J Patrick + Associates Blog

7 Clues the Interview Didn’t Go as Planned

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 @ 04:43 PM
7 CluesThe most difficult part of the job search for many is the dreaded interview. Interviews are designed to test applicants to see if they will be a good fit for the company. After an interview, it is normal to spend time waiting for a phone call as you hope to land that next job. However, if you pay attention to a few details, you can probably already tell if you have shot at the job or not. Knowing when an interview didn’t go as planned is just as important as feeling good when you know it went great. This allows you to stop the waiting game and keep going with your search so you can land a job that will be a great fit for you much more quickly.
 

7 Clues the Interview Didn't Go As Planned

1. The interview is cut short.

Many companies will give you at least an estimate of how long to expect your interview to last. Based on how it goes during the interview, it could go longer or much shorter. If it seems to run much shorter than you expected, chances are they decided at the beginning that you are not a right fit for the position and chose to end it early to not waste both their time and yours.

2. The interviewer seems distracted.

If during the course of the interview the conversation doesn’t seem to go well or if the interviewer appears distracted or uninterested in what you have to say, this could mean that you haven’t made a good impression or at least they have quickly decided that you do not fit well with their company or position.

3. You only get asked the easy questions.

So many people dread interviews because of those tough questions that require you really to think and think quickly. If over the course of the interview you only get asked about your work history or easy questions about yourself, this could actually be a bad sign. If an interviewer is truly interested in you they will pitch the hard questions to try to learn even more about you and how you would handle some of the most difficult situations on the job.

4. They don’t try to sell you on the company or position.

If a company likes what you have to offer and is truly interested in adding you to their roster, they will spend time during the interview trying to sell the company to you. As much as you might want a job offer, they want to be sure you will say yes to the offer. If during your interview there is very little mentioned about all the great things going on in the business, chances are they aren’t considering you for a position so they feel no need to sell the company to you.

5. You aren’t asked when you are available to start.

If a company really wants to add you to their roster, they will want to know when you can start. When hiring a new employee there are many things that need to happen in order for the company to prepare for your arrival. If they don’t care when you can begin working for them there is a good chance they don’t intend on hiring you at all.

6. Salary isn’t brought up during the interview process.

If a company is truly interested in you and they believe you will be a good fit for their business, one of the first things they will want to find out is if they can afford you. If salary is not brought up or if the interviewer seems to have an issue with salary expectations, it could be a sign that ultimately it doesn’t matter to them because you are not being considered for the position.

7. The interview ends without talking about the next steps in the process.

Most companies require much more than just one single interview before you are hired. After that initial interview, most companies will want to schedule a follow-up interview or at the very least check your references. If after your first interview there is no mention of what the next steps are, there is a good chance you aren’t getting the job.

All of the signs we have discussed can help you determine how well you did in your interview. If all signs point to a bad interview, do not despair. Bad interviews do not mean you are a bad candidate, just a bad fit for that company. Remember, interviews are designed to help both the company and you determine if the job is a good fit for both parties. If it’s not and you believe the interview did not go well, brush yourself off and be thankful for the opportunity and keep searching until you find that perfect job.

Written by Lisa Rangel, Executive Resume Writer

 


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

How To Know If A Company Is The Right Fit For You

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 08:45 AM

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The savvy candidate knows that the interview is an opportunity to not only be vetted by a hiring manager, but also to vet the company. Think of the interview as a fact-finding mission not only about the position, but also about the company culture. The job you're interviewing for may be everything you want, but is the company? 

Here are some important clues to look for when interviewing, and can help you decide if a company is a right fit for you

 

How to know if the company is the right fit

Lobby Life

Arriving early for an interview is always good advice - it prevents rushing into a meeting flushed or frazzled - but it also allows you some time to watch the company at work. Consider the lobby as a window into a company’s soul - take this moment to look around and listen.

Are employees friendly toward strangers and each other, or are they rushing about with sour expressions? Is the receptionist rude and dismissive or do they greet you with a smile? You’re not looking for a Stepford Wives experience here, but you will get an idea of what daily life is like just by sitting in the lobby and watching the flow of people in and out.

 

Your Network Knows

Just as you might research a potential employer on Crunchbase to better understand their growth, funding and growth trajectory, you need to mine your social connections to find out what it’s really like on the ground. Contact 1st or 2nd degree LinkedIn connections who have worked for, or do work at the company. Write them a polite note explaining that you have an interview set up and would love to ask them a few questions.

Keep your inquiry specific to their experience. You’re looking to hear what kind of person thrives there, what the feel in the office is like, how do they perceive the work culture, and do they find it a good place to work.

A word of caution: this is not an expedition to weed out office dirt -  what you’re looking for is a peek into the culture.

 

Separate The Wheat From The Chaff

Company policy is one thing, how it’s actually implemented a whole other. It’s all fine and well for an employer to state that they support employees working from home, or that they always try to promote from within. But whether or not they actually operate in accordance with these policies is what you need to be looking for. Ask for specific examples of people who have moved up the ranks, as well as attrition rates.

Who leaves and after how long can tell you a whole lot about the tenor of the company.

Be watchful also for aspirational policies - perhaps they are programs a young start-up might hope to one day implement, but are not in the position to follow through on at this time. If this is the case, you’ll have to weigh the company they are, against the company they hope to be, and decide if it’s worthwhile.

 

What It's Like Interviewing For A Company Is What It's Going To Be Like To Work For Them

The interview process can take a very long time from start to finish In fact, according to a recent article in Fast Company, a software engineer may have to endure 35 days or more during the interview process. So judging a company by how long they take to make a hiring decision may not be the best metric.

What you do need to look at is how they operate during the interview. A company's vetting and hiring processes are highly valuable data sets to consider. Everyone knows first impressions matter, but when considering a new employer, it’s the 2nd, 3rd and 4th impressions that reveal how the company operates on a day to day basis.

Keep your eyes open throughout the hiring process to make certain that the company is a good fit for you. For more on company culture, read here.

 


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

Is A Cover Letter Important?

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 03:00 PM


Is a Cover Letter Important

When talking about job applications, I always used to say that a cover letter was useless. 

It’s just more stuff to write.  I wasn’t a fan of the cover letter, to say the least.  While they were the norm until about ten years ago, thanks to online applications cover letters have become arguably outdated and certainly less-used.  

Today, the rule of thumb seems to be to not include a cover letter unless an employer specifically asks for one.  In fact, many employers disregard the cover letter when they see it. They just skim through the resume and throw the cover letter out like last week’s leftovers. 

Unfortunately, these employers miss the importance of the cover letter.  

 

The Importance of a Cover Letter

A cover letter actually gives the employer a great opportunity to really see who a candidate is prior to the interview.  

When well written, they can be a powerful communication tool.  Now, crafting this tool can take some serious word-smithing. So don’t just breeze through the writing process. Your cover letter should be a work of art and it can make you or break you in the eyes of a possible employer.  Consider this: your cover letter creates your first impression in the mind of the reader; definitely do not take it lightly.  

That said, a cover letter gives you a great opportunity to showcase your strengths in a longer format.  You can use a cover letter to really focus and elaborate on the specific qualities that make you the right fit for a position. They are the first step to getting that interview and eventually getting that job.

 

Cover Letters Can Help You Stand Out

These days, in the eyes of some, the cover letter is a dying document. Maybe it’s true that employers just don’t have the time to read through both the resume AND the cover letter.  And, yes, even recruiters don’t need a cover letter to place somebody, either. I can’t complain. Like I said before, I despise writing cover letters. But in reality, cover letters count. Without one, you miss the early chance to put yourself above the competition and really showcase what makes you unique.

 


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Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

How To Get The Best LinkedIn Recommendations

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 08:45 AM

Get the best linkedIn Recommendations

We often think our first opportunity to make a good impression is during the pre-screen phone call, or when we walk into the office for an interview. But the truth is, employers, recruiters, even customers are checking us out online long before the point of the first contact. Your LinkedIn profile very well may be optimized and vibrant, but people are looking for social proof that what you say about yourself is true. 

Just like the restaurant in Duluth that claims to make the best pizza needs reviews on Yelp to validate and support their claims, you need recommendations to bolster and shine your reputation.

Methods for Acquiring the Best LinkedIn Recommendations

 Follow these steps to request LinkedIn recommendations:

  1. From your LinkedIn profile, hover over View Profile As
  2. Choose Get Recommendations
  3. Choose What Do You Want To Be Recommended For from the drop-down
  4. Choose Who Do You Want To Ask from your contacts.

You can choose up to 3 contacts at a time, but I'd caution you against it. Personalize your request and avoid the automated asks.

Choose Wisely

Endorsements on LinkedIn are the equivalent of a thumbs up on your profile. They’re a friendly way of saying, ‘yes this person does what they say they do.’ But they don’t carry much weight. So while you might collect endorsements from anyone who clicks an automated prompt, recommendations are a different animal and need to be well considered.

Ask people who know you well, who’ve been in the trenches with you and have seen you shine. Someone who has seen you step up in a crisis, sat on a committee you led or co-managed a project with you, is best equipped to speak to your strengths.

Bonus Points: Recommendations also show up on the profile of the recommender as searchable text, thereby further increasing your social currency.

Be Specific In Your Ask

Once you’ve identified who to ask, now you need to get specific. While you can use the LinkedIn tool to make contact, we’d recommend that you write a separate email. There’s a better chance of your request being seen via direct mail, than through LinkedIn, and you want to avoid generating several asks.

When composing your note, know that a generalized “will you write me a recommendation” will, at best, garner you a generalized note, leaving you with an enthusiastic, yet horribly generalized recommendation. While well-intentioned, these kinds of recommendations leave you sounding the Manchurian Candidate: “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” A faceless, non-specific "great" guy.

Remind your recommender of a specific problem you solved for them, or the time you took the lead on a particularly difficult project. Giving them guidance on what skills or traits you are looking to be recommended for will help them craft a more meaningful letter.

Pro-Tip: Recommenders must be a 1st degree LinkedIn connection for their words to carry the weight you need them to.

Variety Is The Spice of LinkedIn

You want the recommendations to reflect the breadth of your career, so ask an equally wide variety of people in different capacities. Think about former managers, colleagues, customers, project teammates, and yes C-level executives. While C-level executives are valuable recommenders, though leaders can be just as powerful. Be certain to also consider contacts outside of work, perhaps people who have done service with you in the community or other volunteer work. You want to present the well-rounded person you are, so make sure to cover your work life from all angles.

Give Thanks

While your contacts may be more than happy to take the time to write about you, it is time out of their day. Once you’ve received the recommendation, and seen it go live, take the time to write to your contacts to thank them. An email is lovely, but a handwritten note is even better. And always offer to return the favor. Not everyone is comfortable asking for other people’s time, so make it easy for them to get a piece of yours. And always be certain to act in a timely manner -- don’t wait for 3 weeks to pass before extending your gratitude.

When you get the right kinds of recommendations from the right kinds of people, you're well on your way to providing that all-important social proof and enhancing your online brand.


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Tags: Job Search, Networking

4 Ways to make the most of an Employment Gap

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Wed, Nov 13, 2019 @ 08:45 AM

How to Make the Most of an Employment Gap

As a job seeker, ready to return to work after a hiatus (either planned or involuntary) accounting for a gap on your resume can be daunting. But whether you’ve been out of the job market for a few months or more long-term, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that prospective employers view your hiatus as time well spent, rather than damaging blank space in your work history.

4 Ways to Make the Most Of an Employment Gap

1. Be Honest About Your Employment History

As much as you may want to try to make an employment gap disappear when getting back into the workforce, you must embrace it and fill the gaps. You are much better off explaining gaps in employment than trying to make believe it never happened. 

If for example, your hiatus was devoted to raising children, include it as such on your resume: 2014-2019 Time off to take care of a sick family member, etc. Be clear and honest, and know that having taken time off doesn’t make you a less valuable employment prospect.

2. Highlight Volunteer Work

It may be tempting to minimize the impact volunteer work may have on your career, but if you step back, you'll see that you gained valuable skills and experience by working with a non-for profit institution or school. 

By highlighting this experience you are showing hiring managers that you are willing to use your skills to be a positive force in your community, that you are passionate about certain causes, and you are engaged in building new skill sets.

 

Volunteering as a pathway to employment

Don’t forget to avail yourself of those connections you made when volunteering when you’re looking for your next position. Even if they are not able to help connect you with prospective employers, they can write recommendations for your LinkedIn profile and provide you with endorsements.

3. Keep Learning 

Employers will be less apt to balk at a gap if you’ve been busy working on your education. And understand this is not a bias that’s limited to University or degree work. Take the time during your hiatus to get current with certifications and training and learn new skills. Employers will see you’ve been dedicated to keeping your skills sharp, and are returning up to date with the latest trends in your sector.

4. Practice Your Story for Job Interviews

When it comes to the job interview, you need to be able to explain your hiatus in a way that allows you to be seen as an exciting prospect. Don't fall to the temptation to apologize for your hiatus. All that's called for is a concise explanation to help remove any doubts about your readiness and appeal to a potential employer. Know what you have to offer and be ready to voice it in just a few sentences. Understanding how to tell your story may take some time and practice, but it will deliver dividends when you are pitching yourself for a job.

Practice telling your story with both friends and people who don't know you so well - it will help strengthen your pitch and work out any hesitation or weakness.

While there may be a pervasive bias against people who have left the workforce for a hiatus, how you handle it can make all the difference in your job search

 


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If you’re ready for to end your hiatus, or are looking for a new job, contact one of our recruiters here at J.Patrick & Associates. We are an Executive Recruiting firm that focuses on Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Technical roles within Information Technology markets. We have over 20 years of experience recruiting in every aspect of AV/VTC/UC, Application, Storage, Information/Network Security, Mobile Technologies and Telecommunications.

Tags: Recruiter Tips, Job Search, Networking, Job Interviews

Weighing Your Options Between Two Competing Offers

Posted by Dylan Rivera on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 @ 01:39 PM

Two Competing Job Offers

Congratulations!

Your job search and interview process have finally paid off, however with two competing offers,  each presenting certain benefits that make it a good fit.  

The first thing you should do is just take a moment and remind yourself that some people would riot to be in the position you are in.

Now, let’s break down some points to help you evaluate how to best handle the “two job offers” situation.  

Weighing Your Options Between Two Competing Job Offers

Written In Ink

When presented with multiple job offers, it’s natural to start comparing them immediately. However, it’s not wise to do so until you have a physical copy rather than just verbal offers of both opportunities. You want to be able to weigh several vital factors, such as health benefits, vacation time, maternity leave, and commute time against each other. All of these important data points should be measured as concretely as possible.

Also remember, without a written offer, your negotiating power is limited since you're basing all of your facts off a verbal agreement.

So get it in writing and don't forget to read the fine print!     

 

Be Honest

When you encounter this kind of situation, it’s common to ask yourself if you should tell one company about the other offer.  In some cases, one offer may require a decision before you've received the specifics from the other proposal. If you have the opportunity to review both offers without spilling the beans then you should do so. It’s possible for a company to feel as if you're trying to shake them down or force them into a bidding war by revealing the other offer.

If you’re cornered and have no other option but to tell the company about the other offer, then do so carefully. An example would be:

“I am appreciative of your offer, and the thought of joining your company is very exciting, but I will be honest and tell you that there is another offer that is currently pending, and I’d like some time to weigh all my options.”

You will always run the possibility of them saying no or stripping the deal; however, hopefully, they’ll respect you for being honest. And in the end, you can thank them for making your decision a lot easier.

 

Break-It-Down

Once you have both written offers in hand, you should start by writing down what specifically you want from the new job. Make sure, however, to always keep an eye out for any red flags. Health insurance, good company culture, there are so many different variables to take into account, especially with multiple offers.

This shouldn't be a quick process where you immediately run to the offer with the highest salary. You’ll be spending a good deal of your time in this new position, so make sure to consider all factors and not just the obvious ones. To make this process a little easier, consider making a S.W.O.T analysis or another form of a comparison grid.

Before considering the negatives, start mapping out all of the benefits from each proposal. Only after you’ve compared the potential benefits is it time to move on to review the negatives. Factors, such as work environment, travel distance, and your overall happiness should be given the utmost consideration.

The simple act of physically writing them down allows you to grasp a better understanding of the benefits of both offers.

 

Take A Walk

Take a break. After all, it’s what you do when you need to blow off some steam or if you've hit a rough patch at work. It’s essential that you give yourself some time to think and clear your mind. 

When you're stuck in one way of thinking, find some sort of distraction, whether it be watching a movie or reading a book. Just make sure you get out, let loose, and let the two offers be the last thing on your mind for a little while.

 

Make a Decision

Though this kind of situation can become stressful, you must ultimately choose what feels right for you. Consider everything that is important, make your decision, and never look back.

We all have that inner wisdom lying in the bottom of our stomach -- Listen to it.

 


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Tags: Job Search, Career Strategies, Career Path

The Pros & Cons of Contract Work

Posted by Glenda Gregorio on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 @ 12:32 PM

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The word on the street in Silicon Valley is that we are currently in a “gig economy.” What that means is that more and more people are opting to work as independent contractors, as opposed to traditional full-time employment. According to new research, conducted by labor economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger, between 2005 and 2015 the number of Americans seeking alternative work arrangements swelled by 9.4 million. The swing toward contract employment can be explained by several factors, such as the need for a flexible schedule, to the desire for increased autonomy.

But, if you find yourself thinking about joining the growing ranks of contract workers, you need to first understand the pro and cons of this kind of work.

 

The Pros and Cons of Contract Work

PRO: Potential for Higher Earnings

Companies looking to hire contract staffing because it provides the flexibility they need, it saves time, money and resources. However, they are looking to hire experts, not neophytes. They do not want to invest in training or other onboarding expenses. A contractor who knows what to do and how to get it done in a timely manner is worth top dollar. They come in, do the job and don't put any further drain on company resources.

 

CON: Increased Uncertainty

The potential for higher earnings is a great benefit of work-for-hire, but there’s no guarantee you will keep working once a contract expires. (no guaranteed job security after contract) And since the nature of the work you’ve been hired to do is finite, you have no guarantee that you’ll make the money you thought you would. Another thing to consider is that the project you were hired to work on can be unexpectedly canceled. All of these factors can add up to increased financial instability --if you’re not working, you’re not getting paid.

And finally, there’s no way of knowing the amount of time you’ll spend between contracts, or during your next job search.  

 

PRO: Lifestyle Flexibility

According to Randstad’s Workforce360 Study, about 86% of independent contractors reported their level of job satisfaction to be good/excellent. With this kind of work arrangement, comes more freedom. You are able to control your career path without having to wade through office politics for a promotion, pay raise, or time off. You negotiate to get the employment packages that suit you best, and you take as much or as little time off in between contracts. If this type of flexibility is appealing to you, then contracting out may be the best of all worlds.  

 

CON: Outside Looking In

All that flexibility may be nice, but the price you pay is that you’ll always be the outsider.  Contract work makes it difficult to create connections that might help advance your career further down the road. There’s also the fluid and ever-changing nature of social engagement at work. As we all know, you spend more time at work than at home, so your social life tends to stem from your work life. Relationships are fleeting and long term bonds are rarely formed.

 

PRO: Increased Technical & Professional Knowledge

You’re an expert in your field and have a certain skill set that companies in your industry want. But, contract work also provides the opportunity to sharpen your expertise and work in different sectors. It allows you to broaden your experience in your field and perhaps gain new skills in other industries. You’re at liberty to choose the skills that you would like to further develop in other industries, allowing you to enhance your CV and marketability for future jobs. It can also be part of your story when explaining an employment gap to a potential employer.

 

CON: Career Development

The freedom provided by contract work to broaden your technical and professional skills means that you are in charge of your own development. Great, right? Maybe not. Although it feels empowering to be in charge of your own career development, it is a heavy burden to bear. You no longer have the human resources department or a talent management team to ensure that you’re properly trained and qualified for the job. It is now up to you to make sure that your skillset is up to par with the current trends of the industry.

Like everything in life, contract employment has its benefits and drawbacks. Although it might not be a career-long plan, if you’re returning back to the workforce or need a flexible work arrangement, contract work very well might be a great option. Although there’s no fixed amount of time you can guarantee being unemployed between contract positions there are definitely a lot of pros to short term positions.

 

Job seekers looking for contract jobs or a full-time job, be sure to click here to check out all our currently available positions!

 

 

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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews, Career Strategies

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Turn Down An Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 @ 11:04 AM

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5 Reasons Why You Should Never Turn Down An Interview

Here you are happy as can be in your current position when out of the blue you get a call from a recruiter (or a friend drops you a line) saying they've got an amazing opportunity for you.

You weren't thinking about leaving - you like your job, your boss is a peach and life is running like clockwork. So you might be tempted to turn down the opportunity to go on the interview, after all, you're busy, why waste anyone's time?

Well, there are some great reasons to take the interview, and not all of them center around finding a new job.

 

 1. The Best Laid Plans

As they say, the only thing you can count on is change. One day things are running smoothly at work, and the next day you come in to find your company is being acquired. Or maybe your boss gets promoted or leaves and now your team is learning how to work with a new leader. The new boss may not think as highly of you like the old boss, they may have a style that clashes with yours or they may simply have someone else they want to put in your position. You certainly can't plan for this kind of upheaval.

On the other end of the spectrum, you never know when you might stumble into the job of your dreams. We've all heard the stories of people who reluctantly went on an interview only to find their dream position.

Taking the time to meet for a coffee or lunchtime interview may just be the best thing you can do to maintain control of your destiny.

 

 2. Loyalty Can Be A Slippery Slope

Long gone are the days when a career spanned 25 years ended with a retirement party and a gold watch. In fact, the new normals for millennials are to spend an average of 2.5 years at any one position.

And even if you do find yourself in a long term position, you might be selling yourself short. Chances are incremental raises and promotions will not carry the same kind of bump in salary that new job might (unless of course you are given a counteroffer). Then too, is the reality that there's a limit to how far one can climb at the same firm. While your boss may think highly of you, if you are looking to move into a new area or take on responsibilities that greatly vary from your current position, you might just stand a better chance of being thought of in a new light somewhere new.

And finally, the truth is, when cuts need to be made some companies will look to cut the costliest employees first. If the choice comes down between someone who is working near the top of the pay grade and a newer hire, chances are you very well might be the first on the chopping block.

 

 3. There's No Such Thing As Wasted Time

Just as going on vacation is a great way to re-energize and open new pathways of thinking, so too is talking to other companies.

Gaining insight into how other companies operate and other teams engage can act as jet fuel for your current position. While you're certainly not taking these meetings to spy, you can use it as a window into industry trends.

Information is power, so even if you're not interested in pursuing the opportunity any further, the worst thing that will come of the interview is insights into market trends. It might also highlight just how good you have it at your present job.

 

 4. Stay On Your Toes

You know you should be keeping your resume up to date and your LinkedIn profile current, but if you're not always looking for the next great opportunity, most of us simply won't do it until we need to. But if you wait until you've either left or lost your present position, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. No one wants to have to do that under duress.

 

 5. Build A Better You

There's nothing like getting out in the world to see yourself in a new light. Even if you get nothing else from an interview, it's an opportunity to test how you rate in the marketplace. Afford yourself the chance to test which of your skills are in demand and which you are lacking. You'll be able to see how the marketplace views you and get a better understanding of your strengths and where you need to learn. Any chance to brush up your interview chops is one you should jump at.

There are however a few words of caution you must keep in mind:

  • Don't make or take phone calls on company time
  • Do not use company equipment to make phone calls, send emails, faxes or do research
  • Remain focused on your job while you're at work
  • If you can avoid it, don't schedule an interview during work hours
  • Don't make any mentions on social media
  • Don't use current co-workers or colleagues as references

As long as you remember these few rules, we encourage you to take advantage of every interview that comes your way, you never know where it will lead you!

 


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews

How To Keep Your Resume Up-To-Date: Pain Free!

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Update your resume so it's ready when you need it

Remembering to update your resume is just one of those things everyone intends to do, but really, whoever gets around to it? That is until the day when you need it, and you need it fast. So, if you’re like most people, you dust off the old resume, throw your most recent experience in at the top and you get it out the door without a second thought.

But while your efforts may have been expedient, they are far from expeditious. You are not showing yourself in the very best light. We know that most recruiters will only spend an average of 6 seconds (6 seconds!!!) looking at your resume. You could be the most qualified person on earth for a position, but if your resume is not up to snuff then you run the very real risk of being overlooked.

Let’s run through some simple, easy ideas to help you avoid the last-minute rush, and keep your resume up to date so it’s ready when you need it.

How to Keep Your Resume Up-to-Date

Mark Your Calendar

Think about the things you do on an annual or bi-annual basis. Dental cleaning, spring cleaning, rotating the tires on your car. We have built-in reminders for all these chores; the dentist office rarely lets you leave without booking your next appointment in advance, spring has a funny way of making us WANT to clean out the closets, and your mechanic (if they’re worth their salt) will practically insist on rotating the tires at every oil change.

Why not create a built-in reminder to update your resume? My suggestion would be to use something that happens every year, or even better yet, twice a year. Daylight saving time might be the perfect candidate, this way it can become something other than the bane of parents of young children and anyone who dreads losing an hour of sleep every March.

So on Sunday, November 3, set a reminder, check the batteries in the smoke alarm and sit down to clean up your resume.

Clear The Clutter

When you’re an entry-level professional, it’s common practice to pad your resume with references, club affiliations and college accolades. But once you enter the workforce, all that padding needs to be stripped away. For the first few years you should still maintain a focus on your education, relevant internships and other skills you developed along the way but be certain to keep your most recent experience at the top.

Once you’re further along your career path, your resume must focus on only the most recent 10-15 years of experience. Be certain to edit out any skills, affiliations, college awards and outdated certifications that are no longer relevant. You might be attached to that Certified Novell Engineer cert you worked so hard to earn, but all it will tell potential employers and recruiters is that you are way behind the times.

Build The Perfect Ice Cream Cone

So what exactly does ice cream have to do with your resume? Well, just as all the good stuff is at the top of an ice cream cone, that has to be the case with your resume as well. Devote the majority of real estate to your most recent experience detailing projects, presentations and quotas met or surpassed. It’s here at the top that recruiters and hiring managers want to hear about accomplishments, and read stats from your last quarter. Providing the meat of your abilities (pardon the mixed metaphors) at the top, where the eye is naturally going to go, allows the folks looking you over to get the best snapshot of your current skill level.

As you move further away from the present, descriptions and lists of responsibilities become briefer. However, this isn’t the place to generalize. Providing dynamic descriptions of your past positions paints a much richer and fuller picture of you than a rote listing of job titles.

Practice Monthly Maintenance

When you are updating your resume there’s nothing worse than trying to remember how a specific project went down, or where on earth you filed those stats. In order to avoid a rush job, or trying to weed wack your way through your memory, I’d suggest you maintain a log of ongoing and completed projects, sales or installations. Not only will the information be at your fingertips when you need it, but you are more likely to remember the details better if you’ve kept a chronicle of it in writing.  

Just as you make it your business to stay current with certifications, training and the most recent trends in your sector because it makes you a better employee and candidate for when you are ready to move up to your next job, keeping your resume up to date is part of career maintenance.

 


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Tags: Job Search, Resume Optimization

8 Tips For Acing A Phone Interview

Posted by Alysa Wishingrad on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

8 Tips for Acing a Phone Interview

When J. Patrick & Associates first opened 25 years ago, the vast majority of interviews we set up for our clients were face-to-face meetings, based on a resume and our recommendation. Phone interviews were rare and arranged primarily for remote candidates. Well, times have changed, and today more and more of our clients require a phone interview regardless of the candidates’ apparent qualifications.

Make no mistake about it, a strong resume is still of prime importance, but hiring managers have taken to the phone interview as the first point of contact. Certainly, there are obvious considerations of time and money saved, but phone interviews lower the threshold for the hiring manager. Fifteen minutes on the phone with a candidate is a far more expeditious way to answer some basic questions about a candidate’s suitability and appeal than having to sit through a longer meeting.

And while you might think an interview is an interview, knowing that there are some key differences between a phone interview and one held face-to-face can mean the difference between failing to get to the next step and landing an offer.

The phone interview is your first and best opportunity to make a good impression. Follow these 8 pro-tips to ensure it’s not your last.


8 Tips for Acing a Phone Interview

Just as you do your homework in advance of an in-person interview, you must do your due diligence for a phone call. Be careful of falling into the mindset that a phone interview is somehow less important or just a necessary hurdle you have to get past to get to the real thing.

1. Do Your Homework

Research the company and the interviewer. Understanding what their strengths are and what challenges they might be facing are key to presenting yourself as a necessary addition to their company.

2. Make Notes Ahead of time

One great advantage of a phone interview is that you can use a “cheat-sheet” to refer to. Always have the necessary and vital statistics on the company close at hand so that you are prepared when asked what you know about the company.

Also be certain to print your resume, cover letter and any other supporting material you want to present and keep them close at hand. You don’t want to have to go digging for anything while on the phone, nor hem and haw as you try to remember why you left a previous position. Don’t make your interviewer feel that your attention is not 100% focused on the conversation.

Write out your questions ahead of time so that you can be sure to get the answers you need. Remember too that interviews are as much an opportunity for you to find out if the company is a good fit for you as it is for the hiring manager.

3. Clear Your Calendar

Assuming you have a scheduled interview be certain to allow yourself 10-15 minutes in advance of the call to prepare and clear your head of other business.

If you don’t have the advantage of scheduled time and the call comes in when you are not prepared to focus on it, you can always allow the call to go to voice mail - it’s unlikely it would be held against you. The better option, however, would be to say something like, “I’m not at my desk at the moment, when would be a good time for me to call you back?”

4. Dress the Part

It might sound counter-intuitive, but doing a phone interview from home in your sweats does not give you the best advantage. While no one might be able to see you except your cat, dog or pet fish, how you dress has a direct influence on how you feel. 

While you want to be comfortable and not on edge, watch your posture and body language. Your interviewer may not be able to see you but they will be able to pick up on subtle hints when you’re not fully engaged or energized.

5. Clear the Distractions

Thirty minutes or more before your call check that your cell signal is strong and even and/or that your Skype connection is stable. You might also want to disable call waiting and other features that might break up the flow of your conversation.

Put the dog somewhere else, send the kids out of the house and close the windows. There’s nothing more frustrating than loud, extraneous noises on the other end of the phone. It’s best to find as quiet and contained an environment as possible for the phone call. If your home is not a viable option, see if you can’t borrow some office space from a friend or perhaps book time a short session in a co-working space.

6. Listen First/Talk Second

Once the call comes in, answer with your name - it’s a small thing but can go a long way to showing the interviewer you are professional.

Be certain to listen attentively - even though they can’t see you, we’ve all experienced that sensation that the person on the other end of the phone is not quite with us. Let them know you are actively engaged in listening - a few well placed “I see’s,”’ go a long way to create a bond during a phone conversation.

Unlike a face-to-face interview where you have the benefit of body language and other non-verbal communication, it’s wise to wait a beat (a count of 2 or 3) before answering a question just in case your interviewer has not finished with their question. There’s nothing worse than interrupting or speaking on top of someone, especially in an interview.

The one advantage of not having physical cues during a phone interview is that it keeps the distractions down, you can make your pitch free from the very human instinct to constantly interpret visual clues.

7. Speak with Distinction 

Speaking on the phone requires slightly different inflections and an alteration in tempo. Slow down and articulate.

If you have a very low voice, you may want to try speaking at a slightly higher pitch - it will help with relay a better sense of engagement and avoid miscommunication.

Pro-Tip Not all HR and hiring managers do well on the phone. Some might ramble or be distracted themselves. If this is the case, use the opportunity to show them that you’ve done your homework and can keep the conversation focused on what you can offer the company.

8. End On A Positive Note

Thank your interviewer for their time and the information they’ve provided. If you’re interested in the position make certain to let them know that. Saying something like, “I’m very interested in all that I’ve heard and am confident I could add value to your company,” is a clear, professional message of your intent.

Send a thank-you note via email within the same business day to once again thank them for their time, reiterating your interest in the position and reaffirming the value you bring to the position.

As in any interview once it is over the next thing you have to do is let it go. As long as you were prepared, thorough, professional and personable, then you’ve done everything you can within your control. The rest is out of your hands, so change out of those work clothes, put your sweats on and let the dog back into the house.

 


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Tags: Job Search, Job Interviews