Friday, September 28, 2012

Right & Wrong Way to Handle; What's Your Greatest Weakness?

Interviewers frequently ask inane questions that do little to assess your ability to do a job. One of the most feared interview questions is the "weakness" question. It is also one of the most deficient questions asked by unskilled interviewers. Even though it is an ineffectual question, you still must be ready to respond effectively and professionally if you want to get the job offer. 

Before your next interview, you must be prepared to manage the most 10 most frequently asked interview questions, especially the "weakness" question. This article gives you the strategy and a template so you can comfortably handle this interviewer question. Learn how to effectively handle the other 9 most often asked interview questions with 

Converting Weakness To A Positive Is The Wrong Approach
Conventional advice recommends that you respond to the "weakness" question by stating a weakness that is really a positive or translating a weakness into a positive. For example: "I'm a workaholic, and I spend lots of hours at work ensuring I do my job to the best of my abilities." Interviewers see right through this technique, and it's never effective. 

What Interviewers Want To Hear
When interviewers ask this question, they don't care what your weaknesses are. They care about how you handle this question and what your response indicates about you. They're looking for indications that you regularly assess your talents and are working to increase your skills. 

Response Strategy
Your response strategy to the "weakness" question is as follows:
  • First, highlight your strengths for this position
  • Second, highlight an area that you are working to improve upon
  • Third, describe what you are doing to improve
  • Fourth, describe how this new skill improves your value to the company
  • Finally, ask a question.
Prepare Your Response By:
  1. Identifying the new skills you just learned or plan to learn
  2. Describing how this new skill relates to the job
Below is a fill-in-the-blank temp late for the "weakness" question to help you prepare and practice your response in your own words.
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including _____________ (insert 2 strengths), I am currently working to improve my knowledge of _____________ (insert new skill). I feel this is important because it allows me to deliver added results in the areas of ____________ (and here you just insert a couple of areas). 

Example 1: Sales person learning finance
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including being a top performer in my previous position and possessing strong industry knowledge, I'm currently taking a class to improve my knowledge of business finance. I feel this is important because it allows me to directly relate products and services to customers' return-on-investment and to recommend department cost saving initiatives. 

Would you like me to elaborate on either of these?"

Example 2 : Customer service person learning Spanish
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including strong customer service and problem solving skills, I'm currently taking a class Spanish to improve my ability to communicate in another spoken language. I've found that English is not the first language for an increasing number of customers, and even with a little foreign language skills I can deliver greater service while enhancing the customers interaction with my company." 

Did you notice I asked a question at the end? Asking a question will make the interview more conversational and avoid it becoming an interrogation. The response strategy described here is presented in more detail in the Interview Mastery module titled "What are your weaknesses?" 

Good luck on your next interview. You're going to be awesome!

By - Michael Neece

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Advice For An Ambitious, Young Grad

Dear Joan:
I am a 21 year-old senior at Penn State, looking to make a dent in the world through entrepreneurship, inspiration, and the dissemination of knowledge and wisdom. I'm actively seeking to learn from the experts about how to be successful in my future endeavors (i.e. consulting, entrepreneurship, public speaking, writing, etc.) and stumbled upon your website in the process. You clearly have a wealth of knowledge and experiences and I would greatly appreciate anything you would be willing to share with me.
Specifically, what is your greatest piece of wisdom or advice (career or personal) for an ambitious, young professional approaching graduation? 

What an exciting-and challenging-question!
The first piece of advice you are already demonstrating: 

Seek advice from those you respect and can learn from.
This curiosity will cause people to open up to you and shorten your learning curve about the companies, the people and the politics of work. Unfortunately, many young grads charge into the work world thinking they already know it all-after all, they have those shining new diplomas! What the smart ones soon learn is that the real education starts after they leave school. 

Take risks early in your career.
You don't have much to lose when you are starting out; you probably don't have a family to support; you can relocate; you can switch jobs-even career direction  without causing very much damage. Now is the time to explore and test your skills. 

Make networking a lifelong practice.
Waiting until you need something from someone guarantees it will be too late. A networking mindset will cause you to seek out new acquaintances, learn about them and find out about their organizations-this will always put you in a position of knowing about opportunities before anyone else does (not to mention getting to know some wonderful people). 

Make people feel smart and important.
Draw people out and really be attentive to what they have to say. Be honest and open with your compliments and encouragement. Develop a reputation as a collaborator. Ironically, ambitious people sometimes think they have to show how smart and important they are, so they are dismissive toward everyone else; yet the secret to being regarded as smart and important yourself, is to treat everyone else like they are. (You indicated in the PS of your letter that you were offered a job in a prestigious consulting firm. Be careful to make your clients feel smart and important, too, so you stand out from other consultants who may come off as condescending or know-it-all experts.) 

Run into the fire, not away from it.
Go where the problems are and pull people together to solve them. The single most visible way to earn your way up the ladder is to find and fix problems. If there is a task force, ask to be assigned to it; if there is an exciting new department forming, volunteer to take a lateral job to be a part of it. If your department has been pushing a nagging problem to the back burner, ask to start working on it. Adding value will pay off-in pay, promotions and future success. And since you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, the secret to success is to search out problems and find a solution no one else has thought of. 

Save your perfectionist streak for things that really matter.
Eighty percent is good enough when it comes to doing staff work; crossing every "T" on everything you do will just slow you down and make your colleagues and employees resent you. It will stunt your career in the long run. Instead, do "administrivia" well enough but save your real energy for getting results that matter. I've seen many careers come to a screeching halt because they can't let go of every detail. 

When you blow your own horn, recognize the orchestra.
Be quick to share credit with others. If you watch respected, successful leaders they always say things such as, "I couldn't have done it without the skilled experts on my team.." In fact, one of the best ways to bring up one of your accomplishments, is to recognize the team who worked on it with you. It won't sound like bragging and it won't be lost on the listener that you were the leader who made it happen. 

Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.
It's easy to convince yourself that all of your good intentions are clearly and correctly interpreted by others, and that your credibility and winning personality are admired by all. And all of those great ideas? Why, of course they will work! Without honest feedback to ground you, you can fall prey to your own opinion of yourself. Being aware of how you are perceived is critical; it helps you correct mistakes quickly, helps you make the right decisions and helps you navigate political minefields. Honest feedback from people you trust is like having a trusted group of scouts who will keep you grounded and on the right path.

Good luck and have fun on your career journey! 

By  Joan Lloyd

Friday, September 21, 2012

Start Your Cover Letter With a Bang

If you're still reading, then I've caught your attention with the title. 

You can do the same with your job-search cover letters. Whether you call it a title or a headline, this little 'weapon' will hit the mark, pulling your reader right through your written communication from the first word to the last. 

Here's how to strike gold each time.
Open your cover letter with a 'big bang'––a powerful headline––and yours may be the only one that makes it past the 'scan and trash' syndrome. Hiring managers are inundated with cover letters each day. If you want yours to stand out, grab their attention from the start.
Sizzling titles are like a magnet––attracting the reader to the point where he cannot get away from it. He wants to read on because the headline is so compelling. A clever title that 'jumps' off the page scores every time! Titles and headlines do the hard work for you.
Imagine the fabulous results YOU could enjoy if your cover letter opens with an exciting, can't-put-it-down headline that is so irresistible and unique, the hiring manager is actually eager to keep reading? 

The big bang headline is your passport to more quality job interviews in a hurry. You may be thinking it's difficult or that you're not clever enough to come up with a great headline. Not true. It's actually quite simple. I've provided some great examples to get you started.
Right before you write your greeting––Dear Mrs. Smith––place your 'killer' headline––two-line maximum. Make it stand out even more by using boldface and centering it on the page. 

Following are THREE examples of excellent cover letter headlines: 

THREE reasons why I'm confident that I'm the candidate you are searching for regarding the [insert job opening title here]. 

I have researched [company name] and believe I'm a perfect fit for [insert job opening title here]. 

I'd welcome the opportunity to meet you and be interviewed in person for the position of [insert job opening title here].
FOLLOWING THE HEADLINE begin your letter with the greeting: Dear Mrs. Smith.
I feel certain Mrs. Smith will not be able to resist reading a little more. She'll be dying to read what the headline promises. Exercise the ‘muscle’ of a strong headline at the beginning of your next job-search cover letter and then pull out your calendar and fill it up with more job interviews than you ever imagined. 

Start YOUR next cover letter with a 'big bang!' 

-ByJimmy Sweeney

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3 Job Search Mistakes To Avoid

Is your job search going nowhere? 

You can blame the economy or the summer hiring slump. You'll have lots of company if you do. 

Or ... you can look to yourself. Are you secretly sabotaging your job search?You might be. 

Let me tell you the story of "Tommy" (not his real name), who is managing to do almost everything WRONG in his job search. Learn from three of his career-killing mistakes, which can rob you of the salary and satisfaction you deserve! 

Tommy first called me three weeks ago, asking if I could help him write a resume. He said he wanted a pharmaceutical sales job because his aunt and a cousin made good money at it, and he heard it was interesting work. 

But he said nothing about actually WANTING to do this job. When I asked, he replied: "Everyone says I should give pharmaceutical sales a shot." 

Lesson #1: Find a job you WANT to do. Tommy is setting himself up for misery by pursuing a job based on the "helpful" advice of others. 

Unless you're passionately committed to the job you seek, you won't pursue it with enough gusto to be successful in the long run. 

Tommy wanted a new resume to apply for jobs he'd seen posted on the Internet. When I asked if he were also networking for a job, he answered: "Networking? How do you do that?" 

Lesson #2: The best jobs are never advertised in the classified ads or online. They're filled by word of mouth -- people talking to other people. 

Tell every single person you know about the job you're after. Then ask them this magic question: "Who else do you know that I should be talking to?" This can double or triple the size of your network almost overnight. Try it! 

After asking for my email address and promising to send his resume to me that afternoon for review, he hung up. 

Six days later, his resume arrived by email. I sent him a reply and thought I might hear back from him in a day or two. 

Another week passed. 

Yesterday, Tommy called again and left a rambling message on my answering machine, asking nearly the same questions he had asked in our first conversation two weeks before.

Lesson #3: Take action in your job search. Now. 

Tommy wasted two weeks emailing and calling me with vague questions that we could have settled in five minutes. If this is how he's pursuing his next job ... he's in for a long, painful struggle. 

You can supercharge your job search by learning what NOT to do. This will help you pursue a job you really want, uncover the hidden job market through networking, and take action -- now. 

By Kevin Donlin

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How to Get Hired When You Are Over Age 40

"We'd like to offer you the job." Those are wonderful words, words that every job candidate wants to hear. Employers need talented workers, but when you are over 40, they have concerns - serious concerns - about whether you are up to doing the job and giving them their money's worth. 

Today's job market is most likely quite different from the last time you went after a new job. The process has changed. The younger competition is growing, and self-marketing is more important than ever before. 

If you want a new job, you can find one. You will change your approach though, because you need to move out of the pack to get noticed.
You must be proactive in your efforts. In today's job market, these three things need to happen:
  • Know the exact job you want to be hired for. You must advertise what you can do for the employer and not expect them to figure out where you would fit in.
  • Tap into the "hidden job market" in order to find better job opportunities
  • Use proven ways of better self-promotion that will get a prospective employers' attention.
Here is some key guidelines to point you in the right direction:
  • Networking is a must-use component for success. Gone are the days when you were sent to events and told "to work the room". Networking is now very strategic and effective. 63% of all jobs last year were found through contacts according to the Department of Labor. Cultivate your network. Join LinkedIn and post your professional profile. Attend professional meetings and conferences. For more strategy on building your network, listen to Robin's networking audio program. 
  • Discuss RESULTS! Employers care most about the results you've achieved in your most recent positions. Documenting these accomplishments and results achieved will demonstrate to hiring managers you got a lot of initiative and you apply it daily -not just 8 years ago. Use some enthusiasm in your voice when you discuss your skills and past accomplishments. Be sure resume is loaded with past results, process/systems improvements, and ways you may have saved time or made money for your previous employers.
  By Robin Ryan

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Good Interview Impression Is In The Details

Four Presentation Hints for a Good Job Interview
As political candidates answer endless variations of the same questions in pursuit of elected office, we can't help but be reminded of our own often-torturous experiences on job interviews.

If, like the candidates, we could review our performances on tape, what might we see?

Watch and Listen to Yourself

"Verbal fillers are the No. 1 problem," says Randy Bitting, cofounder of InterviewStream, a Web-based service that gives job seekers the chance to tape and watch themselves in mock interviews.

"People are so used to texting and emailing in short phrases that they can get stuck putting together a fewcomplete sentences," he observes. "It's better to opt for silence while you gather your thoughts, especially if you're nervous."

Of course, nervousness can also generate overtalking. "We have a bar running along the bottom of the screen as you're being recorded to mark the passage of time," Bitting says. 

"We strongly suggest that respondents limit their answers to two minutes, at most."
Watching yourself on tape is also a good way to monitor things like dress -- too much cleavage, too-short cuffs -- and gestures, Bitting adds. "People don't realize how many times they scratch their heads or flip their ties."

Maintain a Conversation

Mastering the art of presentation goes hand in hand with carefully packaging the content of what you want to get across. "The key idea is to remember that an interview is a two-way conversation designed to determine if there's a mutual fit," says Rob Sullivan, a chicago-based career coach and author of Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Haven't a Leg to Stand On
A good formula, Sullivan continues, has you doing most of the talking for the first two-thirds of that conversation, and then ceding the floor to the interviewer. "That's your chance to ask lots of questions, which people tend to forget to do," he says.

Assemble a list of talking points and make sure you get through them, adds Sullivan. "If you realize that this person's asked you one standard question after the next -- what's your greatest weakness? where do you see yourself in the next five years? -- look at your watch and say, 'I notice we're running out of time. There are a few things that I'd like to share with you. Is that OK?'  Make their job easier for them."

Have Your Story Ready

It's at this point that you dazzle with your "story," as Sullivan calls it. That's different from the "elevator pitch," the 30-second encapsulation of who you are. "Your story is not about your sales records or your business-generating prowess," Sullivan says.
Instead, ask yourself what's excited you in your career, what you've done on your own initiative and what's energized you. What stories can you relay that show your passion, initiative and resourcefulness?

"If you think about what's better because you were there, like in the movie It's A Wonderful Life, you'll come up with some compelling anecdotes and you'll stand out," Sullivan says.

Skip the Scents

Just make sure the impression you leave is a good one. "It can't be said enough, but skip the perfume," Sullivan adds. "This is not a date, and a lot of people are extremely sensitive to smell. If you give me a migraine headache, I'm not going to remember a word you said, and I'm not going to like you."

Thanks to JoAnn Greco / Career Advice Monster / Monster

Monday, September 3, 2012

7 types of the bosses

It's commonly known that no matter how much you enjoy performing the functions of your job, it's the co-workers that have the power to make or break the whole experience for you. And it's none other than your boss, director, supervisor or manager who has the greatest sway over your day-to-day experience. A good boss can make work an absolute pleasure to go to. But bosses are humans like the rest of us, and some of them have glaring flaws. Still, they must be "better" than you in some way to be in a superior position, right? RIGHT?!? Not always.

7 The Insecure Boss  : This one flexes their authoritative muscles just to do it, like a child saying "Look at me, mommy. I hate you!" The insecure boss overcompensates by pretending they have supreme confidence in themselves. They can do no wrong, because that would mean that their inner suspicions about their own incompetence are correct.

6 The Paranoid Boss : Work paranoia can mentally cripple a person. So, guess what happens when your boss thinks their job performance is in question or that they're in jeopardy of being fired? You are the one that feels the brunt of it. Special projects will come up that are meant to show off to their superiors and forget about double checking, you're gonna have to start triple checking. Worst of all,
this boss will always have ways to cover their own ass, but not yours if the shit hits the fan. 
5 The Boss Who Takes It Out on Everyone Else Some bosses cannot suffer any injustice, no matter how small, at work without pushing it on his or her employees in some way. Sometimes they'll even bring baggage from their personal lives. Steer clear of this one as much as you possibly can. If
that doesn't work, then try buttering them up from time to time with rum cake, hot toddies or penne a la vodka. 
4 The Shit Rolls Downhill Boss : When in a good mood, this boss may speak to and treat you with respect and maybe even pull their own weight. But this is contingent on how they are being treated or what their workload is like. When something "comes down" from corporate or from their
boss, the extra work and stress is passed directly down to you. And hey, isn't that what being a boss is all about?

3 The Boss Who Has Checked Out:  Some people just don't give a sweet damn about their job. If the person in question is one that has authority, then this can mean big problems for their lowly underlings. Because you can bet your ass that they will do as little work as possible while taking as much credit as possible. So, why should someone who doesn't care get paid more and have a more impressive title than you? Logic's got nothing to do with it. 

2 The Bitter Boss : This is the boss that hates the job, hates the company and hates themselves. No one wants to spend time around someone with so much negative energy, let alone be under their tyrannical rule. This person also loves to poison the well, tainting views about other employees, departments and/or the practices of the company itself.

1 The One You Could Do Better Than:  Some bosses are good people managers but lack strategy, leadership and skills for success. You may not have any ill-will toward them, but there's always that frustrating envy of knowing that you could achieve goals that they never could. Its a
classic exit strategy in the making.