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!

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May 13, 2009

My Trip Back to Martin County High School

Posted in Community Outreach, free tagged , , at 2:19 pm by jannyf

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to 3 classes at Martin County High School (MCHS).  This is where I attended school and graduated in 1990.  Sure, there are some cosmetic changes to the exterior of the school, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For instance, they still have security guards on campus.  These are older, retired men who have to put up with teenagers.  The faces are different but they still do the same thing:  chase after you when you don’t stop at the guard station, hang out in the front office looking for coffee, and trying to build relationships with the kids.

Yes, I remember where the science wing is.  It hasn’t moved or changed, except for technology and keeping more doors locked.  And the teachers still have to deal with teenagers.  Technology may have changed, but a teenager’s attitude has not.

For instance, there are always kids who have to go to the bathroom.  I remember pulling that stunt to get out of a class for a while too.  And then there are the kids who decide to not pay attention to a guest speaker.  Although I wasn’t one of them in high school, there was always a few in my class who would sleep or work on their homework instead of paying attention.  As a guest speaker, I saw my share of eyelids and homework being worked on.

Gone are the days of blackboards and chalk dust, and now they have Powerpoint for notes.  With this generation of kids, you have to be on the forefront of technology.  They enjoyed the You Tube video I brought, but I don’t think they liked listening to me talk for the rest of the time.  When I was in high school, our guest speakers would bring props or other things to try and entertain us.  I guess as teens we constantly need entertainment.

This generation wants everything now – they are used to instant information, access and gratification.  I think if they could fast forward their lives, they would.  I have a wish list for them:

  • Life moves quickly once high school is behind you, enjoy the days you have now.
  • The ‘real world’ is not the one you see on TV – there are bills to pay, jobs to take seriously and work to be done.  Savor the freedom you have right now – once you graduate, life can consume you.
  • Take a look around at the friends you have in high school.  Enjoy your time with them, laugh alot, and take lots of pictures and document it!  As you grow older, you won’t remember all the fun you had, but the memories you print out and write about now will take you back to another place and time and restore the smile to your face.
  • You have a high school sweetheart, and the chances that you marry this person are very slim.  However, they will teach you many of life’s lessons:  respect, love, trust.  Take those lessons with you and remember the good times you had as a couple and not the nasty breakup that occurs down the road.  Don’t ever be bitter.

High school really hasn’t changed all that much.  There are new challenges for teachers in dealing with today’s youth.  But are those challenges really all that different?  Didn’t we wear clothes that were considered ‘risque’ at the time?  Wasn’t there a female teen or two that ended up pregnant?  Didn’t we have a class clown, a class jock, a burnout and the kid who was always in trouble?

The more things change, the more they stay the same……..

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!

April 27, 2009

Scared? Nervous? All interviewees are!

Posted in Interview Tips tagged , , , , , at 9:58 am by jannyf

Everyone has been in the ‘hot seat’ – from entry level to executives – we’ve all had to interview, and we are all nervous and/or scared.  It’s a natural reaction, so you need to recognize that fact.  So, what can you do about your nerves?  Try some of these tips:

  • Recognize that it’s OK to be nervous.  As an interviewer, I expect candidates to be nervous, and part of my job is to put the interviewee at ease.  However, if you recognize and accept that fact that you are nervous, you become more in control of your feelings, and you will feel more confident.
  • What’s the worst thing that can happen?   The worst thing that can happen is you don’t get the job.  It can be devastating – if you let it be.  No one wants to be rejected – it can hurt.  It’s a natural human instinct to want acceptance from others.  From my perspective as an interviewer, I absolutely did not like calling applicants to tell them they did not receive the job.  It’s a hard thing to say to someone.  BUT – what can you do about it?  Look at it as a learning opportunity.  It’s OK to ask the interviewer for feedback.  Take this feedback and apply it to your next interview.
  • Face the fear.  Take a little time to figure out what it is that is making you scared or nervous.   Write it out and then find a solution to the fear.  Remember, an interview is about you.  Interviewers want to hear about your skills, abilities and knowledge. 

I hope some of these tips will make you start to feel more in control of your emotions and help you move toward confidence in the job interview!