Career Breakout: Interview Complete, What Now?

What do I do After a Job Interview?

If I could count the amount of times I’ve heard this question, I’d, well, need to do a lot of counting. It seems job applicants are so focused on every aspect of the interview that they don’t have a follow-up plan for once the meeting ends.

If you’re reading this and wondering, “I need to do things after an interview?” pour a morning cup of coffee and settle in. This is going to be a very informative read.

Let’s role-play for a quick second. If someone took time out of their busy schedule to do you a favor, what would you naturally do? I’ll presume you were reared with manners and answered, “I would thank them.” The same applies for job interviews. By taking time out of their busy schedule to conduct an interview, hiring managers and employers are doing you a favor–never the other way around. You need them, they don’t necessarily need you.

Back to role-playing… how would you thank them? Probably with a phone call or email, correct? Yes, right again. But in this case we’re trying to get a job by putting our name out there. Friends or family members may remember your phone call or email but employers are busy people that communicate with hundreds if not thousands on a daily basis. So how do you stay on their minds knowing that piece of information? The answers is quite archaic but, trust me, it works.

Career tip #1: A well-written letter after an interview can make a positive impact, placing you at an advantage.

Why a hand-written letter? Let’s think about this logically:

  • Phone calls are stored in call logs (or maybe recorded depending upon the situation). How often do employers access these records? Really? You need to ask?
  • Emails are stored in an Inbox. How cluttered is the Inbox of a business executive? The answer: very. Furthermore, upon reading an email, many people elect to delete or archive them depending upon their importance. In an effort to not hurt any feelings, I won’t mention where your email will stand.
  • Fact: Hand-written letters take time and effort. You have to buy a stamp and envelope; you have to plainly and neatly write the letter; you have to send it to the correct address. The simple fact you took the time to do this (and, to your advantage, no one does this anymore) will impress employers. Here’s the kicker… where are documents such as letters stored? On desks.

That means your letter, with your named on it, will be sitting on the desk of the hiring manger or employer. Talk about free advertising.

Generally, thank-you letters are comprised of three paragraphs. The first paragraph is the actual ‘thanks’, where you thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to conduct an interview with you. The second paragraph is the reiteration of skills. During this time, restate why you feel you are best for the job and what qualifies you for the position. On note, don’t forget to mention a few key areas of discussion from the interview. Finally, the third paragraph contains contact information. Reaffirm how you can best be reached and add that you look forward to hearing from them again.

Career tip #2: There is more to writing a thank-you letter than simply saying ‘thanks’. Thank-you letters actually have guidelines that should be followed to maximize effectiveness.

Is any of this, including the letter itself, necessary? No, they’re not required at all, but that’s the beauty of them. You took time to do something that wasn’t required, heck, not even stated in the job listing. This shows you can think outside of the box, are willing to take initiative, and you truly are interested and hungry for this position. All of this wrapped in a neatly written letter with your name prominently on the front, sitting on the desk of the hiring manager is a huge PLUS for you, am I right? I knew you’d agree.

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section. If preferred, email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
www.educationcareerservices.com
Got Twitter? Track the latest: @dannyatecs

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Going Global? Clicking can be dangerous

Today’s job seekers are advised that social media sites and on-line networking are valuable tools for professional advancement. But much like a poorly written cover letter or résumé can do more harm than good, a badly managed on-line presence can hurt you professionally. The question remains: How do you optimize your chances of success in the virtual business world?

First of all, blend the social you and the professional you with great caution. LinkedIn now features sections where you can link your Facebook and Twitter account to your profile. While many seem to think this is a great way to show your personality to a potential employer, it is NOT recommended to connect your LinkedIn profile to a site you use to express yourself freely.

Even if you don’t have drunken debauchery filled weekends where pictures of you could arise, there are plenty of thoughts, comments, and interests your boss does not need to know about you. If you want to keep these spaces free for your personal expression, eliminate the possibility of errors by not connecting them to a professional site, just saying.

Be aware that even if you do not connect your Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace account to your LinkedIn profile, your employer still can search for you. Therefore, check your privacy settings. To spell it out: While your LinkedIn settings should be set for the most open access, your personal websites should not. Make sure whatever an employer can access when they search for your name will depict you in a professional, positive light.

One suggestion to mitigate these concerns might be to create a second Facebook account for professional, semi-casual contacts. If that is the case, manage your friends list well and make sure no one on it would tag you in a Spring Break video from 2011 that you swore no one saved.

When it comes to connecting a Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, make sure your tweets are professional and non-confrontational. If it isn’t proper to discuss a topic at your office, it isn’t a good idea to tweet about it.

You probably already realize it’s a bad idea to tweet about the hot waitress serving you lunch or the stud-muffin you hooked up with at two in the morning. But also know you might want to avoid tweeting about strong dislike of people who belong to certain religious or political affiliations or your opinion about controversial subjects. Yes, this is the land of free speech but that doesn’t mean speech is consequence free.

While the digital age is fantastic, one thing old fashion forms of communication afforded you was the chance to think twice. You might write the letter – but you had the chance to throw it away before you mailed it! Remember that what you put on-line in an instant can be accessed by the wrong person before you have the opportunity to remove it.

By constantly considering what you put on the Internet from the point of view of a hiring authority, you can make your on-line presence a boost to your career rather than a stumbling block.

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section. If preferred, email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Artist Agora

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

As today’s question comes from a fellow artist, I asked the founder and CEO of Artist’s Square (www.artists-square.com), Racquel Cruz, to frame a response onto this canvas for everyone’s benefit.

“Being an artist, I am finding it difficult to secure employment. Is there a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore in the Greater Central Florida area?”

Yes, there is a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore artwork in the Greater Central Florida area.  In fact, Central Florida is the native location of an online social networking site for artists, called Artist’s Square.

The site was based on the idea of online technology, mixed with the concept of creating an ancient Greek agora, known as a “meeting place” or “marketplace.” Just as the ancient Greek agora, it is a gathering place for artists and people who love art.

Not only does the site provide local tools and resources for artists, but, Like WONO, its heart and purpose is connection, affording artists career opportunities as well as career guidance designed specifically for this unique group. Thinking Artist’s Square is just for the locals? Think again. The site extends its services for artists and art lovers internationally and globally.

Career tip 1: Artists looking for opportunities can take advantage of a social/career network.

As an artist you will have the opportunity to create a free profile, submit ARTicles, add your own blog, and this is just the beginning. Even physical art galleries can add their locations (tied with Google maps) and update images for exposure.

The site certainly cannot make an individual dedicate themselves to their dreams, but with its available resources and technology, it can create better opportunity for an individual. It can also change negative statistics for employment, hobby, and artwork all around the world.

Take a look at the site and let us know your thoughts. I know how difficult and struggling finding work is, especially for an artist. Artist’s Square is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, and partnering with you as your journey blazes new trails. Together, with West Orlando News, we will give fellow artists the tools they need to succeed.

Career tip 2: Passion and dedication will take your dreams as far you want to go.

Thanks Racquel, the road to artistic freedom and expression is becoming more accessible. Being a fellow artist, I am also an artist’s square member.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Interviewing: Time to SHINE

Finally… it took months to get one and nothing is going to stop me from making the right impression and landing a job offer (or at least making it to the next interview round). Securing an interview appointment is only half the battle – actually, getting the interview is only the beginning.

Over the past few days, I had the luxury of interviewing five candidates. The following summarizes the high points and a couple low points:

Thumbs Up:

  • All five entered the reception area in a timely and professional manner
  • All five dress professionally and fit the part, clothes tight and holding an eager and smiling face
  • All five engaged in a “conversational” style during the interview (as opposed to being stiff or rigid – for the record, I prefer a relaxed discussion – one not predetermined and overly practiced)
  • All five offered a firm hand shake upon initial greeting and departure
  • All five could do the job

 From the surface, it is a neck to neck rating.

Thumbs Shaking:

  • None of the five have sent a thank you follow up (I prefer snail mail [yet did not even receive an email or a phone call] showcasing a bit of personality, innovation, attention to our conversation, and sincere interest)
  • None of the five appeared to perform due diligence regarding pre-interview company research (I am only guessing here but as no one shared an in-depth knowledge of what we do and how we do it, I can only conclude based upon the premises provided)
  • With no clear-cut candidate advantage, what do you recommend I do? Having all return for a second interview would probably result in the same result. As a hiring agent, I want someone to step up to the plate and force me to recognize him/her as the one. Guess I will just keep interviewing, checking the mail, and hoping someone will rise above the complacency…

What does this mean for you? From the student to the entry-level first-time employee to the seasoned professional, interviews (if you are lucky enough to get one) are YOUR time to shine.

The concept is simple:

Interview Shining Requires:

  • Making sure you hit all points on the thumbs up category.
  • Perform due diligence prior to the interview; this means researching the company, what they do, how they do it, and what you bring which will add/contribute to the success of the company.
  • Send a thank you/follow up letter if you remain interested in the position immediately after the interview.

Take it from me, a typical employer, sometimes the little things can make a huge difference!

Getting that initial interview is only the beginning.

Prove your value AND reinforce your contributions and interest. I have five good candidates treading, all I want now is a reason to believe one of them wants the job as much as I want to hire him/her… what else can I do?

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or you can even check visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Shadow me on Twitter: @dannyatecs

How Do I Get Work Experience?

We recently received several questions, all focusing around one issue: gaining experience. Though we’ve detailed the concept of transferable skills, I thought it best to ask one of our writers, Brandon, handle this one directly. On this note, keep sending in your questions and we’ll keep forging new ground.

How do I get work experience?”

This often asked inquiry is usually penned by eager-eyed graduates throwing their brand new diplomas at places of employment, hoping it will stick. Generally, the question sounds something like this, “How can I ever get work experience if they won’t give me a chance to work?!”

This problem is almost always blown out of proportion due to a flawed belief that many hold, that one can only gain work experience from working a job. For those possessing such a negative attitude (and yes, attitude plays a huge role in gaining employment—at any level) think about this: we would never have an eligible President of the United States seeing that no candidates have any prior experience running a country.

The solution to not having any (or enough) experience is something we in the business call transferable value. You see, the skills that are required in the work place (let’s call them transferable skills) can be learned in a multitude of venues and locations. For instance, a recent graduate may cite his courses as experience, especially if they were hands-on courses requiring students to complete said task. Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve graduated and are looking for a change in career; the same applies to you as well.

Career tip 1: Transferable skills are learned throughout your education and career that may count as relative work experience.

You’re now probably wondering, “How do I know what counts as experience and what doesn’t?” That’s up for you to decide. Only you can judge what is relevant and what isn’t. Just remember to think outside of the box when you start to get introspective. For example, a waitress at Denny’s has far more transferable value than one may think.

Any waitress or server will tell you in a heartbeat they have the ability to multi-task, are proficient in customer service, and have experience handling money. Do you see where this is going?

Career tip 2: While evaluating your transferable skills, don’t stop at the basic job posting requirements.

There’s a little thing called “added value” which plays directly into the above career tip. Added value is that something extra you bring that most other candidates do not. For instance, let’s say you are bilingual yet the job does not require you to be. The benefit of being bilingual could be to your advantage. Think about it, if the company wants to expand to a new audience, you may fit perfectly into their future plans. Another example of an added value may be a proficiency in software or hardware.

Still think you don’t have any experience? Think again!

Delve deeply into your creative side and begin considering the many transferable skills you offer. There are skills you’ve learned that count as work experience. There are also additional unique added-value skills you’ve learned that set you apart from the competition. Don’t overlook the significance of your past as you build your future.

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or you can even visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
www.educationcareerservices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Interview Preparation (Part Two of Two)

A few days ago we rested in the middle of number one. For a quick recap, here’s the list once more:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know where you fit and why
  3. Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them

If you happened to miss our last discussion, refer back to the previous submission and get caught up in a hurry. As it is, let’s examine how company personality can be used for your advantage as you head into an interview.

We left off after highlighting company research resources available at your fingertips. Use these same resources to learn about key people in the organization, particularly the area you’re interviewing for. If you’ve been provided a contact in case you have questions, you might politely inquire as to the name or name(s) of the individuals you’ll be meeting in your interview and their titles within the firm.

Receptionists, administrative assistants, and HR personnel are very busy individuals often answering to and supporting a number of individuals in a company at once, so don’t make multiple calls to them or abuse the opportunity to communicate with them. Only call when you have gathered as much information as possible on your own. Make your inquiry short and polite, and thank them for their time and help, even if they can’t provide you the answers you’d hoped.

Career Tip #1: As a potential employee, learning as much as you can about the company is the only way you can successfully accomplish number two on our list.

Let’s take a look at number two on our list of how to prepare for an interview, “Know where you fit and why.”

Now that you’ve studied up on your future employer, have an idea how big the firm is (a team of five family members or an international conglomerate of 50,000), what’s important to them, and gained a sense of what they value and what kind of culture exists within the firm, you’ve got the information you need to figure out where you fit and why.

Career Tip #2: Being prepared shows confidence, initiative, and career readiness.

Know how to respond to expected questions such as “What led you to apply to this firm,” “What strengths do you bring to this position,” and even “Where do you see yourself in five year?”

While you can answer these questions without knowing anything about the company, consider how much better you’ll look as a knowledgeable and prepared candidate. Packed with information, imagine how much more clearly you can make your case for your being THE RIGHT INDIVIDUAL for the job if you can answer common (and no-so common) questions with specificity, using the information you gleaned in Step one!

You can probably see how Step one has also set you up to “Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them” (taking us to number three on the list).

Everyone arrives at an interview expecting to answer questions about themselves and their qualifications. And everyone interviewing for a specific position likely has very similar answers to one another (after all, you’re all up for the same job!). Visualize what that’s like for the interview, though. It’d be like watching the same scene from a movie over and over and over again.

How can you make the interview experience different for the interviewer? How can you stand out from the others interviewing with the same credentials, and same background as you have?

In addition to being able to give specific answers to your interviewer’s questions–answers that demonstrate you’ve done your homework, know about the company and know where you might fit in the company–you can also ask great questions when given the opportunity.

Very often, at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked “Are there any questions we can answer for you?” Be ready! Ask questions that help you learn even more about the company and about the position for which you’re applying. Working relationships go both ways so think of asking the right questions as an opportunity to interview the company. After all, you need to decide whether working for them is right for your future.

In effect, you’re both interviewing one another. So, when given the opportunity, have two or three great questions ready to ask that demonstrate that you’ve studied the company, care about the job, and are seriously interested in whether you’re the right fit for the position. These questions give you one last opportunity to SHOW your future employer who you are.

I know you can’t imagine NOT wanting a job! But sometimes it’s important to know that you can work for a firm and be happy.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you prepare for your interview!  Good luck!

Presented by Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D.,
Program Director of General Studies
American Public University/American Military University

Thank you once again Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Interview Preparation

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

In response to today’s question, Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, will be taking control.

“I’ll be graduating in May and looking for a job. I have an interview scheduled but have no ideas on what to do besides show up with resume in hand. What do you recommend I do to prepare for an interview?”

Interviews are crucial to snagging the job you want. If your professional documents have made it past the initial HR screening and on to the desk of a hiring manager, feel confident that you’re being seriously considered for the job. Congratulations on having an interview scheduled!

However, recognize that it’s rare for a company to interview only one person for a position. Therefore, it’s essential that you put your best foot forward and make a good impression on the interviewer as well as on anyone you come in contact with as you make your way to and from the interview. You never know who’s a friend of whom or what tactics an employer might be using to evaluate all aspects of a future employee’s “fit” in a new company.

Career Tip #1: The individual you think is “just the receptionist” in fact might be a very important voice in the office whose opinion is respected, so being rude or disrespectful, or underestimating the value of such individuals can mark you as unprofessional and can even lead to your eventually not getting the position.

A few companies actually resort to creative ways to evaluate the tendencies of future employees and whether or not they’re a good “fit” for the company. It’s been reported that some companies even monitor what magazines you pick up off a coffee table as you wait in the lobby for an interview. Do you go for light reading? Are you attracted to business journals or company brochures? Are you pleasant to those around you? Do you make eye contact and seem poised and confident?

In today’s job market there more qualified people for every position than ever before and competition is stiff, but at least you can be confident that you’ve put your best foot forward and done nothing to hamper your chances. You may even find that you end up in the future with an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Career Tip #2: A great strategy is to see every moment you’re in the vicinity of a potential employer as an opportunity to learn, to make contacts, and to make a good impression. If you adopt this as you’re attitude, you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the position, of course.

Okay, we’ve ventured slightly off the path to disclose hints about “how to be” when you show up for the interview, yet you asked specifically about “how to prepare” for the interview and what to take with you. Time to get back on track…

First, here are several steps which, taken together, can help you prepare for the interview:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know where you fit and why
  3. Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them

Let’s take a look at number one, “Do your homework.”

Given an interview has been scheduled, it is safe to claim that you know the name of the company you’re interviewing with and you may even know the specific position for which you’re interviewing. Now what you need to do is to learn as much as you can about the company itself as possible.

Companies, like people, have “values” and “culture.” If you’re a fan of Thirty Rock or The Office, you already know this. These shows, of course, are exaggerations of a kind of company culture taken to the extreme to get a laugh from the audience, but they still point to an important fact: companies and the people who work in them, together create a kind of culture shaped by what the company values and its work environment.

Career Tip #3: Companies have, in effect, “personalities.”

As you head into an interview, ask yourself:

  • What kind of company is this?
  • What sort of personality does this company have?
  • What does it make?
  • What does it value?
  • What kind of culture does it support and create for its employees?

Trying to find the answers to questions like these by researching the company website, studying any materials its published about itself in ads, in brochures, and on the web, as well as reading about the company at the Better Business Bureau, or if its big enough, in past articles (on the web or at your local library) of The Wall Street Journal, Business Weekly, or Fortune is an essential part of preparing for an interview.

This looks like the perfect lead for a break. Join me in a couple days as we complete number one and journey to numbers two and three.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS