Does an Interview Scare You?

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DoesanInterviewScareYouDo not let the interview send you into shock. Follow these tips to help calm your fears.

Your heart is beating faster than usual, your hands feel clammy, your mouth is so dry it feels like you have cotton inside — and you’re supposed to feel confident. Are you going to an interview or a torture session? The answer is –”it’s all in your perspective.”

Ideally you would sit poised thumbing through a magazine, feeling relaxed as you wait your turn to have a conversation with the interviewer for the company. Think about it — what do you have to lose here? What’s the worst thing that can happen? What if you don’t get this job — is the world going to stop turning? I realize of course, that bills must be paid, but you are taking the wrong approach if you are going to come across as desperate — “Please, please, hire me.” Interviewers smell fear.

A change in thinking

The first, and most important step is to change the way that you view the interview. This is not an appointment with the dentist who may inflict pain. It is a conversation with another person. What is the worst thing that can happen as a result of the interview? You won’t get the job, which may not have been the right job for you anyway.

Secondly, this is a conversation — a two-way process. You will be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Is there a good fit here — both ways? What looks good on paper may not be what it appears — for either party. It will be part of your job during the interview to investigate whether this a good place for you, and whether you want to invest a significant part of your life here. When you are not checking them out and what they have to offer you are missing an opportunity that you may regret later.

Calming techniques

One of the best techniques to handle stress is through breathing. Take deliberate, shallow breaths. Take air in through the nostrils and exhale quietly through your mouth. This is a technique that should be practiced as a relaxation technique before the interview so that your body gets used to slowing down the breathing process and relaxing.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, and meditation classes, are recommended for anyone who has an extreme case of “interview fright.” The interview can cause panic attacks if the fear is strong enough. Pre-conditioning will do wonders for this type of anxiety.

Preparation before the interview

These are competitive times and you should steel yourself to expect some rejection. Think about it this way, “Did you get a marriage proposal after every date?” Well, you probably aren’t going to get a job offer after every interview.

For every job you apply for there are more than likely three to four equally qualified candidates in line for the same job. Whether you stand out from “the crowd” will depend on your preparation and ability to show confidence in yourself — believing that you are the “best candidate for this job.” How can you possibly sell anyone anything if you don’t believe in it yourself?

Preparation will make you feel more confident and less anxious. Can you imagine giving a performance without some practice and preparation? “Winging” the interview in today’s market is a big mistake.

Fear of Rejection

You may have had a number of interviews with no offer. You may be feeling defeated, and it’s beginning to affect your-self esteem.

This would be true of anyone. But it is a mistake to take it personally. There are so many factors that could be affecting the offer that it is impossible to say what is happening. There may be internal candidates, relatives promised jobs, a competitor who is a perfect match for the job, a lack of chemistry between you and the new boss, a mismatch in salary needs, etc., etc.

Let it go

Give yourself credit for getting an interview — only a small percentage of people get this far in the process. Give yourself credit for going out there and putting yourself on the line, even though it is painful for you. Give yourself permission to not get job offers. Believe that an offer will come through when it is the right offer — the right fit for the company and for you. Take the control back and reject the feeling of fear.

When you have done everything to prepare for the interview, and you are satisfied that you can present yourself in the best light possible, the next step is for you to let it go. You can learn something from each interview. Learn to enjoy meeting new people and having new experiences. Who knows you may even grow to like interviewing.

Don’t Worry About the “One-Page Resume Rule”

Contrary to what your college professor said, the one-page resume rule is a myth.

Contrary to what your college professor said, the one-page resume rule is a myth. Unfortunately, many listen to this outdated advice and devise ways to cram a complete professional history into one sheet. So much so that most job seekers expand the margins of the documents, use a small font size, and skimp on accomplishments rather than risk exceeding one page.

With today’s standards in resume writing, it is impossible to gain a full picture of a professional candidate in one 8-1/2″x11″ sheet of paper. Let’s break down the introduction of a resume and how it has changed over the years.

Objectives Have Been Replaced with Profile Statements: In the past, resumes started with only one sentence: “Seeking a challenging position where there is an opportunity for growth.” Now, resume introductions are more comprehensive, usually up to five sentences. As such, the profile statement takes up more room on the resume.

Keyword Section: Due to the advent of the Internet and resume data banks, all resumes need a list of core competencies that demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and abilities you have acquired throughout your work history. The keyword section alone adds three to five lines.

As you can see, where the beginning of the resume used to be only one sentence, it has grown to ten.

Professional History: Long ago professionals stayed at the same company for ten-plus years. As such, the work history section of the resume consisted of only one or two jobs. Nowadays, many job seekers have six jobs within that same ten-year span. The addition of more jobs usually translates into at least a two-page resume.

Education Section: With a lot more certifications available and many companies investing in employee professional-development courses, the education section has expanded as well.

There is only one rule you should follow in terms of resume length: your resume should be as long as it needs to be to sell your qualifications. That may mean your resume can be one, two, or even three pages.

When you insist on limiting your resume based on the number of pages, the reader won’t get the full breadth of your experience. This isn’t to say that you should include every last detail of your history; however, it should flesh out all the important aspects of your career–especially those all-important accomplishments.

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Certified in all three areas of the job search – Certified Interview Coach (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) – Linda Matias is qualified to assist you in your career transition, whether it be a complete career makeover, interview preparation, or resume assistance. Linda is the former president of the National Resume Writers’ Association who is the author of two books: 201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions and How to Say It: Job Interviews. Both books can be found at Amazon.com or your local bookstore. You can contact Linda Matias at linda@careerstrides.com or visit her website www.careerstrides.com for additional career advice and to view resume samples.

How to Use Facebook to Land a Job

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2193213362_b5d556491eIt isn’t just the volume of users that makes Facebook an attractive source of hiring and research – it’s also the fact that 70 percent of Facebook users engage daily, versus only 13 percent of LinkedIn users, according to a 2015 Pew Research study. While many job seekers consider LinkedIn to be the professional network and place to be, it isn’t the only social network recruiters will look at. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 66 percent of recruiters reported using Facebook to recrtuit.

Conduct an audit. Head over to Google or your favorite search engine and search for your name. Take note of what appears on the first page of search results. Chances are, you will see a listing that says “[Your name] Profiles | Facebook.” Click on this link, and you will see the Facebook profiles of people with your name.

Next, look at your status updates. Do your posts have a globe next to the date? If so, your update is public, which means anyone and everyone can see your update and comments others have added. If you do not want certain status updates to be public, you can change your settings by clicking on the inverted triangle and changing the post to “Friends.”

Know your privacy settings. Facebook has a reputation for changing privacy setting criteria. If you haven’t looked at yours in awhile, it would be wise to do so. You can change privacy settings for “Who can see my stuff,” “Who can contact me” and “Who can look me up.” If you do not want people to be able to search for you by email or phone number, adjust those settings. You can also prevent your profile from showing up in search engine results by removing that criteria.

“Job seekers think that their profiles on platforms like Facebook are private and that hiring managers can’t find them. This is not always the case,” says Lisa Brown Morton, President and CEO of Nonprofit HR. Know your settings, but a better strategy is to be careful about what you post.

Stay professional. “Oversharing and acting unprofessional is also a common mistake many job seekers make,” Morton says. “As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t show it [to] your grandmother or put it on your résumé, you shouldn’t put it on social media.” Avoid using profanity, sharing provocative or inappropriate photos or speaking negatively about your current or past employer.

Find job leads. Facebook isn’t a job board, but you can use its Groups feature to find people posting jobs in your field and geographic area. Chris Russell, recruiter and founder of CareerCloud, recommends searching Facebook by using your city and the word “jobs” to find groups that share job leads.

Fill out your profile. If you are going to become more active on Facebook for your job search, one way to enhance your profile is to add past work history and professionals skills to the “About” sections of your profile.

Network. Have you stayed connected with your college classmates? What about other alumni? Be sure you’ve added your college and even high school information if you want others to know what schools you attended. Consider joining Facebook groups for alumni as well.

Participate in discussions in groups or communities by your occupation, and “like” a company’s page or join its career group to interact with employees managing those accounts. You can also search Facebook for people who work at your dream company. In the Facebook search bar, start typing “people who work at {insert name of company}.” You can see who works there and who your mutual friends are.

Leverage social media. “By failing to have an active digital presence, job seekers miss opportunities to build up their professional profiles and find job opportunities their competition is likely taking advantage of,” Morton says. Socially savvy job seekers will have an advantage over those who are not active.

Every day people are using social networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Your connections with people on these networks could potentially turn into a new job if you use them appropriately. Remember: Companies prefer to hire referrals and people they know.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She is the author of “The Infographic Résumé” and co-author of “Social Networking for Business Success.”

How to Respond to ‘Aren’t You Overqualified?’

You have your eye on a job that is below your current career or education level. There could be a myriad of reasons for it. Perhaps you are moving, re-entering the workforce or just trying out a new industry or type of job.

It can be hard to get through the résumé review stage. And if you do manage it – pat yourself on the back! – how do you convince employers during a phone screen or interview that you are the right person for the job, despite being perceived as overqualified?

Below are potential interview questions you may be asked and how to respond to them.

“Why did you apply to a job that you are overqualified for?”

You must convince the interviewer that this is what you’ve determined you want to do. You are either not satisfied or unable to continue along the path you were on (maybe due to a family relocation or a sincere desire to change career paths). It is important to be transparent here, although you don’t need to go into explicit detail on personal matters.

“You have been in roles where you’ve managed people. You will not be doing that in this role. How do you feel about that?”

This can be tricky, so choose your wording wisely. Acknowledge that is true instead of trying to minimize your current or previous responsibilities. At the same time, you need a good answer for why it’s OK with you not to be exercising those skills in your next job.

Maybe you discovered that personnel management is not for you, and you are content to stay in a backseat position – that’s perfectly acceptable. Maybe you are fully committed to making a career switch, are prepared to start at a lower level and are excited to learn from those who’ve been on this career path longer.

“We can’t match your current salary.”

Hopefully you are already aware that this is bound to be the case, since you are considered overqualified for what you’re applying for. You can be prepared to respond diplomatically with something like: “Yes, I am fully aware of that and expected that. The reason I am interested in this job is because I want to switch into a role that I find fulfilling. Money is not my primary motivator.” To be realistic, you can also add something along the lines of: “Naturally, once I gain more experience, I would hope to be considered for a raise but only at the appropriate time.”

“In this role, your boss would be younger than you. Does that bother you?”

Here you’ll want to acknowledge that this can be an uncomfortable situation, because it certainly is for many people. Don’t try to immediately slough it off as easy to handle. You may feel that a person experienced in this type of work – no matter what age – will be a resource from whom you’re excited to learn. If you’ve had bosses younger than you before, that is also worth mentioning.

“Why should we choose you over a candidate right out of school?”

This is a tough one, because it implies many things: The entry-level candidate won’t expect a high salary, might not be as demanding as an experienced hire and may be less ambitious at first. This is when you need to emphasize what makes you unique and stay positive. Don’t badmouth millennials. Talk about yourself and what you offer. Name the skills you possess from years in a work environment that translate well to this job – it could be anything from negotiating to writing to resolving conflicts.

When you’re viewed from the outset of an interview as overqualified, it can be tough to overcome and persuade the interviewer otherwise. With a bit of anticipation and planning, you can confidently respond to any curve ball that the employer throws your way.

Most importantly, acknowledge that the potential issue they present indeed exists. Then focus on your skills and personal experience, and avoid talking poorly about others. If you take this approach, the next time you’re faced with “aren’t you overqualified for this position?” you’ll be able to convince an employer that you are determined to make this career move and are both willing and excited to learn.

Mobilize your professional resume

Invest in a professional resume that will make it past any gatekeeper and outsmart applicant tracking software.

This week I want you to focus on one of the core marketing materials you’ll use during the job search – your resume.

When was the last time you printed out a job application and mailed it to an employer? While it’s not unheard of, it’s certainly not the norm these days. And chances are, you surf the web rather than open a newspaper when you want to find job listings.

Since job boards emerged in the late 90s, the way we search for and apply to jobs has radically changed. With just a few key strokes you have access to thousands of job posts from all over the world. Unfortunately, this also means you’re competing within a much larger, less-qualified pool of candidates. Your resume needs to not only speak to the recruiter and hiring manager; it must first make it past an electronic gatekeeper known as an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Below are five tips to help you craft a professional resume that will make it through the gatekeepers – human and otherwise – and impress the hiring manager.

1.       Tell the right story

Research conducted by TheLadders shows that recruiters spend an average of six seconds (!) looking at your resume to decide if you’re a fit. It’s incredibly important that you first clarify your job goals, and then build a resume that supports these goals. Highlight your relevant experience and accomplishments, and eliminate extra information that isn’t necessary. Don’t make the recruiter guess – spell out your goals and qualifications.

2.       Include relevant buzz words

Incorporate common terms and key phrases that routinely pop up in job descriptions you’re interested in applying to (assuming you honestly have those skills). The ATS software is programmed to scan your application for specific buzz words to determine if you’re a likely fit for the role. You typically have to make it past that check point before a human will ever set eyes on your application.

3.       Avoid a scrambled view

Don’t include tables or images in your resume and avoid using the actual Header and Footer sections of the Word document, as these will only confuse the ATS and scramble your application. When choosing your resume font, stick to ones that are easy to read and ATS-compatible like Arial, Tahoma, Cambria, and Book Antiqua. New Times Roman is fine too, though I normally avoid it because it’s so common. Stay away from Arial Narrow, Calibri, Georgia, and Garamond because they are incompatible with many ATS systems and can be difficult to read on mobile devices and tablets.

 4.       Control the communication

Make it easy for recruiters to contact you by including only one phone number and email address. I recommend using your cell phone since you have control over the voicemail, who picks up the phone and when. Use a professional email address such as Gmail, which won’t be considered outdated. Add in the URL to your LinkedIn profile (and personal website, if applicable). This will help control communication and steer the recruiter toward the right online profile.

 5.       Consider a professional re-write

Here at TheLadders we say there are three things you should never do on your own: write your will, do your taxes, and write your resume. Even though I’m a certified professional resume writer, I’d turn to a colleague for a resume re-write because it’s hard to remain objective when you’re writing about yourself. And frankly, not all of us are born writers. Make the investment and hire a professional who can turn your laundry list of experiences into a story that supports your goals and outsmarts ATS software. You’re 40% more likely to land the job you want with one.

Use these tips to craft a resume that will help you land interviews. Next week, we’ll talk about using a smarter phone in the job search.

 

The 3 Most Common Mistakes People Make in Work Documents

The world of work requires excellent writing skills. However, many of today’s professionals spaced out during their high school English teacher’s lessons regarding the art of diagramming a sentence or how to write an effective persuasive essay.

Like it or not, how you convey yourself in writing can make or break your message and the impression others have of you. Here are some of the most common mistakes in business writing, including how people write their résumé and cover letter. Take note now, and be prepared to make up for those lost lessons.

1. Inconsistent spacing. You most likely know someone (probably your boss) who can look at a document, and – in less than a second – announce: “Something is wrong with this.” This person has been gifted with “Inconsistency Spotting.” This ability to notice and correct the extra space after a word or the errant use of two lines between paragraphs can supercharge the impact of written work. The good news is that you don’t have to be born with this power – you just need to stop before you send a document and do the following:

Select “Show/Hide Codes” on your document so that you can see every space and return. In Word, it is the icon that looks like a backward “P” in your toolbar.
  • Verify that you have handled like items in the document consistently. For example, intentionally have a space (or don’t have a space) on each side of every dash used. In a résumé, dates are one of the most obvious dash spacing pitfalls with one entry of “August 2012-June 2013” followed by “July 2013 – March 2014.” Notice the difference? Neither one is right or wrong, but using both formats in one résumé shows a lack of attention to detail.
  • Have a plan for how many lines or returns are between related sections of a document. For example, you may want to use one line (single-space) between each paragraph but two between sections in a contract.
  • Verify alignment of text. If you aligned left in one area but accidentally selected justified (meaning lined up on both the left and right) in another, the spacing between characters will vary. Mixed alignment on one page can distract the reader.

2. Fanciful fonts. A selective reader can spot a cut-and-paste document a mile away. Often, it will have excerpts from different documents, but the author has not gone back to verify that all text has the same font and point size. In today’s crowd-sourcing world, business professionals often draw from multiple sources to create sales collateral, write informational letters and even write their résumés.

However, it is critical that these items come together in one cohesive document. Make sure you verify that the fonts, point sizes and treatment of things like headers and titles is harmonious before hitting “Send.”

3. Sloppy spelling. I am sure we have all heard about the importance of spell checking. However, even when you run spell check, two issues can remain. First, spell check may have changed your incorrect word to a similarly spelled word that has a different meaning. You need to reread your document for both spelling and message after spell check. Just a little change from “of” to “if” can dramatically alter the message.

The second issue is that spell check does not do well with names of companies and people. If you mindlessly accept the recommendations of spell check, you may accidentally change “Collegial Services,” for example, to “Collegiate Services” and “Robin Reshwan” to “Robin Reshawn.” Trust me that no matter how great the content of your letter, you lost me when you messed up my name or my business’s name.

In summary, there is a reason why so many job descriptions include “Must be detail-oriented.” With the ease of forwarded emails and attached documents, writing mistakes are not only detrimental with the first recipients, but the pain lives on each time your message is sent to someone else.

Successful business correspondence requires thoughtful planning and careful editing. The good news is that anyone can master the skills necessary to send a visually consistent document if they stop to assess before sending the message.

Emotional Preparation for Interviews

Hiring is an emotional process for both the candidate and the interviewer.

Hiring is an emotional process for both the candidate and the interviewer. The hiring process is shrouded with a veneer of logic “to hire the best qualified person”, but in reality it is grounded with emotion. Your enthusiasm, confidence and energy will determine whether or not you get hired.

Twenty (20) years in the hiring business has taught me one important lesson; the most qualified person never gets hired. This is because personality “fit” and the candidate’s personal qualities are extremely important to the interviewers. Interviewers receive and interpret all the inputs coming from you. One of the many inputs evaluated by every interviewer is your emotional state. When you are feeling great you project a positive image of yourself and are more “likable” and “hire-able.”

Here are several suggestions to help you get emotionally prepared to be your best.

Motion creates Emotion
Get moving! Go for a walk, run, exercise, cycle, meditate, do Yoga or Tai Chi, stretch, dance, do something! Exercise gets your blood flowing to your brain and can improve your mood almost instantly.

Listen to Music
Sing your favorite song that gets you in a great state of mind. This works great while driving to the interview. You arrive in a fabulous mood.

Inspirational Phases
Repeat an inspirational phrase that is meaningful for you. Write it down, read it and say it out loud.

Use Your Imagination
Imagine yourself doing your favorite activity. Imagine every detail vividly and you will be amazed at how your body will feel. Our nervous system responds to our imagination as if the images in our mind are real.

Remember
Remember a time when you were absolutely at your best. Pick the mood; remember what you were doing in detail and voila, your body returns to that state of being. Remember a time when you felt absolutely at your best, or imagine how it will feel when your current job search is complete and you have landed this fabulous position making more money than you have ever made before.

Researching the company is only part of preparing. The most important part of interview preparation is getting yourself ready emotionally. Get ready to be hired, and you will be hired.

Best of luck on your next interview. It is the most important moment in your search for a better position.