Archive | June, 2016

Who’s Who In the Interview Process

June 28, 2016

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5711331319_1c9a9a75d8_zHow many people can you potentially speak with in the interview process? Could be four…five…six. You might even lose count. Or be completely confused by what purpose each person serves during the interview process. To keep everyone straight, here’s a review of who you could be expected to interview with, what their job is, and what you should be communicating to them.

Recruiter: This person is typically your first contact. He/she is like the matchmaker of the process who will recruit the essence of the job to the candidate as well as communicate the qualifications of the candidate to the hiring managers or human resources department. They can guide you through the interview process and help decipher what may have gone wrong if you don’t get the gig.

Hiring Manager: The hiring manager is who you will report to once you are hired. They’re the ones who requested that this position be filled. This is the person you want to impress the most. During the interview process, they’ll put more of a premium on interpersonal and communication skills than you might realize. Most of all, hiring managers want to find employees who can get along with other people. They will most likely have very poignant behavioral interviewing questions to pose. Be prepared for those by going over your own past scenarios.

Director: If you make it this far into the process, this could be the interview you have that brings them all together. It could also be the most difficult in that the Director may have very different questions for you, or, on the other hand, could have all of the same questions you’ve already responded to. This is the person you must make a good impression on in order for them to to give the go-ahead to the rest of the key players. Make sure to do your homework on the director. There may be information you can use to make a connection with a higher-up like this person!

Co-Workers: They may have a say in who gets hired, or not. If they’re let in on the interview process, your potential co-workers want to know who you are as a person. They can also be a good source of information about the culture of the organization. They are the people you can ask pointed questions about management style, conflict resolution, group dynamics, workload, etc. Be careful not to let your guard so far down with potential co-workers that you forget who they are—the people you could be spending 8+ hours a day with for a very long time.

Image via Sam Mottola/Flickr.

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When Your Career Path Isn’t a Straight Line

June 22, 2016

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17809655062_aa3802ebda_zWe all have a video playing in our head about the job we think we’re supposed to have, the career our parents expected we’d have, or the skill we’re so good at we must make a career of it… But, what if pressing STOP was the answer?

We focused on “being present” in your interview two weeks ago. It seems that being in the moment creates the best situation for an interview, allowing you to be your most authentic self. This theory also seems to hold true for allowing yourself to follow the opportunities that present themselves, even if they aren’t on the path you planned. Dave Stachowiak, founder of Coaching for Leaders says,

“The path ahead of you won’t be straight—and that’s OK. In fact, it’s encouraged. Because each time you venture off the obvious route, you’ll learn invaluable lessons and gain a fresh perspective on how to handle any bumps you may encounter down the road.”

Here are some tips for accepting your path as it develops even when it’s not a straight line:

1) It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, what your title is, or what you tell people! It’s about the value you bring.
Translation: In an interview, make sure your VALUE comes across and that you are clear on the VALUE of the role you’re interviewing for instead of just the title.

2) Know yourself and your skills!
Translation: This will make it easier for you to communicate your worth in an interview and secure a job. If you can’t communicate your strengths, who will?

3) Know when to be stubborn.
Translation: Be open enough in an interview to see the positions and opportunities clearly. Use your discerning abilities to know whether you will be a good fit for this role and if it will be a right fit for your career path. If it’s not right for you, you can always say no to an offer. At the very least, you’ll get good interview practice.

4) Appreciate the need for experience!
Translation: There will be times when it’s merely important to get the experience you need for that next step. A position could be an opportunity to grow, and one that qualifies you for future roles you’re more excited about. Ask yourself, “Is this a role I need for the experience?”

5) Relax into the highs and lows!
Translation: You can navigate and understand your life more easily when you understand the ups and downs of a career that isn’t moving in a straight line.

To hear more of Dave Stachowiak, tune in here.

Image via ChristianeBue/Flickr.

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How to Transition from Part-Time to Full-Time Employee

June 16, 2016


22484527807_5198b8e070_zAs a part-timer, you know your work ethic and commitment to the company, but you’re wondering if everyone else—the important people that is—are seeing it as well. After all, you’re hoping to land a full-time opportunity with this awesome company… but how?

Here are just a few actions that may help you stand out at your organization:

Bust Your $%%
You may be a part-timer now, but use this time to show that you have no problems putting in the time and effort that a full-timer does. In other words, stay late, work longer, work harder and show some grit! Your hiring manager will see this and hopefully become a great reference for you in your own department or another one.

Be a Problem Solver
Organizations are looking for employees who can pitch in everywhere. They want people who can come up with appropriate and cost-effective solutions to company problems, no matter what department they are in. Show your boss that you have good ideas and are willing to follow through, and he or she will remember you when an opening comes around.

Network Across Departments
Make yourself known in accounting, HR, marketing, legal, etc. Make friends with employees in the other areas you work with and eventually they will know what you do… and you’ll have a better handle on their responsibilities as well. This is a very unique and beneficial position to be in—part-time with the opportunity to learn the organization and place yourself accordingly.

Ask for More Responsibility
If you’re not sure what more you can do or where the department needs your help, ask! Talk with your manager and find out where you can pitch in. Make it known that you have a bit more time to spend at work if needed and you’re willing to pick up a project here and there. Or, explain your favorite project and ask if there are more similar to that one coming up.

Photo via U.S Department of Agriculture/Flickr.

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Spectrum Community Volunteer Day

June 14, 2016

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27196205295_5416bede7c_zSpectrum Brands volunteers gathered in Madison and St. Louis last month to work toward “Clean land, clean water, better community” with help from the National Environmental Education Foundation.

26591058353_c6b3d77ec5_zIn Middleton, 100 Spectrum employees planted trees, pulled 1,700 pounds of invasive weeds, and cleaned up litter, all to protect the water quality of the lakes and streams nearby. Spectrum is a Sustaining Founder of Clean Lakes Alliance and has focused on protecting the water quality in the Madison area for the last six years. We’ve also committed to $10,000 in grants for community partners to support more volunteer opportunities in each city.

27100172902_d682aa1c67_zIn St. Louis, Spectrum employees spent their day with Gateway Greening, an organization that sustains more than 200 community gardens in the area. Our employees not only helped beautify a local neighborhood but learned a lot about gardening and agriculture as well.

26614209714_b8444e342a_zThe day was a huge success and you can see the teamwork, camaraderie, and accomplishment through these photos of the volunteers in action!

26614211224_401813c18d_zSee more photos of our St. Louis employees in action on Flickr and our Middleton employees in action here.
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3 Reasons to Vacation While Job Searching

June 9, 2016


5315958369_a80a6a9d29_zIt’s summer! Kids are in camps, the weather is great, your friends are planning their festival trips and summer jaunts here and there… but unfortunately you still have that job search thing going on. Your guilt stops you from thinking about the possibility of going on a vacation, but there has to be a reason why you need one. Right? Right?! Yes! Here are a few reasons why it’s ok to take a break from your search.

  1. Rejuvenation
    Searching for a job is just as draining as having a full-time job. Sometimes the ups and downs of interviews, networking, and rejection can make you feel like you’re riding a roller coaster. Even a short summer weekend trip can give you a chance to unplug and regenerate your battery for your next week on the job search.
  2. Perspective
    Going out of town or even just allowing yourself to soak in a new atmosphere can open up your mind to new opportunities. You may see things you haven’t seen before and therefore allow yourself to investigate different paths. On vacation, your brain has a chance to listen and hear more clearly without the incoming clutter of your regular day-to-day routine and drama.
  3. Networking
    A vacation reveals a whole different world of people and opportunities. Bring your business cards and pay attention to who you meet. Often in a vacation setting you’ll feel more relaxed and find that you’re more open to the opportunities and possibilities that new contacts may bring.

Depending on where you are in your job search, and where you are in your life, you can settle on a quick trip completely off the grid or you could choose to go on a longer vacation where you stay connected through your cell phone and computer. The bottom line is this: give yourself a break!

Image via Adam Hirsh/Flickr.

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Things You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About In An Interview

June 7, 2016

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There are a lot of things that people are afraid to talk about during an interview. Some of them make sense… like religion, sexual preference, marriage status, etc… but a lot of other things you need not worry about even though they seem iffy.

Instead of creating a mental checklist of all the topics that are off limits, which can make you awkward and nervous during a conversation, let’s focus on the topics you can discuss…even if they make you a little nervous. Here are a handful of things you should feel confident talking about in your interviews:

Employment Gaps: With the increase in employees working from home, start-ups, small businesses, and the number of jobs a person holds, it’s not odd anymore to have an employment gap here and there. Don’t be ashamed. If by chance you are asked about it, explain it, and if possible give some examples of how that time off improved your skills or gave you a chance to embark on a new adventure and what you learned from it.

Salary Range: When it is appropriate in the interviews process, usually during the final interviews, it’s okay to start talking about the salary range you’re looking for. If the interviewer brings up this topic by asking about your salary history, this is not something you need to answer so concretely. Instead, you might respond by telling him/her what salary range you are looking for. You could continue by saying, “Is this an appropriate range for this position?”

Part-Time Jobs: The work world is quite a different place than it was 20+ years ago. It’s not uncommon to work two part-time jobs, or even a full-time job and a part-time job. Candidates who are able to hold multiple jobs at one time should be seen as resourceful and good multi-tasters. This could be a positive foreshadowing to how they will handle multiple responsibilities.

Volunteer Work: Many companies these days are partnering with a non-profit in their area. It’s not uncommon for employees to have work-days or days where they assist a particular organization. So, seeing “volunteer” work on someone’s resume should be a good thing. As the candidate, you should talk about the organizations you’ve volunteered for and explain your interest in them and how they’ve affected you. The company will see you as committed and passionate.


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The One Trick That Will Make Your Interview a Success

June 3, 2016

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3322796536_cb4ae486b1_oWe’re all nervous in a job interview, but what if we could find a way not to be, and instead be the best version of ourselves every time? Author Augusten Burroughs in This Is How: Help for the Self, says that being present in the interview is the best thing you can do to help yourself get the job.

“During an interview, candor and transparency matter almost more than sheer ability. Skills can be learned, but if somebody is shifty, there you go. They’re shifty and can’t be trusted, period.”

According to Burroughs, the interviewers wish the candidates would show up just as they might on any regular work day. You see, it’s just as hard for interviewers to judge candidates as it is for the interviewee to be authentic and in the moment. However, this is exactly what will help you get the job.

Burroughs goes on to talk about how “trying to be something” is the initial problem. He says that, instead, if you can engage with your interviewer, follow them completely and carefully in their dialogue, this will keep you from drifting away and counting the hairs on their head while they are talking. It will also help you gain the respect and admiration of the interviewer because they will see you as:

1) a Listener:  This is a very hard skill to come by these days and it’s one that is also impossible to illustrate on a resume. Showing active listening skills in an interview is good foreshadowing to how you will respond in a work setting.

2) Smart: Consciously, you have made the decision to listen and follow the lead of the interviewer, at every curve and turn. You also are able to reference the questions you prepared and show you have researched the company ahead of time. You are able to move the interview in the direction it needs to go–SMART!

3) Emotionally intelligent: Being able to listen in the moment and read the interviewer by asking poignant questions will illustrate your EQ, or emotional quotient. This is a very difficult skill given the pressures and expectations for an interview candidate.

So there you have it: just be present in the moment. When you’re authentic, conversational, and a good listener, the interview is in the bag!

Image via David Salaguinto/Flickr.

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3 Interview Red Flags and How to Respond to Them

June 1, 2016


3810889895_b465031632_zAs a job candidate, you definitely don’t need to tell the interviewer all the juicy details about your job search. Why would you? They’re on a need-to-know basis, and you’re in the drivers seat, right? Unfortunately, your interviewer is kind of in the driver’s seat too. After all, they’re the one with the interview schedule, candidate list, and final job offer in hand. And when they wield that power the wrong way, it could get awkward. Here are three red flags you may hear during an interview, and how to respond to them.

“We’re impressed with you, but we still have a few more people to interview.”
There are a few scenarios that could be occurring here. 1) The recruiter may be biding some time before the rest of the applicants are interviewed. 2) They could be trying to keep you interested in the company and show how sought after they are. 3) They could be impressed with you, but not enough to offer you a second interview right away.
Your response: “Thank you. Oh, I see. That’s great. I have a few other interviews next week myself. I’ll check back with you in one week to see where you are in your process.”

“We’re not certain about the offering salary yet. We’ll let you know once it’s firm.”
It’s likely this one is a lie. Organizations need to have a salary set in stone before they hire. The interview couldn’t take place if they haven’t gotten approval on a salary range for the position.
Your response: “Oh really, hmmm. I’m looking for a salary in the range of $65,000 to $75,000. If this doesn’t sound like I’m in the ballpark then it might not be a good fit.”

“We offer so many benefits to our employees.”
This is clearly a blanket statement without any of the specifics you need. Benefits are critical to your employee package. In many cases, benefits can make up for a lower salary offer. Depending on your situation in life, you may be more interested in the amount of vacation days or the healthcare benefits. If this is a first interview, you may not yet want to ask about benefits. If it’s a second or third, don’t leave without the details.
Your response: “I’m glad your company offers so many benefits. Since this is the second interview, I’d be interested to hear more about your specific benefits: healthcare, vacation, dental, etc…”

Image via Bob AuBuchon/Flickr.

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