Tag Archives: job interviews

Job interview techniques

5 Things to Tell Your Friends about Job Hunting…

 

5 critical success 2

5 critical success factors

Let me provide you with a reality check and a quick snap shot on the fundamentals around job search. Yes, everyone in the career and recruitment game has a theory or a view around the key steps to finding a job.  I have read most of them and I find them to be much the same with slight variations. The following are the foundations mentioned in my book that were developed through my own personal experience.  I can break it down into 5 key critical success factors:

  1. Successful job search skills knowledge
  2. Strong financial management initiatives
  3. Flexible and open career re-assessment
  4. Mental toughness and a strong belief system
  5. Managing your current job.

Successful Job Search Skills Knowledge

Key Success Factor Number 1

Your very first objective when you have lost your job is to get another job. Now that may sound a bit straightforward but it isn’t. To get another job today requires special knowledge and skill.

This is because in most situations, redundancy falls during times of economic slowdown, rising unemployment resulting in fewer jobs and greater competition. Labour economists call this an ‘oversupply of labour’ and this will cause an imbalance in the labour market favouring employers. That’s right – employers can pick and chose whomever they like and they know it. I think that competition is a key word here, because just like any other competitive scenario, nobody remembers who came second.

Your job search knowledge must consist of the following areas of competence:

  1. Ability to tap into the hidden job market
  2. Successful behavioural interview skills
  3. Good letter writing ability with a marketable resume
  4. Strong belief in yourself and mental stamina.

Successful job search skills knowledge is critical and my book focuses heavily on this key area. I have covered all of the above areas of competence in separate chapters so that you can easily move from one key activity to another. Your ability to network with others and perform well at interviews will be paramount.

Your ability to write good covering letters and have a well-written up-to-date resume is equally important.

Strong Financial Management Initiatives

Key Success Factor Number 2

Money management is certainly an area of great stress during redundancy or loss of job. This is because your comfort zone has been taken away from you. The weekly or fortnightly pay you have relied upon is no longer there and you are concerned about where your next pay is coming from. I have seen this scenario cause great stress to people with debts, mortgages, and young families particularly where there is only a single income earner.

I have always felt a correlation with money management and the ability to focus on getting a job. If you can take the pressure of monetary matters away from you for a short time then your ability to focus on job hunting improves significantly. The distraction of money worries does not help you focus on interview performance and getting that job. You may become desperate and make the wrong career move in the name of security. You must focus on managing your money immediately after a job loss and here are 10 financial tips to get you started:

  1. Speak to your bank about lowering your mortgage repayments immediately. You will find that over the years you have probably increased your repayments either deliberately or through interest rate reductions. Pay the minimum amount possible for now and forget about paying your house off sooner. That is not a priority now and you must review your financial objectives.
  2. With your redundancy payment pay-off credit card debt either in part or full and decrease the number of bills and interest you must pay monthly.
  3. Eliminate all unnecessary spending. All those nice things to have such as pay television, domestic servants, magazine subscriptions and memberships should be reviewed.
  4. If you have money tied up in investments such as shares or fixed interest term deposits, withdraw this money either in part or full and create a buffer zone for emergencies. Hold this money in an everyday ‘at call’ account for psychological security. This buffer zone will make you feel more secure and comfortable and allow you to focus on job hunting.
  5. Watch your spending and don’t behave as though you are still employed. This is the toughest part because it involves changing your lifestyle and habits. Holidays, clothes and any other regular purchases such as household items and entertainment expenses must be slashed. Believe me, they are not important now and you will survive until things are back on track again.
  6. Be economical with controllable household utilities expenses such as gas, electricity, telephone and your food budget. I managed to save $150 a month on food for my family by just watching for price specials, comparing prices and being more selective.
  7. Create a strict budget that is achievable and try to work within it. It will help you stick to targets and operate within set budget guidelines.
  8. Apply for social security payments. The money will not be enough to live on but it will stretch your savings further buying you more time for job search.
  9. If your finances become too tight prepare to refinance your home as the last resort. Again, this is not a preferred option but the key to job success is time.
  10. Talk about the prospects of borrowing money from family only if necessary. You will need a very supportive family for this and be prepared to pay them back when you get a job.

Flexible and Open Career Re-Assessment

Key Success Factor Number 3

My advice in this instance is get out of your comfort zone whatever you do! Too many people I have helped in their career transition have hindered their job search prospects by sticking to old beliefs and methods of approach. It has to do with familiarity and what people know best, a type of comfort zone holding you prisoner within an electric fence. Once you have lost your job your life will change from despair to opportunity.

I say this because it’s a perfect opportunity to try something new and different. That’s right, you have nothing to lose now and you can experiment and try new ideas and concepts. Stretch yourself and become excited with the thought that everything you have always dreamed of doing outside your steady and regular job has now arrived. It is time to try to test new ideas, experiment with new concepts or see where your hobbies will take you. I commenced writing my book to keep me busy when I lost my job.

Key success factor 3 is about open career re-assessment. To sit down and analyse your career options carefully rather than focusing on getting back to your regular day job or profession that you have been working for so many years.

It is time for a break and a re-assessment of your career wants and needs. In this book I dedicate a chapter to career options. I recommended that you consider a variety of options such as:

  • Starting your own business or franchise
  • Developing a new concept, idea or invention
  • Consider going back to school and undertaking further studies
  • Develop your hobbies into a potential income source
  • Try a new career in a totally different industry and/or profession
  • Take a sabbatical and enjoy the beautiful pleasures of the world.

Whatever you decide to do, flexibility in thought and total career re-assessment will enable you to increase your options in life. When you are in career transition mode I can easily teach you job search skills and how to apply them, however, your view on life and how you exercise your career options is a thought process that only you can act upon. Life is all about increasing your options and then picking the best one for yourself.

Don’t limit yourself when you lose your job, open yourself to all possibilities and explore your opportunities to their fullest. Would you believe I was motivated to write this book when I was between jobs? I had always wanted to write a book about assisting others achieve better employment prospects but I always thought it too hard and time-consuming.

The truth was that I had never written anything substantial before and just the thought of commencing it made me feel uncomfortable. I had some spare time up my sleeve and I decided to give it a try, each day I wrote two or three pages and my intensity and confidence grew each time. I also enjoyed it immensely and thought about writing as a new career. I reassessed my career options and was willing to try and experience other things, so can you!

Mental Toughness and a Strong Belief System

Key Success Factor Number 4

Losing your job is one of the toughest events that can happen to you in life. All of a sudden your standard of living, prosperity and your perception of yourself is challenged. Not easy thoughts to deal with on a daily basis.

If you have a family with young children and a mortgage like the majority of us, then matters can get worse because others dear to you and reliant upon your steady employment are also affected. There is nothing like coming home to your partner and informing them you no longer have a suitable job and watching their jaw drop all the way to the ground in a split second.

I learned very quickly that being sorry for myself was not going to help me and what had happened in my previous job was over and done with. I could not change the past but I could ensure that the present and future be better managed with a new way of thinking. The best way to get another job is to stay focused and challenged, to be mentally tough. If you cannot do this for yourself then do it for your loved ones who rely on you. Many authors describe this situation of downward spiralling anxiety and depression as ‘learned helplessness’. You believe that no matter what you do, nothing can help you out of your current situation, and that you are destined for doom and failure.

This is not true, learned helplessness will not get you another job, but mental toughness and a strong belief in yourself and your abilities will. All situations are temporary and you are just entering a trough in your life cycle. Soon it will get better and you will enter a resurgent growth stage and rise towards a new peak in your life.

However, you must believe in your abilities strongly because your belief system will control your thoughts and actions. A belief is nothing more than a feeling of certainty about what something means to you. In this book we discuss belief systems in more detail and expose how you can better control your beliefs towards positive thinking. These are beliefs that can help provide you with energy and a form of mental toughness to keep you going in a positive direction.

Managing Your Current Job

Key Success Factor Number 5

I have made it very clear in my book that good jobs are hard to find today and that the oversupply of good candidates ensures that employers have the upper hand at recruitment. This is what we are dealing with in the new millennium and sometimes we may lose sight of this and feel that the grass is greener on the other side.

Working as a professional employee relations practitioner for many years, I have seen many people leave good jobs simply because they were not good at managing or keeping their current employment. I don’t mean that you should give up better opportunities, far from it. I am referring to those who have left their employment in difficult circumstances or were not entirely happy with their workplace circumstances at the time. It is easier for us to lose our composure rather than think a situation through rationally during difficult circumstances.

The grass is not always greener on the other side. All businesses have their political issues, difficult people to get along with and peculiarities that don’t always make sense, and perhaps, some companies are more prone to this than other. The key is to better manage your career and your job whereas you can rationally think through those difficult moments and ensure you continue to maintain positive relationships in the workplace. All things pass in life and sometimes it may be nothing more than a difficult phase the company is going through. If you are being counselled for poor performance, have a hard look at yourself and determine whether there is genuinely room for improvement.

You may find that you can turn it around with a dedicated personal approach and commitment. If someone is making your life miserable focus on better managing others in the workplace and see if you can change the situation by adopting new and different strategies to better manage this person. There are many courses, books and mentors in the workplace that can assist you overcome difficult situations through their own experiences.

‘Jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs’ – Job Myth of Fact?

Interview Outfit 1

Interview Outfit 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what are the secrets to job success? Do jobs really go to those that are good at getting jobs?

Lets bust this job myth open and uncover some key ingredients that elite job hunters use in their skill set to propel them to the top of the pile.

How critical it is today for employers to ensure they can achieve a quality match during the recruitment process when screening possible candidates. Your projection and profile may be the only thing left standing when applicants of equal ability are key contenders for a job. Your ability to align with corporate values and mission statements is essential. Companies will want you to be an extension of their corporate profile and you will be measured on your ability to fit the mold.

If you can obtain information on the corporate values of the company you are attending an interview for and can translate that into your profile, then you have a definite edge.

Research the founder of the company and what type of person they are. See if you can obtain articles on the company and write-ups on the CEO. Is the company older, traditional and more conservative or is it a new, vibrant and an entrepreneurial business? Do your homework and get that edge on other candidates.

You will be asked questions at interviews that seek to project your personal, business and professional profiles. Employers are always interested in your profiles as part of trying to establish a key match. For example does your professional profile match the organizational profile and corporate culture? Here are questions you may encounter that focus on your profiles:

  1. How would you describe yourself?
  2. How would people you work with describe you?
  3. How would your superiors describe you?

During the interview process, try wherever practicable to reflect on your personal and professional profiles in your responses to interview questions.

Personal Profile

Professional Profile

 

Reliability

Drive

Honesty

Motivation

Pride

Communication skills

Dedication

Team-player

Analytical skills

Energy

Listening

Confidence

Integrity

Determination

During the interview, it is good practice to add to your personal and professional profile by reflecting on your business profile. Your business profile is an indication of your work ethics. Companies are always interested in the prospective candidate’s work ethics and will consider various behaviours such as getting to work on time and working late if required.

Interviewers will test your ability to get tasks done more efficiently and economically by thinking of improved ways of doing things. Companies also have rules and standards called procedures and they expect employees to follow these rules all the time whilst performing their daily activities. The bottom line is about money and companies are profit-making organisations, so your ability to contribute to business profit growth will be considered positively by employers.

Build your business profile into your answer to interview questions wherever possible. The following is a list of the key business profiles you should consider:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Economy
  3. Procedures
  4. Profit

So there you have it…what elite job hunters practice as their key ingredient for success…they have a self awareness of their projection and profile and how it translates into a compelling business profile. Its about seeking a quality fit with the organisation and its culture. This is how jobs go to those that are good at getting jobs.

Resume Resurrection…bringing it back to life?

If you have come to this page thinking you are about to discover a new age religion that was lost and found within the depths of the deep Amazon jungle…I’m sorry…you may have to move on to another category!

This post is truly about resumes and how you can dust the cobwebs of your existing template and bring it back to life…resurrect them as part of an ongoing career plan. That is, im assuming you can remember where you keep your resume? Is it In a forgotten file path on your PC or dusting away in the confines of a cabinet draw with other unrelated documents?

So why should you bother? Have you not got enough to think about already? Now the author wants you to develop a career plan amongst all other things. Let me bring this terrible tragedy of the resurrected resume to an end and encourage you to at least consider the benefits of keeping your you profile document up to date.

I have been resurrecting my resume for many years in a way that is less time-consuming than you think…I will explain how to go about it…The best time to resurrect your resume is when you are on leave from work and usually during the Christmas break. You are relaxed and not in constant demand from work and other activities. All of a sudden you have some time up your sleeve to ponder about your future. Yes…its New Year and everyone becomes retrospective about what they did and what they want to be doing better. Your brain is fertile ground for reviewing you resume with the future in mind because you are in the zone, and heaven forbid, you may even be creative and adventurous.

Resumes

Resumes (Photo credit: jdlasica)

Find your old resume document, wherever it is, print out a hardcopy, grab your favourite drink and just look at it for a while. It’s probably out of date, and does not have your current achievements listed. Be critical…is it a true reflection of your projection and profile? If you were a recruiter in your field would you give this person a job?

Spend no more that an hour and pencil in your changes. We all have to set objectives at work every year and then measure our performance against them during the performance review process. This is where you will find your new achievements for your resume.. You only need 2-3 significant objectives that can demonstrate how you contributed to solving Company problems each year. So you don’t even have to think about developing new achievements for your resume. They already exist during the course of your work and all you need to do is to paste them into your resume. So the job is done and it only took around an hour of your time.

So you are still sceptical about this and need more convincing. Let me offer some words of wisdom which is about as close as you will get to a new age religion from me today. Expect the unexpected in life, one day during your career, either yourself or your boss will decide that you need to part ways and move on. It may not happen today or next year, or maybe not for the next 5 years, but being prepared with you career plan will grow your confidence during this difficult time. Because you are in a state of preparedness rather than panic-stricken and anxious.

And how can we not be prepared for ambitious recruitment consultants that head hunt candidates for a living. Maybe you will be approached one day, and I can assure you that the first thing they will ask you for is an updated resume because they need to move quickly on your candidature. Again, it’s about your state of preparedness.

7 Highly Effective Habits of Elite Job Hunters…

Career Day

I have often considered the question, What makes an elite job hunter stand out from the rest? During the development of my book, How to Find a Job in 6 weeks, I used my experience as a human resources professional to research and find out what makes elite job hunters click and more successful at finding jobs. The answer was not surprising and 7 key habits were found to commonly  illustrate their effectiveness in finding jobs.

1. Successful Job Search Skills Knowledge

Your very first objective when you have lost your job is to get another job. Now that may sound a bit straightforward but it isn’t. To get another job today requires special knowledge and skill;

  • Ability to tap into the hidden job market
  • Successful behavioural interview skills
  • Good letter writing ability with a marketable resume

2. Strong Financial Management Initiatives

Money management is certainly an area of great stress during redundancy or job loss. This is because your comfort zone has been taken away from you. The weekly or fortnightly pay you have relied upon is no longer there and you are concerned about where your next pay is coming from. I have seen this scenario cause great stress to people with debts, mortgages, and young families particularly where there is only a single income earner. Developing strong financial initiatives will stretch your savings over a longer period and take the pressure off money matters so you can focus on job search.

3. Flexible and Open Career Re-assessment

My advice in this instance is get out of your comfort zone whatever you do! Too many people I have helped in their career transition have hindered their job search prospects by sticking to old beliefs and methods of approach. It has to do with familiarity and what people know best, a type of comfort zone holding you prisoner within an electric fence. Once you have lost your job your life will change from despair to opportunity.

I say this because it’s a perfect opportunity to try something new and different. That’s right, you have nothing to lose now and you can experiment and try new ideas and concepts. Stretch yourself and become excited with the thought that everything you have always dreamed of doing outside your steady and regular job has now arrived. It is time to try to test new ideas, experiment with new concepts or see where your hobbies will take you. I commenced writing my book to keep me busy when I lost my job.

4. Mental Toughness and a Strong Belief System

Losing your job is one of the toughest events that can happen to you in life. All of a sudden your standard of living, prosperity and your perception of yourself is challenged. Not easy thoughts to deal with on a daily basis.

If you have a family with young children and a mortgage like the majority of us, matters can get worse because others dear to you and reliant upon your steady employment are also affected. There is nothing like coming home to your partner and informing them you no longer have a suitable job and watching their jaw drop all the way to the ground in a split second.

I learned very quickly that being sorry for myself was not going to help me and what had happened in my previous job was over and done with. I could not change the past but I could ensure that the present and future be better managed with a new way of thinking. The best way to get another job is to stay focused and challenged, to be mentally tough. If you cannot do this for yourself then do it for your loved ones who rely on you. Many authors describe this situation of downward spiraling anxiety and depression as ‘learned helplessness’. You believe that no matter what you do, nothing can help you out of your current situation, and that you are destined for doom and failure.

5. Managing your Current Job

I have made it very clear in my book that good jobs are hard to find today and that the oversupply of good candidates ensures that employers have the upper hand at recruitment. This is what we are dealing with in the new millennium and sometimes we may lose sight of this and feel that the grass is greener on the other side.

Working as a professional employee relations practitioner for many years, I have seen many people leave good jobs simply because they were not good at managing or keeping their current employment. I don’t mean that you should give up better opportunities, far from it. I am referring to those who have left their employment in difficult circumstances or were not entirely happy with their workplace circumstances at the time. It is easier for us to lose our composure rather than think a situation through rationally during difficult circumstances.

6. Establishing your Professional Network

Networking can be a critical job search skill often ignored by job hunters. The best time to network is when your employed and this can be achieved on a regular basis by attending industry groups and seminars, profiling in linked in and other social media, and maintaining contacts with colleagues and recruiters you have built relationships over many years. These simple methods will keep you in touch with your professional community and by dedicating up to one hour per week to this activity will grow your network over time until its established.

7. Mapping out your Vision and Building a Plan

A good technique in getting to know your career goals better is to map out your vision for the future and to extrapolate where you see yourself in 5 years from now. When we are in career transition mode it is a good time to reflect upon what we really want to achieve in life. Be open with yourself and review the sort of things that motivate you with great passion.

 In just one sentence, write your vision – that is, where you would like to see yourself in 5 – 10 years from now. For example, I would like to be self-employed and running my own business successfully so that I can have more time to myself.

How will you get there

Write down how you are going to achieve your vision, that is, what are your milestones going to be or what do you need to do to get there. For example, do you need more training in a particular area, equity to launch your vision, support from people close to you? Just list them below with your time frame

 

My boss has given me the flick…what next?

Career Day

In this post I highlighted the need to have open and flexible career re-assessment as part of your armory of attack when recovering from a job loss. The following represent the 5 key success factors for managing a job loss:

1. Successful job search skills knowledge
2. Strong financial management initiatives
3. Flexible and open career re-assessment
4. Mental toughness and a strong belief system
5. Managing your current job

Now onto key success factor 3…

Flexible and Open Career Re-assessment

My advice in this instance is get out of your comfort zone whatever you do! Too many people I have helped in their career transition have hindered their job search prospects by sticking to old beliefs and methods of approach. It has to do with familiarity and what people know best, a type of comfort zone holding you prisoner within an electric fence. Once you have lost your job your life will change from despair to opportunity.

I say this because it’s a perfect opportunity to try something new and different. That’s right, you have nothing to lose now and you can experiment and try new ideas and concepts. Stretch yourself and become excited with the thought that everything you have always dreamed of doing outside your steady and regular job has now arrived. It is time to try to test new ideas, experiment with new concepts or see where your hobbies will take you. I commenced writing this book to keep me busy when I lost my job.

Key success factor 3 is about open career re-assessment. To sit down and analyse your career options carefully rather than focusing on getting back to your regular day job or profession that you have been working for so many years. It is time for a break and a re-assessment of your career wants and needs. In this book I dedicate a chapter to career options. I recommended that you consider a variety of options such as:

  •  Starting your own business or franchise

  •  Developing a new concept, idea or invention

  •  Consider going back to school and undertaking further studies

  •  Develop your hobbies into a potential income source

  •  Try a new career in a totally different industry and/or profession

  •  Take a sabbatical and enjoy the beautiful pleasures of the world.

Whatever you decide to do, flexibility in thought and total career re-assessment will enable you to increase your options in life. When you are in career transition mode I can easily teach you job search skills and how to apply them, however, your view on life and how you exercise your career options is a thought process that only you can act upon. Life is all about increasing your options and then picking the best one for yourself. Don’t limit yourself when you lose your job, open yourself to all possibilities and explore your opportunities to their fullest.

Would you believe I was motivated to write this book when I was between jobs? I had always wanted to write a book about assisting others achieve better employment prospects but I always thought it too hard and time-consuming. The truth was that I had never written anything this substantial before and just the thought of commencing it made me feel uncomfortable. I had some spare time up my sleeve and I decided to give it a try, each day I wrote two or three pages and my intensity and confidence grew each time. I also enjoyed it immensely and thought about writing as a new career. I reassessed my career options and was willing to try to experience other things, so can you!

Can you find a job in 6 weeks?

Don’t give up your day job…

I am often asked the question…why did you refer to 6 weeks as a recommended job search system in your book? Is it a marketing gimmick or just another fancy approach when looking for a job?

The answer is clearly based on my experiences as a human resources professional and also someone who experienced job loss during my career. I developed the 6 week job search system in 2004 when I was made redundant from my job, and during my job search, I wrote down all the techniques that I believe worked for me and others around me in the same position.

Below is a video PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the 6 week job search system and I am sure you will find it practical and easy to grasp. I hope you get some ideas from the presentation below to enhance your job search.

How to negotiate your salary upwards at least 10% during the job offer

If you are on the verge of securing another position in a different organisation then you are probably in a position to negotiate your package up by at least 10%. This is on the basis your new role is on a comparable basis or perhaps senior to the one you perform now. I say this because you must take advantage of two things:

  1.  Market value for your profession
  2.  Initial type of interest in you.

One key point to remember is that once you accept a new role and enter an organisation, your ability to secure higher wages is diminished. You will fall back on the organisation’s performance appraisal and salary review process. My advice is that the best time to secure a more substantial increase is at the negotiating table before you accept a new job.

You are in the best negotiating position at this time and it is unlikely a similar negotiating position will arise once you are employed.

Let’s look at market value initially. Every job has a band in terms of market rate and you could cut that band into four parts. Your knowledge, experience, industry, location and market labour economics. That is, supply and demand will determine your positioning on the higher and lower end of the band.

This is a bit of a handful, but you should be aware that jobs in the city would pay better than country regional positions for similar jobs. Also, that your position on the band may vary between industries as some industries pay better than others because of the market segment they are in an. So there are many factors you must weigh up to determine your position on the band.

English: Average salaries of faculty of Califo...

A quick and easy way to determine your market value is to get a hold of expensive salary surveys and reports. Employer associations, larger employment agencies and private organisations such as Hay Group prepare such salary surveys. The problem with this is that the majority of this information is not free, particularly, if you want it to be up-to-date and specific to your position.

These reports are updated regularly and show movements in market rates by classification based on a number of factors. This is the information the professionals have when determining your rate during the interview process. Another cheaper way for you to determine market rates is to look for job advertisements in your profession and establish your own market salary band. I find that sometimes this is even more accurate than the salary surveys and a true reflection of the market place. When investigating your market rate, talk to employment consultants who are privy to this information.

Develop an information base dependent upon location, experience, industry, benefits and salary to form your own market rate. In other words, educate yourself as you would when buying a car or a home to establish market rates. This is important when negotiating salaries because you do not want to sell yourself short.

A good resource to get up-to-date salary survey information is contained at the Hays Consulting Website, http://www.hays.com.au/salary/index.asp

Here you can search for industry average salary information for your profession. The service is called Salary Check and it contains a Salary and Recruitment Survey.

Another excellent website with Australian wages and salary information worth visiting is

http://www.wages.com.au/

The following table is a good example of a salary band for an Accounts Payable Clerk. Notice the band split into four quartiles with accompanying rates of pay for those quartiles. Try to establish which quartile you are located in and then try to move to the next quartile during salary negotiations. It is not unusual for a successful candidate to move up two quartile dependent on industry and other factors.

Your ultimate goal is to reach quartile 4 and then look at promotion to a more senior position such as Accounts Payable Manager.

Salary Band (Australian Dollars)

Quartile 1 Quartile 2 Quartile 3 Quartile 4
On Commencement  (1-12 months) Some experience
(1-3 years)
Experienced
(3-5 Years)
Achievable
Salary Target
$22,000-$24,000 $24,000-$25,500 $25,500-$27,000 $27,000-$29,000