June 28, 2016

Tips for the Faceless Interview

Remember all the years that you had to wear braces on your pearly whites? You did it for that perfect smile right? So now you have your first interview and it’s over the phone. What do your smile and a phone interview have in common? Put simply, they have absolutely nothing and everything in common. How so you ask, that is the focus of this post.

Until recently interviews were always done in person. The interviewee would be asked questions from one or a team of interviewers. The same thing happens today so what is the big deal you ask? Think about it, what is different? The key change is that the non-verbal job indicator called body language is missing.

Remember that perfect smile? What does it tell the interview team? It may tell the team that you are excited to work for their company or maybe it tells the interviewer that you are proud of a certain accomplishment that you just presented. Body language can speak volumes.  It can help you greatly during an interview but unfortunately you don’t get a choice of what kind of interview you will have when you get a call or text that you have been selected for a faceless interview, aka the phone interview.

A phone interview is tough for both the interviewer and interviewee. When you answer a question you will not have the luxury of seeing how your answer registered with the interviewer. Did he/she smile, nod approvingly, slightly frown, or laugh? Nope, just blank space and the next question. However there are some techniques that you can employ to give you an edge in these situations.

During a phone interview dead space appears to be amplified. That is, if the interviewee takes a while to answer a question, it seems like forever to the interviewer sitting on the other side of the phone. To combat this perception, prepare for the interview. Have some a couple of short answers to standard questions ready to spit out as soon as the question is asked. Quick answers give the sound and feel that the job candidate has really prepared for the interview.

Another technique is what I call doing the Hollywood. The Hollywood technique is to practice your interview talking into a mirror.  It’s not easy and it feels pretty weird but it should help you with your delivery of the conversation. What do I mean? Remember that no one can see you during the interview, you are faceless. Key body language signals are muted, so focus on what you have, your voice! Your voice can sound, excited, happy, motivated, wise or monotone, nervous, unsure, and anxious. Practice interviewing yourself using a mirror or just talking to the wall. However focus on your delivery. Can you sound excited when appropriate? Also, listen carefully if you begin to fall into a monotone trap on a long response. Your voice and delivery of your answers will leave a positive or negative image of you to the interviewer and it is all that you have to offer during a faceless interview, aka the phone interview. Good luck. 

June 15, 2016

Where are the 2016 Jobs?

There are many ways that you can search for a job. The most common approach is to look for a job opening that matches your college training in job search engines that gather open positions from all across the United States. This is not a bad approach but sometimes you may get overwhelmed with trying to read, tweak your resume, and apply for each opening. An alternative way to search for employment is to use a focused approach of searching by state or by college major.

Searching for employment by state has some great upfront time savers automatically built into the process. For example, when you decide to look by state you will consciously or unconsciously make some lifestyle decisions such as deciding whether you want to live in the Sunbelt states to avoid the winters in the Midwest states. Let's take this example a little farther and say you are using the common search approach to look for a job everywhere and anywhere. You find a job opening and it's in Denver, Colorado. You hate snow. Should you apply for the job  or not? That's your call, but my advice would be if you are going to be miserable living in a location that you don't like, you will probably will not be happy at work even if you really like the job. There is a lot more to life than work.

Another nice benefit of narrowing your job search to the state level is again saving time by searching those states that have the largest employment needs. In the world of job creation, size matters! Large states like California, Texas and Florida will have a bunch of job openings even if they are in a sluggish year. Finally, with a little research on your part, you can determine that certain industries are located in certain states and then focus on those states which would need to hire your skill set. I will list a few states with some of their key industries latter on in this post.

A different way to narrow to 2016 job search is to use focused search engines. What is a focused search engine? It's a search tool that only looks for jobs in your skill set. Say you are a Fine Arts major. The New York Foundation for the Arts has a site http://www.NYFA.org/jobs that has a listing of employment needs for those who have Fine Art degrees. If you are  Finance Major or Data Scientist, don't look here. This site is looking for artists, theater majors, stage managers, etc. The California Arts Council also has its own search engine for finding and posting employment needs for those with Fine Art degrees. The California Arts Council site is http://www.cac.ca.gov/opportunities.

Where are the 2016 jobs by state? Below is a small listing of states and job skill sets they may need. As you will see most of the pairing of states with skill sets involves some common sense. This list is not all inclusive, it's purpose is to demonstrate how to approach narrowing your job quest by state. Good luck.

Texas - finance, scientists, engineers 
New York - marketing, advertising, finance, banking
California - technologists, data scientists, life sciences
Florida - tourism, healthcare
Nevada - chemists, engineers (Tesla is building a $5 billion battery plant near Reno)
Delaware - sales, business majors, (Delaware is the national hub for credit card companies)

Deciding which approach to find jobs in 2016 is just one of many factors that are needed to land a job. If you found this post helpful you may want to take a look at my book, "Steps to Finding a Job After College"  where I have compiled many more key tips with additional detail.

June 10, 2016

Personality Tests aka I just got a Job Nibble

After lots of hard work sending out applications for jobs, you finally get a positive response. The response looks like it came from a computer and it is asking you to fill out a personality test. Fantastic, all you need to do is click on the enclosed link, take a few minutes to fill out the online test, and finish the slice of pizza that you are eating. Super easy right? Wrong!  

Be super careful. Personality tests are another way to screen you out of an interview with a real person. Treat taking these tests as seriously as you did while creating your digital resume.  Why should you? Quite simply, these tests are a second verification of your digital resume. Your resume passed the first layer of job position screening. The personality test is a way to validate that you're not just a great resume writer, but you actually have the skill sets and passion that are typical for this particular job position.

The best way to pass one of these job specific tests is to really get your head around why they are asking you each question from the employer point of view. Let's use a couple of examples to explain this concept. The job is for a sales position. The personality test will be focused on sales traits. A question may show up that states, "At a party you like to___ a) meet everyone, b) meet some new people, c) hang out with your friends, d) sit by yourself". How would you answer this question? Before you answer remember the key purpose of this test, to validate your resume with the job position. Now let's dissect the question above. Clearly answer 'd' is a fail.  Selecting answer 'd' could be interpreted that you are shy. Being shy is not the best trait for a job in sales. In real life you may actually like answers 'c' and 'b'. So is the best answer between 'b' and 'c'? No, it's actually answer 'a'. Why? Remember the purpose of this test is to validate sales personality traits not what you did at your last party. Answer 'a' can be read that you are a extrovert who loves to meet and interact with people, new or old friends, clearly a win if you picked this answer. The hanging out with friends selection would score pretty low since it does not demonstrate the key personality traits of an outgoing person. Meeting some new people at a party could show some outgoing behaviors but not as strong as answer 'a'.

Let's do one more question to drive the point home on what these tests are really asking you. This is a seemingly trivial question but beware. Here goes, "How would you rank yourself___ a) above average, b) average, c) below average".  Before you answer this question you should be thinking to yourself what are they asking me. Are they asking about my GPA? Are they asking about my class rank? Are they asking about my job experiences? Notice, the question did not ask for any specific criteria, it only asks how would your rank yourself. If you graduated with a 3.0 GPA you might select 'average' but this is not a question of rank or grades, it is a confidence question! Remember, think from the employer point of view. The employer does not want to hire average people. They want Above Average hires. Never, Never, Never, answer a question about yourself on a job personality test by selecting Average as the answer.

The best advice I can hand to you on this topic is to read each question twice and think through what are they asking, why are they asking it, and what answer would benefit the employer the most. Finally remember that passing usually will only get you to the next step in the hiring process, the INTERVIEW.  Entire books have been written on how to pass the interview, but to get an interview many times you need to first pass the personality test. Hopefully these tips may get you to that next step.

June 02, 2016

Employment Tips & Solutions to Win at using Job Databases

Now that you have your degree are you ready to find a job? If so, then the odds are that you will be using a Job Database in your search for employment. Let's start with the basics first, a job database is a collection of open job positions that are pooled into one big data pond. These jobs can be sorted and searched using a variety of key words, geographic locations, industry types, etc. New job openings are added and filled while old job openings are removed. Some job databases even allow you to post your resume so employers that are seeking your skill set can view your resume for a potential job that has not been posted online. But wait there's more; the best feature is that these fantastic job enablers are FREE. 

To Win at using Job Databases you must realize that not all are the same. To help drive home this point let me use an illustrative example. Let's say you are looking for a needle (your job) in a large haystack (a job database), and even though that haystack is composed of all possible jobs, remember that your skill set only fits the needle's skill set. Is bigger really better? Just remember that you will need to search through all of those jobs which you are neither interested nor qualified for in order to find your job (the needle). That requires a lot of time and effort.

Other Job Databases can be more targeted say just focusing on government, medical or technical career openings. The haystack is much smaller and more focused. This can save you some time and effort in your search efforts. However, you may miss out on some openings since these databases are so focused.

Finally there are some hidden gems of company specific job databases that can offer a huge array of job openings. Here you may find some job positions that have not been listed on the other Job Databases or they may be listed on the company sites before the masses get a chance to look at them when they are posted to a larger audience of job seekers.
A major tip that can help you solve which Job Database to use is to sit down and plan what blend of databases would give you the best overall selection of job positions for the skill set you embody. Then follow your plan and redo weekly as the job positions get refreshed. Also remember that as you apply for these positions the need to tune your resume for the ATS systems that will screen your resume, see my blog on "A Checklist for a Digital Resume Tune-up" for more information on that topic or check out some books that really focus on how to pass the ATS screening systems.

There are a ton of Job Database sites for you to check out but here are some of my favorites.

Large national job focus:

1.       MONSTER.com
2.       indeed.com
3.       Job.com
4.       LinkedIn.com (resume only but recruiters do search through this site)

Job Sector focus:
1.       Government
1.1.    USAJOBS.gov
2.       Healthcare & Science
2.2.    Medzilla.com (healthcare, pharmaceutical, & science careers)

Hidden GEMS or mega company focus:
1.       Disneycareers.com (ABC, ESPN, Marvel, consumer products, & theme parks)
2.       NBCUNICAREERS.com (NBC,MSNBC,NBCSPORTS, SyFy, USA & theme parks)
3.       Google.
com/about/careers (technical, sales, plus many companies under the parent Alphabet Inc.)

Good Luck in Your Job Quest After College!