person. While honesty is crucial in the workplace, it must be delivered in a delicate fashion with tact and professionalism. The Next Web wrote a fantastic piece on Critique vs Criticize: The Lost Art of Candor in the Workplace. Here are a few key mantras to remember the next time you need to approach a coworker with some negative feedback:

1. Candy-coated information won’t help anyone.
If there’s a problem, it needs to be addressed. Avoiding the issue likely means avoiding a solution. Candor is important in discovering the best solution to a difficult problem. So if you’re feeling queasy before raising a sensitive subject, remember — it’s in everyone’s best interest to talk this out.

2. Everyone communicates — and takes criticism — differently.
Different personalities communicate differently, work differently, and give and take feedback differently. Keep this in mind when delivering and receiving feedback. Think of the source of the feedback or the recipient of the feedback and adjust your response accordingly.

3. People dwell on the negative even if it’s delivered in the best way possible.
According to The Next Web, it can take five positive events to outweigh one negative event. Although truthful feedback is absolutely necessary for success in the workplace, remember that it may sour the air temporarily and may not be welcomed with a smile.

4. Be up front about what’s about to happen.
Your team may want to dedicate a “safe space” like a private conference room for honest talks like these or even begin utilizing a phrase that indicates some serious talk is about to go down. Either way, give the recipient a heads up that you are about to deliver some negative news.

5. Be brief and move on to the solution.
Think about how you can deliver the news in the most terse fashion possible. Then refocus the conversation to the solution — what can we do moving forward? As mentioned above, people will dwell on the negativity but make a concerted effort to move the conversation to a more positive place.

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October 16, 2014

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Not Your Average Resume

Sumry Image

Thanks to LinkedIn, the resume seems to be going the way of the iPod Classic. Extinct. Yet employers still demand the one-page document for each position you apply for. What’s a tech-savvy job seeker to do? Sumry hopes to be a happy medium that both employers and future employees can get behind.

Sumry turns your resume into an interactive timeline that shares your story both online and in print. Build your profile, then email it to recruiters directly from the site. Your cover letter becomes the body of the email and includes links to your Sumry profile or a PDF version of your profile. Here’s the best part — you get notified when the recruiter clicks those links. That means you known when a recruiter read your resume. You can even do a “test run” and see which cover letters get the highest response rates. And you can keep track of who’s radar you’re on.

The cool features don’t come free. You can set up a profile at no cost, but to publish it you’ll need to pay $3 a month. To see who’s opened your resume, you’ll need to pay $7 per month. If you’re deep in the throes of job searching, $7 is money well spent.

Image via Sumry.

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October 14, 2014

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3 Can’t-Miss Questions to Ask in Your Next Interview

You’re not the only one who should be asking questions during your next interview. Remember this: you should be interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. Don’t you want to be happy in this new job? Then ask away! After all, you don’t have to accept your next job offer. You can wait until the right one comes along. Be sure to dive deep into the position and the company by asking intelligent questions. Here are some few inquiries to keep in mind during your next interview:

1. Who will I be working with?
Learn how big the team is, what their roles are, and who they are. Ask how you will fit into this arrangement. Who will you be working with most closely? Who will support you? Who will you support? These are the kinds of questions that will help reveal the true nature of your potential position.

2. What unique skills do I need to succeed in this position?
You know the minimum requirements of this position as stated in the job description, but there’s always more to the day-to-day responsibilities. For example, will there be a lot of meetings? Perhaps public speaking skills will be of help. Will there be a lot of deadlines to juggle? Perhaps extreme organizational skills and a level head will put you a step ahead of the rest.

3. How can I make your job easier?
If you’re interviewing with your boss, learn how your role complements theirs. Maybe simply meeting your deadlines is all that’s asked of you. But perhaps there’s room to grow like a project left untouched or a meeting that always gets overlooked. At the very least, showing interesting in how you can make your potential new boss’s life easier will score you major brownie points — and hopefully a job offer.

 

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October 9, 2014

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How to Stop Your Gossip Habbit at Work

Water cooler chatter is often clouded with something a bit juicier — gossip. As humans, it’s hard not to talk about others. But remember this bit of wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” When it comes to the workplace, this quote couldn’t hold more true. There’s just not a time or place for gossip. Here are three tips to break your bad habit:

Focus on the work.
Time spent gossiping is time spent away from what you need to do — your work. Before you open your mouth to blab about something inappropriate and unrelated, move the conversation —  or your own thoughts — back to the project at hand. You’ll feel better about yourself and your productivity.

Keep your thoughts to yourself — at first.
You may not believe that a coworker is going to meet that upcoming deadline because of their skill set or their work habits, but that’s not up to you to decide. If you were partnered with them for a project or they were given an assignment over you, let it play out. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Approach coworkers directly — and privately — if something is bothering you.
If someone isn’t delivering on their end, don’t feel like you have to cover yourself by gossiping your suspicions to everyone around you. Approach that person directly and privately first. If the problem doesn’t fix itself post conversation, take the issue to your boss and feel free to discuss the missed deadline or incomplete assignment openly.

 

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October 7, 2014

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How to Rock an Interview: Put Yourself in the Interviewer’s Shoes

In order to hit it out of the ballpark at your next interview, you have to understand the psychology behind it. And by that we mean: put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. If you were the person hiring for this job, what would you be looking for? What kind of person would you want to hire? Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos tells his hiring managers to ask themselves these three questions during an interview:

1. Will you admire this person?

2. Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?

3. Along what dimensions might this person be a superstar?

Those are some high expectations. And that’s just three examples of questions that are likely running through any hiring managers mind during any given interview. As the potential employee, you have to prove that you are not just a likable person, but a person who is worth looking up to. You need to illustrate that you’ll not only transition seamlessly into the team but that you will raise the bar. Lastly, you must show off an exceptional skill that will uniquely benefit the team and the company.

Quite the challenge, huh? Don’t beat yourself up too much. But putting yourself in the mind of the interviewer should help you up the ante in your next interview. Be that person who your interviewer is searching for. You have it in you — just be sure to show it.

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October 2, 2014

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Why You Should Take a One-Minute Meditation Break

Whether you’re stressed out at work or stressed out about a job search, there’s one thing we can all agree on: sometimes we have to step away from the screen. Unfortunately for many of us that means we simply open a new browser and scroll through Facebook or Twitter. While these mindless acts are a welcoming break, they’re also not a productive or refreshing way to spend our break time. But what is?

If taking a 15-minute walk isn’t in the cards because of weather or time constraints, there might be something else you can turn to: a one-minute mediation break. Before you stop reading and decide that meditation isn’t for you, give it a shot. Right now. Really. Set a timer on your phone for one minute. Sit down. Close your eyes. Rest your hands in your lap. Focus on breathing. Ready? Go.

Is your one minute up? How do you feel? Recharged? Relaxed? Ready to tackle life again? At the very least, you’ll likely feel better than you did after a Facebook power session or a depressing news break. Your mind should feel cleared. If it’s not, you may want to up the mediation session to three minutes — or five. If you work in a loud office, try playing calming music through your headphones, heading to an empty meeting room, or even stepping outside briefly.

Read more about one-minute meditation over at Factor This!

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September 30, 2014

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4 Steps to Cleaning Up Your Act Online

Social media can help you stand out online, but you want to make sure it’s for a good reason — not a bad one. With all the privacy concerns these days, you’re probably familiar with the basic rule: don’t post any update unless you’d be comfortable with the whole world reading it, including your grandma. That includes both texts and photos.

While networks like Facebook have tried to make privacy settings easier and easier to understand, there might be years and years of posts and pics hiding within your online profiles. If you’re hoping to land a job anytime soon, you must do a “deep clean” of your social networks. There’s no guarantee that a potential employer is going to Google you, but there’s also no guarantee that they won’t. Follow these steps before you send out your resume and you’ll feel a lot better about your online image.

1. Google yourself.
What do you find first? Make note of which links rise to the top, especially social networks. Un-google-able? Search your name within each of the major social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube — and see if your profile is easy to find.

2. Read through your feeds.
Go back. Way back. Read all of your tweets from the past year. Scroll through your Facebook news feed as far back as you can make it. Delete anything that could be perceived as controversial. Don’t let an update cost you an interview.

3. Audit your photos.
Find an embarrassing photo as you’re browsing through your feeds? Get rid of it stat. Here’s an infographic detailing how to remove embarrassing photos from any social network including the ones you didn’t even post yourself.

4. Lock up your wall.
While you’re job searching, it might be best to prevent any Facebook friends from posting on your wall and disabling friends from the ability to tag you in any photo or update. This puts the control in your hands and will let you sleep easier at night. Here’s a link that can help you answer any Facebook privacy questions you may have.

Interested in reading more? Don’t miss our checklist of what employers do and don’t want to see online.

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