Archive for the ‘postaweek2011’ Category

Calling all millenials: this is about you!

December 26, 2011

If you are between 18 and 29, your values, experience, education, politics, tattoos (!), and demographics are emerging, and you’re collectively you are a force to be noticed.

In an online article called Infographic – The Millenials: Best Generation Ever? by Jared O’Toole, the rest of us can learn about your experiences.  Less drawn to organized religion, more drawn to tattoos, very much drawn to social media and popular music, you are distinguishing yourselves through your numbers as well as your generational patterns.

I think that analysts who can preset demographics in an interesting and compelling way are brilliant communicators.  Check out this article – you won’t be sorry.  What can you learn?

  • parents can be more tolerant of their young adult children,
  • grandparents can appreciate the cultural gaps they may encounter,
  • employers can be more patient as they integrate these high-energy young people into the workplace,
  • interviewers can tailor their questions in an appropriate direction.
  • and Millenials, you can learn to explain yourselves to the rest of us with more patience.
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Christmas – or other – Greetings!

December 24, 2011

This is a very special time of year for me – always has been.  The ideal Christmas Eve has some quiet time, worship, some family time, lots of music,  great food, and special wishes exchanged between friends.

If you are reading this, please note that I consider you a friend. Without any readers, what would be the point of a blog?   You may have contributed to the blog through your comments, and I REALLY value that.

If you are unemployed this winter, I send a prayer that you may be enlightened, be inspired to be the best you can be, and be successful in the job search.  Take heart in the improving economic news and realize that you will be part of the recovery.

Since Christmas is in my tradition, I freely offer you a wish for a Merry Christmas.  If you celebrate some other tradition, I offer you best wishes for your own observance of light and the new year.

Together, let’s accomplish great things in 2012.

What’s your management style?

December 12, 2011
A recently-hired client says that this question comes up a lot.  Are you prepared with an answer?
Don’t you think that the best management style is the one that garners the best results?  How do you communicate this without sounding flippant or dismissive of the question?
The best answer contains some of the following points:
  • A textbook answer might be …. (show that you’ve done your homework),
  • The best boss I ever had …. (refer to how you were inspired to do better than you’d expected),
  • The worst boss, however….(bad story here),
  • So I try to strike a balance between ….(tension between organizational mandates and individual personalities).
This might also be the time to ask a question about what styles seem to work in this organization.
Any suggestions from you blog readers?  Have you encountered this question?  And how did you answer it?

Do you volunteer?

December 8, 2011
Here’s an interview question that I’m delighted to address.
When you are asked about volunteer work in an interview, how about this to reflect the reality of these tough times:
When I was laid off a year ago, I quickly realized that it was going to take time to find a great fit in the next position.  So I got involved in Habitat for Humanity because I’ve always been pretty good with a hammer and nails.  Not only did I have the satisfaction of repairing a home for a deserving family, I gained invaluable insight and understanding about how the economy affects basic survival.  Even after I’m employed full-time, I plan to continue some kind of involvement with Habitat, because I share that passion for making things better one step at a time.
Wouldn’t you take another look at such a candidate?
Have you done volunteer work recently?  Can you tie it to your work experience and your expectations for getting a job?

Take us through the process…

December 6, 2011
My friend Dorie reports that on several job interviews she has been asked to describe the process of … doing what the job would require.  What are the potential employers looking for these days?
They are evaluating your experience.  Have you really done this before?  If you can elucidate the steps in getting a publication ready or negotiating a contract with a customer or writing a resume or preparing an apartment for a new rental, then yes, you’re qualified as a candidate for this position.
But wait!  Your answer reveals so much more:
  • a balance between the big picture and the details required to get there,
  • a sense of being a team player,
  • leaving room for problems,
  • communicating throughout the process,
  • acknowledging that mistakes can happen,
  • clarifying the question itself.
In these tough times, you already know that there is serious competition for any open position.  A question such as this gives you a chance to reveal your experience, your thinking style, and your ability to play nicely with others.  Be prepared for it!
Next:  what’s your style?

Why did you leave?

December 2, 2011

To be asked why you left your last job (or any position on your resume) is not unexpected in an interview. Why is it asked?

  • to see if your answer squares with what the potential employer may already know,
  • to assess your honesty,
  • because someone is curious,
  • because it’s conversation.

The appropriate answer is several sentences long.  Think of it as a short paragraph.  Here are a few examples:

I was returning to the metropolitan area to finish my degree, and unfortunately this meant leaving a position I had really enjoyed.  I had learned….

There was a reorganization after our company merged, and my department was deemed redundant.  I was sorry to leave, because I had developed close friendships and felt we had been an effective team.  However,…

I was laid off.  After receiving feedback about how I had not asked for help when I needed it, I decided to learn from this experience.  I took two courses in business communication, and now blog about handling professional communication.  

Is today’s employment culture so different?  Would you answer the question in the same way?

Yes and no.

The different part is the time that it takes to find new opportunities and land an offer.  To the above answers, you might add:

Luckily, I’ve always kept an active network, so I made use of my friends and colleagues to learn about new opportunities…

Of course, everything takes longer in this economy.  I have taken several short-term positions to help small businesses who are not in a position to hire full-time staff.  As you will note, one of my references is…..

Whining was never a great interview strategy, and now is no different.  Now more than ever, be positive, tell a great story about your experience, and prepare for success.

Heard any good jokes lately?

November 30, 2011

Recently, I found a discussion on LinkedIn about jokes in interviews.  Someone was actually asked to tell a joke. And the person asked the career community what one should do in this situation.

Ouch.  I’ve been trying to think what I would do.  And I can’t think of a thing.

What’s the intent here?

It could be that they want someone with a sense of humor.  Maybe they work in a high-pressure situation, and need someone who can make them laugh.  Maybe.

Or maybe they want to know how appropriate you are.  Race, ethnicity, age, size, and so on… definitely not the time to trot out the minister, priest, and rabbi.

Maybe they want spontaneity.  Think fast!

I do have a sense of humor, I do tell stories, I do think fast.  And yet, I can’t see that joke-telling is appropriate in this context.  Too stressful.

Here’s what I hope I would do:

Wow, what a great question.  Let’s get back to it when my brain is in gear. 

At the end of the interview, I’d say upon shaking hands, I know I still owe you a good joke.  You’ll hear from me.  

And my thank-you letter would begin with the greatest, newest, most relevant joke that my friends and I could come up with.

What’s your reaction to this question?  Heard a good joke lately?

Next: how would you handle….

Interview Prep 101: what’s new?

November 28, 2011

When you think about job interviews, do you mentally glaze over at preparing those strength/weakness questions?  And your five to ten-year goals?

Let’s talk about something else.

These are challenging times in and out of the workforce. And I’m hearing about new questions that are happening in interviews.  It could be fun to share what I’ve heard and what you’ve heard about new materials.  Do we know the right answers?  Possibly not, but it can be useful to look at your options.

A request:  sometime between now and December 9, send me your concerns about job interviews in 2011.  And I’ll address them as thoroughly as I can.

Coming up first:  heard any good jokes recently?

Giving Thanks wherever we are

November 24, 2011

It’s a quiet morning in Maryland, and we’re preparing for a modest dinner this afternoon, with family and two invited guests.  The menu is (I think) under control, and I’m not aware that I’ve forgotten anything.

Especially, I’ve not forgotten to be thankful.  Two legs that work, a mind that functions pretty well, health as good as it will be, family that communicates and cares about each other.  Friends that show up when you need them.  A home that is warm.  A checkbook with something in it.

And work that is exciting!  Clients who value the process of self-examination in the quest for work in which they will flourish.  Former clients who stay in touch, offering assistance and information to others.

No, I’ve not forgotten to notice the many blessings around me.  Happy Thanksgiving to all who may read this.

A Salute to Veterans

November 11, 2011

To you graduates of military service, this is your day.

Not only do I say thank you for your service (a cliche these days, but nonetheless sincere), I also want to recognize the career accomplishments  that you come home with.

You have seen a bit of the world, you have been trained in a new skill or two, you have acquired some kind of personal discipline, and (the best news) you are now eligible for some well-earned veterans’ benefits.

Listen carefully as you are briefed.  Or if that was a while ago, dig out those papers. There might be advanced education in your future.  There might be healthcare or assistance in buying a home.  There are friends to be made and cherished over the years.

For a story on a Vietnam vet’s path, check out this link.  I happen to know it’s about a really good guy, because I’m married to him.