Archive for October, 2013
Have you ever had a really terrible interview? Afterwards, you may end up asking yourself, “what went wrong?” It can be especially disheartening when you feel like you knew the answers but were unable to get them out. The problem for many candidates is that they get lost while giving a good answer. The way to avoid this is to use a roadmap.
Have a Starting Point
Before any interview it is important to create a list of major themes that will likely be touched upon. By having a clear idea of what will be asked the Interviewee provides themselves with a starting point. In interviews there are a few questions that are highly likely to be asked. In some shape or form the interviewer will ask why the interviewee wants to work for them, and how they think they can bring value to their organization.
Know the End Point
When answering an interview question it’s important to have a clear destination in mind. In the beginning of the interview the Interviewee states their thesis (i.e., “I am able to provide value to your organization.”) The remainder of the interviewee’s answers consists of evidence to support this claim. Where a lot of interviews go wrong is the end point is forgotten. The evidence suddenly becomes the main focus. The problem with forgetting the end point is that the answer loses its focus a lot of great ideas can be expressed but if these ideas are not supporting the interviewee’s main argument then it’s not a successful answer. A useful strategy is to conclude each answer with a summary of how the evidence presented proves the point the interviewee was trying to make (i.e., “It is for these reasons that I feel I will be able to bring value to the organization.”)
When giving someone directions, familiar landmarks are often helpful. The same is true of interviews. When answering a question, it is helpful to have phrases or words that serve to provide focus. These words and phrases also serve to help ensure that what the interviewee wants to present is understood (i.e., “My work experience and my education combined ensure that I will be able to provide value to this organization.”) This statement makes it more likely that the interviewee will remember the concepts that they wanted to get across about the values that their education and work experiences allow them to bring to the organization.
A roadmap is essential for interview success. However, in order for the interview road map to work an idea of the terrain in needed. A job search counselor can be useful in brainstorming likely potential interview questions.
Visit the My ESC website for more tips on interviewing.
This article was written by career development practitioner Mike Bourke.
So you’re looking for a new job, and you’re filling out application forms and going to interviews. You’ve perfected your cover letter and resume, and have the right outfit picked out, but have you remembered the one last key ingredient to a successful job application? That’s right, your reference list.
In your resume and cover letter, you’ve probably included some combination of your strengths, skills, experience, training and education. But how can an employer be sure that what you’ve said in there is all true? They look to those people who have worked with and know you, and who can comment on your abilities, experience and personality. So, what does this mean then? It means that your references can have a very big impact on whether you get the job…or not!
On that note, it’s time to think about how you go about choosing the right people to be your references.
1 – Who should be a reference?
In choosing appropriate references, you want to keep in mind what kind of relationship you have/had with them, whether or not they would say good things about you and whether they are qualified to speak about your skills, abilities, personality traits and so forth. Remember, you want to choose those people who you believe will speak about you in a positive light. One way of finding this out is by simply asking possible references what they would say about you and/or if they would give you a positive reference.
2 – Kinds of references
There are three main types of references: work, academic and personal/character references.
Work references should have worked with you as your supervisor or manager, and who have seen you in action. In the case where you are looking for a new job while still currently working, it is not always a great idea to use a supervisor from your current job, unless they know and don’t mind that you are looking for different employment. In the case where your current supervisor doesn’t know you are looking for other work, you can ask a trusted co-worker to be your reference.
Academic references should be from teachers, instructors or professors who have known you for some time and who can comment on your personality and the quality of your academic work.
Personal/Character references are usually only used if you are applying for your first job or if you have limited work experience. They should be adults who are not related to you but who can vouch for your good character and can discuss your personality traits. People to consider would be adults who you have worked with in a volunteer setting, a leader from your place of worship, neighbour, a long-time family friend or the parents of a close friend.
3 – Don’t forget to ask for permission!
So you’ve thought of some good people to act as your references, there’s just one more thing to do… ask for their permission. You need to make sure that they are willing to act as a reference for you. The best way to ask this is with a lot of “pleases” and “thank-yous,” letting them know just how thankful you are for their time and effort. In the end, you want to have at least 3 or 4 references.
Once someone has agreed to vouch for you, you need to ask them for the contact details that they would like potential employers to use in getting a hold of them. Keep in mind that they may not want you to give out their home phone number, personal cell phone number or personal email, so make sure that you have the appropriate details.
It is also very helpful for your references if you send them your most up-to-date resume. This way they can have a better idea of what you have done in your past, including work, volunteer and hobbies. It also helps to jog their memory when they receive calls about you.
4 – Get your list ready
Now that you’ve finalized your references, it’s time to prepare a neat list of their contact details. Do not include your references on your resume, but instead put “references available upon request”, or write nothing, most employers will assume your references will be available when they ask. The reason for this is that:
a) you have yet to go in for an interview. You still need to see if the job is for you and whether or not you want to give them access to find our more about you.
b) If you are applying for a large number of jobs, you don’t want your references to be exhausted from having to speak on your behalf 30 times or more! There is a limit to what your references will be willing to do for you.
Also remember you are only using those numbers, addresses and emails that your references have given you permission to use! For each contact, you should include their name, relationship to you (i.e. manager, professor, etc), job title, contact phone number(s) and email (if applicable).
You will present this list after a job interview or when asked by an employer. If asked in a job application to include references, you can include their name and relationship to you; however you should not include their contact details. You can simply put “further details available upon request”. This ensures that you have control over which employers call your references and when. No employer should call your references without your permission and giving them a list of your references is in effect, doing just that.
5 – Stay in Touch and Say Thank You
Keep your references in the loop about how your job search is going and don’t forget to thank them after they have given you a reference, as they are lending a helping hand in your job search and will be more willing to act as a reference in the future.
6 – What kinds of questions will employers ask your references?
Here are some examples of questions employers might ask your references:
How long did he/she work for you?
What were his/her responsibilities?
Did he/she need close supervision?
How did he/she get along with others?
How well did he/she work as part of a team?
Why did he/she leave your employment?
Is there anything you can tell me that might disqualify him/her from this position?
Can you think of anything that I should know about him/her that I haven’t asked about?
There you have it…
Now the responsibity of having “references available upon request” just got a bit easier. Please share with us if you have any questions about references.
This post was written by Verity Buskard, a career development practitioner. It was originally written for the BCWIN Youth Site and is reposted here with permission.
I recently met with a client who was quite concerned about including a picture of themselves on their LinkedIn profile. Most often the concern about whether to include a profile picture revolves around discrimination. No one wants to be discriminated against, especially because of their age, race, or gender. The truth is everyone makes conclusions about a person when then view their profile. What does your profile picture say about you?
Employers are looking for someone with energy, a positive attitude, and determination. Is that what they will see when they look at your profile picture? It doesn’t matter what age you are, the colour of your skin, or which bathroom you use – your profile picture can be used to present the best image of you and make a good first impression. By “image” I mean someone who is with it, current, positive, and enjoyable to work with. How can you capture this in a photo? Begin by removing any selfies, wedding pictures, Walmart portraits, and photos with friends cropped out. Then get someone to do a mini photo shoot with you wearing nice clothing, in front of a non- distracting background, with a nice smile, and bright eyes. Present your best self in your photo, just as you would present your best self for an interview.
You can’t stop discrimination, but you can be sure that your profile picture is the best image of you. Don’t think about going with no profile picture either – that just looks like you have something to hide. Take the time to capture your energy in your profile picture, it could make the difference between employed and un-employed.
This post was written by Miranda Vande Kuyt a career development practitioner and communications consultant.
I’ve done some reading about effective LinkedIn profiles. Ok, maybe that’s an understatement – I’ve done a lot of studying about effective LinkedIn profiles and usage. One thing I read a while back was to make sure you have at least 500 connections, because if you have under 500 connections everyone can see the size of your network, but if you have over 500 connections LinkedIn just states your network size as “500+”. After reading that I sent out more invitations to connections that I met through conferences, associations, education, etc. Then I started to get invitations from people I didn’t know. Not just 1 or 2 here and there, I mean – I started to get 10+ invitations a day from people I didn’t know. Somehow my email address was put on an open networking list (LION) and the invitations just coming. Within a short period I had reached the 500+ mark, but it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. My news feed and inbox were flooded with information that held no value to me. I started to ignore invitations and pretty soon I had over 50 invitations in my inbox that I didn’t know what to do with. I had to ask myself, “Should I have sacrificed quality for quantity?”
Here’s my recommendation to those who are struggling with the same question. If you’re all about the numbers, then go ahead and connect with whomever sends you an invite, but hear this warning: LinkedIn may lose its effectiveness if you do so, and it will be more work for you to sift through the valuable invitations from the worthless ones. You may be better off to send and accept LinkedIn invitations for people that meet a certain criteria (e.g., they work in your field, live in your area, are in a field that you’re interested in, etc.). If you are going to send invitations to people you don’t know, but share a common connection (e.g., are in the same professional group, went to the same college, etc.), then be sure to customize your LinkedIn invitation to them stating how you know them and why you want to connect. This will increase your likeliness of getting an accepted invitation. It may take a bit longer to grow your network, but you’ll be certain your network is a valuable one.
This article was written by Miranda Vande Kuyt a self-employed career development practitioner and communications consultant.