Mistakes We Make in Job Interviews Infographic

by Pete Ferguson

I love Infographics! I subscribe to receive emails with several a day and I’m constantly surfing the Internet for new examples of how to breakdown complex information into a graphic representation.

This topic of job interviews is a great one. One of my largest pet peeves when I’m the interviewer is when I ask the applicant what they know of the company I work for – which is the World’s Largest Online Commerce with two of the most visited websites in the world – and they don’t know about and they’ve never used our services. You don’t get hired for your great personality alone … you need to do your research!

You should spend 10-20 hours researching the company, seeing who you may know who already works there through LinkedIn, etc. and use their products before showing up for the first time and trying to convince them you are a good fit.

For those who regularly screen and interview, consider a tip I read in HR Management magazine and have applicants post a 2-minute video online explaining why they are the best candidate and 2-3 questions specific to the position. What used to take hours to sift through resumes and hold initial interviews or phone screenings will be a very entertaining 20-30 minutes max.

My favorite was when we were hiring for a training expert with experience in video production and web design. Many applicants contacted our recruiter saying they hadn’t uploaded a video to the Internet before and did he know of a site where they could do that? This shortened the list very quickly as I consider publishing a video to YouTube easy enough for even me to accomplish with one thumb press on my iPhone.

Of the videos we did receive, one guy was using a headset and the webcam for his current employer’s computer, sitting in his current cubicle with coworkers walking behind him. That one was a great laugh and that was all it was.

Unfortunately, not a single applicant did anything creative, mostly just talking heads reading a monotone script or “winging it” with bad lighting and sound. I was amazed no one was willing to go out on a limb a bit and put together something entertaining to show their creative side.

It is pretty much a given that your LinkedIn, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts will be reviewed. So don’t post anything your father or mother would be shocked to see or read. [My dad reviews my posts regularly and provides wise feedback and input.]

Last week I was conducting a phone screening interview with a candidate and so I pulled up her profile while I was talking on the phone to compare against her resume and I saw that she had stated that she was voted #1 Mom by her three daughters. I have three daughters, and that made an immediate connection that softened me up through the applicant’s nervousness. So I asked her about it, she laughed and asked if that was appropriate to put on her page. I thought it was! She then slowed down and became a lot more humanistic instead of robotic.

Painting your humanistic side is good. However, I don’t recommend using your favorite bar or beach photo for your LinkedIn profile (seen it many times), and the old saying of “what happens in ______ (Vegas or company party, or wherever) stays in _______” didn’t account for smartphones, Google searches, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

And now to the promised infographic:

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How To Get A Job – And the Presidential Debates …

Finding and keeping a job requires more than just having a great resume – once you land an interview, you need to prove to the person on the other side of the table that you are likable and will work well on their team.

by Pete Ferguson

Last night America had the opportunity to interview the top two candidates for one of the most important jobs in the country.

Each has a stellar resume from their party’s perspective and each has a massive team who supports and prepared them with facts, figures, stories, and responses for many potential questions.

With all of the resources and the stakes at an all time high – however – in a traditional interview they both would have failed to land the job in my opinion.

To illustrate my point, the first question from Jeremy – “What can you do to assure me I will have a job when I graduate from college?” was not answered, it was lectured to.

What would have been really cool is for either of the candidates to have followed up with additional questions like: “Jeremy, what area of study are you planning to graduate in? What are you doing today to build your resume?” What if Jeremy is studying “general education?” I’m not sure many political policies would help tremendously.

I realize the debate “rules” likely did not allow for follow up questions (kind of counter intuitive to a “town hall” in my opinion). But then a lot of rules were not followed last night.

Breaking this one would have really set one candidate apart and made them a lot more “likable.”

Millions of dollars have being spent on focus groups and surveys to gauge which candidate is most likable. Millions more spent on media advertisements to try and prove that one or the other is more or less likable. They both had a chance last night to be likable – and neither rose to the task in my opinion. Instead they both tried to prove the other was less likable.

Too bad.

Just as the point of a job interview is to win over the undecided interviewer, last night’s point was to win over the people in the room who figuratively represent the undecided voters in the upcoming election.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein

When the competition is this close, either one of the candidates should have tried to do the exact opposite of what they have always done.

Instead of talk to speaking points – they should have actually talked to the people asking them questions.

All the talk of transparency and “I understand your pain” is very quickly lost in words when the actions do not follow.

Connect.

If you are currently in the job market, I hope you do not ever try to repeat last night’s performance. Instead I hope you listen carefully to the question, ask follow up questions, and then answer to the best of your knowledge and experience.

Be creative. Be engaging. Be likable. Be honest about whether or not you are the right fit.

I’m not aiming for a political debate.

I just thought it ironic that political affiliations and all emotional ties set aside, the conversation in its most simplistic form was a job interview. And there are many lessons to learn from observing both candidates.

 

Why Job Hopping May Not Be Bad

Both of my grandfathers remained at one job the majority of their lives. My wife’s grandfather did to. Now the average job length is 13 months for people under 30 and 2.4 years for the rest of us. Are you prepared?

by Pete Ferguson

My mother’s father worked in the auto industry. For the majority of his life.

He was responsible for stretching the vinyl tops onto Cadillacs among other tasks. He was a skilled upholsterer and mechanic. And it provided for his family, purchased the house my grandmother still lives in, and taught him many skills.

I’ve been at one company for 13+ years, but I’ve changed job functions every 3-4 years. In tech terms, I’m an old timer and as recruiters have told me, my greatest asset is that I’ve been at one company for so long – and my greatest liability is that I’ve been at one company for so long.

We are in a new normal where many kids have seen mom and dad – likely grandma and grandpa as well – laid off, downsized, rightsized, furloughed, repositioned, and otherwise rejected from a job they have given their heart and soul to daily for years.

The newer generation isn’t stupid, they’ve learned not to put too much stock into a career because they’ve seen the pain it has brought those around them.

In the past, job-hoping has been considered a bad thing. According to a study by Evolv, a san Francisco-headquartered surveyor, there is essentially zero correlation between the number of jobs hourly call-center agents held and their future job tenure.

(“Job Hopping Isn’t Hazardous to Employers,” David Shadovitz – Human Resource Executive, June 16, 2012, p8)

What matters most, according to the study, is “job fit, personality and skills.”

The good news is that you and I are in control of all three of these attributes. We can choose to invest in ourselves. I was given great advice by Dr. Laurie Wilson, then Head of the Communications Department at Brigham Young:

  • Have an emergency fund of six months income, stay out of debt
  • Always be learning, researching, reading, gaining new knowledge and experience
  • Network, network, network

I’m sure there was other advice she gave, but these stuck and have been reiterated by every good business book I’ve read. It took a while to get them all going, but having all three has provided a lifeboat of peace when layoffs at my company came and went and as other changes in business have come.

Tomorrow I will talk about a USA Today article about how training cutbacks in corporate America are also the new norm as companies are seeing employees leave faster and have fewer discretionary funds.

You have to take control of your life, build up your skills, and expand your network. According to the article listed above, the average time recruiters spend on a resume is an all-time low – six seconds. Applying online is no longer going to work. You have to have a sturdy network and build a platform to establish your credibility.

Learn: We are all self employed. You may only have one corporate client. What are you doing weekly to build and improve your skills?

Act: Do you have an updated resume? Resumes are just for job searching, they are a way you can measure your skills and abilities and outline areas where you need to grow and add new knowledge. Having an updated resume on LinkedIn also allows recruiters to reach out to you with opportunities otherwise not publicized.

Share: Networking is key. Go to lunch with people outside of your normal network. Ask for help of someone with many more years experience. Mentor someone much younger than you.

Photo Credits:

Your Resume Is Your “Match.com” Ad

Finding a job is like dating. You have your one liners. You hang out where others who are looking for jobs hang out.

Your initial goal is to score a first date (interview). Eventually, when the time is right, you both want a long-term legally-binding commitment.

by Pete Ferguson

I’m always intrigued by the job hunting process.

Currently I’m in a search process to fill a vacancy left when one of my employees was recruited by another internal department. And I can’t help but think of the similarities between dating and landing a job.

Like dating, I’ve reviewed everyone I know, I’ve asked others who they know. I’ve reached out to my networks, and to cover all bases, I’ve had an ad placed in the help wanted (employment dating) sections of online services.

Then comes the decision making process of who the recruiter and I want to meet. A fat stack of resumes flood in. Half of them do little to nothing to demonstrate the potential candidate is capable of reading a job description because correlations are not evident. It’s like when your parents set you up with someone who was short, blonde, and hates sports when you like tall, brunette sports fanatics.

I’ve conducted probably hundreds of interviews around the world. And in a vast majority of them, I know within the first 90 seconds if the person is a fit. And many times out of pity I’ve pushed through the questions and stretched out the interview to a respectable time.

I blame it on the quality of the resumes. If I received five resumes that matched the job description verbatim, I’d interview all five and probably have a heck of a decision to make. But it is VERY rare that I can think of a situation where a resume received matched what we posted as the job description.

With the ease of submitting online, the majority of the strategy is to go for a “Hail Mary” shotgun approach and applicants apply for as many jobs as possible in hopes that luck will win out.

Tips that will get you a “first date” interview:

  • NEVER send out a standard resume. Each time you find a job description you are interested in, you need to customize your resume and include specific examples of why you are the best candidate for the position.
  • You wouldn’t send your eulogy to a potential first date. Don’t send a 5-page resume either. Make a one page summary of your skills and how they relate to the job description. Think movie poster. In a few seconds, you have to grab the reader and intrigue them enough to want to know more. This is called a FUNCTIONAL RESUME. When you interview, you can bring the five pager to leave after a successful interview.
  • ALWAYS customize your resume to match a job description. List your skills in the order the JD lists the job requirements. Make it easy on the recruiter! (Yes, this means you will not be applying for many positions, but it does mean you will be focused on the ones you do).
  • Only use want ads/online postings as 10% of your strategy. After you identify several companies you want to work for, tap your networks, search LinkedIn, find a connection and then set up a lunch or coffee date. Waiting to post your resume online is like showing up at the bridal shower and hoping to win over the bride. You need to be in charge of the search instead of waiting for them to call you back.
  • Tease, then deliver. After a phone screening, email a bit more on how you can deliver specific to the questions received. After a first interview, send a writing sample, or an article you found interesting on a topic related to the job opening. Keep the information flowing, then you are not calling repeatedly to ask if they’ve made a decision, you are calling to follow up on if they received your info.

Learn: Get a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top of each write “problem” then “action,” and “result.” Fill in the paper with how you have addressed a problem, taken action, and a measurable result (increased productivity by __% – saved the company $XX). If you can get 25-30 of these, you will have a great library to customize a resume within minutes.

Act: If you are looking to “date” future employers, now is the time to be proactive and research which companies you would like to work for. Don’t go for sloppy seconds that end up in the Want Ads, find the beauty queen/football jock and create a strategy to introduce yourself.

Share: If you are gainfully employed, don’t be stingy. Allow others who are looking for positions in your company access to you. Be sure you are active in at least one industry network and local less formal networks.

Credits:

Forbes.com – Job Hunting in a Social Media World

How to Craft The Perfect Modern Resume

Leave People Better Than You Found Them

Awaiting Sunrise @ 11,113 feet

by Pete Ferguson

I recently returned from Camp Steiner Scout Camp where I was without electricity, air conditioning, cell service, and indoor plumbing for three days.

And it was wonderful!

One of the Scout principles regarding campgrounds is to “leave it better than you found it.”

I found in a weekend with five 11-14-year-old young men in our troop, this principle also applies to people.

As you interact with others, do you uplift them, push their dreams forward and provide them with the encouragement you also enjoy?

I’m certainly working on it. Regardless of whether we are involved with volunteer work, or while being paid by a company, I doubt we can ever go wrong if our plan is to leave people better than we find them, or at least do everything we can to inspire excellence.

Tonight, I plan to leave a group of collective friends, family, and new acquaintances better than I found them by offering tools readily available for improving their resume’s and improving their focus on following their passion.

While a resume may seem like a quick timeline of events, it can be so much more. It can be a roadmap of the Legacy you are leaving at each company or business you have followed.

Rather than be an eulogy of career existence, it can – and should – be as exciting as a trailer for a summer blockbuster movie. The purpose of your resume is to excite people to want to meet you and further discuss how you can both profit by working together.

Does your resume have this power of attraction? I’d love to work with you to that end. I hope to see you tonight if you are in the Utah area.

If you are unable to attend, email your current resume to pete@learnactshare.com and I’ll give you a quick overview of what I’ve learned and experienced in reviewing hundreds of resumes and working with resume coaches.

Want to dive in? You can attend a class locally, or we can custom design a package for remote coaching including a skills profile, books and materials, and personal coaching to help you unlock your career success.

Sunset at Scout Lake – Camp Steiner

Learn: What are your passions? What are your skills? Write down 20 different things you could do as a job to match the two together better. Think about how you can leave people and a company better than you found them.

Act: Conduct internet research, buy a book or two, and hire a coach to help you better write your legacy and find meaningful work.

Share: Talk to others about your passion and find out about theirs. Look for ways to uplift and inspire those around you.