Tag Archives: CC Connection

What NOT TO SAY at a job interview

DSC_0089According to a majority of hiring managers, one of the most common interview mistakes is: Talking TOO Much.  With that in mind, let’s spend the next few minutes reflecting the concept of “talking” and what it means to talk too much (or about irrelevant things).

A mistake made by rookie candidates (okay, seasoned ones too) is to get sidetracked and start talking about personal life issues, no matter how warm or welcoming the interviewer may be.  In other words simply answer the question and keep your answers to the point and focused.  Truth is, sharing the wrong thing makes it easier for the hiring manager to reject your candidacy.

Subjects such as spouse, home life, or your adorable children are topics falling into the area invading too much info. Rule is, an interview is a professional situation – not a personal one. With professional sitting center stage, examples of things not to say include the following:

  • How much does this job pay or when does paid off begin?
  • I hate my current employer.
  • I didn’t like my previous boss. Talking bad about your previous employer gives your interviewer the impression you are difficult to manage.
  • I am not aware of any weaknesses.
  • How many vacation days will I get?
  • I don’t have any questions for you.
  • In five years I’ll have your job.
  • When responding to: “Tell me about yourself.” Do not answer talking about your place of birth, experiences in grade school, or bad relationships.
  • When responding to:Why do you want to leave your current job? Do not say you want to leave your company because of anything relating to pay or benefits.
  • When responding to:How would your current or former colleagues describe you? Avoid responses like; “the only employee who did things right” or “a great guy to hang out with after work.”

Many hiring managers suggest candidates who seem perfect get crossed off the list by saying something senseless, irrelevant, or discriminatory.  In general, do your best to avoid discussing personal dislikes or negative comments.

CC Tip of the day: After answering questions, stop any inclination to ramble.

Once you interview successfully, thank the hiring manager for their time and follow up with a thank you note.  Good luck on your job search.

Your CC Connection

Using Online Tools to Gain Your Interview Edge

DSC_0024The world is a global village; the internet and digital resources continue to play a key role in making this a reality. Having said this, it is mind bugging to know people are still not taking advantage of the opportunities the internet affords them.

The birth of the internet comes with a rising number of Social Media and Networking sites which makes communication and rubbing of excellent minds indispensable. Top Social Media and professional networking sites such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a host of others can give a candidate added advantages in preparedness for an interview.

Recognizing knowledge is power, especially when it comes to career success, let’s take a look at some added advantages gained by using online tools and resources to prepare for an interview:

  • Researching the company: Using the internet to research a company gives you insight and information concerning the company you’re interested in. Be sure and become more than familiar with the company mission
  • Learning about top skills employers are looking for in a prospective employee: When you attend an interview, you want to be in a position of strength by knowing you have the skills and educational background of the job you’re interested in
  • Identifying local employers and top hiring companies: Many sites provide information concerning top jobs in the market and companies that are hiring
  • Searching for job listings: Sites like O-net and Twitter are valuable assets when it comes to following companies and searching for job listings. Also, online networking sites give you an opportunity to make amazing professional connections with different people which keeps you afloat in terms of being informed

When faced with questions like ‘tell me what you know about our company.’ or ‘you tell me what attracts you to our company?’ the only way you can be prepared to answer such questions would be if you have taken time to research the company AND job.

To your advantage, many candidates show up for a job interview dressed to impress but hit a dead end when the conversation turns to the company itself.  Researching about a company using online tools available is very pertinent AND your advantage.  If you cannot state the reasons why you’re attracted to a company or say all you know about them as an entity at the snap of a finger, it would be difficult to sell yourself as a great fit for the company. BTW, you do not have to memorize the company’s entire profile but at least browse their website and go to their “about us” section.

CC Career Tip: Not knowing anything about a company is an immediate red flag

Make that Connection: In addition to browsing a company’s website and learning a thing or two about them, the internet is also a great tool for Professional Networking (making valuable connections). On a personal note, I know a several people who lost their jobs but made valuable connections to land them a new job or even a better job by staying in touch with their professional online connections. You can ask questions, ask for help in reaching prospective employers, using the Social Media sites like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of them are important tools that can afford you that opportunity.

Get Connected!
Alache Mary Bagna
Your CC Connection

Body Language: Why what you’re NOT saying may cost or land you that job

Did you know that 55% of communication is nonverbal?  That means that without saying a word we are having conversations that we may not even be aware of.  Statistically the moment we see someone we decide if we like that person or if we want to do business with them.

Body language and first impressions go hand in hand… which might be to your advantage.

You may have said when you met someone you really liked or really didn’t like, that it was just something about them.  Maybe that “vibe” you were sensing was just the non-verbal conversation you were not aware that you were having.

Harris pieBased on the enclosed pie chart, only 7% of what you say is actually communicated.  This brings me to another old saying: “Actions speak louder then words?”  In other words: your body language is speaking for you all of the time, whether you know it or not.

Body language expert Janine Driver claims that body communication is different for everyone, but there are similarities when it comes to perception.  When it comes to communication, consider the following three steps:

  • You feel it,
  • you show it (body language),
  • and then you say it.

CC Tip of the Day: How you sit, dress, and walk tells more about who you are than you know.

With your career success in mind, consider the following helpful hints to help you say “HIRE ME!”

First of all, be well groomed and prepared.  Choice of clothing color, style of dress and hairstyle is the very first form of communication.  You must communicate a professional and competent appearance.

Secondly, your body has to speak the language that interviewer wants to see and this begins with, you guessed it, your Smile.  Something as simple as a universal, honest-to-goodness friendly smile can break the ice and generate feelings of wellbeing and confidence.  Make sure that your smile is genuine.

Next is the hand-shake.  The technical term is called Haptic or communicating by touch.  The hand-shake can make or break you.  This form of communication must also be a form of emulation or imitating what the interviewer is doing.  Hold your palm straight and use the same hand pressure and firmness. Let the interviewer decide when it should end.

The eyes have it: How do you feel when someone avoids looking directly at you or doesn’t look you in the eye?  One message may be one of mistrust.  We wonder what is it that they don’t want us to see.  Look your interviewer squarely and calmly in the eye, but not with a stalker or psychotic manner.  The look in your eyes should not show panic or worry, but rather interest and curiosity.

harrisFinally, be aware of your body posture.  Your mother and Grandmother may have told you to sit up straight for many years and maybe you thought they were trying to prevent you from getting scoliosis or having a hunched back.  I’m persuaded that they were preparing you for the moment you go to sit among the great ones.  The ones whose seat YOU may sit in one day. Sitting or standing with your face, head, and shoulders aligned display integrity.  Having your back straight with a slight lean forward denotes interest and that you are listening.

Your paralinguistics or verbal communication is also critical.  Modulate your tone with a steady cadence and a pleasant voice.  Speak clearly and intelligently.  Don’t talk too fast or too loudly, here again you want to match the interviewers pace.

Can you say “semantics?”  Remember: What you say and how you say it definitely matters so use your voice to your advantage.  Is your voice high and squeaky or does it infer confidence?  This is the time to talk about what you can bring to this company and why you are the BEST candidate.

How will I remember to do all of this?  This may seem like a lot to be aware of but trust me, a lot of these actions come naturally, just convey the right message at all times. Remember, more than half of what we communicate is the look on our face and the gestures we make.

So are you still wondering how this can help you get that job? Picture this:

You wake up early and jump out of the bed, today is the day you think. You eat a good breakfast, and take care with your hygiene. You smile at yourself in the mirror. All of your hard work is finally going to pay off!

You’ve got your shoes shined and your favorite shirt and tie. Your suit is fresh from the drycleaners. Today is the day of the interview for your dream job.  Keys?  Check. Wallet?  Check. Briefcase?  Checkmate!  You make sure to leave home an hour and a half early so that you can give yourself time to get a cup of coffee and breathe mints.  You went to school so that you could ride the golden ticket of your degree to the chocolate factory of employment success.

Feeling empowered and excited, you get to the interview early and give your name to the receptionist.  She directs you to the seating area to wait for the interviewer.  You stand so that you can meet the interviewer from a power position.  The interviewer sees you and says your name, you smile and walk forward confidently.

She extends her hand toward you and you grasp her hand in a warm, firm shake.  “Follow me” she says.  You get to her office and there are two chairs in front of her desk she directs you to take one, you move your chair directly in front of her so that she knows she has your full attention.  What you don’t know is your interviewer is impressed because she has to study body-language and psychology in order to hire the best candidate.  The interview goes smoothly.

All of your preparation and hard work is going to pay off. As you prepare to leave you stand to your feet calmly and thank her for the interview.  You shake her hand and reposition your chair back where you found it.  You reach the door you turn the knob and pull the door open.  As you go out the door your turn and look her in the eyes and you smile again and close the door behind you. Why wouldn’t you get the Job? You have practiced and worked hard.

Everything about you has communicated verbally confidence, skill and integrity and non-verbally your actions have backed it up. So go home and get that thank you note sent, then envision yourself doing what you were born to do….YOUR JOB!

Written and shared by:
Salima Harris
Your CC Connection

Name Discrimination… Really?

DSC_0104Good resume but no interview? Could it be your name?

Name discrimination is a discouraging fact, but hardly a surprise.  It’s just one of the many biases that can affect the hiring process.  If you were a job seeker facing possible name discrimination, would you switch to a more commonly known middle name or a nickname that sounds mainstream Anglo?  Maybe use only your initials, or otherwise change the name on your resume?  Or, would you stick with your real name, regardless?

Like it or not, your name can impact your career.  Your name can make a difference in how seriously you are taken at work and whether you even get your foot in the door for the interview.  Indeed, it’s what people don’t know or understand that is sometimes at the heart of prejudice; catering to such ignorance is no excuse for work place discrimination.

Like it or not: Hiring managers sometimes read a name that is obviously ethnic and perceive that person as unable to get the job done, as having low education, or as coming from a lower socioeconomic class.

Bruce Lansky, author of “100,000 Plus Baby Names” is convinced a name could potentially make or break a child’s future career.  One study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found job applicants with names inferring an African-American heritage received limited positive feedback when it came to the hiring process.

Here’s how far the name-game has come: Larry Whitten, owner of the Whitten Hotel in Taos, N.M., ordered a group of Hispanic employees to change their names to sound more Anglo Saxon.  For example, a name like Marco was to be changed to Mark.

Studies surmised managers tended to seek out applicants they felt perceived as “familiar” or “mainstream.”

Going back to the original title and name discrimination, how does one mitigate?  No doubt tolerance begins by teaching people in charge of hiring about the subconscious biases they may have. Until acceptance, there will be no way to change these patterns.

CC Connection: Sometimes name discrimination isn’t about race or ethnicity or xenophobia at all.  It’s just laziness or fear of embarrassment.  If the name on your resume looks hard to pronounce and/or isn’t gender-specific, it’s quite plausible that a hiring manager might (consciously or not) reject it for that reason alone.

If you want to mitigate potential name discrimination, try the strategies that follow to get your resume noticed:

  • If you feel comfortable going by a western nickname on your resume, make the switch. The idea isn’t to permanently change it but to increase the chances that a prospective employer will read your resume.
  • Consider using your first and middle initial in place of your first name.
  • Conduct an experiment of sorts. Send two resumes out to the same companies, one with your name as is and the other with your name westernized.

If an employer intentionally discriminates, you’ll be rejected during the interview.  On the other hand, some employer’s only subconsciously eliminate an applicant based on an “ethnic” name.  Once you appear in person, the employer might be more moved by your knowledge, skills, and abilities than by ethnicity.

Presented by:
Elsa De Jesus
Your CC Connection

To thank or not to thank, that is the question

So you have not found concrete evidence that a thank you note can help you get that job?

When questioning whether to send a thank you note, keep in mind that the end result is always in your favor.  A thank you note is a second chance at making that first impression.  Your expression of gratitude and recapping of the interview makes you stand out while reiterating to the employer how interested (and qualified) you are in the open position.

Thank you notes also remind the employer why you are the best fit by giving you that second chance at selling your strengths and unique contributions.  Writing a thank you note builds rapport and keeps you fresh in the employer’s mind.

Thank you notes have evolved from a simple gesture of courtesy and appreciation to a self-marketing tool. Now you know the advantages, let’s take a look at a few simple rules to live by when sending a thank you note:

  • Act fast: Send thank you notes within 24hrs of the interview
  • Make an impression: The York Technical Institute reports that less than 4% of applicants send thank you notes. Why not send yours and stand out!
  • Brief and to the point: Do NOT use it to remind them of your interest in the position by rambling into an irrelevant story or repeating the obvious.
  • Grammatically perfect: Proof read and spell check your letter AND have someone else proof it as well.

As many may question the importance of thank you notes, keep in mind that it cannot hurt.  McClure says “While many recruiters and hiring managers say they don’t care about thank-you notes and don’t pay attention to them, you never know if the person you are interviewing with does care

Think about it this way, if they do care, you just added to your chances.  If they don’t care, the only thing wasted was time.

Penned by: Louann Alicea
Your CC Connection

Veterans: The “New” Minority?

Financial Hardships

Robin Cline imageIn today’s society, it is fairly well known that members of our Armed Forces face significant financial challenges. When I was in the U.S. Air Force, many times some of my younger airmen would get into trouble for financial irresponsibility. Some of them actually thought that as long as they had checks in the checkbook, that they had money in the bank. Many wrote checks accordingly, and then get into trouble for bouncing checks. Why did this happen?

The Air Force discovered no one had ever educated these young airmen, many of whom were married, as to how to properly handle finances. Soon, programs were developed that taught the younger troops how to handle a checkbook, and many of these problems disappeared.

Far more serious problems exist, especially for the newly separated troops, now Veterans, who are facing this monumental challenge: many are going under financially. According to USA Today, military families are nearly twice as likely to have credit card balances in excess of $10,000, and nearly one out of three enlisted/junior non-commissioned officers have accounts with predatory lenders like payday loans. Being unemployed and having mountains of debt, some facing foreclosure or bankruptcy, more and more marriages end up in divorce, which only causes additional pressure and frustration on these already overburdened young troops and their families.

Medical Issues

Anyway you look at it, war is a nasty business, getting worse with every passing day. Not only does technology advance, seemingly by the hour, but there are entire corporations built on the single premise of war, how to fight it, coming up with more lethal weapons and how to use them, and newer, more grotesque ways of killing each other. War has become a science all unto itself. And the service member is caught smack in the middle of it all.

Being trained in the use of these new super-weapons and their technology, exposes the men and women of our military to horrors that most civilians think would only be in the movies, but they’re not; these things are real, and our troops have to deal with the repercussions of these new and deadly technologies. When they come home, they often have either new or very rare conditions that most in the medical world have never encountered before, and are therefore lost as to how to effectively treat these Vets.

Although new super-illnesses are real, what about the more common types of injuries that our heroes face? A very primitive but highly effective device used by the enemy is known as the Improvised Explosive Device, or IED. This one type of device can cause wounds ranging from cuts and burns, to mutilating injuries that result in amputation and even death.  The types of injuries in-between can come in the form of concussions, hearing or vision loss, nerve damage of all sorts, and the list goes on and on.

Recent news reports highlight the vast and growing problems with the Veteran’s Administration hospitals, the extremely long wait times for appointments, and the poor care in general that our returning Vets receive, and yes, there’s still more….

Educational Issues

When I was discharged, in December, 1992, right after Operation Desert Storm, I did like so many others. I had no real problem finding a job back then, but the economy was much stronger too. I went to different schools, trying to better myself, but was unable to use any of my VA Educational benefits. As Desert Storm was not yet recognized by Congress, so my education fell completely on my shoulders. I recently decided to go to college to make a complete career path change, but soon discovered that my VA benefits were severely limited, both in dollars and in time to use; I nearly lost what benefits I had because no one told me of the time limits involved.

For the Veteran student, several problems must be overcome in order to get or continue a higher education. The question of financing the education is uppermost in mind for a vast majority of students, as most are not well-off financially. Another is the adjustment from the battle-field to the classroom, and lastly, the complex transition from military to civilian life. The more challenges that the Veteran student faces, the more likely they are to fall into a “stop-gap” situation. This is bad not only for the student, but the institution as well, because the Veteran student might well not finish the educational process at all.

Reader Value As a Veteran and student, I have seen and experienced many of the roadblocks and barriers that the Veteran students face, and it is my hope to bring attention to these and other problems faced daily by our Veterans, and to express how much we, as a grateful nation, need to correct these problems faced by our military heroes. They have given our country so much, and we, as the best nation on earth, need to step up to the plate, get a firm grip on the bat, and hit a new home-run for our Veterans….God Bless America!

Penned and contributed by:
Robin Cline
Your CC Connection

Semantics: What you say and how you say it matters

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m sure you’re wondering why you need to know anything about semantics and how this can help you get the job you want. Semantics is the study of the meaning of language. It also deals with varieties and changes in the meaning of words, phrases, sentences, and text. Just in case you’re still not sure what it means, semantics is what you say and how you say it.

Let’s look at an example of how meaning can change by reviewing the word “create.” Create can mean build, make, construct, erect, compose, or imagine. Another example is how the simple word “on” can have many meanings: on call, on the roof, on cloud nine, on edge, on fire, on purpose, on demand, on top, or on the phone. Semantics helps you choose the most effective words for your cover letter and your resume. You can choose from a list of words to communicate how you are the most qualified candidate for the job. This is why it is imperative that we learn to communicate effectively with those we want to do business with and those who may want to do business with us.

Semantics is communication. It uses different words to imply a desired meaning. Business semantics are what you use to answer the question “What is your greatest weakness?” We wonder why they are asking us this. Did I say something wrong? How do I respond? Your use of semantics can make you seem even more polished and professional when you are able to answer the tough questions that everyone dreads.

Here are some potential responses you might give “My greatest weakness is completing tasks in a timely matter because I’m a perfectionist.” Or you can say “I’m just not that good at finishing stuff.” Dear future employee, please choose door number one! You may also say “I have had issues with project completion.” Do you say that to an interviewer? No! You just may be able to get away with saying “I’ve had some pretty close calls with project completion quite some time ago. Since then I have designed a flow chart that had a timeline for my project completions, and I am able to finish my projects with time to spare.” To add support to your claim, give an example of said project or show them the flow chart.

How can I use semantics to my advantage and why do semantics work? Semantics is the combination of verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and self-confidence. Let’s say you don’t have enough experience for the job you want but are confident that with your previous job history, you can do the job. The verbiage on your resume should highlight your strengths that apply to the position you are applying for.

Let’s take the word “strength” as an example. Instead you can use fortitude, tenacity, stableness, energy, steadiness, or courage. A thesaurus is an excellent resource to help you find other words to add you your vocabulary. In the book Semantics in Business Systems, David McComb states “New words aren’t usually invented; rather new meanings are imposed on the words and phrases already being used.Your use of Semantics is your power and how well you wield it can change that interview into your dream career.

Semantics is always in action, even if you don’t realize it. You may use semantics as a play on words or as an intentional pun. Puns use multiple meanings of words and homophones (where the pronunciation is the same but the spelling and meaning are different). You can say almost anything you want!  If you want to go far in business or anywhere in your life, you must be able to communicate effectively. Semantics is an important portion of the communication process. With your expert use of it you will be a dream to any interviewer and practically any job you apply for will be at your fingertips.

Stay focused, take your time and choose your words carefully. Your future is in your hands.

Hello??? That was semantics!

Penned by Salima Harris
Your CC Connection