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Don’t Get Spooked by the Interviewer!

By Giana / October 27, 2016

On Halloween, we celebrate scary things, but nothing is scarier than an awkward job interview! Well, maybe a few things… But job interviews are no joke! Here are a few tips that can take the terror out of five tricky interview questions.

Halloween is just around the corner, and while we take delight in scaring ourselves with fake spiders and creepy tales of horror, many of us are also feeling serious heebie-jeebies (or at least anxiety) based on something comparatively mundane: the job search process. Specifically, interviews. While supernatural ghosts and goblins haunt our dreams, our waking hours are often haunted by something much more grounded in reality, and therefore much scarier: the prospect of having an everyday conversation with a total stranger who holds power over our professional and financial destiny. Eep.

There’s no doubt that interviews can be frightening. But a few simple considerations can take the terror out of these five tricky questions and help nervous job seekers move forward with confidence.

Why should we hire you?

When you hear this question, your thoughts may move toward the things you want. For example, you may think you should be hired because you’ve worked hard to get where you are, or because you have bills to pay, or because this job can help you advance your career. These things may be true, but when you answer, focus on how your presence in the workplace can help your employers reach their goals and get the things THEY want. So…what do they want? Give this matter some thought before your interview session begins.

Why do you want to work here?

Note, this question is not asking “Why are you looking for work?” but is instead asking, “Why are you looking for work HERE?” In other words, what do you find appealing about this company or organization that you haven’t found anywhere else? How does this specific job or company match your personality, your training, your special skills, your long term goals, or your job search needs? When you answer this, think about all the ways your plans align with the company’s plans, and shine a light on these details.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Of course you don’t know what the future will hold; nobody does. But thankfully, this isn’t a pop quiz and you aren’t applying for the job of a fortune teller. You’re simply being asked to describe your long term goals and demonstrate that you have the capacity to plan, dream, and think ahead. You aren’t living from one day and one paycheck to the next, and you recognize a future that lies beyond this moment and this specific open position. Be honest about your vision.

Describe your greatest weakness.

Nobody likes to talk about their weaknesses and shortcomings during an interview (and this question carries a trick element that borders on rudeness; many interviewers avoid it for this reason). But if you’re faced with this curveball, don’t panic. Simply describe one area or skill set in which you’ve had to work hard and learn tough lessons. For example, if you don’t love public speaking, describe how you’ve practiced and grown in this area during recent years.

What’s the story with your current (or most recent) job?

If you have a current job, why are you leaving? If you aren’t currently working, what happened to your last gig? Did you leave voluntarily? If so, why? Tough questions about past (or present) work situations can throw interviewees off balance; after all, perfectly content and thriving workers aren’t usually beating the pavement for jobs. But if you keep your answers positive and short, you’ll move quickly past this question and present yourself as an ambitious person in search of new opportunities.

For more on how to get past your fears and anxieties and move on to the next stage of your job search, explore the resume resources available at LiveCareer.

8 Skills That Will Help You Land the Job

By Giana / January 25, 2017

You found a job post that suits you perfectly. You can check off each of the required credentials, the location is perfect, and you recognize and respect the company and its brand. You’re ready to apply, but do you have the skills you need to land the job? If current technical skills match up to the daily tasks and responsibilities of this role, how do you convey that message clearly to set yourself apart from your competition? If you possess the following eight skills in addition to your professional experience, your odds of landing the job will increase exponentially. 1. Take Action Some people see something they want and go for it, while others waste time procrastinating or overthinking next steps until they are overwhelmed. Don’t be that person. When it’s time to act, act. Pay attention to the details, but don’t sweat the details to the point of paralysis. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; be afraid of inaction, missed deadlines, and missed opportunities. 2. Employ Empathy Empathy is the special skill that allows us to see the world from another person’s point of view. During a job search, empathy can be a very powerful tool. Read between the lines of the job post and apply your empathy. What are the employer’s needs? What kind of cultural match are they looking for? Having the ability to see the position through the eyes of the recruiter – and write your resume and cover letter to address their needs – is a special skill that will get you far. 3. Work on Your Writing Skills Before you meet your potential employers in person during an interview, you’ll first need to get their attention using your written words. You may not be a brilliant poet or world-changing speech writer, but can still make a concise and compelling case for yourself by answering two questions: What are the skills you possess that will allow you to handle this job? And what can you offer the employer that no other candidate can offer? Clearly state these responses in your resume and cover letter. Edit your work and have a friend proofread the final result for clarity and typos. 4. Perfect Your Phone Skills Can you bring employers over to your side during a ten-minute phone chat? You certainly can if you can perfect the art of the telephone interview. Prepare and practice your elevator pitch. Keep your voice measured and calm, but also engaged and energetic. Stand up while you speak, and smile. Both of these things can be heard in your voice. 5. Hone Your Listening Skills Don’t make your employer share the same details and information multiple times. To avoid asking the same questions over and over, write it down all relevant information. This includes the proper names of the people you interview with, names of clients, and all company divisions. 6. Market Yourself During a job search, you are the product and products need to be marketed in order to sell. Do you know how to pitch your accomplishments and abilities in a way that’s truthful, but not boastful? Do you now how to form a personal connection with your audience, which in this case is the hiring manager? Do you know how to grab attention in a positive way, and embed yourself in your employer’s memory after your interaction ends? Your marketing skills are important during your job search so don’t be shy. 7. Dress for Success Your interview outfit should demonstrate your respect for the opportunity so never arrive looking sloppy or disheveled. It should be clear that you considered your audience and your venue when choosing your outfit. Your clothes should be appropriate for the office culture. If you are unsure of how to dress, read company reviews online or ask the hiring manager. 8. Don’t Forget the Follow Up When you start something, finish it. After your interview, call or send a message within a day to thank the interviewers for their time. A well-written thank you note is a great way to reiterate your interest and engagement and leave a good impression with the hiring manager. During your job search process, check in with LiveCareer and use the tools on the site to keep your search—and the growth of your long-term career—on track.
African American man working on a laptop computer.

How to Write an Excellent Project Manager Resume

By Giana / December 19, 2016

You need a project manager resume that sets you apart from the crowd. Here are a few tips that can help you land the job you’re looking for. As a project manager in search of a full-time or contract based job, you’ll need a resume that sells your skills, education, and experience, just like an applicant for almost any profession or industry. But your resume will also need some details that are specific to your project-management goals. For example, you’ll have to demonstrate your ability to clarify and rein in a sprawling mission, a.k.a. “project-creep”. You’ll need to showcase your leadership skills, even at the entry level. And you’ll need to explain how your specific skill sets can support your employer’s specific enterprise. Here are a few moves that can help you accomplish these goals.

First, focus on your summary.

You may be searching for work in a wide range of fields that require expert project managers. So in the summary section of your resume, clarify exactly how your experience lines up with the needs of your target audience. To assess those needs, do some research or make your best guess based on the information available to you. By the time they’ve read your summary, your reviewers should know-- for sure—that this open position falls into your area of interest and expertise.

Move experience above education.

Your education section will be very important, but for most project management positions, reviewers like to assess your experience first. Again, they want to know that the projects you’ve worked on in the past reflect similar challenges to the ones you’ll face on this job. Focus on the client problems you’ve solved, the budgeting restraints you’ve dealt with, and the ways in which you—and your past projects—have exceeded expectations. After briefly listing and describing your past positions and your proudest home runs, you can share your education, training, and certifications.

Highlight skills that grab attention.

After your education and experience sections, you’ll create a resume subheading focused on your special skills. Keep in mind that a long list of marginal and forgettable skills (like proficiency with the Microsoft office suite) will easily slip out of your reader’s memory after they close your file. But a shorter list of rare, highly valuable, and very specific skills will stay at the forefront of your reader’s thoughts. Cull and curate your “skills” list carefully. Don’t include every single one of your software skills—only the most relevant. And don’t list bland, broad categories like “communication” and “leadership”. Instead, be specific. Cross out “communication” and replace it with “public speaking”, “grant writing”, or “PR management”.

Show results.

Your experience section will highlight what you’ve done. Your education section will highlight what you’ve learned and what you know. Your skills section will demonstrate what you can do. But for all three sections, emphasize the end results. Did you earn cum laude status? Did you successfully advance your employer’s interests by expanding market share or raising revenue? Describe the specific problems you’ve solved, honors you’ve earned, or changes that have come about due to your own personal actions. Use numbers to make your point. For more on how to tighten each essential section of your project management resume, turn to the resume creation tools available on LiveCareer.
Business people working together in office

Communication Counts: 83% of Recruiters Consider it Key to Sizing Up Cultural Fit

By Giana / December 14, 2016

To impress your interviewer and land your dream job, you’ll need to communicate clearly and well…but what exactly does this mean? It’s no surprise that most employers and hiring managers cite “good communication skills” as a positive trait when evaluating candidates for open positions. But “good” or “strong” communication can mean different things to different people. In fact, a recent Jobvite survey that polled 1600 recruiters and HR professionals found that 83% consider communication style the most important element when evaluating candidates for cultural fit. This means that if your method of speech and message-shaping matches that of your employer, you’re in. If not, you’re more likely to slip through the cracks. So as you search for work, make sure that you’re communicating well, in the universal sense. While you’re at it, make an effort to understand the unique culture and style of your interviewer and your target employer. Here are a few moves that can help.

Be clear.

Clarity means delivering your message using impeccable grammar, proper spelling, complete sentences, and a logical link between each written or spoken thought and the next. This may sound like a no brainer, but far too many candidates assume that text speak, abbreviations, and broken phrases are acceptable when speaking to a recruiter by text, email, or voicemail. They aren’t. Edit your messages, even the simplest and shortest.

Be mindful of nuance.

Grammar matters, and so does tone. There’s a difference between: “Thanks for your message! We’ll talk soon!” and: “Thank you for your message. We will talk on Monday.” Both are grammatically correct, but they convey a different voice and tone. Word choice and punctuation contribute to your conversation and help readers gain a complete picture of who you are as a person. Stay in control of that picture.

Listen first.

If you’d like to present yourself as an adaptable person with a flexible personality who can get along with almost everyone, that’s great. It’s an excellent way to open a dialogue with an unknown person or company. But once the dialogue is open, stay tuned in to the culture of the company and the personality of the person on the other end of the line. Don’t keep cracking jokes if your audience isn’t responsive to your sense of humor. And if your audience seems relaxed and forthcoming, smile and take it easy. Demonstrate your ability to receive social cues and respond appropriately.

Remember details.

Write down the details and facts your interviewer or recruiter shares with you. No matter what information comes your way, the more you retain, the better. Make note of names, numbers, the company’s history, the needs of the open position, and the details of your own background that you have and have not already shared.

Keep records.

As you search for work, you may create long email or text chains with various employers and contacts. Keep these records straight and accessible. They can and will come in handy as your conversation develops.

Learn to brag appropriately.

Almost every job search comes with a universal conundrum: The need to brag about your abilities and while being self-aware and socially well-adjusted. Finding balance between the two is an art. But you can pull off this tricky maneuver if you place yourself in your listener’s shoes and think carefully about your messages before you send them. It may also help to review some successful cover letters and/or watch videos of successful interviews (you can find both on LiveCareer!) For more information on how to ace your interviews and establish meaningful connections with recruiters and employers, explore LiveCareer’s job search and resume creation tools.