To paraphrase Mr. Gump, an interview is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. Sure, you might have certain expectations for the interview to go a certain way, or perhaps you expect to be asked certain questions, but sometimes (read:often) life likes to throw you a curveball and mix things up a bit and you get a question out of left field. Then you’re stuck staring blankly while your brain is switching directions suddenly and the interviewer is left wondering if you speak English or if you’re just dumb. It’s embarrassing, but we’ve all been there.Read More
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and, among the 754 (I’m exaggerating a bit) “things” you must get done ASAP in your Plant or Department, you lean back in your chair and say to yourself, “Why can’t I fill the this job opening?” Well, Mr./Ms. Busy-Busy-Lot’s-To-Do, this article is a must read. It should help put things in perspective.
- Having unrealistic expectations. When they are looking to fill a position, everyone shoots for the sun, moon and stars in terms of talent. As I tell employers that we deal with, it doesn’t take a wizard to realize that there is a shortage of talent out there and that holds true in all the fields. And here’s a news flash: It’s only going to get worse. When you are identifying skills sets necessary to successfully do the job, you need to prioritize which skills are critical and where there can be flexibility. If you stand pat and require every little skill set, you may never fill the need.
- Lack of commitment. What that means is that everyone in the hiring process has to be “on board” when it comes to interviewing and qualifying potential candidates. Hiring is very time consuming, and when you are trying to do the 754 “things” I mentioned in the beginning, it’s easy for interviewing, and hiring, to fall lower on the list of priorities. It’s not intentional but it easily happens.
- Bureaucracy. Many employers have trouble filling their need or needs because they are stuck in bureaucratic “limbo”. That could be from HR crossing “T’s” and dotting “I’s” and going through all sort of gyrations, or simply waiting for some “mysterious” higher up to give the OK to interview a candidate. Well, as I mentioned in point #1, with a shortage of talent in the market, companies need to be more nimble in interviewing and hiring candidates. When it comes to hiring in this day and age, you must be a Navy destroyer (quicker to turn, quicker to react), and not some big, old, WWII battleship (slower to turn and slower to react).
- Lack of urgency. Read point #3 again. Need I say anything more?
- You think you know it all. When I have a plumbing problem in my house, my wife will say, “Call a plumber!” and my response is always, “Nah, waste of money, I’ll fix it myself.” But after seven hours, 16 trips to Lowes or Home Depot later and countless expletives, I succumb and call the Plumber. The same is true in hiring. I can’t fault anyone in trying to fill a need on their own, but there comes a time where you need to go to a “Pro”- someone who can help identify and qualify talent for your search. Remember, the key is to find a Recruiter who can not only identify, but qualify talent for you. The qualifying is where a good Headhunter can be of immense value.
The next time you find yourself struggling to fill a need, look at the 5 points above, identify which of those you are guilty of and then DO something to correct it. You’ll be surprised how quickly a few changes here and there can help. Happy Hunting!!!
You sit down with a prospective employer, you have your shiny resume in front of them, and you expect to start discussing your wonderful credentials. Then, just as you settle in you get, “Well ______________, tell me a little bit about yourself.” With that question you totally freeze, not knowing what to say. Is he interested in your My Little Pony collection? Does he want to know about your crippling addiction to online surveys? That you have an imaginary three legged hamster for a best friend? Probably not. The question is a little trickier than you might think at first.
There is a lot of advice out there on how to handle this question. Some advice has been, “What would you like to know?” Another is, “Well, I was born in a little log cabin in Blah, in the great state of Blahblah.” With some employers we’ve dealt with over the years, either answer could send the wrong signal, and as a result, you have to be careful. Many employers aren’t going to narrow it down for you, and if they do, it’s likely going to end up a boring question about your hobbies. So make sure you take this opportunity when it presents itself.
What we have found over the years is that the best way to answer that question is to say, “Well Mr. Employer, I find myself to be a—,” and at this point, start your sales pitch. What you want to do is focus on the strengths you have that would apply to the job you are interviewing for. Talk about your managerial ability, leadership skills, attention to detail, reliability, etc. Whatever would best tie into what the employer wants. Sometimes it is pure guesswork, but it is a much better way to address that age old question. Every question in an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself. Don’t let even one get away from you.
For you to do this effectively, you must prepare for it, and rehearse it. You may never get asked the question, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, then memorize it. Your mind can go blank when you’re on the spot, and you may struggle to just remember what your strengths are. But if you memorize a list of them, you’ll have an easier time recalling them when under pressure. Before any interview, go over your list, and try to find ways to apply them all to the job you’re interviewing for.
As mentioned above, there is a lot of advice out there, and everyone has an opinion. But, we know for a fact that the approach suggested above does, and has worked. Everytime you speak on an interview, you should be demonstrating some way you’re the perfect candidate. Being ready to tell an employer about yourself in a positive and beneficial manner will only help you nail the interview.
The amount of information that is available on the Internet can be overwhelming (and even scary, if you’ve ever had a blind date with someone who seemed to know way too much about you). However, as a job-seeker, social media can be your best friend. You just have to use it correctly! For example, here are five ways to use social media to prepare for an interview:
What is the company’s point of view? Go to the company’s website and read their About Us section, as well as any other content that explains the history and objective of the company. Jot down a few questions about this content to ask at the conclusion of the interview.
What does the business do? This might sound like an easy question, but, in the tech world, it is sometimes difficult to know what it is you’re selling. Browse the product selection and price points. Test check out. If you have time, look up some of their competitors, so you have a better idea of the landscape of the industry.
What type of press has this company received? Has this company recently gotten a round of funding? Involved in a lawsuit? Been ranked in the Top Ten in a magazine? This information will help you to make your decision in regards to whether or not you want the job and also give you an idea of what topics to bring up and what topics to avoid.
How do current employees and former employees rate the company? Web sites like Glassdoor.com display reviews of companies just like Yelp does for restaurants. This is a great way to get a sense of what it’s “really” like to work somewhere. Just remember to check the date of each review; companies can change as quickly as within a year!
What do you find when you Google yourself? You should know by now that it’s not a good idea to have college photos of you chugging beers on the Internet for anyone to see. However, just because you have made sure nothing scandalous has ever been posted to Facebook, you want to Google yourself to make sure that you know what will surface. Employers use social media just as much as you do and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Being tech-savvy includes knowing how Google portrays you to the outside world.
For me, one of the most fun parts of preparing for a new job is shopping for some new clothing and shoes that are appropriate for the current season and the particular office atmosphere and style where I’ll be spending most of my time. However, I know that many people would disagree with me, and consider shopping one of the absolute worst ways to spend time. I’ve given you some hints on what to wear (and what NOT to wear) to interviews, but figuring out to wear five days a week, every week, can be even more overwhelming than finding a ride-or-die interview outfit. If you live in a climate where the temperature climbs over 70 degrees in the summer, it can seem impossible to pry yourself out of your cool, air-conditioned home to hit the hot and humid streets wearing anything other than a bikini and 80s-style sweatband. Here are some tips (with Polyvore boards!) for rocking some cool clothing this summer without being inappropriate, under-dressed or uncomfortable. Keep in mind that GOOD FIT is the most important element of style and comfort. Buy what fits you and ignore the size. You’ll feel and look so much better!
Remember: Check with your HR department to make sure you know what is considered acceptable work attire in your workplace. Some offices, especially on the East Coast, don’t tolerate open-toed shoes, bare shoulders, visible tattoos, etc. Generally speaking, the West Coast is more casual year-round (just go to one of the best, Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco for proof; some folks will be wearing cargo shorts and sandals)!
Also – these collages are meant to be used as inspiration. I can’t afford a $1000 handbag, either.
My friends know me as having a flair from the dramatic when it comes to style, but what many people don’t know is that I rarely leave the house in anything that isn’t as comfortable as my pajamas. I’m not talking about the ubiquitous, loose-fitting, jersey frock/bathing suit cover-up that everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to your Aunt Helen was spotted wearing in 2013 (although these dresses can still be worn well when accessorized properly). There IS a place for jersey, especially in the summer, but the trick is to dress up that lightweight fabric! For example, these jersey trousers feature the hardware of traditional trousers without sacrificing the flexible, cool fit of jersey.
Just make sure they are the right size or, even better, one size bigger than what you might usually wear. This will prevent your pants from revealing the lumps and bumps that every body has, and won’t make you paranoid about sitting or standing in certain positions. Notice that I included low-waisted, boy short underwear here. You don’t have to wear a thong to avoid panty-lines, boy shorts will do the same job. But please make sure your underwear doesn’t extend above your pants. It’s not a bad idea to try on your outfit the night before and do some lunges, just to make sure. You’ll see that I included a long-sleeved blouse and a blue blouse – my suggestion is to wear the long-sleeved blouse beneath the light blue blouse. This will not only cover your shoulders, but will also give you a chic, fitted look that won’t require your pulling and adjusting all day, like a cardigan might!
Many offices tolerate a more relaxed dress code on Fridays, but that doesn’t mean you should roll in wearing your shredded jorts and #IDGAF tank top (especially if you are planning on hitting up a happy hour or have a hot date after work). Take advantage of the chill atmosphere to let your summer style shine, and choose a bold color or lacy look you might not wear during the weekday. Accessorise a sundress with a blazer or sweater and simple necklace paired with some edgy flats or, if you’d prefer a more traditional look, classic heels.
Why did I include bike shorts in this collage? Despite the summer heat, random gusts of wind during the day can give the world a peek at your underoos, so sporting a pair of bike shorts beneath your short dress can make you feel less exposed. An added bonus is that these shorts tend to flatten your tummy and hips so that you have a smooth foundation beneath your clothing (paying closer attention to your undergarments in this way can really boost your confidence level – try it)!
Hey guys – I didn’t forget about you! Despite the fact that it’s 2015, many men are still intimidated by their fashion options and opt for very simple office clothing that they immediately change out of after work (usually into the same cargo shorts and band tshirt they’ve been wearing since senior year). The good news is that there are more options for men’s officewear than ever before; you’re no longer limited to the three-piece suit or alligator shirt.
This collage features a pretty basic, Casual Friday outfit that would be suitable for wearing to dinner or drinks in the evening. The undershirt is to help you avoid visible sweat-through during hot summer days and, much like the bike shorts I included in the previous collage for the ladies, this shirt can help “smooth out” any bumps or lines you might not want peeking through the smooth plain of your lightweight shirt. Some offices require all employees to wear socks so, even though you might not typically wear them with these boat shoes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Finally, the patriotically colored belt might be a little controversial, but it’s almost the 4th of July, and isn’t it time you had a little fun with your accessories?
When you’ve been looking for a job for a long time, listening to people talk about a lack of jobs for college graduates and concentrating on how to make this best possible impression on your potential employers, it’s easy to forget that job applications and interviews are two-sided. While it’s important not to be too picky, especially with your first or second job, it is important not to take anything offered to you simply because it comes with a steady paycheck. Taking a job that isn’t right for you could prevent you from finding the right opportunity. It’s always good to get work experience, but if you’re having trouble deciding between two job offers, or you have an offer that just isn’t sitting well with you, consider the following points:
1) Can you realistically live independently with the salary or wage that has been offered to you? What benefits, like health insurance, are included?
Before taking an offer, sit down and do the math. Is your new company going to cover your health care costs? How much is your car payment, plus insurance? What is your rent payment (or, if you are living at home, what might your rent payment be in the future?) Do you have student loans or other debts to pay off? What is the cost of living of the city where your job is located? If you realize that your new salary and benefits isn’t enough to fully support you, that doesn’t mean you should automatically turn it down. If you think it’s a good opportunity, consider your other options. Is it possible to ask your employers for a flexible, part-time schedule so that you might work another job? Have you looked into deferring your loans? Could you get a roommate, or find an apartment in a less expensive part of town? Instead of buying a new car, consider taking public transportation (I did this for all five years that I lived in San Francisco and it made a HUGE difference).
2) Are you only taking this job because it pays more than your other offers?
It can be extremely tempting to take your old job at Wendy’s back since they are offering to pay you $15 an hour, and the copywriting gig you were just offered only pays $12/h. Unless you are truly interested in working your way up in the food service industry (which can be a lucrative career), don’t bail on the career you really want just because it’s not perfect yet. Consider other options to help supplement your new, lower-paying gig. Remember that the experience you earn in the office will most likely make you more qualified for even more supplemental work, such as freelancing on the side , to help make ends meet.
3) Is there an aspect of this job, company or culture that you find offensive or unhealthy?
Even your dream job is going to have some elements to it that you won’t like, be it some of the people you work with, an uncomfortable desk chair, strict hours, etc. However, if there is an aspect of the company or culture that truly clashes with your beliefs or lifestyle, take serious thought as to whether or not it’s a healthy choice for you. After the initial rush of being employed subsides, you are likely to feel even more and more uncomfortable, to the point of really hating your workplace This could even be taken to an unhealthy degree. For example, if you recently quit drinking alcohol, you might not want to jeopardize your sobriety at a new whiskey manufacturing start-up where one of the employee benefits is free liquor on Fridays. Your health and mental well-being is more important than any job, and if you’re open and honest with your employer about this, they should understand (and if they don’t, then they are jerks who you don’t want to work for anyway)!
Are you feeling stuck at your job? Like your career is just a hamster wheel, you keep working and go nowhere? You want out, but there’s nothing even close to the horizon, much less within in your grasp. There’s nothing left to do. You’ve resigned yourself to a life of hamstery solitude. But then the recruiter calls! He asks if you’re interested in a position where you’ll be loved. Respected! Venerated even!! (Ok, venerated might be a stretch. But definitely loved and respected.)
But then the bomb drops: You’ll have to relocate to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh?? Who the hell wants to live in Pittsburgh? Didn’t that city die with the steel industry? It can’t compare to your beloved [INSERT CITY HERE].
As someone who has recently relocated to Pittsburgh, I can certainly understand the sentiment. I was from a sunny coastal village in the South, and in my mind, Pittsburgh was as grey as the steel it used to make: grey skies, grey buildings and grey food. It was in the North, a place no less barren and cold, and worst of all, snowy than George R.R. Martin described. And why would I give up the beautiful waters of my island home for three rivers you can’t drown in, only suffocate? Madness, surely.
The fact is, Pittsburgh is none of the things I thought it was. And probably none of the things you think it is either. Well, except snowy. They definitely get some snow, but their road response crews are extremely on point. I rarely have had to drive in snow. No, Pittsburgh isn’t a dead grey city; it’s a city transforming. It’s a wonderful place to live, and in my travels, I’ve never found another place quite like it. So let’s talk about some of the things that make Pittsburgh great.
1) Cultural Activities
Let’s get this one out of the way quick. I have seen some world class museums.I have been to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural history in D.C. and the British Natural History Museum in London. Everytime I go to a new city, the first place I head to is the museum. And I will say this definitively and without pause: The Carnegie museum of Natural History has a better dinosaur exhibit than any of them. It’s awesome and is the major reason that a membership to the museum is completely worth it. The fact that the rest of the museum is awesome is just gravy on the roast. Oh, and there are at least another dozen museums about, a zoo, an arboretum and an aviary. Pittsburgh doesn’t lack for culture.
2) The Food
Pittsburgh has all the ethnic restaurants, including ones most cities don’t even bother with. German, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Korean, Thai and more; if you like ethnic food, Pittsburgh has you covered. I have had food here I never knew existed. And it’s not just ethnic food. They have things like city pigeon (which I’m assured isn’t pigeon), amazing gyros and hamburgers with French fries on the hamburger. Come to think of it, most places have at least one salad with french fries on it too. There are multiple different delicious reasons to move to Pittsburgh.
3) The People
I’m from the South. People in the South are nice. People in the North are words I would have to censor. I knew this the way you know grass is green and the sky is blue. Then I came to Pittsburgh. Where I was expecting blank stares and icy demeanors, I instead received warm smiles and even warmer welcomes. People here are nice. Like really nice. Sure, there’s the occasional [CENSORED], but you’ll have that anywhere. I’ve found that random people will gladly strike up a conversation with you while you’re waiting in line or riding the bus or just standing on the corner. It really surprised me, but it was a pleasant surprise.
4) It’s a Small Big City
New York City literally has something like 25 million people, and I am using literally properly here. Pittsburgh is nowhere near that big. It’s maybe a million? I have no idea. But not that many millions. And while it is smaller than a mega city, or even a medium city, it still has many of the big city conveniences. It has great restaurants, bakeries and markets. Shopping here is pretty good. The nightlife is hopping, and it’s big enough to get some great concerts and shows through.
5) It’s Booming.
The steel in Pittsburgh might be dead, but technology is booming. Thanks to some major research centers in the fields of computing, robotics and medicine, Pittsburgh is home to some equally major companies. Google has an office here. So does Apple. GNC and Dick’s Sporting Goods are both based in Pittsburgh. And there are plenty of manufacturers located in the greater Pittsburgh area (Thank God; it’s kind of our bread and butter around here).
6) Variety in Location
Whether you want urban, suburban or rural living, you can get it and still work in Pittsburgh. There are plenty of each within no more than 45 minutes of the city. From the downtown access of Heinz Lofts, to the beware-of-cows ruralness of Butler county or the suburban sprawl of Moon, you’ll find somewhere you’re comfortable.
If you have kids, the city of Pittsburgh is really big on education. They have some of the top ranking schools in the state here, from grade school on up. If your kids do well enough in school, they can get a ride through college on the city’s dime. And the colleges around here are no joke either. Carnegie-Mellon has one of the best robotics departments in the nation, and the University of Pittsburgh is reknown for their medical school, plus running all of the hospitals around the city. Speaking of which..
You’ll also get some of the best medical care in the country in a Pittsburgh hospital. As of 2013, UPMC is ranked 10th nationally among the best hospitals (and second in Pennsylvania) by US News & World Report and ranked in 15 of 16 specialty areas, including eight specialties for which UPMC placed in the top 10. This does not include Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC which ranked in the top 10 of pediatric centers in a separate US News ranking. They’re not only cutting edge, they’re at the forefront in developing new technologies to save your life.
You can’t talk about how great Pittsburgh is without mentioning the sports scene. The Steelers are a fantastic franchise even in their off years, and the Penguins are pretty good too. I can’t speak to baseball, but apparently the Pirates aren’t terrible either. But that’s not to say you have to be a Pittsburgh fan either. At least with three major sports teams, you’ll at least be able to go to games, and occasionally your team may come to town too. Better than you’d get in Any City, Wyoming.
Pittsburgh is a city, and like every city, there are drawbacks too. Public transportation is only good when you don’t have to be anywhere. The Department of Transportation could be faster, unless they are also the ones who plow and salt the roads, in which case, God bless them. But seriously, the shortest distance between two points in the city is always under construction, making traffic really suck sometimes. And surprisingly, just because you can see a place doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get to.
But these are all minor quibbles in the face of the positives I mentioned above. I’m not sorry in the least I relocated to Pittsburgh. I’ve met some great people, eaten some great food, and when the inevitable heart attack happens because of said food, I know I’ll be in great hands.
At the time of this writing it is hard to believe that there are about 50 “work” days left this year. The 4th Quarter always flies by very fast. A common myth in employment is that NO ONE HIRES during the holidays. Nothing could be further from the truth and this myth can be quickly, if not easily, dispelled with a quick trip to the Bureau of Labor Statistics site of the U.S. Department of Labor. Good luck finding it from their main page, but a Google search provides all the information you need.
According to the BLS, from 9/13 to 12/13, gross job gains from opening and expanding private sector establishments were 7.3 million, an increase of 290,000 jobs from the previous quarter. The difference between the number of gross job gains and the number of gross job losses yielded a net employment gain of 745,000 jobs in the private sector during the fourth quarter of 2013. In fact, gross job gains in Q4 2013 were higher than all three prior quarters!
So clearly, the idea that companies don’t hire in the fourth is a fallacy. The jobs are definitely there. Over the years our firm has had historically good 4th quarters, but you have to be willing to hustle.
4 Things to Keep in Mind:
1. Applicants generally find it easier to make interview around the holidays. There is more flexibility to get away if you need to meet with an employer.
2. Candidates like to make a job change as you approach the new year. It is in some ways very symbolic of getting a fresh start. New job, new year, etc.
3. Companies have staffing budgets that they need to use, or if they don’t use it they may lose it for the next year.
4. Employers also find it easier to arrange interviews for the themselves. Some find their schedules lightening up, so that they can meet candidates.
I can remember in 1970 (wow, that was a long time ago) going with a couple of my buddies to the movies to see Patton, which had just come out. I sat there thinking to myself this is a pretty neat movie, and I really liked General Patton, strutting around, giving orders, and directing people in battle. Being as my dad served under his command made it really come home, and the fact that Patton would reflect on history made him even more appealing to me since I really like history. As I have gotten older and looked at his quotes, I realized that they can help motivate and direct you in business, career, and even in a job search. Below are a series of my favorites that have always helped me and may help you.
I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.
This is about overcoming adversity. Anyone can do well when everything is going their way. But how well do you do when life decides to throw a monkey wrench into the cogs of your plans? Many people give up when things stop going right for them, and you can judge a man’s tenacity by how willing he is to do what it takes to overcome and surpass.
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
Here’s a real life example. If anyone working with George Lucas had been willing to question his ideas for the Star Wars universe, we might not have ended up with the borderline racist Jar Jar Binks to say the least. Big ideas need to be questioned in order to find their flaws. We’re biased to think that our plans are great. We need other people to question them so we can refine them and iron out the details. This is why writers have editors, and why if no one is questioning you, find someone who will.
People are vain. Everyone thinks their own ideas are perfect and anyone else comes in second.
This ties in nicely to the last one. Now that you know you’re biased, make sure you don’t keep falling into that trap. Your ideas might be great, but they’re not always perfect, as much as you want them to be. Get someone else’s opinion on every major decision. You don’t have to use it, but at least it’ll refine the idea further for you.
If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Sometimes, it’s better to just let people do things their way. While you think your way is the best, maybe they have a way that never even occurred to you. Not to mention, when given freedom to choose their own way, most people will do what they can to impress and surpass your expectations. Besides, as long as they get there on time in the end, does it much matter what route they take to get there?
If a man does his best, what else is there?
Not every task can be completed by everyone. Sometimes things don’t get done right because the person assigned the task just doesn’t have what it takes to finish it. But if he gave it every last effort, then you cannot fault him. You can’t fault the sun for not shining at midnight, don’t fault a person for not being able to do something beyond his abilities.
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
Sometimes challenges seem daunting or insurmountable, that the effort might not be worth the reward. But there is no sweeter reward than the knowledge that you can do something. Just as Hillary looked at an unclimbable mountain and said “I can do it”, so too should you be willing to try the impossible so that if you should succeed, you can taste the sweet thrill of victory. Nothing is finer.
Always do everything you ask of those you command.
If you’re not willing to do it, why should they? People are best led by example, so don’t expect them to do something you won’t.
Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.
While everyone should take risks in life, you’ll likely have different outcomes if you think the risk over before you take it, rather than rushing in headfirst. Try to at least consider things enough to cover foreseeable eventualities. No, you can’t always cover every angle, but better to cover some than none.
Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.
Courage and bravery are fine. Running headfirst into fire from a trained soldier isn’t bravery though, it’s stupidity. Find a way to flank the enemy. Come at the problem in a different angle rather than head on. Moving sideways while everyone else is moving straight ahead might put you into a better firing position anyway.