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Posts Tagged ‘interviews’

I have heard many similes and metaphors for unemployment, interviews and the job search in general. Interviews are like dates or job searching after a layoff is like dating after divorce. I agree with these sentiments wholeheartedly and wanted to share my own.

For me, the job hunt is like surfing.

Tamarindo Beach Costa Rica
Stay with me here for a minute, let’s see if I can explain…

Sometimes the ocean is calm, maybe even a little boring. You’re looking around for opportunities (waves to ride) but they are few and far between. You aren’t getting any call backs or interviews, and you look out into this endless, flat sea and begin to feel frustrated, impatient and maybe a little hopeless.

Then the waves start rolling in. They start small, the job postings you find or leads you get, and they grow into the surf-worthy interviews. For me at least, the waves roll in quickly and all together. I’ll go a week without hearing anything positive and suddenly in one day I have 3 new job leads.

Of course, so far, I haven’t been able to stay up on a wave. I’ve had the interviews, gotten up on my feet, felt the excitement and thrill… but the wave always takes an unexpected turn and I fall off the board. Of course then I’m stuck underwater for a while, feeling as though I might drown, thinking that wave was my last chance. I swear I’ll never get back on the board because the aftermath is just too difficult to deal with. I decide I’ll just sit up on the beach and watch everyone else succeed.

Eventually though, I always surface. Usually the ocean is calm and I have time to take a deep breath a prepare for the next set to roll in. Then I do it all over again!

See? It’s like surfing!

As an afterthought, I should mention that I’m not a surfer. I have attempted… and I am in the picture above (taken last summer at Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica). However, I was terrible and I never got up on my feet at all. I know they say the bigger boards are easier, but the 10 foot board I was trying to handle nearly killed me. I even had a nice big bruise on my arm (just in time to be a bridesmaid at the wedding I was there for!) So, while I can make the comparison, the truth is I’ve never gotten up. Still, I rode a wave while laying on my stomach and that was fun and I’ve fell off my boogie board before and gotten caught underwater… so I know what I’m talking about 😉 Plus, I think my lack of success just makes the comparison more truthful. Surfing is hard and not everyone is successful, especially not on their first try. The job seach is also hard and you have to be dedicated to keep on trying before you find success.

What is your favorite unemployment metaphor?

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My last post was quite a vent, so I don’t want this post to come off that way. However, there is something I need to address.

The employment process is a two way street. There are employers and employees and if we don’t all do our part, the process will fall apart. In an economy with unemployment rates in the double digits, it can be difficult to keep it all together.

Honestly though, we (employers and potential employees) are handling the same tasks.

  • I take time to sift through hundreds of job listings. Some of these listings are time wasters, they either want to con me out of money or they are listed under my city even though they are located in another state. Many postings make me shake my head and wonder what these people were thinking. Some try to re-word their posting to trick me into thinking the position is something that it really isn’t (it’s not a door-to-door salesman it’s a residentual marketing director!)
  • You (employer, hiring manager, HR person) take time to sift through hundreds of applications and resumes. Some have grammar errors or don’t relate to the posting at all. Some make you shake your head and wonder what these people were thinking. Some try to re-word their resume to make it seem like they have the experience even though they obviously don’t.

You see? We’re not all that different.

That is why it pains me when an employer pulls over to the side of the road as I struggle to make it up the hill. If you expect me to follow up after an interview, you should really respond to my email or call. If you fill a position, you should really let me know so I can cross it off my list and stop sending those unanswered emails. If you are sending me a rejection email (which is painful enough to receive, but again, I’m just glad to hear back!) please at least spell my name correctly. My name is Danielle, not Daniel. I am a girl, not a boy. I go through great lengths to ensure that I spell names correctly and use the correct title. You should really do the same.

I realize that you are dealing with dozens of applicants and numerous jobs. But you expect perfection from me. If there is a spelling or grammatical mistake in my cover letter or resume, I’m in the trash without a second thought. I get it, we (job hunters) should take pride in our work and put a lot of effort into what we do, but shouldn’t everyone?

You want respect and strong work ethic and attention to detail from us and we simply want the same thing. It’s a two way street, that’s all I’m saying.

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Sorry it’s been so long since my last update… I’ve been busy holding my breath.

Unemployment is a waiting game. You wait for the right positions to open up so that you can apply. You wait to hear back after you apply, crossing your fingers for an interview. You wait after the interview (the worst of the waiting) to see whether or not you got the job. If you are lucky, you’ll find out either way… or you may just wait around forever while the company fills the position and doesn’t tell you that you weren’t chosen. The waiting really starts to weigh on you.

I’ve had a couple of interviews lately which is why I’ve been holding my breath. Oh, and crossing my fingers of course. I think they are permanently stuck in the crossed position.

So, as I continue to wait, holding my breath and willing the phone to ring, I’ll leave you with some links. These sites helped me prepare for what I think have been some successful interviews. I hope they can help others too!

Interview Tips to Make Your Next Interview Your Last from the VisualCV blog (If you’re a job seeker and don’t have a VisualCV yet, definitely check them out! It’s free and easy and a great supplement to your resume.)

In job interview, passion packs a punch From MSNBC: an interview with the author of What Color is Your Parachute? Really great advice.

Ace the InterviewTo-the-point interview rules from David Silverman

And just in case… the negative side:

5 Common Reasons For Failure at a Job Interview From one of my favorite blogs by Bill Vick

Job Interview Tips: How to Handle Rejection From Lewis Lin explaining how to cope with the worst part of the job search

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I really need to become more consistent with my blog posts. I’ll work on that.
Now on to today’s post…

At one interview I was slightly thrown for a loop when I was asked “What are some of your pet peeves?”
Umm…uhhh…. *gulp*

When interviewing you shouldn’t say anything negative. You shouldn’t bad mouth former employers, coworkers, or anyone else for that matter. You can twist around ‘What is your weakness?’ (though lately I’ve been reading that you shouldn’t) but ‘What are some of your pet peeves?’ What do you say to that?!

I honestly don’t remember what I answered… probably something about a lack of communication within organizations because that definitely is one. I do remember that I was prompted to add more to the list and I couldn’t think of anything at the time. I was also afraid of the question; I didn’t want to say anything that might be held against me!

Today, while at a job fair, I was reminded of that question and realized what else could be added to my list.

A limp handshake.

image from globalexperiences.com

image from globalexperiences.com

Seriously, why is the handshake so hard? I have gone to several job fairs, meetings and interviews and the majority of handshakes that I have received have been limp and lifeless. As a woman, I always get self conscious because I feel like maybe I’m coming on too strong. I don’t want a Vulcan death grip or anything, but a handshake speaks a thousand words. I may not be the most outgoing person, or the most self confident, but you’d never guess that by my handshake. It’s firm and proper and all I ask is that it’s reciprocated.

During my Speaking Before Audiences class at Auburn, we spent a week on interviews (this class was during a summer minimester). At the end of the week we had a short mock interview. I forgot to shake my TA’s hand and it wrecked my perfect grade. Maybe that’s when my handshake obsession focus began. No handshake or wimpy handshakes have bothered me ever since.

So is it just me? Do you think you have a good handshake? Are you bothered by those who don’t?

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My inspiration came from this post. The subject tackled there is how to stop being forgettable during a sales pitch. The subject here is not being forgettable during the job search (or after).

I have often felt very forgettable. I’m not sure if it’s my shy, timid demeanor, a physical trait, or something else that I’m missing. I never paid much attention to this fact. I would just re-introduce myself to people, pretend I didn’t remember them either, feel temporarily embarrassed and just let it pass. Until I started job hunting…

You simply cannot afford to be forgettable when you’re looking for a job, especially not now, not in this competitive market. When I first started interviewing, I was completely myself. It didn’t take long for me to learn that maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Not to say you should create an alternate ego for interviews, you can still be yourself, but you should be the best possible version of yourself.

Initially, I am a shy person. I’m also humble, to a fault. Neither of these traits are beneficial when meeting a potential employer. I have learned to be more outgoing, more excited and more boisterous about my accomplishments. I feel like interviewers are finally seeing the real me, instead of the guarded, shy me who normally takes control when I’m around strangers. I may not have a job yet, but I have made connections. I have gotten a lot of good feedback and no longer feel like interviewers are forgetting who I am once decision time roles around.

These are traits that will follow me to my next job. I know that this is the new professional me. This is Danielle2.0
I know that I will have to remember to be sure of myself, make the effort to be more outgoing and make sure that I settle into my new position quickly. The job search has helped me realize who I want to be professionally and the traits that will help me be successful.

Of course, I’m also using the Internet to ensure I’m not forgotten. I make sure potential employers have my Linkedin, VisualCV and blog links. In the days of Web2.0, an Internet presence is almost a job requirement. There is some debate, but I include my picture on those first two links. Although it may put me at risk for discrimination, I think it’s a good idea to get my face in their head. (Plus, do I really want to work for a company that doesn’t hire me because of how I look?)

Whether you are job hunting or happily employed, it’s important to make sure you are not forgettable. For interviewers, employers or clients, you need to make a lasting impression.

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Everywhere you turn, someone is giving advice regarding the job search. The economy is terrible, layoffs are occurring daily and the applicant pool is growing exponentially. We need the help!

Tomorrow will end week 3 of my unemployment. Like so many others, I was laid off  and my position was eliminated. Before the layoff, I was already searching for a new position. I knew that my time was limited and that I was ready for a new experience and new challenges. Therefore, I’ve been a job hunter for awhile now. These are things no one warned me about…

Doing everything right doesn’t make the job yours.
          I have written the cover letters and tailored my resume. I’m all over LinkedIn, Twitter and any other social networking that I can get my hands on.  I’ve had fabulous interviews that I walked away from with a big smile on my face. I followed all the advice and did everything right. I still haven’t gotten a job. You see, no one pointed out that I could be great but there still might be someone better. I simply assumed that if I was at my best, then I was the best. That’s simply not the case. It is a devastating reality in this tough economy. It’s also very difficult to realize that you did everything you could and it still wasn’t enough. At that point, pick yourself up and realize it wasn’t the right job for you and that there will be other opportunities. Remember that at some point your best will be the best. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!

Prepare for phone interviews
       Even if you are applying for local jobs, you may still end up with a phone interview as opposed to meeting in person. My first phone interview was a disaster and I must admit that I am not a fan of the phone interview. It’s awkward, you can’t express yourself with movement or facial cues and you can’t see how the interviewer is reacting. I always feel pressured to answer quickly to avoid the awkward silence.  For me, an interview over the phone is a million times more nerve racking. Of course, the best thing you can do is prepare. Check out the PRSSA Blog for some great tips.

Look for inspiration
       Nothing has helped my resume more than looking at resumes of other people. I learn much better by seeing examples. You can find someone in the industry who inspires you and learn so much just from viewing their resumes and online portfolios. VisualCV is a great place to start. There are plenty of sample CVs for you to look at. It’s nice to see the work of a successful person and see what aspects of their positions they highlight and focus on.

Stay positive
      
Ok, so maybe this particular advice isn’t so different, but it’s worth repeating…daily. It is easy to lose any self- esteem or hope you once had. You begin the job search with high expectations, excitement about your future and confidence in yourself. As the months pass, it’s easy to forget about all of that. Try to remember it all. Try to stay positive and stay excited. If anything, fake it till you make it! If you are feeling down and desperate, that will come across to employers and especially to interviewers. Always remember, this too shall pass and the perfect job is out there!

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