Category Archives: Job Seeking Resources

4 Simple Ways to Express Your Strengths

One of the single most dreaded questions during an interview is: “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” The weaknesses part is a discussion all by itself, so today we’re going to look at your strengths.

  1. Be specific

“I’m a hard worker” is not specific. That’s a very general answer that everyone would claim. Instead, saying “Once I commit to a job I do whatever needs to happen to get it done,” is a better option.

Whatever strength you say you have, follow it up with a short, 1-2 minute story. How did this strength play out at your last job? In what way did you use your strengths and develop them?

If you’re having trouble figuring out what your strengths are, ask a friend or a coworker you trust. You can also go back and look at performance reviews or compliments from your boss. What stood out to them? That’s probably a strength you have.

  1. Be relevant

Since you’ve already discovered what your various strengths are, consider the position you’re applying for. Does it require a certain skillset? What descriptions about the job carry subtle cues as to what will be needed? Part of being able to sell yourself and what you can do well is knowing what the company needs. How do you fit this job with your unique strengths? If you can first understand that, then communicate it to the interviewer, you’ll leave an impression. Rather than just another interviewee wanting a job, you’ll be someone who knows what the company needs and knows how to fit that need to a ‘T’.

  1. Be realistic

Don’t come up with a strength that you don’t have. If you claim to know French fluently but don’t, you’ll be in big trouble if you’re asked to communicate with developers or vendors there. Google Translate will not serve you well for long.

You have specific talents and abilities. Don’t sell yourself short—or prove yourself a liar—by claiming a strength that’s not your own.

  1. Be yourself

Your greatest asset for getting this job is knowing you. You are a unique individual and no other candidate is exactly like you. That’s what you need to express. In what way do you stand out from the crowd? Let your personality show as you explain your strengths and weaknesses in the interview. Don’t allow stress or nerves to turn you into a robot.

With that said, you can also practice expressing what your strengths are. Write out what you would say, and practice saying it out loud. So many people are surprised how it sounds when they say it out loud compared to in their head. Know how to communicate what makes you a valuable asset to their company. Develop your skills in this area. You may be like many others who don’t necessarily feel comfortable tooting their own horn. However, this isn’t a pride issue. Unless you ramble on and on about how you’ll be this company’s greatest asset ever, the interviewer will welcome you explaining more about yourself. After all, they won’t know unless you tell them.

Interviews can be a big blank spot for a lot of people. That doesn’t have to be you. When you learn what your strengths are and have the ability to communicate those properly, it will get you a long way, and could even land you that job.

Don’t Sweat It

When you’re between jobs or looking for your dream job, stress levels can run high. There is plenty that you can stress about in this process, but there are some things that HR and the hiring manager don’t really care about. So, neither should you.

Resume

  • Design

Unless you’re trying to get a job with a design firm, most Hiring Managers don’t care about how fancy the font is or the special design on your resume. It can give the impression that you’re more interested in creating a nice-looking resume than making sure you’re the best fit for their job.

Rather than spend hours on making sure your resume has just the right look, make sure that it clearly conveys your work history including your accomplishments and cost savings to your company (if applicable). You want them to see why you’re the best fit for the job you’re trying to get. Customize your resume to specific job postings. Always be honest. Pay attention to the details that will make your resume stand out because of its clarity and conciseness, not because it’s has a fancy font or intricate design elements.

  • Length

Many articles have been written on how the length of your resume shouldn’t exceed one or two pages, that you’re just shooting yourself in the foot if you dare to venture onto another page. If you’ve had 10 or more years out in the work force, then don’t worry about it. The information on your resume needs to be appropriate, to the point and relevant to the job. If that warrants adding an extra page or so to the document, go for it. You can provide less detail on jobs over 10 years old. Your resume should not exceed 5 pages.

Thank-you’s

There is no debate – send a thank-you note after an interview. And do it within a day or two. However, with how quickly things move these days, hand writing a thank-you and sending it through the postal service is no longer necessary. Many hiring managers agree that, if it’s well-written and not a form thank-you, email works just as well. If you prefer sending it by mail or know that’s the hiring manager’s preference, go for it! Also, if you have multiple interviews, continue sending those thank-you notes!

When you do send that thank-you, by mail or email, make sure that you address why you are a good fit for their job and make sure the spelling and punctuation are correct. All forms of communication continue to be important. The pressure doesn’t leave just because the interview is done.

Cover Letters

Contrary to popular belief, cover letters are not essential as they used to be. Many times, people are applying to recruiters and corporations through web portals. If there is a comment section, use that as an opportunity to let the employer know why you are a good fit for their job. If you are networking and there is not a specific job open, you will want to write an introductory letter to let them know why you are a good fit for their company. Let your personality show, but still be concise.

There are plenty of things you’ll stress about when applying for jobs, going through the interview process and eventually getting a job. These points don’t have to be on your stress-list.

SURPRISING QUALITIES EMPLOYERS VALUE IN CANDIDATES

As the hustle and family time of the holidays moves further behind us and we get back into the normal work routine, do you find yourself thinking it may be time you should explore new career opportunities? Hiring in general and technology hiring for top talent continues to be strong.

Here are some qualities that have nothing to do with technology that IT Hiring Managers also consider when selecting top talent for their team…

Adaptability – Have you been in the same organization and a loyal dedicated employee for 10 – 15 + years?  Although stable employment is very important and people who switch jobs every 6 – 12 months repeatedly may be seen as “job-hoppers”, being in a certain type of organization for many years may put someone at higher risk of not working out when they do accept a new job.  Often, we will see someone who has been with one company for a long time and then their first new job change is short term.  There can be many reasons for this including being a little rusty on deciding the type job that fits them; but, if the organization they left didn’t offer the ability for someone to keep their adaptability skills honed, they may have gotten so good at the way one company works that they have trouble getting acclimated to a new organization.

  • Think about how long you have been with the same company and if it’s been the same environment and they have done things the same way for over 10 years it may be time for a change
  • Consider whether you should change jobs, even if you are doing the same work in a new place, to sharpen your adaptability skills and demonstrate that you can be successful in new and different environments

Communication – Just because you are a people person and can talk with anyone, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to improve on your communication skills.  If you have ever had someone comment on your “chattiness” or looked at their watch when you are talking with them, you should dive deeper into that.  It could be limiting your opportunities for promotion and lowering your scores on job interviews.

Are you “chatty”? There are many reasons and we’re not psychologists, but over the years we’ve seen this being a factor for a candidate being passed over for a job.  We’ve seen this from people across all ranges of skills, backgrounds, years of experience and here is some of why being long-winded is not sought after.

  • It may be an indication of poor communication skills. First and foremost, who has time to spend 45 minutes talking about something that should have been covered in 10 minutes.
  • If you are in IT, that can mean that you aren’t self-confident in your skills or you think you are underqualified for the position. It may be subconscious; but, if you can get the conversation off track and keep talking about anything, you can keep the interviewer from getting all their questions asked. If they run out of time and can’t cover everything they needed to discuss in order to assess your technical skills and fit for the position, you will probably be eliminated anyway so you might as well shorten your answers and let them drive the interview.
  • Another reason may be that you aren’t able to focus your answer on just what the interviewer is asking. This may indicate an inability to prioritize on what’s most important.  Most businesses don’t have the luxury of giving someone the time to do a perfect job, time to address every requirement.  Being able to prioritize what you need to communicate and only share what answers their questions, also demonstrates an ability to prioritize tasks and focus your time on what is your most important business need.
  • Don’t try to take control of the interview by talking on and on. I once had a colleague who asked one question at the beginning of the interview and the candidate could not be gracefully interrupted for the next 45 minutes.  No surprise they didn’t get offered the position.

Interpersonal skills and polish – The lines between technical IT talent and business continue to blur in many organizations.  Just because you spend much of your day with your ear buds in, doesn’t mean that you might not also be expected to interact with business stakeholders, end users, and other non-technical people.  The movement toward agile methods and the manner that different organizations apply agile process could drive increases in the likelihood of direct interaction between the end-user and IT.

  • Your technical peers may have an easier time of trusting your work and technical skills while you are wearing flip flops and shorts; but, that doesn’t mean someone who is not technical and doesn’t always work in your vicinity will be as accepting.
  • It is human nature for people to feel most comfortable around people who are like themselves. Even though diversity is healthy and makes for a more productive environment, you can push the limits of casual by not presenting a polished professional image or being able to fit in with the communication style with the people you are meeting. It’s been pretty acceptable for IT to be casually dressed; but, if you don’t know someone, do you have to take your flip flops off or go barefoot into a work meeting?
  • Polish and interpersonal skills include having the consideration for those around you to make them comfortable and be proud to have you as a coworker.

SUMMARY – Technical people sometimes focus too much on their technical skills.  Be aware that non-technical skills can often be more important than technical expertise.

 

 

 

Is the Writing on the Wall for Your Job?

Sometimes the writing is on the wall, but you just can’t seem to see it. There are sure signs that, when combined, are strong hints that you should consider switching jobs. You can resolve some issues through work and cooperation. And by all means, pursue that first. But there are some areas that can’t be fixed, which may result in you needing to seriously consider switching jobs. What are those reasons?

Stagnation has become the norm.

Your work isn’t always going to be what you wish it would be. After all, you call it work for a reason. There is a point, though, where it goes beyond that. The excitement you once had at the challenges and opportunities has fizzled out like a sparkler during the Fourth of July. The skills that you brought to the table either aren’t being used or you haven’t experienced any growth. If you have to look for ways to learn new things yourself and your boss has little interest in providing those for you, that’s a problem.

Generally, the American populace works 40 – 45 hours a week. That’s a lot of time to spend on a job that leaves you bored, stagnant and unchallenged. This may be a sign that you need to move on.

You have irreconcilable issues with your boss.

This isn’t an easy “out”; there are many interpersonal issues that can be resolved with a little effort. However, if your boss reacts to your efforts in a hostile way, then you have a major issue. Some relationships are unable to be repaired, whether because of a misunderstanding, a difference in personality, or lack of trust. This is especially true when you are willing to put in the effort, but your boss lacks any interest in meeting you there.

Recent layoffs have resulted in an increased work load with no increase in pay.

There are legitimate reasons for a company having to resort to layoffs. If you’re still at the company, that could be a good thing, but there could still be problems. You may find more work on your desk and more expected of you but without the additional compensation. This is a short road to becoming burned out and very dissatisfied with your job. If the downsizing results in the company doing better, and yet you’re seeing no return on that investment for you, it could very well be time to go.

You dread going to work.

Not only has all pizzazz gone out of your job, you’ve started to dread even going to bed Sunday night because you know Monday morning you’ll be heading back to work. If you’re frequently thinking about how much you don’t want to go to work on your days off, then you have a problem. This could just be a short season, but if it persists, it’s part of a bigger problem. Your job takes up a huge part of your life. Are you willing to let your misery continue?

There’s no chance for promotion.

You want to keep climbing the proverbial ladder, but it has apparently run out of rungs. Are you happy with where you’re at or are you wanting to continue advancing? If the latter is the case, then your only course of action may be switching to a new job. You may run the risk of having to go down a peg or two in the process, but the end result will be worth it as more opportunities for advancement come up.

Only you can know if it’s time to move on from your current job. Chances are, if you’ve read to the end of this article, it may be time for you to make a change

Spin these 4 Common Job Hunting Weaknesses to Positives

When you’ve been at a job interview, have you ever dreaded the question, “What do you consider your weaknesses?” Yes, sometimes it’s a difficult one to answer. The worse answer you can give is that you cannot think of a weakness. Employers want to know that you are always looking to improve.

Most job seekers dread candidacy weakness questions because they don’t want to attract attention to their negative attributes and spoil the chances for the job. However, a weakness can be seen as an area of untapped potential rather than a personal deficiency. For this reason, several approaches can be taken in answering questions about your weaknesses.

Here are 3 ways you can put a positive spin on job candidacy weaknesses:

  1. Lack of experience
    Lack of experience is a top weakness among job seekers. If you are asked about working with a specific technology and you do not have experience in that technology, you should talk about a similar technology that you have worked with. If you do not have any experience and your education is recent, you can reference the technology you used in your studies. If you have no experience in the area the interviewer is asking about, speak about your skills and attributes that prove that you are a fast learner. If you are willing to put in your own time to learn that skill, let the interviewer know that you will study after hours to pick up that skill.
  2. Job hopping
    It’s undeniable that employers prefer job seekers with a stable work history. Stable no longer means decades of working at the same company. It typically means 2- 5 years with the same company. Changing jobs too quickly can make employers think it just won’t be worth their investment in training you. On the other hand, if you stay too long with your current employer, employers think you have not seen enough variety of how other companies operate. People change jobs for a myriad of reasons, for example a spouse was transferred, your employer was acquired and your position was eliminated, or you relocated to assist your elderly parents. In those instances, you can put your reason for leaving next to the dates on your resume to help you to secure an interview, also be sure and point out those reasons during the interview.
  3. I am assertive
    A number of people view assertive people as arrogant and dominating. Assertive people tend to exude self-assurance and confidence that may be misconstrued as being bossy. You may want to tell your prospective employer that you consider your assertiveness as a desirable communication skill where you are honest and respectfully interact with your co-workers. When you assert your views, you solve problems and take responsibility. There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive and you need to communicate that you understand the difference. Being assertive is also a healthy alternative to submission.

 

 

 

4 Tips for Writing a Short, Focused and Impactful Resume

A resume is an important stepping stone to getting you an interview. If you applied online, assume your resume will be the view of a computer screen and you want the most impactful information to fit on that screen. With that in mind, here are a few easy tips to keep your resume short, sweet, and successful.

  1. Less is more.
    Many professional resume writers will attest to this: it’s much easier to write a long resume than a shorter one. Being concise on paper requires strategy, effort, and time. It’s much easier, but less effective, to provide a laundry list of weak job descriptions. Putting energy into a long resume “booklet” is a waste of time, because most hiring managers and recruiters are interested only in the professional summary and the most recent experience — both of which should fit easily within the first page.  A long-winded resume also signals that you’re unable to prioritize your skills and accomplishments, and prioritization is an essential skill in most professions. If you’re struggling to edit your resume down to size, ask yourself, “Does it relate closely to the job I’m applying for? Does this sentence make a strong impression on the reader?” If the answer is no, chances are it should be axed.
  1. Tell the hiring manager/recruiter/ talent acquisition specialist about your accomplishments, not your departmental objectives
    Your resume is not a copy of your job description. Resumes can come across weak and passive, merely listing what an employee was “responsible for.” Many resumes fall victim to this trap when instead they should highlight your skills and specific achievements. It’s the difference between “responsible for the network team” and “reorganized the network team to a 3-tier support model which improved our response time.” The latter is active, specific, and impactful – all qualities which a hiring manager is seeking.  By eliminating, or at least significantly abbreviating, the list of mere duties and responsibilities, your resume will become much more concise and focused, demonstrating what hiring managers really want: someone with a penchant for action. If it is important, include it, if not, cut it.
  1. There is strength in numbers.
    When listing your professional accomplishments, try to quantify as many of them as possible. Vague accomplishments prompt red flags. Specific examples like project completed before deadline (time and/ or money saved), reducing software license costs, size of team you managed directly (headcount), budgets, etc. help sell your resume to get you that interview you desire.
  1. Formatting IS important.
    Certainly, the content of your resume is the most important element of all, but even the most accomplished candidates can shoot themselves in the foot with poor formatting. Common blunders include text that is too frilly or too large (can seem juvenile) or text that is too small (can be illegible). Additionally, unless you’re applying to a truly out-of-the-box creative agency, most employers are looking for clean, simple fonts, not revolutionary typography. Indeed, the applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan, parse, and rank your resume may choke if they encounter an uncommon font style. The moral of the story: keep font and formatting clean and simple. A resume with a sentence spilling onto an additional page will appear less assertive and compelling, sloppy even. The resume is often the first visual impression you make, so make sure it’s a strong one!

Social Media Errors that are Affecting Your Job Hunt

What you say online could cost you your next job offer. Contrary to what some people may think, who you are online is not disconnected from who you are in your day-to-day work life. People filter their tweets and posts less and less, while potential employers are checking out social profiles more and more. No matter how sure you are that what you’ve posted, tweeted, or shared is private, it’s not. Here are some things not to include on your social media or any other online accounts.

Inflammatory statements

Especially with your professional accounts, you don’t need to state your political affiliation. As much as you might like to engage in a debate about your favorite or least favorite political candidate, resist the urge. You don’t need your potential employer viewing your professional account and finding long rants or heated conversations with other people. Everyone has opinions and expressing them is good. But there is a time and place for that. Social media, even if it’s your private account, may not be the best place to do so.

Complaints about previous jobs

If you actually say the name of your boss, coworker, or company, you could get passed over for the next promotion or job offer. Venting your frustrations online about your job or co-workers is never appropriate. Choose instead to talk it over with a trusted friend. What you have to say may be true, but it creates a poor impression of you. After all, if you lacked discretion then, your potential employer is probably wondering would you do the same to them.

Playing when you should be working

If you are posting and liking posts or tweets during work hours that may give your employer the impression you are not giving 100% during your work day.

Also, requesting time off work for a “family emergency” and then posting pictures of yourself on a beautiful golf course is not going to end well for you. Lying to your boss is obviously poor judgment and will reflect badly on you.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your personal and professional accounts separate. Don’t let the two mix. Stay professional on your LinkedIn and Twitter professional accounts. On your personal accounts, simply use good judgment.

Fun Pictures from College

Believe it or not, if you have a picture from your college days, maybe as a previous profile pic on Facebook, it could work against you. Especially if said picture is you doing a shot or some other questionable picture. Employers look through your posts and pictures and finding an image, even from way-back-when that is questionable could work against you.

Anything Illegal

Whether it’s a joking reference or not, avoid this at all costs. Online, you can’t decipher tone or context, so no one really knows what you mean by what you said. Any illegal activity on your part could get you in trouble with the law and would reflect poorly on your company. Don’t reference anything illegal and keep your reputation pristine.

5 Prep tips for a Video Interview!

5 Prep Tips for a Video Interview

Video interviews can be a great way to connect, but can also be full of potential pitfalls. These five steps can help you to prepare for a video interview and increase your chances of making a positive impression.

Test Your Equipment

Test your computer and your webcam that you will use for the interview. Make sure that your internet is fast enough to video chat in real time, and familiarize yourself with how your webcam works and where the volume and screen brightness controls are. Check your volume and see if your microphone picks up your speech well. Test your equipment in advance of your interview so that if you encounter problems you will have some time to fix them.

Practice

Ask a friend or family member to help you prepare by conducting video chats. Talking through video can be a little unsettling, and the fact that you can see yourself during the chat can distract many people. Practice looking straight at the camera, rather than the screen, and ask your friend or family member for feedback. This is also a great time to determine what computer heights and angles are most flattering for you.

Prepare an Appropriate Location

If you have reliable internet and a home office, then conducting the video interview at home may be a suitable option. Be sure that you schedule the interview for a time when you will have some privacy, and when any children or animals are out of the house or are being supervised in a non-adjacent room.

Carefully assess the background that will appear in the interview. You should try to find a background which is fairly plain and isn’t distracting. Arrange some lights so that your face is lit and there are no major shadows, but avoid placing lights directly behind you, since they can interfere with the camera’s ability to focus. Stack some books under your laptop if you are using a built-in camera so that you are eye level with the camera.

Research and Prepare

A video interview is quite similar to an in-person interview. Research and prepare for the interview much as you would for an in-person interview. Spend some time researching the employer and the position. Make a list of any questions that you have so that you can refer to it during the interview. Give some thought to how you will respond to any standard interview questions that you may be asked.

Sit down in front of your camera and practice responding to interview questions. Watch your posture and body language – do you appear confident, or are you fussing with your hands or hunching forward? Practice speaking clearly and calmly, and rehearse a bit in the interview clothing that you intend to wear so that you can spot any potential wardrobe issues ahead of time.

Be Prepared for Technical Issues

Anytime you work with technology there is the potential for something to go wrong. Testing your equipment should eliminate many potential issues, but you may still run into problems on the day of your interview. Internet downtime, power outages, and even webcam issues may throw a kink into your video interview.

It is best to have some backup plans in case these issues occur. If possible, have another computer on standby. Plan a backup location where you can conduct the interview if your internet or power goes out. Make sure that you’re prepared with a phone number so that you can reach the employer in case something does happen.

Can a Career Agent benefit you?

Do actors wait until they want a new role before they work with an Agent?  Never! Does a baseball player wait until he is headed to free agency to connect with an Agent?  No!  Actors and professional athletes always have someone watching out for their best interests.  A good Agent is always working for them – looking for new opportunities, understanding the individual’s goals, and seeking to find the best fit professionally, personally and financially.

A good Career Agent will do the same for you!  Candidates are frustrated by a job market they see as dominated by online portals, anonymous job postings and no responses from companies after their friend gave their boss their resume for a position on their team where they are a perfect fit.  A resume can easily be submitted and lost. Career Agents interview you, understand your career goals, timing, salary requirements, career history and culture you desire.  They work in parallel with clients seeking talent across a wide range of functions within technology. When agents submit you for a position, they stay in touch and active throughout the process.  Your resume is not lost in the application process; instead, they demonstrate why you will be a good fit for the company’s position/organization and follow up for feedback, interviews and next steps.  Your Career Agent will work with you to represent your best interests in terms of salary, benefits and start date and communicate what you need to accept a company’s offer.

Career Agents help you navigate the complexities of a job change and help you position yourself to achieve your career goals and help you through the resignation and transition process. Bottom line, Career Agents help you reach your professional goals better and faster than you could do with just a regular recruiter, or a friend who hands a hiring manager your resume, or applying through a web portal on your own. Your Agents’ goal is to be your life long career advisor and to create a win-win for you and your new employer.

Your Resume has these 4 Must-Haves, Right?

Important Elements That Must Be Included On Your Resume

Whether you’re putting together a resume for your first or last job, there are several core elements that need to be considered when you are writing your resume. Modern technology has made it easier to apply to many jobs without much effort, which means that employers and recruiters are inundated with resumes when a job opening is posted. If you want the job, then you need to make sure that your resume outshines the rest.

  1. An Attractive Summary
    You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of the hiring manager, so it is important to include a summary that entices them to continue reading your resume. The first section should quickly summarize your qualifications and is essentially an “elevator speech” on paper.
  2. Contact Information, And…
    Your name, address, phone number, and a professional sounding email address (not lovetoparty@gmail.com) should be clearly listed at the top of the resume. Don’t forget, you don’t want to include personal information such as your social security number, race, marital status, health status, or birth date. This information is not relevant during the application process, and there is no reason for you to add the information on your resume.
  3. Remember the “3 E’s”
    There are three main points that most hiring managers are looking for: expertise, experience and education. It is a good idea to dedicate a section of the resume to each of these topics:
    Expertise shows the unique skill set that you can bring to the company to show that you are the right candidate for the job. Make sure to adjust each resume to align with the job description, because you can re-phrase your core competencies in a manner that speaks to the language used by the hiring manager.Experience should be focused around the accomplishments that you have achieved in your career. Many people mistakenly list their technologies without explaining what they do/did with their skill set. If you have improved processes or saved the company money, include this information.Education provides the proof that you are qualified for the job based on the education requirements that were listed in the job description. The education section is also the perfect opportunity to share information about certifications or continuing education that you received.
  4. Clean Formatting
    Do not send resumes with hard coding. Companies use automated portals and your information can import incorrectly. Most hiring managers are quickly skimming through a stack of resumes and they won’t have the patience or desire to read resumes that are cluttered or confusing. Structure your resume in a way that makes it easy to read and understand, so that the important information pops out if someone is skimming the page. Since the hiring manager will be sorting through a large stack of resumes, it is important to keep your resume succinct. Limit the length to 1 – 3 pages and only share the relevant information. By limiting the length of your resume, it forces you to cut out the “fluff” to avoid over-sharing details that are not applicable to the job.