June 29, 2009

Why did you leave your last employer?

Posted in Interview Tips, positive outlook, Treasure Coast tagged , , , at 12:17 pm by jannyf

This question is a guarantee on any job interview.  As an employer, we want to hear what you have to say about your sudden availability.  As an interviewee, you need to know how to answer this question.

How you answer this question sets the tone for the rest of the interview.  For example, if you were bored or burned out from your last job, the employer will have some concerns as to whether you will become bored at this job, and rightly so.  Employers want to hire someone who is motivated!  If you left under circumstances that were not so favorable, you need to know how to explain this situation so you can land the next job.

Here are 3 possible answers to that question.  Read through them and see which answer you think is the best:

  1. My position was eliminated when the department was restructured.  I really liked my job and my fellow co-workers.  It wasn’t a surprise when the work began to dwindle.  I was offered a severance package, and I accepted it, as did everyone else in my department.  I hope to find a position similar to that one.
  2. I am looking for a new challenge. I have been with my current company for two years now and don’t find the work as interesting as I once did. I am looking for a company where I can take on new challenges and grow. My current job is dead-ended for me.
  3. Since there are no advancement opportunities within the company, I have decided it would be a good time for me to look outside. I have set some career goals for myself that I could not achieve at that company. What I am looking for is a job with a bigger company where I can contribute, but also move on a career path that has more responsibility.

Which one did you chose?  Answer #1 is the strongest answer of the three.  The interviewee uses a sandwich approach in answering this question:  start with something positive, explain the situation (which was negative) and end it with something positive.  The situation was totally out of his/her control and the interviewee kept a positive attitude about it.

Answer #2 is the weakest answer you can give.  It’s pretty trite and a common answer.  Plus, it almost sets a negative tone from the interviewee’s perspective.

Answer #3 is the strongest or weakest – it’s somewhere in the middle.  As an interviewer, I would have a few follow up questions for this job seeker, like, ‘What are your career goals and how do they fit into this company?’, or ‘how do you think you can contribute to this company?’.  As the interviewee, you better be prepared for these follow up questions.

Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Honesty is always the best policy, as the cliche goes, but be positive and upbeat about your circumstances.  Maybe you were fired, but what did you learn from it?  Again, being prepared for this and other tough questions is what makes you stand out against the other job seekers in the market.

Until next time, keep your chin up, stay active and stay healthy!

June 3, 2009

What are your Q Statements?

Posted in Resume, skills inventory, Treasure Coast tagged , , , at 7:12 am by jannyf

“Q statements?  What’s that?”, you ask. 

Q statements are quantity statements.  They are statements that measure an exact action or accomplishment you have performed.  You tie these statements into the skills lists that you have built from my previous post.

For example, you could say, “I’m a good communicator.”  Or, you could say, “I have lectured to more than 12,000 people worldwide on the topic of personal finance, and I have worked individually with clients from19 to 90 years old.”

Which of those 2 statements provides a mental picture?  Which one will you remember?  Using specific facts and numbers actually demonstrates your skills, and this is the kind of clarification that provides the listener evidence and the scope of it.

Remember – you are not bragging – you are providing facts!

Interviewers/hiring managers are looking for candidates who can help their businesses.  They want facts.  If you do not provide them with data, they will ask you for it.  You will come across as a stronger candidate if you are prepared, and you will make a better impression. 

Let’s look at some other examples:

  • I maintain a caseload of 65 patients.
  • I built a prototype that could tolerate 15 percent more stress than its predecessor.
  • I introduced an on-site safety program that decreased worker’s compensation claims by 18 percent in 1 year.
  • I ran a bicycle repair and sales store with 17 employees and gross annual sales of $193,000.

What did you notice about all of these statements?  First, they contain an action verb – verbs such as ran, introduced, maintained.  Second, they end with a number, whether monetary or a percentage.  The ‘formula’ for a Q statement looks like this:

Verb + (who, what, when, where, how) + Result = Q Statement

Start practicing your Q statements, and I want you to share them by posting them in the comments section of this post.  In today’s competitive market, you need to have the edge over other candidates.  Take the time now to prepare several Q statements for each of your skills.

May 15, 2009

Have you completed your skills inventory?

Posted in Interview Tips, skills inventory, Treasure Coast tagged , , , , , , at 6:40 am by jannyf

Being prepared for an upcoming interview is the secret to success.  You have to get a leg up on the competition and show the employer why they should hire you.  One tip I would like to share is completing a skills inventory on yourself.  Remember, 90% of employers say that the primary reason they do not hire a candidate is because the interviewee could not clearly state his or her skills.  You need to know your skills well enough that you can verbalize them in the interview process.  You do this through a skills inventory.  Let’s look at the components of a skills inventory:

  1. General skills – skills that can be found in every industry.  These include things like managing, filing, communicating verbally or in writing, budgeting, etc.
  2. Job-Specific skills – abilities that you need to succeed in your particular job in your particular industry.  For example, if you are a computer programmer then some of your job-specific skills include computer languages and platforms.
  3. Personal Traits – these are the personal characteristics that you possess.  There are a huge list of traits, but some to help you get started include charismatic, balanced, ambitious, intelligent, detail oriented, ethical.
  4. Competencies – these are clusters of skills and they are very quickly becoming the criteria upon which all employees are judged.  Some of the most valued competencies include:  flexibility, adaptability, problem-solving skills, interpersonal communication and ability and willingness to learn.
  5. Your Gift – this is about who you are instead of what you do.  Here are some questions to help you discover your gift:  What is the most compelling thing about you?  What do people compliment you on?  What is a quality, under any circumstance, that you would never give up?  What quality would you like people to remember you for upon your death?

Grab a few sheets of paper and start listing out your answers to this skills inventory.  You must be able to communicate to the interviewer what your skills are and provide backup as well.  List examples that demonstrate these skills.  Practice out loud with your spouse or friend.  In my next blog post, I will discuss how to develop powerful answers using your skills inventory.

Remember, I offer a FREE 10  minute interview analysis.  Visit my site at www.intcoach.com and click on Job Seekers on the top navigation bar.  There is a short form on that page for you to complete and e-mail me your toughest interview question that you would like help with.

Until next time, keep your chin up, stay active and stay healthy!

May 11, 2009

The April Jobless Claim Numbers Look Good or Do They?

Posted in 20256529, free, hope, interview analysis, jobless claims, positive outlook, Treasure Coast, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:58 pm by jannyf

Hope – we always have it and need to share it.  The jobless claim numbers have been reported for week ending April 11, and there was hopeful news!

The number of new claims dropped by 53,000.  What does this mean for the economy?  Well, we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet.  While these numbers are for initial claims, the number of people still receiving unemployment has risen.  This slight drop in initial claims may mean that the layoffs are slowing, which is also hopeful news. 

Here on the Treasure Coast we continue to struggle with the unemployment numbers.  There are actions you can take as a job seeker right now.  These include:

1.  Consider any part-time work you can find.  Whether it’s delivering pizzas or walking dogs, getting out of your house and engaging in activity is stimulating for your mind and a morale booster.

2.  Consider volunteering.  I know it doesn’t create an income, however, it could land you a job.  This is a great time to explore different non-profits that need your help.  Also, non-profits cover a variety of industries.  By volunteering in an industry that you have no exposure to could help you decide if you have an interest in a certain career field.

3.  Consider returning to school.  Here on the Treasure Coast we have a variety of schools.  From IRSC to MedVance to Massage School, there is some type of training for everyone.

4.  Become a Mom-preneur.  Ok, so you don’t have little ones that you want to stay at home with, however, what about that ‘great idea’ you have that you have always wanted to try?  NOW is the time to get in action.  Call the SBDC at IRSC to make an appointment with a counselor, go to the library and research your idea.  Do you think Henry Ford started with a full blown factory?  NO!  Most entrepreneurs start out of their homes and move from there.  If you have a product to sell, consider the Stuart Green Market or the Flea Market – or try both!  You don’t know until you put yourself out there. 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the jobless claim numbers start to decrease which would indicate recovery.  In the meantime, keep searching!  And if you need some help, consider taking my 10 minute FREE interview analysis to help you on your way!