Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interviewing: Dress to Impress

What's the point of going to the interview and not dressing the part? Nothing! ALL interviews have an expectation of attire. So why not make the best possible impression by dressing the part.

Depending on the position you are going after:

Professional Positions:
MEN - a dark suit, white shirt, stain free tie and polished shoes are most appropriate.
WOMEN - a dark suit (pants or skirt), modest accessories and respectable shoes are most fitting. I be you are wondering about the respectable shoes... sandals and stilettos are never proper for a professional interview (so put them away)!

Office and Non-Professionals:
MEN - slacks or khakis, clean button down shirt, matching sports coat and tie preferred.
WOMEN - matching skirt or pants with blouse, modest accessories and respectable shoes are most fitting. See not above about respectable shoes :-)

Skilled, Semi-Skilled or Operative Positions:
MEN / WOMEN - khakis, polo shirt and clean shoes. Sometimes, jeans and work boots are more appropriate for tradesman, especially in construction related fields. You may be hired on the spot and expected to start work immediately.

If you have a question about attire, you should ask.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Interviewing: You've Passed the First Interview, Now What

OK, you did it. They love you and now you are ready to move to the next step in the hiring process. What the heck? How are you supposed to know what comes next. Well, you ask. At the conclusion of the interview it is always a good idea to have a few questions that you would like answered. It demonstrates to the potential employer that you are interested in the opportunity and it also demonstrates how well you have listened through the interview. So what are some good (appropriate) questions to ask:

1. How long have you worked here?
2. Why is the position vacant and how long have you been sourcing candidates?
3. What do you like most about working here?
4. What do you like least about working here?
5. What are the next steps in this process (meaning the interview)?
6. What is your timeframe to fill the position?

Remember, if the interviewer has already answered any question above, don't ask it just to hear them repeat themselves.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Job Searching: What that Job Description Really Means

A job description is the primary document used to create a job posting or vacancy announcement. A job description will identify the position summary, primary tasks, working conditions, educational requirements, prior experience needed and additional licenses and certifications. Typically a job description is written by a functional expert who knows the intricacies of the position. Job postings on the other hand are often written by recruiters who may not know anything at all about the position they are trying to fill.

To a potential employee reviewing an actual job description is gold. It's like having all the answers to the test before you get asked a single question. Imagine going to an interview knowing all the primary responsibilities of a position and being able to tailor your every response exactly a company's particular need. You would be an interviewing machine - unstoppable - able to land any job, anywhere, at any time.

The next time you are in the hunt for new employment - do a little investigative work. Call up the human resource department and see if you can get your hands on a job description. If they say no (just as you might expect), Google or Bing your desired position and see what other companies are saying about the position. Check out the many employment websites and see if you can put a few more pieces together. You can also try searching for your desired position with the words "job description" after it and you will be amazed at the amount of data you will find. The more information you have, the more prepared you will be.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Job Searching: Job Fairs, Useful or Useless?

Well in true HR fashion, the answer is "it depends." It depends on you the attendee and your attitude and preparedness and it also depends on which businesses are in attendance and their reasons for being there. If you are properly prepared to interview and have all your ducks in a row then job fairs can and often do provide very successful outcomes. Many factors affect your success and guess what matters most... Yup, timing! Timing is almost all that matters.

Attending a job fair can provide real employment opportunities assuming that you find the needle in the haystack employer that is looking for someone exactly like you. Right skills, right fit, right place, right time. All things being equal, every applicant that walks into a job fair has just as much of a chance of being hired as the next person. Your strategy is to be the most prepared person in the room.

Here are a couple of tips when planning to attend a job fair:
1. Research the attending companies. Know a little something about them before you step up to their booth. Try to learn what their needs are and present yourself as the solution.
2. Dress the part. If you are a plumber and are applying for positions within your industry, dress one level up from your normal work day attire. Pressed khakis and a polo shirt or long sleeve button up with clean shoes or boots would be very appropriate. If you are a financial auditor looking for work, you would be best in your suit and tie.
3. Bring resumes. Bring clean, non crinkled resumes for distribution. Even if you have previously applied online, have a clean resume to pass out. Be sure your resume has your contact information, highlights your best qualities and accomplishments, is free of errors and has adequate white space.
4. NO GUM. Gum at a job fair is taboo. Use breath mints if you have a concern.
5. Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your cell phone while in the main expo and remove your earbuds. Playing music from any portable device also demonstrates a lack of interest in the process.
6. SMILE. A warm heartfelt smile can go a long way in breaking the ice and establishing rapport.

Job Fairs are a great way to make a first impression, provided it is the right one. Making a bad impression during a job fair can leave you earmarked as a nonviable candidate for a very long time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Job Searching: Contract Jobs, Why Should You Consider Them?

Are you considering a career change? Are you thinking about launching yourself into a new industry? Contract assignments might be worth some consideration.

Contract assignments generally have a specific start and stop time and are primarily project based work. Contract assignments may pay more or less depending on the needs of the organization. Generally, administrative, clerical and customer service professionals are paid on the lower end of the wage scale, while IT and engineering professionals are paid for their demand skills.

The trouble with contract assignments is that the "Employer" may not always properly vet the required skills and abilities or they may not fully convey the scope of what is needed to be done. Contract assignments can be very difficult - you almost have to take the bull by the horns and jump right in since you will not get the benefit of employee orientation.

When looking for an assignment, be careful to research those agencies that you will work with - as not all agencies are alike. Reputable firms will have a solid orientation program, clearly and easily understood processing documentation, history on their clients and a reputation for treating their employees well. If you have any concerns about working contract assignments, as for references. Employment is still a two way street and it is in your best interest to make sure you are working with a firm that pays their bills and pays you - ON TIME, EVERY TIME!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Job Searching: 3 Keys to a Successful Job Search

#1 - BE PREPARED: Research the company ahead of time and don't wait for the last minute to cram a bunch of facts into your brain. Bring extra copies of printed resumes with you, regardless if you have already sent previous copies. Take time to rehearse your responses and remember to breathe. Usually the interviewers (more often the hiring managers) are just as nervous as you are.

#2 - BE PURPOSEFUL: Make a plan for your job search. Be methodical and practical about the companies you want to work for. Don't apply for a job that you are not qualified for or willing to accept if offered. You are wasting your time and the employer's time. Without fail, that stuff comes back to bite you.

#3 - BE PROFESSIONAL: Dress appropriately and watch the perfume/cologne. You don't want an interviewer explaining how they were overtaken by fumes when you walk in the door. Keep your answers relevant to the job and not what you did last weekend. Revisit all your social media sites to make sure the photos where you might be prominently displayed with an adult beverage are removed. Use handwritten thank you notes after each and every interview. Yeah, I know you are thinking, "really?" Really! It makes a huge difference in determining who really wants to be there versus who is there just to collect a check.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Job Searching: Does "Luck" Really Exist in a Job Search?

Luck, Smuck. OK - admittedly there is a certain bit of right place, right time mojo in landing your most coveted job. But more often than not, it is about understanding the hiring process and being the most prepared person in the room.

You have got to check yourself -
  • Make sure you have done your homework and read up on the company you are trying to work for.
  • Ensure you are properly dressed for the big interview and don't be wearing all that super trendy attire. You want to look the part; not the part that everyone is looking at.
  • Mark out your route to the interview just to make sure you aren't late and know exactly where to park. If you're late, you may be out of a job.
  • Be sure that the cell phone is locked off and stowed in its proper position. Actually, best left in the car.
  • Leave your friends and family at home. This is your opportunity to stand on your own - no one is going to hold your hand every day at work. You have to do this one by yourself.
  • Use a breath mint, not gum.
  • Get busy preparing your responses to the tough questions...
- Why do you want to work here?
- What did you like least about your last job and why?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about a time when you had difficulty working with your boss and why?

It's not so much luck that plays a piece of getting you employed, but there is something to be said for karma. What you put out into the universe you are certainly going to get that back. Think positive! Think persuasive! Think peace!