Dealing with Questions during your Holiday #JobSearch

Searching for your next job is tough.  It can be even harder during the holiday season when you are back and forth to various family get-togethers.  Family and events aside, depending on your industry- this is a great time to not slow down the momentum of applications.  Many companies are still scheduling interviews and hiring at the end of November through late December, so don’t think everyone at your dream organizations are gone on vacation.  Keep at it; make sure your application materials are targeted for the open position and that you still keep in contact with your network (even if it is just to drop them a line wishing them a safe and happy holiday season!)  You may be surprised at the response rate you could receive.

As far as dealing with aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc… Assume that everyone means well, and people may just be asking for small talk’s sake and don’t mean any ill will by it.

Topic Switch

If family asks, “How’s the job search going?” and it is the last thing you want to talk about due to stress, you could just state something polite and noncommittal such as, “I’m still waiting to hear back from a few places, but I also had the best time with (insert hobby, trip, reuniting with an old friend, event here) the other day.”  If a family member is just asking to make small talk, the topic change is up to you.  That way, no one feels uncomfortable and if you’re talking about something you love, it will be an easy transition.

Unemployment statistics and the economy are also quite often topics on the news, so these transitions are especially helpful when you want to de-escalate some of your family members; specifically, the ones that wait for these social functions all year long so they finally have a platform for their offensive political and religious beliefs that are piecemeal of the evening news and sensationalist magazines headlines at the checkout lanes of the local grocery store.  Aunt Ellen getting loud again, polarizing the family with her views?  “Cousin Sarah, this stuffing is delicious!  Tell me the recipe?”

Networking

Some family members believe they know everything about the job market, even though they have never had to conduct a serious job search in the 21st century.  As a job seeker, you know a LOT has changed in the last ten years.  You can’t walk in and shake hands with a complete stranger anymore, and many places tell you that they don’t take phone calls- and reroute you to apply online.  Once online, you have to provide personal details for an hour just to register with the site before you even begin the timed application, from which you may or may not hear back.  Yeah, a lot has changed, to say the least.

Some aspects of job search, however, have not changed.  Networking has been the oldest way to job search and to this day, it is still the most successful.  Networking opportunities amongst family may be a beneficial avenue you have yet to pursue.  Just to clarify, I am not advocating you put your cousin Joe as your professional reference, but perhaps Joe has a friend who has a company that could use someone with your skill set.  Joe could set up the phone interview, and you could take it from there.  The key here is that everyone must know you are looking for a job, and understand what you can offer, because you never know who may know who that can help you find your next position.

Time with Family

Whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, it is entirely up to you and what is comfortable for you.  Family tends to give you the hardest time because if you’re a member of a loving group of people, everyone wants the best for one another.  Take this time to see the people you haven’t seen in far too long, and enjoy the time you get to spend with them.  Remember that whether you choose to discuss your job search or not, you always need to keep a portion of time each week just for yourself and your own rejuvenation.  Staying motivated and on top of your search is admirable, but don’t feel guilty for taking one day off to spend with loved ones.  For that, I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and fun holiday season!

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#Interview on Skype? 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

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If you’re broadening your job search and open to relocation, you may be applying to places hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away.  In these cases, it is not always financially possible to meet and have an in-person interview.  Skype interviews are becoming more common for long distance candidates.  If you have yet to participate in one, here are a few tips to consider-

1.   Have a professional username– Just like an email address and voice mail greeting; keep your username simple and professional.  If you are embarrassed to share your Skype ID with an employer, create a new registration and change your username.

2.  Ensure your equipment is functioning – Skype has many test features for you to see if your microphone’s quality will be effective during the interview.  Check to see if you can transmit both audio and images.  Test this at least a few days ahead of time with a colleague in case you find out your microphone needs to be replaced, or any various other technical glitches.  You can expect technical glitches during the interview, but preparation and practice ahead of time will save you some of the hassle.

If you are new to Skype, I recommended just getting started and talking to a friend or family member.  Get used to seeing yourself in the corner of your screen if using a webcam is entirely new to you.  It can be distracting, but remember- eye contact still counts!  Practice looking towards the camera lens when you reply to your friend, and not right at their image (or with your eyes down, looking at your own image.)  This way, you will know you can maintain eye contact during the interview.

For the technical aspect of testing the functionality of your equipment and hardware, I recommend browsing WikiHow for most issues.  Skype’s website also has tutorials and FAQ sections for reference.

3.  Close all other programs– Ctrl+Shift+Esc on the keyboard is a quick way to open the Task Manager.  Close unnecessary programs so Skype can smooth and quickly.

4.  Proper lighting and plain surroundings– Nothing is worse than the creepy factor of a low-lit room while you are Skype-ing.  Play with light sources or lamps available to you and see what set up produces the best lighting so the interviewer can see you.  Having plain surroundings will also help them focus on you alone, and not your personal items, posters, or shelves filled with collectibles or family photos.  If you are using a PC and it is too difficult to move these items, try putting up a curtain or backdrop as a quick fix.

“A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea about your organizational skills.  Also, rid the area of personal items- no need to share too much information.  A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop.”

-Forbes “7 Ways to Nail a Skype Interview” April 2013

5.  Treat this like an in-person or telephone interview– Schedule a block of time without any distractions and in a quite environment.  Have a glass of water and your company research notes nearby for reference.  Dress professionally and practice your previously prepared interview responses.  Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile, and show your excitement for this potential opportunity!

#Interview Success: Align Your #Goal

By George Bernocco, CPRW

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If you want to pass the interview and get the job, it revolves around a simple idea. You were selected to see if you match what the company is looking for. Even though it is considered an “employer market”, it is important for your goals to align with the company’s goals.

Alignment

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Companies want to know if you can do the job, simple enough. The company has goals of their own which usually involve staying in business and getting more business. An employer also wants to know if you mesh with their idea of a perfect candidate. A necessary question you must ask the employer during an interview is:

“What is your idea of a qualified candidate?”

Their response will give you the information required to correctly align yourself as that qualified person. However, it is important for you to know what your plans are if you get hired.

1. Is this job a place you plan on staying for a while?

2. Are you going to be seeking a promotion?

3. What is your ultimate goal when you get within the company walls?

These are questions employers are wondering, even if they do not come out and ask during the interview. The questions they do ask will give them an idea of what your goals are. Assumptions will be made, and it is important for you to either verify or adjust any assumption the employer makes. For example, if you are considered “overqualified” for the position, the assumption might be made that you will not be at the company for long because you may be offered something that better suits your qualifications.

When you identify any incorrect assumptions about your goals, and correct them during the interview, you have aligned your goals with that of the employer. Addressing the issues at hand can be a direct question asked to the employer:

“Is there anything I have mentioned during this interview that concerns you?”

The direct approach can work in your favor, but it is up to you to determine if it is appropriate to ask and to have the courage to ask it. Once you’ve demonstrated that your goals are similar to the employers, you’ve successfully passed the interview. Qualified candidates have the ability to ask questions to the employer during the interview to gauge what they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they think about you as it can help you stand out in a positive manner.

LinkedIn Group for CT Job Seekers

Hi all,

We haven’t been as actively lately but that will hopefully change soon.  We’ve put in place a job seeker group on LinkedIn called “CT Jobs Chat.”  Feel free to request a connection with any of our authors or the group itself to learn more.  It was developed to be a place where job seekers that are new to LinkedIn can contribute and share topics of interest related to job seeking, with the goal of making everyone comfortable with the many features and benefits of Groups.  We share Connecticut specific job postings, recruitment events, and career fairs as well.  Even if you are not local to Connecticut, we’d love to have you join us.

I’ll get back to blogging hopefully next week!  Thanks to  everyone that has been following us on here all along!