Sign of the Future

A colleague of mine frequently hires students for her department.  Recently, a student showed up 90 minutes late for his interview; she refused to interview him because he was late.  This may seem harsh to some people; however, his behavior communicates volumes about the type of employee he’ll be.

An interview is an opportunity for the employer and candidate to assess the potential fit.  Candidates want to showcase themselves in a positive light and showcase their ability to do the job.  Showing up late communicates that the candidate doesn’t take the opportunity seriously and is not that interested in the position.  It also causes the employer to wonder what other types of problem behaviors will emerge once the individual starts.  Will they be chronically late, have trouble following directions, and exhibit other performance issues?  For many employers, showing up late for an interview guarantees that you will not be hired for the position.

Posted on January 27th, 2015 by

Irons In Your Career Fire

When people say the phrase, “irons in the fire,” they typically use it to describe when a person has a number of things working to his/her advantage . . . all at the same time.

Articles written by career development experts (for example those on quintcareers.com, careerealism.com and workawesome.com) are saying that 21st Century careers might be described as just that–not just one but several vocations working in a person’s favor all at once.

The days of choosing a career and working within it until you decide to change careers, reinvent yourself, or retire are gone. Going forward, having a career will also mean simultaneously going after several things that you like and that give you a chance to use your gifts and talents diversely.

One example of this is someone working in the human resources industry. A successful career for this person might be working as an HR specialist, as well as providing keynote speaking services on HR topics, and writing articles about the human resources field. Another example is someone who is a computer programmer during the day, voice over talent on the weekends, and a painter at night.

This multi-layered career approach allows you to do what you enjoy in a variety of ways, all of which support the industry you’ve chosen and/or provide income streams from more than one source.

In these days of organizational volatility and economic upheaval, it’s important to consider adding a variety of irons to your career fire that will support the necessary multitasking experts predict will characterize what work looks like for future 21st Century employees.

How can a multi-layered career approach help you reach your goals? Comment below and let us know.

Informational Interviews

Networking. Networking. Networking! It’s still the career-seeking buzz word. Job seekers are told to make connections. Join Linkedin. Develop relationships. Attend job fairs, and pick up those oh-so-important business cards.

And then what?

One thing you can do to strengthen your developing relationship with people new to your network is to schedule informational interviews.

An informational interview is a meeting that you set up to spend time with people and get some important questions answered about either a profession or a company. If you follow the job-seeking advice of making a list of places where you’d like to work and then attend job fairs where those employers are in attendance, you can set up informational interviews with the company representatives that you meet at the career fairs.

If, in the course of your daily activities, you meet a person working in the profession you’re pursuing or find a contact on LinkedIn, set up an informational interview with that person to learn more about the demands and rewards of that particular career.

Schedule your interview for at least 30 minutes but no longer than an hour. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time. When setting up the interview, offer to send your list of questions to your interviewee in advance of the meeting. This often makes people more comfortable if they know what you’ll be asking. To save time, you may want to consider Skype or online chat as options as well.

Dress professionally for a face-to-face interview. Don’t offer your resume; however, take a copy of it with you in case you’re asked for it. Of course, take a notepad to write down the responses. Don’t feel tied to your questions—be flexible to go in another direction if the conversation leads you in another direction. Most importantly, send a thank you note or e-mail immediately after the interview.

Sample interview questions include:

ABOUT A COMPANY

  • What’s the most satisfying aspect of working here?
  • Where do you see this company in the next five years?
  • How would you describe the CEO?

ABOUT A POSITION

  • Describe a typical day in this role?
  • What challenges accompany this type of work?
  • What personal characteristics are important to be successful in this career?

The best thing about informational interviews is that you’re in control. You’ve taken the lead to set up the meeting, you came up with the questions, and you’re the one asking them. By doing these types of interviews, you’ll gain valuable insight into employers you may want to work for and careers you might want to choose.

New Goals

The beginning of a new year is a time many use to review progress and set new goals.  One of the keys to this process is to map out the steps to achieve each goal.  Rewards along the way for achieving key steps can be useful to help you stick with your new plans.  You can use this for many areas of your life including career development.  What can this look like?  Perhaps, you want to apply for a specific number of positions or make a certain number of new connections each week.  Or, perhaps you volunteer to join a new committee or tackle a new project a work.

In career development, it’s useful to map out goals for a longer period of time.  You can also create five year plans which lay out goals for each year.  Then, the yearly goals become action steps towards the overall goal.  It’s often useful to think about where you’d like to be in five years and then work backwards to come up with the goals for each year.

Just remember to keep the goals realistic so you can stick to your plans.  Also, realize that unexpected things come up, so yearly review and readjustment is an important step as well.

Posted on January 5th, 2015 by

Pushing Buttons

At a conference I attended, the keynote speaker was fumbling with technology at the beginning of her presentation.  After figuring out the problem, she said, “the takeaway is just push the button.”  While this wasn’t the main point of her presentation, it struck me on several levels.

How many things in our lives require us to push a button to get the process started?  Coffee makers require us to push a button as do computers, televisions, phones, microwaves, and some ovens.  Even the lights in my bedroom are controlled by a remote.  If this many things in our daily lives require us to push a button, should it surprise us that changing careers would involve pushing a button as well?

Changing careers usually involves writing a resume, creating cover letters, online applications, and developing a strong LinkedIn profile.  All of these tasks involve pushing buttons to get them accomplished.  Researching companies is done through visiting websites which involves pushing buttons.  Frequently, individuals look at getting or completing a degree as part of the process to change career directions.  Researching schools and programs usually starts with online research.  Applying to schools and completing the FAFSA form are also done online.  So, going back to school to complete a degree also involves pushing buttons.

If you are considering changing directions, stop thinking about it and start pushing buttons to get the process started.

Posted on December 16th, 2014 by