Video Interview Tips

Video job interviews (also called virtual interviews) have been on the rise in recent years, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are relying heavily on video platforms, if not exclusively. In fact, when I spoke with an HR professional recently, she informed me that they have temporarily pulled away from any in-person interviews until a later date.

Even if you have experience with video conferencing with family and friends, a job interview is different, and you might not get a second chance. Below I’ve listed some of the tips I’ve included in a handout I wrote entitled, “Video Job Interviews: What You Need to Know.” If you would like a complete copy, email me at careerproservices@gmail.com, and I will email you a PDF copy. Here are some of the tips:

  • Think of the background where you will be interviewing. You don’t want it too busy so it distracts the interviewer. You also want to be sure your background is not cluttered or messy. This is especially important if you’ve stated on your resume that you have strong organizational skills.
  • Be sure your device’s webcam is at or slightly above eye level. (You don’t want the interviewer looking up your nose!) You also don’t want to sit too close to the webcam. It’s best to sit back a little; you don’t want just your face showing.
  • Don’t forget to check for updates on your computer or device. You don’t want it to automatically start an update during the interview. (Something similar actually happened to a friend. She was giving a PowerPoint presentation, and her laptop started updating during the middle of the presentation!)
  • If you’re concerned about the doorbell ringing during your interview, put a note by the doorbell, “Please DO NOT ring the doorbell.”
  • During the interview, if you need to glance down at some notes occasionally, feel free to do so. (Tip: use sticky notepads for notes and place them at the bottom of your computer monitor.)
  • Technical glitches happen, so have a Plan B (perhaps another device or phone), and be sure these devices are nearby and are fully charged.

Don’t forget to prepare for your virtual interview as you would any other interview. Hiring managers have listed “Not being prepared”  as one of the top pet peeves in my all of the surveys I have conducted, so prepare, practice, and ace your interview!

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10 Tips for Working from Home

If you have never worked from home before, and are now offered (or encouraged) to do so, undoubtedly there will be some adjustments. In order to ease into this transition, here are some tips for you to consider:

  1. To begin with, create a dedicated office space. If you do not have a separate room, try to carve out a corner in a quieter room to minimize distractions.
  2. Be sure family members are respectful of your office space. Set clear rules for anyone else who may be using your space.
  3. Keep your same schedule. Get up at the same time, get ready for work, take breaks and lunch at the same time, etc.
  4. If you have a meeting scheduled (either by phone or video) and there will be other family members in your home during your meeting, be sure to let them know and ask them to be quiet. Obviously, if you have smaller children, this can be challenging. From personal experience with a toddler, I created projects and several other things for her to do to keep her occupied during my meetings.
  5. On the flipside, if you have younger children at home and a meeting scheduled, give the person you are meeting with a heads up. Inform the person that you have taken measures to avoid interruptions, but by notifying the person ahead of time, he/she will not be caught off guard if an interruption occurs.
  6. As you’re adjusting to this new work routine, if you need something from your company, ask. If something is not working or if you have a suggestion on how to improve something, discuss it with your boss.
  7. You may miss the social part of working in an office; for example, the daily water cooler conversations. Perhaps you could create your own “remote social working environment.” Maybe it’s a group text, group email, or conference call, but if you schedule something during working hours, be sure to get permission from your supervisor.
  8. If you are an individual who used to bring a lunch and snacks with you to work, continue to pack your lunch and snacks for your work day. This will help you minimize overeating and will help you avoid junk food that you normally would not have access to.
  9. Be positive. Working from home will provide you with some advantages. For example, during your lunch, you could throw in a load of laundry.
  10. Finally, create work-life boundaries. When your work day ends, it ends. Leave your home-based office for the day.

Can you think of any other tips which would be helpful for working from home? If so, please share.

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Help! My salary no longer matches my job duties and accomplishments

Situations happen. Employees leave, but they do not rehire. Companies grow, but they do not add staff. You have added more job duties to your plate but have not been compensated.

Other situations happen. You may have played an integral role in your company’s growth and success by saving money, making money, streamlining procedures, etc. Despite your significant contributions to your company’s bottom line, your raises have not reflected your accomplishments.

So, you want to be compensated fairly. What would be your plan of attack? How would you approach your boss?

CREATE A HANDOUT WHICH CONVEYS YOUR VALUE

Highlight your accomplishments and then discuss each accomplishment. Don’t focus on job duties; rather, focus on your successes. To help pinpoint your successes and accomplishments, here are some questions to ask:

  • What do you feel most proud about accomplishing during your tenure (or since your last performance review)?
  • Have you done anything to boost your company’s bottom line? If so, do you have any numbers (or percentages) to back up what you’ve accomplished? 
  • Have you found any ways to save money? Again, use numbers or percentages.
  • Have you found any ways to streamline procedures?
  • Have you solved any big problems?

Have you been given additional duties and responsibilities? If so, make a list of how many more in recent years (or since your last performance review).

Have you ever stepped up-to-the plate and volunteered for additional duties or stepped in when someone needed help. If so, add this to your handout.

Have you ever went above and beyond the call of duty? If so, what did you do?

Tips for creating your handout:

  • Utilize graphs if possible. They serve as great visuals for getting your message across. For example, show increases (or decreases) by using numbers or percentages.
  • Use “before and after” columns to showcase accomplishments.
  • Have you ever received any written or emailed thank yous from customers, coworkers, or industry connections? If so, create a separate page for these.
  • Have you received any LinkedIn recommendations that showcase your value? If so, create a separate page for these, also.

Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss your value and salary concerns. Or, if you have an upcoming performance review, this would be a perfect time to approach your supervisor and discuss your value to the company.

Once your meeting is scheduled, you may have questions on how to ask for a raise during the meeting or questions on how to respond if there are objections to your request. Feel free to contact me at careerproservices@gmail.com for more info.

How strong is your LinkedIn headline?

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Your LinkedIn headline is important. It appears directly under your name and should capture the essence of your occupation or career target.

Many people use their current job title and company name as a headline, such as “Receptionist at ABC Company” or “Program Coordinator at XYZ Industries.”  However headlines that use a current title and company can sometimes pose problems such as these:

  • Your current job title does not convey your true job duties
  • You were laid off and accepted a lower-level position because you needed a job
  • You want to switch careers to a totally different occupation

A better strategy would be to use a headline which contains words that recruiters or potential customers would use to search for someone in your profession. Be specific and try to use impactful words that capture their attention. Here are some examples:

  • Award-Winning Public Relations Executive
  • Experienced Executive Assistant — Driven to Go Above and Beyond
  • Marketing Leader | Social Media Guru
  • Sales Director | Team Developer – Leading teams to be top performers in competitive markets

If you decide it’s time to ramp up your headline, here’s how you can edit it:

Strong headlines are compelling. They stand out and from the blah ones and can make a difference.

  1. At the top of your LinkedIn homepage, click the “Me” icon and choose “View Profile.”
  2. Click the Edit (pencil) icon located to the right of your name and current headline.
  3. On the next screen, make your changes and click “Save.”

Strong headlines are compelling. They stand out and from the blah ones and can make a difference.

15 Signs it May be Time to Leave Your Job

 

Like any job, there are positives and negatives. Good days and bad days. Some days you might ask yourself, “I wonder if I should start looking for another job?”, but other days you tell yourself, “No, I think I’ll stay put.” If this describes you, and you’re constantly going back and forth with what to do, here are 15 signs it may be time to move on:

  1. You dread going to work
  2. When you come home from work you’re irritable more often than not
  3. You have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night thinking of work
  4. Your job is making you feel down and somewhat depressed
  5. You dread Sunday nights and the thought of going to work on Monday
  6. You have no energy during the work week
  7. You live for the weekend
  8. Your employer or company doesn’t have the same values as you
  9. You don’t find fulfillment in your job anymore
  10. You have tried to grow in your career, but your job (or your manager) is not letting you
  11. You contributions are not valued
  12. Your colleagues or others at work are rude to you
  13. The work environment is very negative and/or toxic
  14. There have been several layoffs and/or turnover is high
  15. You have a gut feeling something may be happening to your job

If you’ve checked off several of these signs, and you’ve even tried to remedy some of the situations, then it may be time to dust off your resume and move on. Change is always scary, but there comes a time when you need to look out for your well-being and for the future of your career.

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Interviewing? Don’t Ignore These Red Flags

interview Canva2It happened! You were just invited to interview for a dream job! You’re excited and begin prepping for your interview right away, because you really want this job. However, no matter how excited you are for a potential job, don’t let the excitement cloud the red flags which may appear during the interview. Here are some of the many red flags to be aware of, some of which have been mentioned by clients:

  • When you walk into the office and you don’t have a good feeling about the atmosphere (employee behavior, a lot of complaining, a seemingly chaotic environment, etc.).
  • When the interviewer is late for your interview. Obviously, there may be a valid reason for being late, but one of my clients waited over an hour. He did not apologize or thank her for waiting. He just got busy and forgot. Whatever reason is given (or not given), it may be an indication of how it may be to work for this person (unorganized, not respectful of your time, rude, etc.).
  • When you ask to see a complete job description and the interviewer pauses; then says you can look at it, but you cannot take a copy home to review at a later time.
  • When one of the first questions the interviewer asks is, “How would you feel about learning how to XXXX?” which is a huge responsibility that is completely unrelated to the job for which you are interviewing.
  • When one of the questions you ask is, “What will be one of the biggest challenges with this position?” and the interviewer immediately talks about a responsibility that isn’t on your job description (see above). And, if you would have known about this major duty, you would not have applied for the position.
  • When they ask you the same question, three different ways. Note: One of my clients was asked three different ways about how she handles and deals with stress. It was fairly obvious that the job was a stressful one.
  • When you ask the question, “What do you like most about working at this company?” and there is a big pause.
  • When you ask why the former person left, and they give you a vague reason. Note: You could also ask, “How long was the former employee in the position?” and/or “How many people have held this position in the past 3 years?”
  • When your gut is just telling you, “This doesn’t feel right.”

Even if a job might seem perfect on paper, it’s always important to be aware of the red flags. They may be indicating your dream job might be a nightmare job.

Have any red flags appeared during any of your interviews? If so, I would love for you to share them.

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5 Important Reasons Your Resume Should be Up-to-Date

Writing BetterIf you’re like most individuals, you do not have an up-to-date resume; however, by not doing so, you may regret it. Here are five important reasons why you should update your resume sooner rather than later.

1. If you suddenly lost your job, you have a resume ready-to-go. Case in point: a family member (and his coworker) were laid off unexpectedly. This family member had an up-to-date resume, and that same day he started applying for positions. Within one week he had a job!

2. If you heard about a great job opportunity, but found out the deadline was only one day away, you would not panic and would not have to scramble to update your resume.

3. Updating your resume regularly (at least once a year) will allow you to better remember facts, accomplishments, trainings, etc. The longer a person waits, the greater the chances of forgetting something important; something that could actually set you apart from the competition. You don’t want to risk it.

4. With an updated resume, you will be documenting your career accomplishments on a yearly basis. These successes can be valuable tools in a performance review and could set the stage for a larger pay increase or possible future promotion.

5. Updating your resume will allow you to better assess and manage your career. Is your career headed in the direction you want? Are you still doing the same thing you did a year ago but want to eventually move up the ladder? What do you need to do to reach your career goal?

Even if you really like your job and have no plans of changing careers, you just never know. Things happen. Companies get bought out. Bosses and coworkers change. Having an up-to-date resume is good career management, and if something unexpected happens, you’ll be prepared.

Unemployed? How to Keep Up Your Motivation During a Long Winter

Thinking2 Wide Blog PostLet’s face it. This year winter seems like it will never end, and if you’re unemployed, it can be hard to keep up your motivation. So, here are some tips to get you through the doldrums of winter:

1. Take care of yourself: eat healthy, drink plenty of water, get a good night’s rest, etc. This is common sense, but these basic needs are the foundation of everything.

2. Exercise. Part of taking care of yourself is exercise. Even if you don’t like exercising, just take 10 minutes (three times a day) and incorporate some type of exercise (jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, whatever). Or, try other ways to exercise. For example, when you drive to a store, park at the end of the parking lot so you have further to walk. Go out to a mall and do some walking. There are many different ways to exercise, so, even if exercising is something you dislike doing, just integrate a little into each day. It will boost your mood and increase your motivation.

3. Stay scheduled. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. (Note: before you go to bed, create a to-do list for the next day. It will help keep you on track.) After you get up in the mornings, shower and get dressed as if you were going to work.

4.  Network. It’s important to have contact with people every day. Maybe email a former colleague, meet someone for coffee, or telephone someone. Do you know someone else unemployed? Be each others’ job search buddy. Talk once a week and discuss your goals, progress, or problems that may have arisen. Are you part of a local organization? If not, find someone who is and ask if you can tag along with them to their next meeting. Try find a job seeking group in your community and attend this.

5. Get out of the house. You can easily accomplish this each day if you exercise outside your home or if you attend a networking event or meet someone for coffee. But, if you exercise in the comforts of your home or if you network via phone or email, then it’s important you make an effort to get out. For example, go to a coffee shop where you can see other people, and conduct some of your job search activities there.

6.  Volunteer. Volunteering will not only get you out of the house, but by doing so, you will be helping others — which can be very rewarding. Volunteering is also a great way to network with others and maybe even learn new skills! (Don’t forget to add the new volunteer experiences to your resume!)

7. Learn something new. Take a free class online. Enroll in course through your community. Research a new topic on the Internet. Learn something new by watching a YouTube video.

8.  Do something you enjoy. Do you like movies? Do you like to read? Do you have a hobby? Whatever you enjoy doing, carve out some time each day to do what you like.

9. Subscribe to receive some daily emails on motivation, inspiration, etc. If you’re on Twitter, follow these types of Twitter feeds. Create a list of your favorite ones, and read them every day.  Also, no matter what situation you are in, there is always something to be thankful for. Everyday write down a few things that you are grateful for.

10. Celebrate achievements. The achievement can be big or small, and it doesn’t have to be job-search related. Maybe you just completed a project around the house or maybe you just landed an interview. Whatever the success, reward yourself with something. It can be as small as a piece of chocolate or it can be something bigger.

There are many different ways to overcome the dreary winter months, but hopefully some of these tips will help you stay motivated!

Ghosting a job. Are you guilty?

rocking chair

In the past several months, I have read several articles about ghosting, where individuals blow off interviews or fail to show up the first day of work. In fact, when I surveyed hiring managers in the Fall of 2018, “not showing up” was one response when asked about interview pet peeves.

So why do people ghost? For some, they may not feel strongly enough about a position or perhaps they received a better job offer. Because they may have been treated poorly by companies in the past when they were interviewing (never heard back from them) or because they have an “I don’t care” attitude, they never contact the employer.

Whatever the reason, ghosting is unprofessional and reflects poorly on an individual. Further, a person never knows what lies in his/her future. Maybe someday he/she will cross paths with the person who they ghosted and that person has the memory of an elephant and didn’t forget.

Instead of ghosting, all a person has to do is send a brief email or call the human resources department. Depending on the situation, the message may be slightly different as to why they are withdrawing their application, but always thank them for the opportunity and wish them good luck in the selection process.

Wait! Before You Resign, Read These Tips

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People change jobs for various reasons. Some want new challenges or want to move up the ladder, while others want to downsize their careers. Of course there are others who want to switch jobs because of a boss they don’t like, poor company culture, or maybe added responsibilities but no pay increase. Whatever the reason(s), here are some important tips to remember:

  1. Always give at least a two-week notice. Even if your new company wants you to start as soon as possible, they will understand and would expect the same from their employees. Further, in the eyes of your new employer, leaving immediately may reflect poorly on your character.
  2. Your resignation letter should show respect and professionalism. Even if you’re leaving under some “not-so-good” terms, don’t burn any bridges. It’s a small world.
  3. Ask for a letter of recommendation (or LinkedIn recommendation) from your supervisor and/or colleagues. Recommendations can be important tools in future job searches.
  4. Prior to submitting your resignation, be sure you have copies or forward any congratulatory emails, thank yous, etc., that showcase your skills and accomplishments. The reason for obtaining these prior to your resignation, is that in some industries, it is not uncommon to ask the individual to resign to leave immediately.
  5. Remain in contact with past supervisors and/or coworkers. These individuals know first-hand your skills and talents and keeping in touch may lead to new opportunities. In addition, if you ever find yourself suddenly without a job, you have an immediate network to draw upon and will not have to reestablish a relationship.

Many people don’t think twice about typing up their resignation, but utilizing these tips is an important part about good career management.

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