Be Memorable

   This week we are going to look at the top 3 reasons people do not get the job. One of the top 3 reasons people do not get the job is very simple, they are not memorable. You might be asking yourself what would being memorable have to do with getting the job, I am here to tell you that it has EVERYTHING to do with getting the job. I personally interview anywhere from 5-20 people a week. Some weeks I remember almost everyone and other weeks I can barely recall who I met.
   The same is true of employers. They see hundreds of job seeker resumes for every open position, and then interview anywhere from 5-20 people on average. If you are up against anywhere from 5 to 20 other people in any average interview situation then you better bring your A-game. So how do you make yourself memorable?

1) Get a career coach or a friend to help you practice your answers to interview questions. I cannot begin to tell you how many times my eyes have glossed over during an interview when I hear the same old answers to every interview question. Add some “PEP” to your interview question answers. To find out more about PEP go to: http://www.jhccs.com/PEP.html

2) Dress to impress. Dress sharp, but do not over do it with loud colors or accessories. A job seeker I recently placed came in to interview with me one day and he blew my socks off. He had on a very sharp suit and tie, nothing over the top, but I was immediately struck by how professional he came across. Needless to say, my client was equally impressed.

3) Finally, it is important to remember that ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING! You can be extremely well dressed and very articulate, however, if your attitude does not match everything else, you will quickly fade into the background. It is important to be confident, but NOT cocky. You should also be extremely eager to get the position, but not desperate. It is a very fine line, but when properly balanced, you will always be the one who stands out!

What you leave blank could lose you the job…

I just learned a very important lesson today in recruiting and career coaching. Never think that any advice is too obvious. I have been recruiting and coaching now for close to 8 years and the longer I have been in the business the more I notice I take it for granted that job seekers know certain things. One such thing came to my attention today.

I had thoroughly prepared a job seeker for her interview with a law firm. She knew how to answer just about any question you threw at her, however, the one thing I did not prepare her for was how to fill out the application. I was reminded today that I need to cover EVERYTHING from the application to the thank you note when I prepare candidates for an interview.

This candidate was so well prepared on how to answer her reason for leaving her past position, that when it came time to answer that question on the application, she thought there was not enough space to fully answer the question the way I had coached her. This is my fault. I should have let her know what I am about to tell you: NEVER LEAVE A QUESTION BLANK ON AN APPLICATION! It is perfectly acceptable to put a short answer down on the application and then elaborate further when asked the question directly.

One of the biggest pet peeves of many Human Resources professionals is not thoroughly completing your job application. You should ALWAYS thoroughly answer any question on the application. NEVER put “see attached resume” or leave a question blank. This makes you look lazy or disinterested, which is the last thing you would want to convey in an interview. In a worst case scenario you could always put “open” if the question
has to do with salary desired or hour preferred.

In these economic times, it is also important to be prepared for a background check. Some companies will require you to fill out their background check form during the first interview. This does NOT mean they are going to run your background check right then, rather most companies will keep it on file and ONLY run it if they offer you the job. If not, they will simply shred it.

Do not give the hiring manager a reason not to hire you. Be thorough and complete and please be accommodating with any requests they make of you when it comes to filling out background check information.

What if you don’t have the experience they are looking for?

A job seeker recently asked me “How do I handle it if I am asked about my experience in an area that I have not worked or am not experienced with?” This question can often come up in an interview. The interviewer might ask you: “How strong are your Excel (Excel could be anything) skills?” If you did not have prior experience working with Excel, but were familiar with it, you might want to reply something like this: “I have always wanted to learn Excel. It is a software that I am very familiar with, but have not used extensively in my past positions. It is something I am sure I could pick up quickly, especially given my knowledge of other Microsoft Office tools such as Word and Outlook.”

In this case you do not want to specifically talk about the lack of your skills in that area. Rather you want to emphasize where you do have skills and how those skills can be parlayed into whatever they want you to learn. Always de-emphasize what you don’t know and emphasize what you do know.

Changing Careers in this Economic Climate

With thousands of people being laid off every month many people are beginning to reconsider what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Do they work tirelessly to try and get some version of their old job back? Do they transition into a new growing field that offers more opportunity then their old profession or do they go after their long lost dream? How do you know if a career change is right for you, and if it is the right choice, what do you do next?

The first thing you have to ask yourself is, on a scale of 1-10, how much did you love your old job? 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. If you rate your old job as a 7 or lower, then it might be time to consider pursuing a different field. In this economic climate it is not worth your time to spend 10x the amount of effort to get the same job back that you were not crazy about to begin with. Rather, you are better off to invest your time and energy into finding something you love. For some of you, you may already have side hobbies and interests that you could see yourself turning into a career. For others, you might need to begin to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and find something that would suit you long term.

If you do decide that changing careers is the right move for you, then there are a few steps you should take to begin the process.

If you know that you do not want to go back to your old field, but are
confused on what you might want to do, then finding yourself a career coach is probably
the next logical step. It is always a good idea to get a referral when trying to find a career coach
rather then trying to find one on your own.

If you already know what you want to do, then I would recommend you begin by interviewing people in the field you are interested in and ask them how they broke into that particular field. It is also important that you have a clear understanding of what will be expected of you in that position once you are able to get a position in that field. That is why finding a mentor can be extremely valuable.

If you are considering opening your own company that may relate to your hobbies or interests, then looking into the Small Business Administration or sba.gov might be your first move.

Regardless of what you choose, know that there are options available to you other then just going back to the same boring job you hate. Look at your lay off as an opportunity to re-create yourself and your future.