Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Handling Rejection After a Great Interview

Yesterday's article focused on how to SHINE at an interview. Today's article will focus on how to cope with the disappointment of rejection.

It is really tough to have what seems like the best career opportunity have its door shut firmly in your face. You put a lot of effort into writing the perfect resume and cover letter that garnered their attention for the interview. You researched the company as all advice books and websites advised and turned out appearing confident as ever. You overcame the interview jitters, answered the difficult questions effortlessly, and built up a great rapport with the interviewer who congratulated you for a great interview.

Then a week later you are informed that you were unfortunately not selected for the position of your dreams.

Your natural reaction might be to blame yourself and ask what you did wrong. DON'T!

No matter how seriously and thoroughly you prepare or how carefully you plan, there is no guarantee that all your hard work will always end happily. There are going to be times when you are not successful. This is when you have to be your strongest and most positive. Do not think that you were unsuccessful, but that another candidate was successful. That might seem like no comfort, but remember the time will come when you will be offered the job ahead of someone else. It was not meant to be... at least not this time!

Keep your chin up, dust yourself off, and learn how to separate yourself from the rejection.

The most important thing to remember is that you have not been personally rejected. Someone else has made a decision that they believe is best. It is a judgment call that you can only start understanding if you accept the news in a positive manner. Did you know the other candidates? Did the person who got the job have better qualifications or more experience than you? Was there an internal candidate who knew the company inside out? There are too many possibilities for you to consider.

Rather than spending your time pondering, contact the company or interviewer. Politely ask for positive feedback from your interview and any suggestions they may feel could be beneficial to you. If you are working with a recruiter, contact only your recruiter for this feedback. This will be a great help to you for any future interviews.

Maintain a positive outlook. View the rejection as an opportunity to secure a job that is more suitable for you.

Even though you have just received bad news, believing in yourself is the best way forward. It might seem easier said than done at this frustrating time so perhaps think of your favorite film star, sporting star, model or entrepreneur. Most will tell you of the rejections they have faced, had overcome, and how it made them stronger.

The novelist J.K. Rowling is the perfect example. She wrote a book, was unsure whether she could get it published, and suffered rejection on more than one occasion; finally, someone recognized her skills and believed in her. The rest is history.

Adopt the same approach and you too will succeed.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Preparing Yourself to SHINE at Your Interview

You have landed an interview for the opportunity of a lifetime! Congratulations!!! The excitement of preparing for an interview can be overwhelming. However, do not let this excitement transfer into stress, indifference, anxiety... or worse: blowing the interview all together!

Here are 7 tips to ensure you enter your interview with a clear mind and help you SHINE!

1) Just breathe. Before you walk into your interview, take a few deep breaths--the kind that forces your abdomen in and out. Your body will relax a notch. You want to avoid upper chest breathing, as it tends to just move your stress upward to your face. This will allow you to be more articulate and help you avoid being "lost for words" due to the stress.

2) Stop the negative thoughts. If you go into an interview picking apart your outfit or imperfect responses, you're only hurting your chances of coming off as calm and collected. Turn off your negative self-talk, and create a different self-talk message, like, "I am here to share myself to the best of my ability and that is all I can really do." If you think positive things, positive things will happen!

3) Work it out. Putting in some gym time the morning of your interview can help you get rid of any nervous tension, or go for a walk at lunch or walk to the interview in nice weather. Exercise is proven to help calm your nervous system and tends to reduce the intensity of physical manifestations of stress such as fidgeting. Yoga or meditation will have similar effects.

4) Role play. Ask a friend or family member to role play with you. Ask them to be as objective as possible. Just be ready to handle their advice! Or, video yourself practicing your interview, so you know what issues you need to work on.

5) Arrive early. If you are traveling to an unfamiliar area, take a "practice run" to where your interview is located. Add extra time to allow for unexpected hold-ups such as traffic or mass transit delays. Adding the stress of rushing to your interview on time will not help alleviate your anxiety--it will only exasperate it!

6) Smile. Your first impression means everything. When you arrive at the building, office, or general vicinity of where your interview is to take place, smile at everyone in sight! You really have no idea if any of these strangers will be included in the selection process. Take this smile all the way to the interviewee chair! Remember to maintain a confident posture. It will be noticed!

7) Refer to 1 & 2. Time to make yourself SHINE!

Good Luck!!!

Written by:
Todd Koester
Vice President of Operations
Steffan & Company, Inc.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What really makes an employee happy?

Below are 9 things you can do without spending a dime. It seems so simple, but you would be amazed how many managers and companies fail on all accounts.

1. Be generous with praise. Everyone wants it and it’s one of the easiest things to give. Plus, praise from the CEO goes a lot farther than you might think. Praise every improvement that you see your team members make. Once you’re comfortable delivering praise one-on-one to an employee, try praising them in front of others.

2. Get rid of the managers. Projects without project managers? That doesn’t seem right! Try it. Removing the project lead or supervisor and empowering your staff to work together as a team rather then everyone reporting to one individual can do wonders. Think about it. What’s worse than letting your supervisor down? Letting your team down! Allowing people to work together as a team, on an equal level with their co-workers, will often produce better projects faster. People will come in early, stay late, and devote more of their energy to solving problems.

3. Make your ideas theirs. People hate being told what to do. Instead of telling people what you want done; ask them in a way that will make them feel like they came up with the idea. “I’d like you to do it this way” turns into “Do you think it’s a good idea if we do it this way?”

4. Never criticize or correct. No one, and I mean no one, wants to hear that they did something wrong. If you’re looking for a de-motivator, this is it. Try an indirect approach to get people to improve, learn from their mistakes, and fix them. Ask, “Was that the best way to approach the problem? Why not? Have any ideas on what you could have done differently?” Then you’re having a conversation and talking through solutions, not pointing a finger.

5. Make everyone a leader. Highlight your top performers’ strengths and let them know that because of their excellence, you want them to be the example for others. You’ll set the bar high and they’ll be motivated to live up to their reputation as a leader.

6.Take an employee to lunch once a week. Surprise them. Don’t make an announcement that you’re establishing a new policy. Literally walk up to one of your employees, and invite them to lunch with you. It’s an easy way to remind them that you notice and appreciate their work.

7. Give recognition and small rewards. These two things come in many forms: Give a shout out to someone in a company meeting for what she has accomplished. Run contests or internal games and keep track of the results on a whiteboard that everyone can see. Tangible awards that don’t break the bank can work too. Try things like dinner, trophies, spa services, and plaques.

8. Throw company parties. Doing things as a group can go a long way. Have a company picnic. Organize birthday parties. Hold a happy hour. Don’t just wait until the holidays to do a company activity; organize events throughout the year to remind your staff that you’re all in it together.

9. Share the rewards—and the pain. When your company does well, celebrate. This is the best time to let everyone know that you’re thankful for their hard work. Go out of your way to show how far you will go when people help your company succeed. If there are disappointments, share those too. If you expect high performance, your team deserves to know where the company stands. Be honest and transparent.

Try one or all of these in the next week and see how different the attitude or climate in the office is.

These were originally featured on LinkedIn on 8-21-2012

Monday, August 4, 2014

10 things to never do with your resume

1. "Once you're unemployed more than six months, you're considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don't want anything to do with you."

– Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of 'Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know'

2. "When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your resume is or how great your experience may be, it's all about connections."

– HR director at a health-care facility

3. "If you're trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager."

– Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at hrminion.com

4. "People assume someone's reading their cover letter. I haven't read one in 11 years."

– HR director at a financial services firm

5. "We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it's something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com."

– Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

6. "If you're in your 50s or 60s, don't put the year you graduated on your resume."

– HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

7. "There's a myth out there that a resume has to be one page. So people send their resume in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that."

– HR director at a financial services firm

8. "I always read resumes from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page resume, but three pages is pushing it."

– Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

9. "Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan resumes for key words. The secret to getting your resume through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your resume will get picked and actually seen by a real person."

– Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. "Resumes don't need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It's actually a little creepy."

– Rich DeMatteo

A special number 11. Do not put a picture of yourself on your resume unless you are a model applying for a modeling job. Otherwise it looks arrogant and that you rely on your looks rather than on your skills.

- Brian Steffan, President Steffan & Co., Inc

Condensed from Reader's Digest Magazine, April 2011

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Congratulations! You have a new job.

But will you keep it? Patience falls and terminations rise during a recession. Firms are less likely to put up with an employee’s drama, tardiness, quirks and bad days. They don’t have too. Because there will be 50 qualified candidates waiting in line for the job.

During a booming economy most of these would have been forgiven or excused and even counseled because people are so hard to find. Not in a recession. You either hit the ground running with a smile and can do attitude or your days are numbered.

From 1995 - 2001 we had a total of 13 candidates terminated out of 711 candidates placed, about 2%. From 2002 - 2004 at the height of the last recession we had 26 candidates terminated out of 123 candidates placed, about 20%. The causes of the terminations were tardiness, absenteeism, not learning the job fast enough and attitude problems made up 20 of them.

What about the other 6 you ask? Well, they make up a large portion of chapter 6 in my book when it is published. My favorite personal favorite was the ultra professional employment law legal secretary who worked for the department head and had a webcam under their desk with live feed to their pay per view website. One of the office assistants apparently found the site and recognized the secretary. They went to send it to their buddy in accounting and accidently sent it firm wide. Needless to say many people lost their jobs that day

The other five were:

1. The secretary who ordered lunch and billed it to the firm and then invited 4 of their former coworkers to the firm to enjoy it in one of the conference rooms.

2. The secretary who punched their workstation mate for using their pen. They were apparently having a bad day.

3. The paralegal that sent $800 worth of flowers to a girlfriend in a week and billing it to a client.

4. The accountant whose husband called for 2 days to say his wife was out sick only to find out she had been arrested for embezzling $100,000 from the firm she came from. The candidate had only been able to embezzle $12,000 from their current firm after auditing the books.

5. The IT Manager that got caught with child pornography on their computer after a policy they implemented to crack down on inappropriate Internet use found it.

Although these are extreme cases, how many times have you done something at work that could get you fired immediately? Most of us can say sheepishly “a few”. Regardless of the reason, learn what constitutes termination at your firm and use common sense every day. If you don’t, be prepared to be unemployed for a while.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How to Get Fired in 12 Easy Steps

Now that the employment market is heating up again, I thought this might be a good time to add this great information to my blog. Through my extensive years in the employment industry I know there are a million articles on succeeding in the job market, but, very few about how to lose a job a few easy steps. Here is the best article you could ever read.

Oh, and if you want to stay employed, just do the opposite of everything below.

Arrive late for work
Being on time is for losers; get out of bed whenever you feel like it. Stop to run an errand on your way to the office and don’t call your supervisor.

Don't forget the coffee
No, not for your boss silly, for you! You're already late so why not stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work? Don't forget to get a muffin or a roll too and walk in holding both.

Eat at your desk
I mean your coffee and roll, not your lunch silly. Why would you want to work through lunch anyway? And even better, step out once you are settled in and grab a mid-morning snack, you're in no hurry to start working anyway.

Take a long lunch
only an hour for lunch? Are they crazy? There is no way that is enough time to get together with an old friend and run a few more errands. You know you can stretch it out for an extra 15 or 20 minutes

Have a cocktail
what is lunch without a Martini? Haven’t you watched MAD MEN? It'll relax you. So what if you smell like a brewery and act inappropriately?

Make personal phone calls
if you can't make your phone calls from the office, when else will you find the time? Oh, and use your cell phone with the crazy ringtone.

Speaking of chatting...
Let's not forget about the Internet or even better, the Intranet so you can chat any time of day, so why waste your precious personal time.

Send lots of email
Use those eight hours at work to take care of all that personal email. Oh and don't forget to use your work email address. Especially when sending out your resume to employment advertising.

Download and buy things online
your connection is much faster at work than on your home computer. And besides, there are some things you wouldn't want your significant other to see, now would you?

Make the customers/clients really mad
there are several ways to do this. If you deal with customers in person, ignore them while you talk to your co-workers. Don't have answers to their questions. If most of your contact is by phone, keep yours busy so clients can't get through. If they bother to leave a message, don't return their phone calls.

Don't ever go above or beyond your job description
even when a project is down to the wire and your help is desperately needed, just remember: "It's not your job." And you have waited 3 months to see the new twilight movie with your best friend.

Leave work early
who made that 5:30 pm rule anyway? If you leave 15 minutes early think of how much FASTER you can get ahead of rush hour traffic.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to handle a telephone interview

Many things have changed about interviewing in the last few years, but nothing more then the use of a screening telephone interview. It saves time, money and office space. For anyone looking for a job today, one out of every 6 interviews will begin with a telephone screening.

A phone interview sounds like a dream way to get a job, doesn't it? You don't have to get dressed in your best interview attire, travel to a company's office, or interview one-on-one with a hiring manager. Instead, you're interviewing on the phone from the comfort of home and can even be in your PJs while you do it.

Don’t be fooled, it's not as easy as it seems. You can blow a telephone interview just as easily as you can blow an in-person interview, in fact, it much easier to do. Dropped calls, phone batteries not charged, background noise, not having anything to write with; not knowing about the company, and especially not being prepared to respond to interview questions can knock you out of contention for a job because they have nothing to base their first impression of you on except a voice over the phone.

Review these tips for how to conduct a phone interview and what not to do when you're interviewing via the telephone to make sure your phone interviews get you to the next step in the hiring process.

Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts

Create a checklist. Review the job posting and make a list of how your qualifications match the hiring criteria. Have the list available so you can glance at it during the interview. Also have a copy of your resume in clear view, so you don't have to remember what you did when.

Research the job and the company. Take some time to research the job and the company. The more prepared you are for the interview, the smoother it will go.
Prepare for phone interview questions. Review answers to typical phone interview questions and think about how you're going to respond. Below are some various types of questions to review and begin thinking of your answers ahead of time.

Phone interview questions (many are going over your resume so have it handy)

• What is the name of your company, your job title and job description? What are your dates of employment?
• What were your starting and final levels of compensation?
• What were your responsibilities?
• What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them? Why are you leaving your job?
• What are your salary expectations?
• What interests you about this job?
• Why do you want this job?
• What applicable attributes / experience do you have?
• What can you do for this company?
• What do you know about this company?
• Why do you want to work here?
• What challenges are you looking for in a position?
• What can you contribute to this company?
• Is there anything I haven't told you about the job or company that you would like to know?
• What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
• What is your greatest weakness?
• What is your greatest strength?
• Describe a typical work week.
• How would you describe the pace at which you work?
• How do you handle stress and pressure?
• What motivates you?
• Tell me about yourself?

When you are invited for a phone interview, in addition to reviewing the typical phone interview questions you'll be asked, it's important to have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Phone Interview Questions to Ask:

• How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
• What qualities are you looking for in the person you hire to join this company?
• If I was hired, how would I be interacting with you and your department, what would be your expectations, and your measures for success?
• How would I get feedback about how well my work meets the expectations?
• What do you view as the most challenging part of this job?
• Why is the last person who held this position leaving?
• Who does this position report to?
• How would you describe the company culture?
• What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected? How about travel?
• What are the opportunities for advancement with the company?
• Is there anything else can I tell you about my qualifications?
• Could I schedule an in-person interview at your convenience?
• How soon would you like someone to begin the position?
• When can I expect to hear from you?
• Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Keys to a successful phone interview:

Use a land line. Unless your cell phone service is 100% all the time, use a land line instead of a cell phone. That way you won't have to worry about dropped calls and getting disconnected.

Turn off call waiting. If you have call waiting turn it off. The beep of an incoming call is distracting and can make you lose your focus.

Get rid of the distractions. Interview in a private space with no intercoms, musak or the positional to be interrupted; that means securing a babysitter if you have small children at home and kicking the dog, the cat, and the rest of the household members out of your interview space or coworkers, bosses and friends out of a conference room for phone closet.

Have a glass of water nearby. There isn't much worse than having a tickle in your throat or a cough starting when you need to talk on the phone. Have a glass of water handy so you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry or there's a catch in your throat.

Have 2 pens and paper to take notes. Pen one will always die on you and it's hard to remember what you discussed after the fact, so take brief notes during the interview.

I hope this information helps and that you will get an in person interview out of it. That is you goal!

Brian Steffan