It's a JUNGLE out there...whether you are hiring or looking for a job.
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Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 17, 2016 in Interviewing Skills
Flexibility. Flexible Schedule. Flex-Time. What does that mean? Why does it matter?
Well, if you are a monkey swinging from tree to tree in the jungle, flexibility is key. You need to be flexible in order to grab the next branch to continue on your way and you need the branch to be flexible enough to hold your weight or it will snap.
In the workplace, or during an interview, flexibility is a far different thing. 14 years ago, when I first started in recruiting, I had never heard the term “flexibility” or “flexible hours” or “flexible work schedule” come up in conversation. I did hear candidates ask about the ability to leave work early if there was an emergency such as when a child was sick or the ability to work from home during a snow day.
Today, people think that they are entitled to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. They disguise this entitlement by using the term “flexible schedule” which sounds innocent enough, but is a loaded term. If the employer is not able to meet their demands, then that employer is “inflexible” and the company is potentially labeled as a bad place to work.
This week, I had a candidate who asked the client during the interview if she could work a “flexible schedule”. This question was asked during the first 5 minutes of her interview. The client was quite surprised by her question and asked for clarification. With a straight face, the candidate said, “I need to leave by 3pm each day.” The client was shocked. The client later related to me that she would not have minded a discussion on work hours later in the interview process to address any special needs that the candidate may have, but the timing and the severity of the restriction on time from their core business hours instantly put the candidate in an unfavorable light in her eyes.
Work is just that, work. You are not doing the company a favor by working there. You are applying to a position to gain employment to earn a living. You are offering your expertise to solve a business issue or need for the company. They do not owe you anything. It’s work for pay.
The appropriate time to discuss any special needs that you may have is not in the first 5 minutes of your first interview. The best time to approach the topic of “flexibility” is during the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process. Even then, you need to have realistic expectations and stay flexible yourself. If a company has core hours, see if there are alternative solutions you can explore before asking your employer or potential employer to change their policy to accommodate your needs. See if you can carpool to use HOV lanes or if a neighbor can watch your children for an hour after school so that you do not need to leave early. When all else fails, then approach your employer. Remember that you also earn trust over time with an employer. Often, flexibility is given to trusted employees after they have proven themselves in their current role. You should not expect to be given the same consideration right away when starting a new job as employees who have been with the company for a long time.
Flexibility is a 2-way street. Consider your request for “flexibility” before you ask for it, or you just might find yourself falling from that branch that you were so sure could hold you.
This guest post was contributed by Jake Hanson of the Merito Group.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 11, 2014 in Interviewing Skills
, Lessons Learned
Weird Tales from Behind the Recruiting Desk:
The jungle can be a tough place to find shelter, or in this jungle, a job, so let’s take a key piece of advice from our friend the chameleon – it can be in your best interest to blend in order to get ahead in the market. This thought came to light recently, as my last few months recruiting at the Merito Group has allowed me to uncover some of the more unique inhabitants of the jungle. Sticking out can be a great asset in an interview, but in these cases not so much.
In this blog series I will be examining a few candidates that were special cases – some facts may be exaggerated, skewed and twisted! These are meant to be lessons learned, not exposes of my stellar candidates, so please enjoy:
Be aware of your surroundings. The chameleon has an advantage above the rest of the jungle. They can slide under the radar of those trying to hunt them, but they still must be on guard! (It is, after all, a jungle out there.) Many companies in this day and age offer the flexibility of webcam interviews for those candidates who are still currently employed, but looking to make a move. Here at Merito Group we try to make the process as easy as possible for our candidates as well as our clients. I have had a few occurrences, though, that have made me wonder at the lack of professionalism exposed with this media.
Candidates who use their computer screen, phone, and other varying technologies as a security blanket: beware! Employers and recruiters will want to see you and meet you “in-person” so you must still present yourself professionally, even if it is from the comfort of your own home in a webcam or phone interview. Your interviewer will understand that your home is your place of comfort and exudes personality, but your cats, dogs, children, spouses, and cuckoo clocks are not a welcome distraction in an interview no matter where you are. Use a room where you have solitude from such distractions.
Technology is changing every day and to keep up with the times, we sometimes must use interfaces we are not used to. Please test your webcam, the platform, and your phone reception before calling in/showing up to an interview that is not “in person.” The most annoying thing our clients have to put up with on phone or webcam interviews is that the candidate doesn’t have great call quality or internet speed. Use a land line or go to a library, if necessary! Sometimes a webcam can freeze due to bandwidth limits, weather, or even user error. Please be aware that both sides may not always freeze at the same time: do not assume your interviewer cannot see you! Maintain your professional persona until after your interview is complete. Many technological issues can be avoided with the proper preparation.
Remember: You can’t re-do a first impression! More on that in my next post…
This guest post was contributed by Emily Craig of Merito Group. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 19, 2014 in Interviewing Skills
Interviewing Questions Series: 3-4 of 29
Answers to popular (and sometimes tricky) questions you might hear in your next interview. Suggestions and requests are welcome in the comments. If you are currently a job seeker, a great way to help you prepare for the interview is to prepare a brief answer to all of the questions here. Download all of the questions here: Interview Prep Guide.
“Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?”
Generally, we start off with what someone wants to hear, but in this case let’s discuss what they DON’T want to hear. The three main landmines to avoid are:
1) You want to start your own company
It sounds like common sense, but if you are interviewing for a paying job at a company, you should not divulge any personal plans or dreams you may have of entrepreneurship down the road. Companies want to hire someone who wants to be there, so try to focus on a logical career path that this position might offer rather than exposing personal goals that have nothing to do with working there. While you might see an advantage to having worked there that you can capitalize on as an entrepreneur down the road, the interview is not the time to discuss that.
2) You want to go back to school
Even if the company touts its support of continuing education as a benefit, you should not discuss how you want to use that in the interview. Focus instead on how you would like to have responsibility and possibly take on a role that requires more leadership rather than how you will use the program to obtain your MBA, CPA or another advanced degree or credential.
3) You want their job
Telling someone you want their job is often just offensive; they don’t think it’s funny and it doesn’t express drive and enthusiasm for success like you might think that comment would. A better strategy for success is discussing a logical career path that isn’t focused on a particular job title, but rather a career oriented position in the same field, having assumed more responsibility and contributing to the overall goals of the organization at a higher level.
“Why does this job interest you?”
This answer should focus on what you will be doing in the position as well as the corporate culture, but not all one or the other. Choose 2-3 areas of the actual work they need to have done in the position that you enjoy; perhaps something that really makes use of one of your particular strengths. Also, choose 1 or 2 items about the company’s culture, values, or other environment focused areas that you particularly align with. You will need to have done your research on the company’s website prior to the interview to prepare this question. In non-profit organizations, they want to hear that you are committed to their cause. At a for-profit company they want to know that you will easily assimilate into their corporate culture.
At this point, don’t talk about benefits, commute, money, or other areas that are technically specific to you. Those are all great reasons to happily accept a role that you find challenging, but all of those things can all change, so stay focused on the work duties.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 29, 2014 in Interviewing Skills
, Job Search
Motion dazzle is the effect from high-contrast patterns creating visual illusions. For instance, zebras moving together in a group create a large mass of moving stripes making it hard for predators to visually pick out individual targets. This can also be true of great candidates. When a skilled and polished group of individuals interviews with an employer, it is often very difficult for the interviewer to figure out who stands out and how. It’s part of a recruiter’s job to see below the stripes to find the “extra” factor about each candidate to help the employer’s decision.
I love my work.
I truly enjoy helping my clients hire the perfect person for the job. I love working with my candidates to locate positions that are a great fit for their skills, experience and interests, and then helping them to wow their future employer in the interview.
This week was a busy week in our office. We extended four offers of employment for our clients that were accepted. It isn’t always the case that offers will be taken. There are times where an offer is turned down for reasons that have little to do with the position being considered, but more on that later. In my position, there is no better call to make than the one that helps bring a professional search assignment to a successful conclusion for both parties.
The flip side of that enjoyment is the melancholy requirement of notifying the candidates who didn’t receive the offer. It’s human nature to ask: “Why?”, “What could I have done better?” or “Why not me?” These calls were really tough for me this week. I had to notify nearly a dozen people who were in the latter part of the interview process that they wouldn’t receive the offer – when nearly all of them had told me they ranked the positions as one of their top choices. All of these individuals had strong backgrounds and terrific personalities. Unfortunately, to answer their questions, there really are no strong, concrete reasons to identify what they could have done to make the decision go their way.
It’s often a tough decision for a company to decide whom to extend the offer to between two, or more, well qualified people. Employers often find themselves starting to split hairs over experience or skills that may not be material to the success of someone in the job just to try and make the decision. When it comes to that point, it could be any number of things that tips the scales one way or the other such as perceived length of commute, level of enthusiasm expressed in an interview, overall mid- to long-term cultural fit within the organization, or even something found on a social media site that an employer relates to – or doesn’t like.
Although the employer has their work cut out for them to decide between the dazzling stripes of the candidates, even when they are ready to extend an offer to their top choice many times it is actually the second choice person who receives the offer. Among any number of reasons the top choice may have received more than one offer during their job search, taken a counter offer from their current employer as they were resigning, or even got cold feet. If you are one of the top choices, your skills and experience got you this far, but don’t be too hard on yourself about the outcome of a final selection. Very often the second choice is selected for the offer due to the reasons mentioned – happily accepts – and goes on to be wildly successful at the company.
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 27, 2014 in Interviewing Skills
As if the job search jungle wasn’t hard enough to manoeuvre through, once you’ve found that ideal position it’s time to overcome the dreaded job interview. Make sure you don’t fall victim to the common tests and trials that you’ll be put through. If you go prepared, you’ll ensure your best chance of demonstrating suitably for the role.
Do your research
There’s no quicker turn-off for an interviewer than discovering an applicant actually knows nothing about the company. It shows a lack of interest and, frankly, professionalism. Be sure to do your research into the business with which you’re applying, even if they would not be your first point of call. We know the marketplace is hugely completive and the next job you land might not be with your dream employer… but show an enthusiasm for every organisation you apply for.
Things to consider as you research include current products and services offered and recent developments or news (good and bad).
It is common for an applicant to mistake ‘asking questions’ as a sign of weakness, but in fact showing that you are inquisitive can only be favourable. Make sure you have some questions prepared to ask at the end of your interview just in case none naturally arise as the meeting takes place. The questions you ask could be based on your recent research – perhaps you’re unsure of the future vision of the company, or maybe you’d like to know more practical formalities about the job on offer?
Think about your past
While you may be looking to the future as you apply for a new role, don’t forget to think about how your previous work experiences may apply to this new opportunity. It is common for companies to ask you about your last position and how the responsibilities you had there will have been useful to the job you are applying for.
Don’t be surprised if you are asked hypothetical questions that require you to draw on past business experience. You might be asked to talk through a previous job failing and how you handed it, or to describe what you would do to overcome an issue their company is currently facing in your department.
Aside from industry relevant qualifications, IT is becoming a crucial skillset in every sector. Do you have what it takes to make it in today’s tech savvy marketplace? If you feel your lacking when it comes to keyboard skills and spreadsheet formulas, maybe it’s time to get trained. Click here for some more information on relevant IT courses that can help you expand your knowledge.
Be flexible and focussed
Perhaps the hardest part of a job interview is being ready to think on your feet. It’s not easy to predict the sort of things you might be asked, so don’t get hung up on planning the answer to everything in advance. Instead be prepared to take a flexible attitude. Relax and embrace the unknown! Listen carefully and answer honestly for your best shot at coming over confidently.
This guest post was contributed by Victoria. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 15, 2013 in Interviewing Skills
Feeling as crafty as a cat? Can you figure out the answers to some of these crazy and tough questions that have been posed by Google and copied by other corporations? Good Luck!
15 Google Interview Questions That Will Make You Feel Stupid
15 MORE Google Interview Questions That Made Geniuses Feel Dumb
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 15, 2013 in Interviewing Skills
, Self Improvement
Where most animals grow their own fur, hair, feathers, and other outer adornments, the decorator crab specifically adds flair from its environment to its shell such as seaweed, sponges, and stones, in order to blend in with its surroundings.
Starting a new job is more than just learning how the company works. One thing that many people tend to forget is the wardrobe. If you’re planning on working with a company that doesn’t require a uniform but has a strict dress code, you may be finding yourself heading out to the store soon to load up on some new clothing.
Since there’s a chance you’ve been without a job for a while, you may not want to break the bank, and most can agree with that. To help you budget for your wardrobe let’s take a look at the costs and how you can even save hundreds of dollars.
How much will it cost?
A. The Company Sponsored Shirts
Most of the time, retail stores and companies that deal with the public are going to provide uniforms and other accessories for either free or a small cost, usually less than $10. Depending on the company, some may require that you wear the uniform, while others may consider it an option. If you can take advantage of the low-cost uniforms, consider doing so. Most of the time, you will just be responsible for the pants, which will usually be khakis. You’re looking at around $35-$60 per pair of pants. If you were to purchase three $10 shirts with four pairs of pants, it’s best to budget at least $250.
B. Business Casual
If you’re on your own when it comes to the wardrobe you’re going to have to ask yourself where you’re going to be working. Are you going to be working as a sales professional where you’re dealing with clients? If so, you’re going to need a full suit. However, if you’re going to be a bank teller or teacher, you can get away with a simple business casual outfit.
Those who plan on working in the business casual atmosphere should invest in three to four pairs of pants, five to seven tops, five to seven dress socks, two pairs of shoes, and if you think you may need it — one nice suit. So taking this example, let’s break down a new wardrobe:
3-4 Pairs of Pants ($50 each) — $150 to $200
5-7 Tops ($40 each) — $200 to $280
5-7 Socks ($10 each) — $50 to $70
2 Pairs of Shoes ($80 each) — $160
5 Ties for men ($10 each) — $50
Full Suit ($250) — $250
Total: $960 on higher end
Now, this is going to more than likely be on the higher end. Of course, there are many ways to save money in this area, which I will talk about later.
Lastly, jobs that deal with the public will often have to wear full suits. This, of course, can get rather expensive. Taking the averages mentioned above, it’s best to have at least five suits. If each suit was an average of $250, again, on the higher-end, you’re looking at a total of at least $1,250+ for suits alone.
Are there extra costs to think about?
* Dry cleaning. With any professional outfit, it’s highly recommended that you dry clean your items. Depending on the garments, plan on spending at least $2 to $5 per piece every week. It’s good to get in the habit of professionally cleaning your clothes, especially higher-end items.
* Wear and tear. Any clothing is going to rip, tear or receive stains over time. Plan on replacing some pieces of clothing at least every six months.
* Accessories. While optional, women especially opt to wear jewelry that will complement their outfits. This, of course, will depend on your style and piece of jewelry you’re looking to invest in.
How to Save:
You may be looking at the costs up above and saying, “Phew! I can’t afford this!” Thankfully, there are a handful of ways to save hundreds of dollars. Don’t believe me? Here’s how it can be done:
– Thrift Stores
– Higher-end Department Store Clearance Sections
– Garage Sales in Professional Neighborhoods
– Consignment Shops
– eBay and Craigslist
– Discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshalls
– Borrow or Share from acquaintances and friends
Tips to Keep in Mind
– Mix up your colors. Make sure your wardrobe has a variety of colors.
– Set a budget every month and stick to it. Don’t make impromptu purchases!
– Don’t focus on brands. You can look great with no-name clothing brands.
– There’s no need to purchase everything at once.
– Be smart with your clothing to make it last longer.
The decorator crab dresses up for survival and makes its selections carefully. Choose your clothing wisely and take care of your appearance to get ahead.
This guest post is contributed by Stephanie. Stephanie is from the website How Much Is It?
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 1, 2011 in Interviewing Skills
Successfully navigating an interview is like trying to find your way through a jungle: You prepare for the expected and bring the tools to cut through unexpected obstacles. Feeling your way from one question to the next can seem like swinging from tree to tree, tentatively landing on each branch and narrowly escaping a fall or a trap. Knowing what to expect can help you make your way through the thicket a little easier. Preparing answers to some common interview questions — What are your weaknesses? How do you handle stress? — is a good place to start, but you should also be prepared to answer that most common final question: “Do you have any questions for us?” Not having questions prepared can leave your interviewer with a lasting negative impression. Here are some reasons why you should always have thoughtful questions prepared, as well as some tips on what kinds of questions to ask:
Questions Show Off Your Knowledge
If you have properly researched the company and the people who are interviewing you, it will show in the types of questions you ask. Begin your questions with phrases like “I read an article about your company…” or “After I read over your sales reports from last year…” You will let the interviewer know that you have taken the time to learn more about the company and to reflect on how you can contribute to the present and future goals of the company.
Questions Demonstrate Your Commitment
Asking thoughtful questions that reflect additional research or critical thinking demonstrate your commitment to the company and enthusiasm for the job. Asking questions shows that you are serious about learning more about the company and the role you can play. If you ask throwaway questions that could have been answered by looking at the company Web site or other literature, you display a sense of apathy or, worse, a lack of effort.
Ask Conversational Questions
Don’t ever ask your interviewer questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” You will waste an opportunity to open up a discussion that can help the interview learn more about you. Instead of asking questions like “Is your company worried about the economic climate?” or “Have you had any layoffs in the last year?” ask open-ended questions like “How has your company adapted to the current economic climate?” and “What has your company done to avoid layoffs that have been seen at other companies?” You will learn more information about the company, and your responses will tell the interviewer more about you.
Ask “Opportunity” Questions
If the interviewer has not asked you the questions that you would have liked to answer during the interviewer — questions whose answers could have explained more about your skills and experience, for example — find ways to create opportunities for these conversations with your own questions. For example, ask questions like “Why is the position vacant?” or “How do you define success for the person hired to fill this role?” After the interviewer answers, you can explain how you would be the successful candidate for the job.
Ask “Future” Questions
When you ask your interviewer questions that look toward the future, you are expressing interest in a long-term relationship that will benefit both you and the company. Ask questions about the company’s goals and future projects, as well as questions about opportunities for advancement within the company or how the interviewer sees the evolution of the position for which you are interviewing.
There are many more types of questions you should not ask during your interview — most of them concerning salary, benefits, vacation times, and other specifics that should only be discussed once you are offered the job. Think carefully about the types of questions you ask, and remember that what you ask says as much about you as what you answer.
Let your questions be your guide and led you through the interview to a successful job!
This guest post is contributed by Erinn Stam, the Managing Editor for a website offering the best nursing careers. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about online flight nursing programs. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 9, 2011 in Career Path
Summer is arriving and so are the summer flowers! While spring is known for its fantastic array of colorful flora, the brief and brilliant display can still remain in the newly emerging summer flowers which can continue into early fall.
Your Step-By-Step Guide to Score a Promotion!
While the summer flowers emerge as a lingering trace of the dazzling color and delicate fragrance of spring, year and half-year evealuations are taking place in workplaces everywhere. Grab your chance at a promotion or raise this summer and bloom in the jungle with these “do and don’t’ tips on how to approach your boss about your performance and career path.
Original article with quotes by Carolyn Thompson
By Brittany Galla at http://life2pointoh.com
Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 4, 2009 in Career Path
, Job Search
, Self Improvement
In my recent article for the American Library Association, I offered some tips for moving from one industry to another. Just as snakes shed their skin, professionals sometimes need to shed some of the work they’ve done in order to land a new job.
Snakes shed the outer layer of their skin as they outgrow the old one, and even those that are not growing shed; replacing their worn scales with new, healthy skin. Some snakes shed every few weeks, others shed only about once a year. A new layer continuously develops below the surface of the old skin preparing for use. The snake begins the shedding process by rubbing its nose against rocks or other hard objects to start the separation of the old layer from its lips, and then crawls out of its old skin. This is why the old skins are often found intact where they were abandoned.
Whether your need to shed your old skin comes from economic pressure or from a desire for new challenges, any professional seeking to change industries need to first consider these points:
1. Determine What You Like to Do Most
You’ll have more success selling yourself to others if it’s for work you love to do. Employers are looking for what you’ve done in the past five years, so you will have to create links to a new industry by drawing from your most recent employment first.
Within that recent experience, identify the transferable skills. Everyone has them, and employers are looking for them, so determine what measurable, comparable skills are your strengths. Is it Excel? Managing sales teams? Technical writing? Cataloging? Focus on the skills you like.
2. Ascertain Who Else Uses that Skill Set
Take your transferable skill set and look for similar keyword strings on the Internet. Remember to use synonyms. What is “budgeting” to one company may be “forecasting” to another.
3. Consider Your Geographic Mobility
Some areas of the country are hard hit by the economy; others are not. Consider moving to a new area where there is greater demand for the industry you are moving in to. Your chances of finding a job in a new city with lower unemployment are much higher.
While most companies do phone interviews to start, you may be asked to interview in person within a few days. Being in or near the city where you are looking for work is always easiest. Many of us have friends and relatives across the country willing to help out; there are lots of people looking for short-term roommates.
4. Make Yourself Relevant — and Accessible!
Write your resume with the future in mind. Use all the related keywords you’ve found to re-tool your job descriptions. E-mail address and cell phone are fine for contact information, and use a local address on your resume whenever possible.
Obtain interim employment wherever possible. You’ll meet people who need help immediately who can also help you network. Taking temporary employment shows that you have a good work ethic and are serious about learning a new industry.
Strategically network in your desired geographic areas and industries. Join LinkedIn groups and look for job fairs or conferences where you can meet people who work at your target companies. Eighty percent of jobs are obtained through personal networking, not ads or employment agencies.
Consider retooling your skill set by retraining — many state and local governments provide assistance in this area. Contact your unemployment office and your local library to find out about programs offered in your area.
5. Follow Up … then Follow the Golden Rule!
One hundred percent of people leave a first message, but fewer than 15 percent will call a third time. Don’t give up. Keep trying to reach people who may have information for you. (Give them a few days to call back between messages, though.)
Do Unto Others
When you do find a job, make yourself available to others who may need your help and would benefit from the story of your journey.
>>>Based on the overwhelming response to this article, I’ll be hosting 2 interactive webinars this month with a focus on CHANGE:
Learn how to specifically extract relevant experience from your background in order to change industries. Please join me for a roundtable discussion of EXACTLY how to transform your resume into something that will translate from one industry to another. The first 10 people to register will receive one on one telephone resume consultations prior to the webinar and have the option to participate as confidential “before” and “after” examples in the webinar.
We will layout unique executable strategies for people seeking to move their careers in a new way altogether. Explore ideas to help you in choosing where you want to go and making an individual roadmap to get there. Again, the first 10 people to register will receive a one on one telephone consultation prior to the webinar and have the option to participate as confidential “before” and “after” examples for other participants.
JOIN ME AND OTHERS FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA THAT WANT TO SHED THEIR SKIN! The best way to get new ideas is to participate!