Coach

Communication ~ Interview Killers & Winners

You need all the advantages you can get when you are going into an interview but there are mistakes that can kill the advantages. We will cover a few of these today.

First things first…do your research! You must know about the company and what the purpose and mission are before you can sell yourself to them. Go online and research everything you can find from their web site and from any news articles or press releases you can find. One of the questions that is often asked at an interview is “What do you know about our company?” If you can’t give them something substantial…it is an interview killer! If you can tell them something about their mission statement and goals and how you fit into those goals or why your own philosophy is in alignment with their mission statement…it is an interview win!

You must know exactly what you can do for the company. The company needs to know how you “fit” into their organization and it is up to you to tell them. You must know exactly where you can help them. If you have 10 years of experience in sales and consistently have rated number 1 or 2 on your sales team…tell the employer that you will bring those skills to their company to increase their bottom line. If you can give any type of accomplishments…it is always a win!

Know your strengths…if you are an organization wonder…let them know that. Unfortunately the question is often phrased as “Tell us some of your strengths and some of your weaknesses.” You must be able to state what your strengths are without hesitation, but without sounding arrogant. One of the reasons that I am such an excellent resume writer is my outlook on it…I am not necessarily a better writer than someone else but rather it is how I look at the challenge. I am an excellent resume writer because I see resume writing as a challenge that will strengthen my writing skills and I approach it as something that I want to be the best I can make it. I am sure there are better resume writers out there but I can offer that I will always take on the challenge and do my best. As for weaknesses, I generally advise clients to talk about something that they want and need to improve upon…and if they have already started with that improvement that is all the better. I personally get very frustrated while trying to work on my web site so I have reached out to a company that is going to help me learn more functions so it will be easier on me and I will be more efficient. These are interview wins because I know myself and what I can offer and I know areas that need improvement and I am trying to make those improvements happen.

Why did you leave your last job? This could be problematic if you had some trouble and were let go but at that point you simply need to be honest about what you learned from the situation…even if it wasn’t your fault. You never want to bad mouth a former employer because that is an absolute killer! You can however state that unfortunately there were changes within the company and personalities were not working out and being the “low person on the seniority list” you were the one who have to vacate the position…however what you learned was….maybe you learned that with a new change in management you were not allowed to be as involved with decisions and you should have taken a moment to watch the new manager and see and ask how they preferred you to involve yourself. Changes at a company can make staying an impossible in some situations but you must learn something in both staying and leaving. Maybe you simply could not work under the newly promoted person because your personalities did not gel…being upfront and stating that you knew the situation was coming where you would have to leave but prior to that time you tried to make it work and unfortunately it just couldn’t. Learning to watch and learn is not a bad thing so it can be a win in an interview. Trying to make something work is a win for you because you tried…just don’t say that you tried but the other person is a jerk and didn’t…simply state that there are the RARE instances where 2 personalities just can’t seem to work no matter how hard you tried.

Job hunting is hard work…it is the hardest job you will ever have but hang in there and keep trying until you find the right job for you.

See you next time…

Coach

PS…remember to send the thank you note immediately after the interview! One to each member of the panel.

Interviewing ~ Quick View

A client recently asked me to do a “quick view” of some of my tips on my blog so that her teenagers would read it. Her point was tha for many young people that are used to technology providing information immediately, it might be easier to gain their attention if I gave them the information “now”. So over the next few days I will be providing the “quick tip” verson of interviewing. My friend also stated that she loves reading the long blogs because she wants the in depth information and she asked me not to get rid of it…so I will attempt to do both and work back and forth between the two sytles.

Enjoy…

INTERVIEWING TIPS 1

It is important to be on time for an interview. It is best if you arrive about 15 minutes early. This will give you time to relax and fill out an application, if necessary. Dress appropriately, since the first impression is a lasting one.

Interview Tips:

1. Do some research on the business before the interview. (See “How to Find a Job,” “Research the Employer.”)

2. Practice interviewing.

3. Go alone. Do not take children or friends.

4. Greet the employer with a handshake.

5. Make frequent eye contact.

6. Smile, be polite, and try to relax.

7. Listen carefully to the questions asked. Ask the interviewer to restate a question if you are confused.

8. Answer questions as directly as possible.

9. Be upbeat and make positive statements.

10. If you’ve worked before, talk about what you learned from it.

11. Use examples of how your skills and abilities would fit the job.

Watch for more “quick tips” coming soon…

Communication ~ In General it is a skill to build ~ Listening is a communication skill

I have spent a lot of time working on communication information because so much of what we do when we are job searching is about communication and it is so very important that we put our best foot forward and communicate effectively. I was working with someone recently and I asked him to tell me what communication means and he sat for a minute and then broke it down pretty succinctly in four words, well actually four if you want to be technical because one way to communicate has 2 words, those words are: talking, writing, listening and body language. Those are the primary ways to communicate, of course we have other ways such as sign language, volume, tone, etc…but they fall under the 3 categories because if you use sign language it is words in body language, so to speak. Tone comes under talking and of course writing covers all kinds of communication whether you are providing it or taking it in because you are reading it.

Let’s take a look at the importance of being a good listener. Listening is a skill that can be learned and should be learned because most people don’t listen,  people are often thinking of what they are going to say next and very often this causes them to miss significant points in a conversation. So what does that have to do with job searching? It has lots to do with job searching because if a prospective employer gives instructions or asks a question, you better listen so you can follow the directions or answer the question(s) correctly.

I want you to think back and honestly try to remember a time or times when you missed a point or answered something sort of off topic because you weren’t paying attention. Well, you certainly don’t want that to happen when you are talking with a prospective employer. People speak at about 125-175 words per minute but most people can listen intelligently at about 800 words per minute so it is fairly easy to see why a person’s mind would wander. Also people usually change about 75-80% of what you say into what they want to hear because people are not taught to listen. We hear things all the time, the sound of a train or siren, traffic going by, a dog barking outside, or children playing just out of sight…think about it…we hear things all the time but how often do we stop to really listen to what we hear? Our minds work very quickly and so it can be quite easy to let your mind wander into other things.

Also it is a stressful time when we are in an interview or talking with someone we want to work for and our minds can be running through many ideas, thoughts, fears, or statements we want to make sure we say, thus we might not be paying as close of attention as we should. It is critically important that we listen carefully to everything that an employer wants or says so we are on the same track.

So how do you become an active listener? Repeating back what you hear (or think you hear) is always a great way to make sure that you heard correctly. Asking questions in between a persons statements to you will help you stay focused. Inquiring if you understand them correctly by restating what they have said, in your own words, so they have a chance to let you know if you have gotten off track or if they maybe aren’t explaining things correctly. Of course nodding your head in agreement or using sounds (uh huh, oh, yes, mmmhmm)  or words to convey that you are listening is a good idea too.

We will talk more about listening skills in communication next time…see you then…

Just a note…

When I type the blog…all the lines are even until I post it…then all the lines are crooked!

Communication ~ Resumes

I had a bit of an accident and haven’t been here for a bit, but things are fine and now let’s get to that post about resumes and the importance of categories. It doesn’t really matter what type of resume you are working with at some point in time the information needs to  be broken into categories. Generally the first time an employer looks at your resume he/she is going to give it about an 8 to 10 second glance so it they can’t grab onto something quickly, they could very well lose interest. The unfortunate truth is that employers are looking to screen you OUT so they can concentrate on the best of the best they receive. I know…nobody likes to hear that from me, but it is the truth so I might as well be the one to tell you. Better me than the employer that kicks back your resume…so let’s look at categories and how you make them work for you on your resume.

In the last blog I gave some job titles and then wrote down skills that were used in those job titles…and every job was almost the same all the way down the resume. This time we will work on breaking skills into categories to show that it is possible to NOT have everything sound the same.

This time we will take a resume that has lots of customer service including restaurant and clerical and bring it full circle to make a strong “all around” customer service/clerical/administrative resume

CUSTOMER SERVICE

  • Greeted guests and ensured that they were___________________________________________________
  • Answered customer questions and provided information _______________________________________
  • Resolved customer _____________________________________________________________________
  • Provided superior customer service; strong skills in ____________________________________________
  • Served customers their orders and made sure _________________________________________________
  • Responded quickly to customer ___________________________________________________________
  • Strong belief in ensuring customer _________________________________________________________

ADMINISTRATIVE/CLERICAL

  • Billing, meeting minutes, mail, filing, phones, computers, office machines, errands, and reception
  • Organized registration for ________________________________________________________
  • Coordinated and hosted events; organized ________________, such as a____________________ for participants, facilities, catering, signage, displays, _________________ requirements, printing and event _________________
  • Met with sponsors and organizing committees to plan __________________, to establish a_____________, or to review _______________________________ and event ___________________________________
  • Arranged the availability of __________________________________________________, and other event needs
  • Planned and developed __________________________________________ according to customer requirements
  • Conducted post-event evaluations to determine _______________________________________________

CASHIER

  • Received and disbursed _________________; kept records of _______________________________ transactions
  • Received checks and cash for ____________, verified amounts and examined ________________________
  • Explained, promoted, and sold ____________________________________________________________
  • Strong ability to multi-task in fast-paced environment by ______________________, ______________________, maintaining ____________________________________, and finishing all ______________________________
  • 100% accuracy rate for __________________________________________________________________

Another strategy is to use definite accomplishment statements to grab the attention of the reader…we will delve into that type of resume writing next time…but a quick example might be:

Flexible Leader: Operational turnaround in previous company –

  • Resulting in company’s elevated ___________________________________________________________
  • Successfully slashed over budget cost through _____________________, labor _______________,__ and

productivity ______________________

Communication ~Resumes

I need to go back to resumes because I have recently had quite a few that needed to be fixed and not because the information was bad…but rather that the information was the same…over and over…for every job listed on the chronological resume. Many people like to do a chronological resume because it is easier to list jobs in that order. The other types of resumes are the ‘functional’  also known as a ‘skill-based’ resume, the ‘combination’ which is part functional and part chronological and the ‘recent education’ that utilizes coursework and intern/extern-ships and any transferable skills from previous work that is unrelated to the education that was recently finished.

So let’s talk about that chronological resume and how it can be very repetitive — Let’s say that I was an Administrative Assistant for 3 years at ABC Company, prior to that I was an Administrative Assistant at DEF Company for 5 years, and prior to that I was an Administrative Assistant/Executive Secretary for JKL company for 2 years, and finally when I was starting out I was a Receptionist/Office Clerk at QRS Company for 5 years. I have 2 jobs that are the same in scope, and the secretary job which is very close to the Administrative Assistant, and then an office clerk/reception position which again has much of the same information…if I do a chronological resume it could look like this…(although this is a very watered down/partial version of a resume)

Administrative Assistant ~ ABC Company ~ San Francisco, CA ~ 06/2007-04/2010

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Administrative Assistant ~ DEF Company ~ Oakland, CA ~ 06/2002-05/2007

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Administrative Assistant/Executive Secretary ~ JKL Company ~ 05/2000-05-2002

  • Prepared invoices, reports, other documents, using word processing________________________
  • Answered phone calls and directed calls to ___________________________
  • Conducted research, compiled data, and prepared papers for ________________________
  • Attend meetings to record minutes
  • Greet visitors and determine ______________________________________________
  • Read and analyzed incoming memos, submissions, and reports to _________________________
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining _________________and performing _______________________________
  • Filed and retrieved ____________________________________
  • Opened, sorted, and distributed ________________________________
  • Make travel arrangements for executives
  • Prepared responses to _____________________________________
  • Prepared agendas and made arrangements, such as __________________________________
  • Provided clerical support to ___________________________________________
  • Supervised and trained _______________________________________________

Receptionist/Office Clerk ~ QRS Company ~ 04/1995-05/2000

  • Compiled, copied, sorted, and filed _____________________________________
  • Prepared meeting agendas, attended meetings, and ________________________________
  • Communicated with customers, employees, and other individuals to ___________________________________________________
  • Trained other staff members to _________________________________________________
  • Reviewed files, records, and other documents to ______________________________________

If you read each one of those job descriptions you will see they are the same…of course there would be real variations where something would be left out because maybe at one job you didn’t prepare meeting agendas and at another position you didn’t train others…but for the most part the jobs are so similar that it doesn’t grab the attention of the reader…

So how do you capture the attention of the reader? In the next blog post we will talk about breaking this resume into skill sets…

Aloha ~ I have returned from my anniversary trip

Aloha everyone,

I have recently returned from Maui where Doug and I celebrated our one year anniversary. We were married there last year so we went back to celebrate. It was amazing and I am refreshed and gearing up to give you some great info so look for new things over the next few days including an interview with Edward Beanes, Job Development Specialist and Sociologist at Napa Valley College.

See you soon

Aloha

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for? (Part 3)

The question of the day was:

What are they looking for when they ask where you expect to be in 5 years?

They are hoping that you will want to grow with their company because it is very expensive for employers to hire and train new personnel but it is true that not everyone will be staying with the company so really consider what you want to be doing in five years before planning out this answer. Let’s take for example a person that I know that wanted to work in an office while going to college but expected to graduate and move on…and graduated but didn’t move on because she loved the job, people she worked with, and made decent money. The day she interviewed she answered the question honestly but threw in a curve. The answer was something like this…”Well, as you know I am still in school working on a degree in __________ and so when I graduate I think I will pursue my career of __________. I have always enjoyed working in an office doing administrative work and I know that I will give you 100% while I am here. Of course there is always the chance that the opportunities here will be worth my making this my choice for a career home.

Remember, if you are a student and you are taking a transition job and there is no upward path for you it is best to be honest and say that when you graduate you will pursue the career that you have been working toward.

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for??? (Part 2)

As you can see I have taken a break from the non-verbal communication aspect of interviewing because I have had so many questions come up from clients that are asking me “What are they looking for…I don’t know what they are looking for so I don’t know how to answer the questions?”

This is one of the reasons that career coaching is so very important…I can give you general ideas on this blog on how to answer a question or a series of questions but each person is different and each answer must be unique in its own way. Working with you individually I can help you formulate just the right interview answer for you and your situation and not a generic answer that won’t get you noticed or allow you stand out.

There is not one single answer that an employer is looking for but with the right information I can help formulate a great answer that will get their attention.

So what do they want??? They want you to stand out so they can say…”YES, that is the right person for this job!”

They want you to connect the dots for them so they have a clear picture of how you are going to benefit them by explaining how your previous employment will merge with this new position and how you will fit into their organization.

That is what I call it “connecting the dots” so they have a clear picture of where you came from and how that fits into their picture and gives them enough information for them to make an informed decision on hiring you. Now you may be asking about my saying “informed decision” but the fact is that most people don’t know how to give information in an interview…they don’t give information that will get them hired…they give information about what they have done and not what they can do for the new employer. Certainly it is important for you to talk about what you have done and absolutely you are proud of your accomplishments but that doesn’t mean that those things are what this new employer is searching for so that is the part about connecting the dots.

I will be deviating some from the non-verbal communication and I am not completely finished with it yet but when new clients ask new questions or have concerns I like to cover it here also because if one client is asking then there is a good chance that several others have the same question.

If you are reading this blog and you have a question just go to www.careercreate.com and send me a request to post something on your question. It may not be a complete answer because as I said it is nearly impossible to help formulate answers to individual situations without question and answer coaching sessions but I can give you general information that might help you out.

See you next time…

Communication ~ Interviewing ~ What are they looking for???

I had a client this week that brought up the question of  “underlying motives” when interviewers are asking questions. My answer is “YES” there is usually something underlying in the question. Most of the time I tell people that the underlying question is “Why should I hire you” and that you should tack that on in your head to each question asked…so the question is…Could you please tell me something about yourself (and why should I hire you)? What are your strengths (and why should I hire you)? Why do want to work for our company (and why should I hire you)?

But there are also other motives so if the question is “What traits or qualities do you admire in others?” the person posing the question is generally going to think that if you admire those traits in others you try to emulate those traits and/or that you possess those traits. Usually the things we like in other people are the things we like in ourselves.  It is about selling yourself so you want them to know those great qualities but what if we flip the question?

Now the question is “What traits or qualities bother you in other people?”

Often the things that bother us about other people are the things we don’t like in ourselves so how do we give an answer and not give the interviewer/employer pause? Of course it is not always the case that the things we dislike in others are traits we dislike in ourselves but it is an assumption that many people make so we must be prepared in the interview.

The best way to get through this question is to be honest about our traits and why it bothers us when someone has a trait that we have a problem with…BUT…you must put a preface on the answer…

I am a very organized person so I guess it bothers me when someone seems less organized, but in reality there are many different ways that people stay organized and mine isn’t the only way so I try to remember that.

OR

People tell me that I am honest to a fault, something I am working on so I make sure I am also tactful, but it bothers me when someone is dishonest because it isn’t necessary or right so I try to let people know that I prefer the truth even if it isn’t what I want to hear because it is important to me for the people around me to be truthful.

OR

There was a time in my life that I had trouble being on time for events and it made life harder for others so I worked very diligently and very hard to change and now it bothers me when others are late but I try to use my own experience to help them see they can change by making a few simple adjustments in their routine.

It is sort of like the “What are some or even one of your weaknesses?” It is about change and making ourselves better. It takes some thinking about what areas of life you are improving but that is what you should be talking about. It is important that you remember that just because someone throws out the word weakness…it does not make you weak…we all have things we want to improve about ourselves and so refocus on the question as areas of improvement and you won’t feel quite so panicked. Think of an area that needs improvement that you are truly working to improve and tell them what you want to improve and how you are improving.

The weakness question is not a time to throw out deep dark secrets about how you have trouble getting up in the morning or only taking an hour for lunch or even how many drinks you have in day…it is a time to look at yourself and pick an area that you really are improving.

Until next time…live life in the best way possible…

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Non-verbal communication is still communication
You have made it to the interview and now you need to make a great impression. What are your nervous habits? Do you really sit as straight as you think you do? Are you making eye contact? Watching the clock? Read more to ensure you are communicating what you want... Career Blog

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“Loretta is a highly experienced and productive professional in the field of Workforce Development, Job Readiness, Career Counseling, Workshop Facilitation, and Job Search Preparation. I have worked with her closely for over six years, and she has consistently been a valuable, key resource in the employment community. For three of those years, she was at Napa Valley College as a resource specialist in their career center... 
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