Category Archives: Post Interview Follow Up Letter

Employer Interview Decision Time

Image by Chelsea Francis
Image by Chelsea Francis

Over the past week much has happened. Not only did I receive numerous emails asking which candidate was selected, I was asked how the decision was made.

Quick recap: Recently, Tropical Air of Central Florida, located in the Longwood area, searched for an administrative/office support staff. With the help of Goodwill Industries (Job Connection) and Christian HELP, applicants were interviewed, resulting in four final and well-qualified candidates.

Second interviews were held over a three-day period (last week):

  • All four applicants earned great marks for dress attire.
  • All four applicants arrived in a timely manner, approximately ten minutes early.
  • Nonverbal communication went well; eye contact, voice tone, attitude, and hand shake matched expectations.
  • Three of the four asked well-researched questions at the conclusion of the interview.
  • Two of the four sent follow-up notes within the appropriate time (two neglected the letter).
  • One of the four not only followed-up with a note, but also initiated a phone conversation, inquiring about the position while desensitizing latent employer concerns.
  • All four applicants felt comfortable with the environment and confident job functions would be handled with little hesitation.
  • Two of the four applicants offered beneficial unique contributions.

Decision time: Impressed by the four candidates, a choice had to be made

  • The decision was made based upon who we felt wanted the job more than the other candidates. For the two candidates not submitting a follow-up note or call, the impression was they were not as interested in the position as the other two.
  • The follow-up letters “showed” a desire to be part of our team. With this said, two candidates remained in a slot designed for one.
  • An additional phone call and strategy by one of the candidates in an effort to desensitize our concern leaned the decision her way.
  • Though education level was not officially considered, offering an advanced degree and unique value beyond the other three candidates helped sway the decision.

To summarize: There are many factors employers take into consideration during the interview and hiring process.

  • Appearance: Dress appropriately. Never wear sweats, jerseys, jeans, or fun casual.
  • Nonverbal: Show interest with good posture (no slumping in the chair), eye contact (do not stare as that can be creepy), firm hand shake, and always wear a smile.
  • Arrival: Ten minutes prior to scheduled time is considered proper. Do not arrive more than ten minutes early as this is disrespectful. If you are going to be late, call and explain (most employers know things happen and will understand).
  • KSA: Prove you possess the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done.
  • Professionalism: Courtesy goes a long way.
  • Company research: Have several questions ready, proving homework and diligence is on your side.
  • Follow-up: This is often the tie-breaker. A simple hand written note and quick call often differentiates close calls.

If you are invited to interview but not offered the position, always follow-up with a thank you note. Truth is, not all initial hires are the right choice. Changes can (and do) happen, making the next in line the newest employee.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit http://www.edu-cs.com, http://www.CareerBreakOut.com, or http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

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Interview Relaxation

Have you ever been nervous going into an interview?

Most of us have (our first few times). Not knowing what to say or even how to introduce yourself can be stressful. Physically, your heart starts to race and you get little nervous twitches. The twitches could be your leg shaking, sweaty palms, or messing with your hair. Good news, there are mental and physical ways to prepare and relax for the interview. Here are just a few:

Be Prepared

  • First and foremost, and probably the most overlooked, is getting a good night’s sleep. Have your clothes and everything you will be needing set out the night before so you don’t have to rush around making yourself nervous and uneasy.
  • Make sure you eat something before the interview, even if it is just a couple pieces of toast. You do not want to go in and have your stomach rumble because of an empty stomach.
  • Do not forget to bring a pen! You want to be ready for anything. They usually will have you sign something and if you do not have a pen you may be seen as unprepared.
  • Use the restroom beforehand. Just do it. On this note, look in the mirror, smile and feel confident!

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Ever not know what to wear other than something seemingly nice?

Do   wear

Comfortable

Dressy

Make-up (but not too excessive)

Button up over shirt

Something clean

Presentable

Do   not wear

Tight pants

Uncomfortable shoes

Stuff with holes

Flip-flops

Tank tops

A face full of jewelry

Be Confident
Well.. this is an easy one. You have to know you’re going to do great! Go in thinking and visualizing: “They love me and I have this job!” Do not second guess yourself. All those “What ifs.. What if they don’t like me… What if I mess up… What if.. What if…” This is what makes you nervous. Another way to be more confident is knowing that it is okay no matter what the outcome! As much as you would want to have that one specific job, you will have more opportunities out there. You do not need extra stress that this one interview could have a drastic change on your whole life because it will not. Greatness will come your way if you just give it time and charge through obstacles confidently.

Make Them Comfortable
During an interview, things may seem to become stiff. This means one thing: Research the job and company beforehand. Think of a way to bring up experiences that are in common with the person interviewing you. Just do not make it a life story taking thirty minutes to explain. Smiles can do a lot to lighten the mood of a serious interview session; not to mention, make you feel more relaxed.

Thank you for taking the time to stop and relax with me. Give it a whirl next time you get called in for an interview. One more thing, check out my next blog on “Unspoken Communication.”

Floyd Cooksey

Career Breakout: The Character Clause

Over the past few months many readers expressed concerns regarding initial interviews. From what I have been hearing, many get an initial interview but that’s as far as it goes. No second interview. No job offers. In effect: Nothing but darkness.

For the record: Becoming post-initial interview invisible may be a result of the character clause.

Based upon piles of research, interviews, and conference workshops, a key element to succeed during an interview comes down to one word: Character.

According to Merriam Webster, Character is defined as “attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual,” and “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person.”

For the record: The intent of the initial interview is to determine company, cultural, and position fit.

Okay, so you’re asking, where does character come into play and isn’t it good enough that I can do the job? We’ll tackle the easy part of the question first: No, it’s not good enough that you can do the job. Doing the job is only one of many factors… so get over it.

Going directly to character, initial interviews evaluate your personality, thus the increase use of behavioral questions. Several topics beneath the character umbrella you should be aware of include:

* Trust: Can the company hold confidence in your ability to do the right thing?
* Dependability: Do you show up on time, everyday?
* Professionalism: How well will you represent the company, during and after hours?
* Courtesy: Are you friendly and respectful to all individuals you encounter, including the receptionist?
* Appearance: Hate to say it but the way you look affects outcomes. Do you look the part?

Violating the above, though often intangible, will cause harm to your initial interview. If you are being asked to come in for an initial interview but nothing more, the hurdle may be in the manner in which you represent character. With that in mind, let’s evaluate each of the above topics and resolve potential disconnections:

* Trust: The hiring agent wants you to detail a time where trust was tested. For example, did you ever work as a cashier? If so, how much money were you responsible for? If so, talk about that during the interview.
* Dependability: Do you have perfect attendance certificates or awards for being at work and on time? Employers want to know you will work every scheduled day. Perhaps a reference letter from a previous employer could address that issue… just saying.
* Professionalism: Work is no longer isolated to brick and mortar. With Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other sites, companies don’t want insensitive or compromising images of their employees. While on this note, employers do filter social sites during the interview process. In other words, your Spring Break party photos may be damaging to your career.
* Courtesy: Nothing is more damaging than being rude to the receptionist or to a stranger in the elevator as you near the office. After all, the person riding the elevator with you just may be the owner. And yes, that does happen.
* Appearance: Most companies prefer the conservative look. If you have rings in the nose, mouth, tongue, or cheek, take them out immediately. The adage about how you are expressing individuality is so over-done, stop your whining and get over it.

There are many examples one can detail to showcase character. One of the most effective interview techniques is for you to develop short stories that highlight character. An easy way to arrange stories and prepare for the interview is to take advantage of the Performance, Action Result (PAR) method. The PAR method asks you to expand by following an easy format:

Problem (Briefly explain what was going on and how you were involved):

Action (Briefly explain what you did to resolve the problem):

Result (Briefly explain what happened and if possible use measurements):

For the record: Creating several PAR short stories will prove to be beneficial during interview sessions.

Hiring managers want you to be the right candidate. Giving them short stories, creating a discussion-like atmosphere, and believing in yourself may be the missing link between initial interview and the job offer.

If you would like additional information or insight about the interview and how to better prepare for your interview, send us your questions.

For those interested in obtaining cutting-edge career books and single topic guidebooks, visit our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS) and review our career resources library.

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

Career Breakout: Artistic Representation and the Sell

Though on the surface the resemblance may be unclear, the connection tying the selling of art is directly related to career management. Professional relationships between buyer and seller or employer and employee, involves a great number of factors. What happens when disconnects occur, morphing positives into negatives?

Artists Square’s member Rhonda Newhook expands on the concept of undesirable persuasion in artistic transactions by responding to the following questions asked by a member of our audience.

“As an artist, is it easy to deter someone from buying a painting that they love by your actions or words? If so, how do you think an artist should represent themselves or their work?”

Persuasion in Transactions

As an artist who paints not just for herself, but to share her inner visions with the world, the necessity of actually selling my work has become an experience which brings a commingled sense of joy and tension.

On the one hand, I find myself thrilled that this person whom I have never met is interested in actually paying money for the privilege of owning the fruits of my brush. On the other, I have come to realize that I cannot help but ponder upon the reasons why they are desirous of the purchase in the first place, and by extension, wrestle mentally with the possibility that I might not approve of their intentions towards my work once it becomes their property.

Career Tip: Accepting a job offer means accepting the corporate culture, attitudes, ethics, and intentions. In other words, make sure you don’t join a team that goes against your moral and ethical principles.

Perhaps I am not being too clear upon my meaning here. You may be wondering ‘how does one have undesirable intentions towards a piece of art?’ It would seem a valid question, and it comes with an answer which is only fully understandable when it is your own creation to which the price tag is attached.

Imagine pouring your heart and soul upon a canvas to create a vision of which you are proud to offer for sale, and when a serious buyer offers up the desired amount you are told the painting was intended to serve as an art-class example of what a painting ‘should not be’. Or worse yet, they want to add their own “finishing touches” to your completed work. I have seen both happen, but not to me personally.

Insulting to think of, is it not? What would you do in such a situation? I know what I do. I call it negative persuasion.

Career Tip
: Working environment plays a huge factor in your psychological state; in order to increase job satisfaction, ensure mutual respect is part of the environment.

Negative persuasion is a technique I use in order to talk a potential buyer out of a potential purchase of my art.  I do this when I do not feel right about letting that particular person obtain a small shard of my soul in the form of my art. Maybe I feel uncomfortable about their intentions toward the piece, (as aforementioned), or sometimes even when I just get a negative vibe from their personality and judge that they are not worthy of my work, regardless of any offered remuneration.  Negative persuasion is my saving grace when their money cannot purchase my peace of mind.

Career Tip: If you feel an intense sense of negativism during interviews, you may want to reconsider the desire to be part of the company; after all, rough estimates claim that over 75% of all employees are not satisfied with their current job… if possible, prevent yourself from being in that number.

When it comes to selling art, the process of not accepting the offer is both simple and difficult to teach and employ. In essence, you are changing their mind, or ‘talking them out of it’. How you do this, though, will by necessity be different in each arising case. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is very difficult.

The trick is to not make your desire to change their mind too obvious. To do it well, you must make them think that it was they themselves, and not you, who changed their minds about the purchase. I guess that the easiest way to explain it is that negative persuasion is an art unto itself, and like any incarnation of art, it must be practiced to be mastered.

Career Tip: Don’t burn potential bridges by being rude or discourteous. If offered a position you don’t want to accept, reply with a professional letter informing the hiring manager of your decision. Doing nothing at all or ignoring an offer may come back to haunt during your job search.

Submitted by: Artist’s Square Member Rhonda Newhook. View her work at:
http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/RhondaNewhook-s-Visual-Art/owner/RhondaNewhook

Thank you Rhonda for your helpful insight.

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

Career Breakout: Follow Up IS REQUIRED

The following comment and question was presented by Brent Musell several days. Hope it helps and good luck with your search.

“I’ve been sending out resumes but not getting any feedback. I’m wondering if I should also send a follow-up letter and what needs to be said. What do you suggest?”

I get asked this question all the time by job seekers who fear they’re being impatient with their potential employer. Following up after an interview is a given, but should you follow up after sending a resume? It depends… do you want the job?

Jokes aside, research has found that it is truly beneficial to follow up after applying for a position. According to the Findings of a 2011 Global Career Brainstorming Day, “Follow-up is essential. Up to 40% of job seekers who follow-up after sending a resume to a hiring manager secure an interview.”

Think about this from the standpoint of the employer. Many hiring managers try to weed out the resume ‘spray and pray’ candidates from those that are truly interested in the position with the company. Following up is a great way to show that hiring manager you’re genuine.

Of course, it’s not as simple as contacting the company and saying, “Hey, I’m interested!” There are certain guidelines you need to consider before following up, lest you want to accomplish the opposite (annoying the company):

  • Think of the method you used to apply for the position. Some companies use online applications and resume submission services. Others are more informal, requiring you to directly speak with the hiring manager first. Remember this level of formality before crafting your actual letter.
  • There’s a fine line between sounding confident and sounding desperate. Assert that you are interested in the position because you feel you would best fit their needs, not because you really need or want the job.
  • Limit your follow up to one occasion (two if the application process is lengthy). Remember, your goal is to remind the employer about your application without annoying them.

Career tip: You always want to come off sounding confident and qualified.

With that said, let’s go over some of the tools you have at your disposal:

Phone Calls seem like an obvious choice based upon the immediate response time but it’s not always that simple. First, it’s not always easy to find the phone number of the hiring manager; what’s more, you may not even be able to get a hold of them because of their busy schedule. Repeated attempts to reach may frustrate the individual and make you appear desperate. If you choose this method, make one call and leave a message—that’s it.

E-Mails are quick and easy, requiring little effort on both your part and the employer’s part. The employer can read it at any time and your follow up will not be “live”, so to speak. However, this is also the problem with e-mails; they don’t really demand any attention at all and may become lost in an employer’s Inbox (look at your own Inbox for a frame of reference).

Career tip: If you email, capture their attention with a strong subject line such as “Interested in (position title)” or “Application follow-up” that let’s the employer know not to mark the message as spam or delete it.

Hard copy letters are the most popular and the most effective. In the shoes of the potential employer who receives an average of 50 applications, setting yourself above the pack can be accomplished with a quick, formal, typed letter. Going a step further, the hiring manager (typically) will take your hard copy letter and staple it to your application, giving you a second look to impress.

No doubt you’re wondering about content…

Content and tone sets the stage and will determine success or failure. It’s not enough to simply say you’re following up after submitting your resume. What you write or say is just as important as the act itself. One constant is you should keep it short—best not to use up too much of the employer’s time. Typically two or three paragraphs will do but much depends on the job position and what you bring to the table.

Besides stating your purpose, you always want to leave your contact information, should they need to contact your further. In the case of e-mails, it’s not always easy to determine a candidates name from the message itself.

For phone calls, you especially want to keep the conversation short to avoid a ramble. Something along the lines of, “This is _____ calling. I recently applied for the _____ position in (company’s name and department). I’m calling to make sure you received the resume I submitted. I’m interested in this position, so I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.”

Always remember to format your letter or e-mail properly. Standard business letter format is appreciated by almost everyone. For phone calls, write a script or dialogue and practice it until it sounds natural and not rehearsed.

For serious job seekers, I encourage you to visit www.edu-cs.com for additional information and career/professional development products, books, and resources specializing in your success.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
Education Career Services
www.edu-cs.com

Career Breakout: Pre-Interview Strategy

Congratulations on receiving a job interview, NOW is not the time to panic but to prepare. Seems like each day “what to do next” interview questions come in. As a result, the following goes out to Bianca who asked:

“I have an upcoming job interview at the Grand Hyatt hotel, what advice can you share?”

An obvious response on my side of the equation is “why would a potential employer want to interview you?” Think about it for a second, what qualities do you offer which are considered valuable? What knowledge, skills, and/or abilities do you bring to the table?

Career tip: Once these questions are answered honestly, the next step is to expand and strengthen your contributions.

An easy task? Not really but one which must be performed. Here are a few steps I suggest you take prior to the interview:

  • Review your resume and cover letter, making sure you can respond to any questions in a confident and quantifiable manner. For instance, if you trained peers, be ready to detail the number of peers, your direct involvement, and the outcome.
  • Research the job position, description, and company. A typical question asked is “what do you like about our company” or “what interests you most about the      position.” A huge turn-off is when the applicant is unable to respond adequately or states he or she did not have time to research… a big time no-no. http://www.onetonline.org is a good job position description source.
  • Dress professionally… there is no compromise when it comes to how you look. Remember you will be representing the organization.
  • Be kind and courteous to all you come into contact with, including and especially the receptionist. Professionalism goes a long way!
  • Ask pertinent questions when given the opportunity; this is where research comes into play.
  • After the interview, send an electronic thank you note AND a hand written thank you note. This display of professionalism is often neglected.

Though the above points are not all-inclusive, this is a great foundation no matter the level of experience you happen to be at.

Oh yes, one more before this concludes: BE and BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

I hope this helps and you secure a successful interview. Let us know how it goes…

Education Career Services, pens and publishes career development textbooks and single target booklets. Our “Interviewing Like a Star” single topic guidebook offers hard hitting questions, truths, activities, samples, and proven strategies to improve your career station. If interested in this or any career collateral, go to our products page on our website (www.edu-cs.com), or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

For additional information or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com).

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

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