Saturday, May 30, 2009

Generational Differences in the Workplace

Today, we work in a multicultural, multigenerational workplace. For the first time in history, our workplaces can have four generations working together. It is important to understand how the four generations can make the workplace conflict-free, less stressful and productive.

Each generation brings different values, beliefs and behaviors. For instance, women and men work side by side in the workplace, something our parents, or grandparents, might have found unusual or improper. Being respectful of differences, even when they pose challenges, is part of today’s job.

Generational diversity becomes a challenge in the current workplace. This reality demands that we understand the different perspectives of four generations of workers just to accomplish our everyday work.

Common experiences within generations tend to affect their attitudes, expectations, and values concerning work. The experiences of people in their twenties are markedly different than those who have worked for over 30 years. The generation who has been downsized multiple times, versus one which has worked for only one company, verses one which has changed jobs each year, are quite different from each other.

Issues that have created increased generational conflict include the economy, outsourcing, elimination of middle-management positions, and technology advances. For instance, changes in the workplace have generally reduced information jobs and have slowed upward mobility, causing people from different generations to compete for jobs.

Add to that the different value systems of each generation, and it becomes difficult for managers and colleagues to know how to treat two workers in the same job if they are different ages.

Differences in value systems can impact ambitions, perspectives, behavioral norms, and emotional reactions to various work scenarios. Communications can also be tricky, since each generation is motivated by different workplace messages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Long to Find a Job....1 month for every $10,000

Most people underestimate the time it will take to become re-employed. The general rule of thumb is that it will take one month for every $10,000 of salary you were making at your previous job.
Here are some factors that can have an affect on the time it takes for you to find a job.

  1. Do you know what you want to do? Taking the time to evaluate your purpose, values, accomplishments and skills will expedite the job search process.
  2. How big is your network? A large network can give you access to more unpublished openings and get you hired faster.
  3. Update your skills. If you have not kept your skills up to date, you may need to go back to school for a period of time.
  4. What is your mind-set? Potential employers will pick up on your attitude. Seek that positive attitude!
  5. Do you have the financial strength to withstand a longer search? If you received a substantial severance package, you will not be inclined to accept the first job offer out of the desperation felt by many job seekers.

Plan your job search and consider all avenues of support. It is an opportunity for reflection, positive change, and perspective. Preparation is key.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Worst Interview Questions...Ever

After sitting in on many panel interviews, I have been exposed to many bad interview questions from my colleagues to interviewees. Not sure if they had a bad day or whether it was a 'blue Monday"for them. Safe to say I was flabbergasted by some of the questions from hiring managers Here are a sample of some of them:

  1. What would the inside of my car look like if we were to go look inside of it right now?
  2. If you were fruit, which fruit would you be?
  3. When is it OK to lie at work?

Share your worst job interview questions here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patient, Realistic and Open Minded During Your Job Search

Take a good long look at your skills, accomplishments, passions and values and then identify a time when you were most happy in your job. This will help you determine which direction your career has to move to next.

Here are three questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Can you make money doing where your passions lead? Can your ideal job meet your needs in salary and benefits? Make note of your minimum requirements, and your maximum requirements. What is the average salary and benefits for your chosen occupation? You can also ask intentional questions during informational interviews with people working in your targeted industry.
2. Are there enough positions open to launch an all-out job search? While you may have identified an ideal job, it is a good idea to look at three to five possibilities that seem interesting. Your dream job may be too specialized for many openings, or there may be so many openings and options you may have a difficult time planning your search.
3. How long will it take to find your ideal job? Most of us underestimate the time it will take to become re-employed. The general rule is 3-6 months for a professional or manager, regardless of the economy or other factors. You can also estimate that it will take one month for every $10,000 of salary you were making at your previous job.

Be patient, realistic and open minded about your job search. Following your passion is a good thing. But beware of the pitfalls.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cover Letter Summary

Here is a summary of this weeks blogs on cover letters.

A cover letter creates a strong first impression of you and it will play a large role in determining whether or not your resume should be considered.

The purpose of the cover letter is:

  1. To quickly highlight your most valuable skills related to the specific position.

  2. To match your skills and interests to the job

  3. To demonstrate your personal qualities (tact, judgment, selling and communication skills)

  4. To request an interview

A cover letter should consist of:

  • OPENING PARAGRAPH: Indicates the purpose of the letter, such as response to advertisement, acting on a referral or writing a letter of inquiry, as well as references company research.
  • THE BODY: The place to highlight your interests and key skills and relate them to the position advertised.
  • CLOSING PARAGRAPH: To be used to request an interview.
    Every cover letter you write must be:

Write a new cover letter for each job application you make and tailor it specifically to each job.

If your cover letter is poorly written, long-winded or difficult to read, the employer may never read the attached resume.

  • Do not be too aggressive, too friendly, or too vague.
  • Make certain your cover letter does not exceed one page in length.
  • An effective Cover Letter:
    formally introduces you to the employer, indicating the source of your information about the job for which you are applying.
  • SUMS UP WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER: highlights the particular aspects of your education, work experience, activities or personality which would make you an asset to their company and this job.
  • BRIEFLY STATES HOW YOUR QUALIFICATIONS RELATE TO THE JOB: links together your experiences and abilities to the company's needs, indicating your knowledge of the job for which you are not applying at random, but have taken the time to inform yourself.
    STATES THAT YOU INCLUDED A RESUME : mentions the fact that a resume follows this short introduction.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cover letter DON'Ts

Here are some cover letter Don'ts to help you with your job search

Don’t make spelling, grammar or punctuation errors
Don’t appear conceited or arrogant about your ability to do the job
Don’t focus on what they can do for you – focus on what you can do for them
Don’t discuss unrelated skills and qualifications
Don’t address any skills or qualifications that you may lack in your cover letter
Don’t forget to sign your letter
Don’t wait until the last day of the job application deadline to submit your cover letter & resume

Cover Letter Do's

Here are some cover letter Do's to keep in mind when you attach to your resume.

Do include your contact information in the cover letter.

Do let your enthusiasm for the job, the industry and the company show

Do maintain your professionalism in your letter

Do keep your letter brief – cover letters should be limited to one page in length

Do use specific examples of your skills & experiences

Do use specific letters for each application

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What makes a Good Cover Letter?

A cover letter should be short, specific and no longer than one page. You should specify your career objectives in relation to the position, what appeals to you about the job and a short summary of your experience and skills. Here are some tips for your cover letter.

  1. No spelling or typing errors. Not even one.
  2. Address it to the person who can hire you. Resumes sent to the HR department usually get lost. If you can find out (through networking and researching) exactly who is making the hiring decision, address the letter to that person. Be sure the name is spelled correctly and the title is correct. A touch of formality is good too: address the person as "Mr.," "Ms.," "Mrs.," "Miss," "Dr.," or "Professor." (Yes, life is complicated.)
  3. Write it in your own words so that it sounds like you - not like something out of a book. Employers are looking for knowledge, enthusiasm, focus.
  4. Being "natural" makes many people nervous. And then even more nervous because they are trying to avoid spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.
  5. Show that you know something about the company and the industry. This is where your research comes in. Don't go overboard--just make it clear that you didn't pick this company out of the phone book. You know who they are, what they do and you have chosen them!
  6. Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer. (This is where your industry research and networking come in.) If you are applying for an advertised position, use the requirements in the ad and put them in BOLD type. For example: the ad says--
    "2 years' experience processing magnetic media (cartridge, tape, disc); interface with benefit plan design, contracts and claims; and business background with strong analytical & technical skills--dBase, Excel, R&R, SQL."
    Make sure your cover letter contains each of these requirements and shows how you measure up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who Needs a Cover Letter?

Everyone who sends out a resume does! Even if the cover letter never "came up" in conversation or wasn't mentioned in an advertisement, it is expected that you will write one.
It is regarded as a sign of laziness (sorry about that) to send out a cover letter that is not tailored to the specific company. In the days before word processors, you could maybe get away with it. Not anymore.
Yes, it adds to the wear and tear of looking for a job! But the good news is: the cover letter gives you another chance to emphasise what you have to contribute to the organization. Don't give the person screening the resumes a second to entertain the thought: "But how can this person help US?" Your cover letter will answer that question in your own words. Your resume will answer the same question in a somewhat more rigid format.

It may take a few more minutes of your time...but it is worth it...Just do it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cover Letters and Your Foot in the Door

I will focus this weeks blogs on the importance of cover letters.

Cover letters are necessary when sending your resume, but remember to keep your cover letter short. The purpose of a cover letters is to obtain an interview, not tell a lengthy story. The focus should be on your qualifications, and setting up an interview. There are two types of cover letters - specific and general. The specific cover letter is directed at a specific company, specific person, and position. The specific cover letter personally addresses the company’s needs. It also sends a positive message to the employer that you are truly interested because you took the time to write an individual letter. A general cover letter is often addressed to the Recruitment manager or department and emphasises your qualifications in hopes that a position will be available to utilize your skills.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is Your Job Vulnerable?

In today's economy it is always wise to keep your job options open. Whether chatting with co-workers or watching the evening news, the risk of recession seems an impossible topic to avoid. If you think your job is at risk, you should be looking for alternatives. Just how safe is my job?

Merrill Lynch economist David Rosenberg recently wrote that he expects unemployment to reach 5.75% by year end and 6% by early 2009 (vs. 4.9% last month) "To be sure, this is low by historical standards," he wrote, "but would still be very close to the peaks posted during the 2002-03 jobless recovery." As the job market tightens, it becomes more important than ever to have the right approach when you are job hunting.
Here are ten techniques for a successful online job search. Use them to search for jobs more effectively and increase your odds of getting hired.

1. Job Sites: There are thousands of different job sites out there. Be selective. Use sites that specialise in your area of expertise.

2. Refine Your Job Search: Use keywords. Add more string terms. Narrow your search. Use the advanced search feature.

3. Email Alerts: Set up Email Job Alerts. Save your searches to receive daily or weekly email alerts . You can also save your searches as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) job feeds using any reader. This will help you apply for jobs as soon as they are posted.

4. Focus!: Only apply to jobs you are qualified for. Ignore the rest and don't lie about your skills.

5. Scam Job Listings: Do not be tempted to apply for " quick money" jobs. If it is too good to be probably is....

6. Customise your Cover Letter: A well-written customised cover letter shows the employer you are serious. Show how your skills and experience can help the company.

7. Post Resume on Job Boards: Post your resume on as many job boards as you can. Allow companies to find you online. You will be surprised how many people are able to find you.... including your current employer.

8. Clean Up Your Act: Check your resume and cover letters for typos and grammatical errors. Use consistent font sizes and formatting in your resume. Potential employers may look at any online profile of yours, so keep them up-to-date and free of content that would embarrass you.

9. Brush up your Interviewing Skills: If you have not interviewed for a while, make sure you rehearse and practise your interviewing skills. Practise...Parctise...Practise

10. Research: Learn as much as you can about the company's products and services. Read up on company news and trends in the industry – use sites like Wikipedia and ZoomInfo. Find out who is interviewing and Google their names to learn about them.

It is always easier to find a job while you are in a job. Keep your options open if your job is vulnerable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Laid Off? Now What?...more tips

Continuing from my last sre some more tips and actions to keep you sane while looking for work.

5. It's all about Attitude! Go to any job networking session you learn about. All of them are valuable. Part of it is just feeling like you're doing everything you can to get back on your feet. If you have an attitude that you're going to work at this that will come across and will bring opportunities to you.

6. Volunteer. Let's say you are going to be out of work for six months. What could you do with six months of your time? Make sure you come away with it with a great project under your belt. Why not volunteer your time with a charity that could use your skills? Not only will you feel good about yourself, you'll come away with job experience so you won't have a hole in your resume. build a website for Amnesty International. This is impressive - saying you were "on the beach" for six months is NOT. Plus you'll make great friends.

7. References - Get in touch with your old boss and coworkers as quickly as possible to ask for references. You never know when these references will come in handy.

8. Join or update your socu=ial networking profiles such as LinkedIn or Facebook. These sites are invaluable networking tools in the internet age.

9. Consider becoming a consultant. Depending on your career, freelance consulting work may be a viable option. It could at least provide some temporary income while you look for long-term employment.

1. No one owes you a job.
2. If you want a job, you’re going to have to work hard to get it. Job-hunting success is in direct proportion to job-hunting effort.
3. Successful job-hunting requires a willingness to change tactics. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, then try something else.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Laid off? Now What?

I bet you know at least two or three people who have been laid off during the past year. It is becoming a "normal" occurence in the 21st century, especially during this economic slowdown. Here are some steps and actions you can take to find another and better job sooner:

1. Don't get lazy. You will find a job. Take a week off to internalise your job loss and communicate with your family and friends about loosing your job. do not allow yourself to go into a downward spiral by getting into a rut.

2. If you qualify for unemployment, go and sign up. You have paid into the system and you will pay into it again. It is a financial stop gap between jobs.

3. Think strategically. Network. Network. Network. Call your family, friends, acquaintances and your Christmas card list. Let them know your situation and that you are looking. If they give you a lead, follow up. Start a blog or newsletter. It is a great way to keep everybody posted on your comings, goings and progress. It is a fabulous networking tool.

4. Spend at least 40% of every day trying to find a job. Work on your resume. Your cover letter and Practise interview questions. Practise everyday. Send out as many resumes as you can.

More tips to follow in my next blog..

Monday, May 4, 2009

How do Interviewers Prepare for the Interview

When I conduct job interviews, I always ask questions not only about an applicant’s job knowledge and skills, but also past work experiences. It is valuable to gather information in order to reveal how the applicant behaved in certain work situations. The applicant’s past behavior often predicts how they will respond in similar future situations.

This information is important because how an employee behaves in completing responsibilities is as critical as the responsibilities of the actual job. Identifying and assessing required key behaviors should contribute to the overall success of an employee in their position.

Prior to asking behavioral interview questions, I always begin with general introductory questions. I will share these general introductory questions in my next blog.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Preparation is KEY

Although many candidates dread them, job interview questions are wonderful things! They are your greatest opportunity to prove to the interviewer that you are the best person for the job!
The key is to give better answers than anyone else. To do this, you must:
1. Anticipate likely questions;
2. Develop excellent answers;
3. Practice!

Be enthusiastic and confident when responding to questions. Don't rush your answers, but don't ramble on and on, either. Try to, um, avoid, like, using unnecessary words, right? And um, repeating yourself or, like, annoying phrases, you know?

A good technique is to write out your answers to the questions outlined in the guide. Then practice your polished answers out loud, over and over. If you can have someone help you do a "mock interview," that would be the best way to do this.

Your time has finally come! You've been called for an interview. Now what? Don't sweat it! Prepare yourself to win. You know you're ready for the you have to convince the employer!

Insider Interview Questions

Continuing from the last blog,here are some of the preparatory questions i go through before each interview:

General Introductory Questions
1. Please highlight your past jobs, telling me the employment dates when you worked for companies and what your job duties were. (Candidate should not have resume in hand and should be able to recite from memory). If there are any gaps in employment, I probe further.
2. I have reviewed your resume but would like to ask you to begin by giving me an overview of your education and experience as they relate to this position and why you are interested in this position.
3. Please elaborate on one of the work experiences listed on your resume.
4. What were your major responsibilities?
5. What were some of the most difficult duties of that job?
6. Who did you report to and who reported to you (title)?
7. What special skills and knowledge were needed to perform the duties in your previous jobs?
8. Your resume lists many job changes. Tell me about them.
9. How has your present job changed while you have held it?
10. What unique talent do you offer? Why do you feel it is unique?
11. What else should I know about your qualifications for this job?

It is essential to review your resume and be completely familiar with your work history. A good interviewer will probe. Make sure you are fully prepared.