The Job Interview Is Over. Now What?


What do you tend to do after you’ve had a job interview? A lot of the people I meet and listen to just go home and wait; and they wait longer. They rationalize this behaviour with statements that can be summed with something like, “Well, if they want me they’ll phone me right?”

Sitting around after a job interview hoping the phone will ring is actually a terrible idea, but so many do just that. Consider 3 people who applied for the job; Jim doesn’t really want the job after going through the interview, Ruth doesn’t really care one way or the other while Ahmad is extremely interested in the job – more than ever after learning more about the job and the offer in the interview. If none of the 3 communicates after the interview with Molly who conducted all 3 interviews, she can only make the same assumption for all 3 job applicants. Jim won’t care if he never gets a call, nor Ruth; but Ahmad is extremely disappointed.

In the above situation, it’s even more bad news for Ahmad because Molly was debating between him and Derek for the position, but based on the fact Derek followed up and expressed enthusiasm for the next step in the hiring process, she offered him the job. Not having heard from Ahmad, she went with the candidate who while equally qualified, appeared to want it more. All Ahmad accomplished in the end was making Molly’s decision an easier one.

I’ve done my fair share of speaking with employers over the years, getting to know how they go about hiring applicants. One thing I’ve always found consistent with the vast majority is that they appreciate candidates who want the jobs they are offering; really want the jobs. Employers are actually afraid they’ll hire people who just see the job as a job; and this lack of enthusiasm or passion could mean that when the work gets tough, the applicant will just throw up their hands and look for other work. The real go-getter however; the one who really wants the job and everything that comes with it will work through adversity and come into work each day with a love for what their expected to do.

One of the most frustrating things I do hear from people who have interviewed for jobs but didn’t get that phone call is that much of the time, the person is truly disappointed they didn’t get the job offer; they really did want that job! Again I’d have to say in the example above, how would Molly know Ahmad really wanted the job? He did nothing to distinguish himself from both Jim and Ruth; neither of whom really wanted the position in the end. You can’t expect Molly to read Ahmad’s mine; nor yours.

After a job interview, what typically happens is that after all the applicants have been interviewed, the interviewer(s) sit down and evaluate the people interviewed. Some they will dismiss right away because they didn’t perform as well as some others. In almost all situations the hiring decision will come down to 2 or 3 strong applicants. Based on the qualifications required for the job, they may even be identical. So after looking at the ability to do the work, the interviewers turn to the impression people made on them; the soft skills like personality, drive and attitude. “Who”, they wonder, “would be the best fit if all 3 of those we’ve narrowed it down to could do the actual job?”

It is precisely at this point that a phone call or short note of thanks for the interview can tip the scales in the favour of the person who does some follow up. Derek in the situation above followed up on his in-person interview by contacting the decision-makers. He told them with his brief letter that he was really looking forward to be hired; he’d gladly supply any additional information they needed to make a decision in his favour and after the interview, he wanted the job more than ever. Essentially Derek expressed what Ahmad was feeling too; Ahmad just didn’t bother to communicate this.

Okay so let’s turn from the example to you and your situation. Are you going to interviews and then getting frustrated with the end results – no job offers? You’ve put in the time doing some research before applying, you’re writing cover letters and specifically targeting your resume to the job postings; and its working because you’re getting more interviews. That’s a lot of work and you’re doing all the right things; with the exception of course of the interview follow-up.

After your job interviews you should have some idea of the timeline the employer is working with. If they are going to make a decision in the next day or so, mailing in a thank you note won’t reach them in time before they make a decision. In this case, write a note directed to the interviewer(s) from your car or local coffee shop and then walk back to the employer and leave it with the Receptionist.

Follow-up can include a phone call too; usually 2-3 days after the interview but this can vary based on what you learn as you leave the interview.

Your choice as always whether you follow-up or not; what have you got to lose? Communicate your enthusiasm and show them you want it!

Make Your Email WORK For You


How much thought did you put into your email when you created it? For many people, they tried to make their email only to find that someone else on the planet already had it, and so they selected a computer generated one. The computer generated email no doubt contained some portion of the person’s original attempt and threw in some random number.

Now why on earth someone would choose to use a randomly chosen email is beyond me, unless of course the person isn’t thinking at all about what the email communicates; or fails to communicate.

Here we have hit upon one of the most significant differentiating things which define those who see an email address as just an email address, and those who see the email address as a chance to brand themselves. In other words, your email can actually market you to others, and to fail to recognize this is to miss an opportunity. Allow me to provide you with some concrete examples of both the good, the bad and the just plain and insignificant.

Let’s say your name is John Edward Brown; you’re looking for work as a Personal Support Worker and you want to create an email. I’ve intentionally selected a very common full name because the likelihood of finding that johnbrown@ etc. is still available is absolute zero. So you make the initial attempt and finds it fails. The platform being used, be it Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc. is going to say that gmail isn’t available and in order to expedite the process and keep you from being frustrated at the same time in further attempts, it suggests johnbrown238@, johnnbrown578@, etc.

Randomly selected, these could be misinterpreted by a potential employer in your job search as meaning you wer born on the 23rd of August, maybe May of 1978 etc. These are only marginally better than johnbrown1978@ which clearly suggests you wer born in 1978 and puts your age smack at the top of the resume; a major no-no.

Now of course you might be smart enough not to accept these computer generated emails, so let’s give you credit. Maybe you go for johnebrown@, john.e.brown@, j.ed.brown@ etc. These and other versions like them, certainly communicate a name without a number embedded in the email and that’s an improvement. There can be nothing revealed or suggested about your age or personal information like a birthday, and this also prevents some identity theft.

However, while the suggestions in the previous paragraph have their advantages over emails with numbers, they still aren’t saying anything about John Brown yourself in terms of the work you are identified with. What then if you thought about creating an email that both was devoid any prejudice and at the same time lent strength and identity to your personal brand?

Remember you; our hypothetical John Edward Brown are looking for work as a Personal Support Worker. If you chose an email such as PSWjohnebrown@ or iamjohnbrownpsw@, both your name and your career profession are embedded right in the email. Considering the location of the email at the top of your resume, it is one of the first few things the eye of the receiver sees and reads as they look at your resume.

In addition, whenever the employer clicks on your hyperlink to your email, or types in it manually addressing an email, they must associate you with your profession because it’s so visual.

A second option is to return to the whole point of having an email in the first place; you want someone to contact you. If then the point of your email on a resume or cover letter is to prompt action on the receivers part, you could opt for a different approach to constructing your personal email. This option works well when you are not specifically after one job or career only, or you are going for a job that might have different titles with different organizations.

So what is this second option? It’s choosing an email such as calljohnbrown@ as an example. This email address doesn’t label a profession, but it does state a desired action; a phone call. So if you were John Brown and you wanted to be a Personal Support Worker, but you knew sometimes the job is called, Health Care Aide, Support Worker, Personal Support Aide etc. you may want to have some flexibility with respect to your email address and not limit yourself to the single job title in the email address.

My suggestion is to also avoid the underscore in an email at all costs. john_brown@ may look good when there is no hyperlink embedded in the email, but as soon as the blue hyperlink underlines the entire email, the underscore disappears and appears to be a space in the email. Novices and those who give email a quick scan may actually type what they see and find their attempt to contact you is rejected. They may not bother to try a second time. How unfortunate. You can eliminate this remote possibility entirely by avoiding the underscore.

So there you have it; some ideas to help both yourself and others with your email address.

Research People? Why Do That?


So you’re out of work and looking for a new job. Perhaps not out of work, but definitely in the market for a fresh start with a new employer. No wait, in your case you’re happy with the company you work for, just need a change in positions and departments. In any of the above, you’d best conduct a little research.

Now just as there are a large number of people who are looking for employment, there is a large variance in how those people go about job searching and conducting research. Let’s be honest shall we? Some people see a job posted, read the requirements and the, “How to apply” section and fire off their resume; that’s it. No research at all – can’t be bothered.

There are also those who conduct no research at all and also just fire off their resume to an employer, but the reason they don’t research is because they lack the skills and the know-how. These people might be convinced to do a little bit of research if shown how and why, but without that being imparted to them, they cannot be expected to just figure it out on their own.

Then of course you have the majority of people who know the importance of conducting research when job searching, but the message they have heard has been limited to looking into the company. So they browse websites and get the information the company wants casual researchers to hear and see. The messages are scripted, fine-tuned, marketed for maximum impact and your new knowledge is entirely what the company pushes out. So you’ll get their vision, ideology, goals, mission statements and the like.

One thing all companies share is they employee people; no matter its size, sector or location. Imagine you could have a conversation with one or more of the people who work for the company you are interested in applying to. Imagine too that the person you were chatting with is currently doing the work you yourself are interested in, or possibly supervises and hires the people doing the work you’d like to do.

What might you get out such a conversation? For starters, remove the content of the conversation. Surely you’d get a sense of the person’s happiness in their work, satisfaction with the company and from their body language you’d pick up on the stress they are under or the impact of the job and the atmosphere of the facility is having on them. Now add the content and details of what they share with you and you’ll be getting much more valuable information than you’d ever get out of just looking at a job posting on a computer screen or job board.

So here’s a question for you. Do you enjoy talking about your kids? Does that sense of pride come out? And if you don’t have children how about something else you are proud of? For many employers and employees, they too like to talk about the things they are proud of – the company they work for or own, the work they do. So it could be that while you are worrying about wasting someone’s time, those people might just be more than happy to talk about their jobs, the work they do, their accomplishments and yes even their challenges.

Now if you could have this kind of information prior to applying for a job or being interviewed, can you see the advantage you would have over another applicant who only read the information on the website or did zero research?

Some websites give you names and titles of their key employees that head up departments plus their personal contact information. Some social media platforms are great sources of information on the people that work there such as LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you can search a company and the people who work there. Filter your search by location and in a few simple clicks you’ve got your own directory of the people you might be wise to talk with to get some personal insights into the company and the position you are applying to.

Now surely they won’t talk to you the doubter in you says. After all, they can’t speak to 300 people who are applying for this job? You’re right of course. However of 300 applicants, most just apply without initiating any contact for a chat. Only a few actually take the initiative to do a little digging and have the assertiveness to call and request 15-20 minutes time to chat.

Now this isn’t anything new. Long before computers and technology there was the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” People have always been advised to make contact, initiate a conversation (information gathering interview). With the rise of social media, tweeting, texting, chatting, emailing, skyping, posting, etc., the irony is that many of those same people lack the interpersonal skills to actually communicate with people using their voice and their ears!

What have you got to lose by initiating contact, asking to meet or talk for 15 minutes? If they say no, you thank them and try someone else. The potential return is you get someone who is happy to pass on their enthusiasm for their work and their employer and maybe the ups and downs of the job from their point of view.

When you apply or get interviewed, your research will show your real interest – or lack of it for the job you are applying to.

 

 

 

Anticipating Letdowns


On Friday of last week, I concluded an intense two-week job finding workshop with a group of job seekers. My goodness these people were so open to new ideas and more than willing to apply the concepts I shared! And by the final day, they were extremely pleased with themselves and how much they had learned. So why then did I, in the midst of their happiness and positive energy, get serious for a moment and give them a warning about this week?

The warning you see was about this morning; the Monday following the workshop where they’d wake up and have nowhere to go. There would be no get together with the others with whom they bonded so tightly after the two weeks. No one to commiserate with, share the good fortune of getting an interview, having had a great interview, or even getting a job offer. Well kind of; they did exchange contact numbers and emails on their own, so I hope it continues.

You see what I was doing last Friday was giving the group one last gift during our time together and that was foresight based on past experience. So imagine you’re unemployed and frustrated. Now multiply your anxiety of being out of work times the number of weeks, months and years in some cases. Now to combat that frustration you get some hope in the form of a workshop to re-energize your job search in a small group. One of the unexpected bonuses you experience is the support you get from fellow participants

And then, on the Monday morning following the two weeks, you wake up full of optimism, only to realize that this morning, you have nowhere to go, nothing to be taught, no inspiration to derive from learning something new, and no smiles to greet you. The thoughts may start to creep back in that mutter, “We told you so didn’t we? Yes, still unemployed and right back where you were. We warned you didn’t we? Let’s go back to bed and just feel sorry for ourselves”.

And hence the warning. You see with some tip-off of what may come this morning, it is hoped that should those thoughts creep in, a participant can say, “Aha! I was warned about thinking this way! Well, I HAVE more job searching skills than a few weeks ago, and I AM making progress, and I DO have to CONTINUE to use these new-found skills and the results WILL be different!”

The mind is such a powerful entity. When focused, engaged and determined, it can be a force that allows one to combat and overcome odds. It can also sustain a person through rough times. On the other hand, I’ve seen the sad state of too many whom the mind has hindered and it’s tragic.

So how then to combat the negative and continue to be optimistic? The secret really is to keep momentum going. In the case of the folks I’ve been working with the last couple of weeks, I’m meeting with each one of them this week for an hour. During that time, I’ll not only give them personal feedback, but I’ll check and see that they continue the momentum we established by continuing to use the tools provided while together. And then in two weeks time, those that wish will reassemble for an hour and a half to sit together and catch up. There will be no facilitation, but rather a meeting of equals just to sit around and talk about how things are progressing, share our news etc.

If you are a participant yourself in a workshop, it’s good advice to look just beyond the workshop and ask yourself how you will sustain the momentum and use the skills learned on your own. Sometimes it’s good to get the name and contact information of someone you meet in the group, who would be willing to meet at a café, or just accept a phone call from you from time to time. No doubt that like you, there will be others who crave inclusion rather than isolation and would benefit from contact post group work.

If you facilitate workshops, you might want to do as I have done and alert your participants to the danger of complacency following the time together and the probability of negative thoughts that can kill momentum. For momentum is really what workshops provide. The technical knowledge changes from workshop to workshop, but every workshop in my opinion that brings people together seems to really be about imparting ideas and building momentum.

It was gratifying on the last day of the workshop to have one fellow announce he’d been offered and accepted a job. Several others by the last day also had been to interviews, or have interviews yet to come. The positive energy in the group was very real, and a few cried and shook hands or hugged on the last day overcome and surprised at their own emotional outpouring. Why? Emotional engagement and sincere appreciation for what they learned and how much they had invested themselves in the anticipation of ultimately gaining work and financial independence.

When you anticipate a letdown, it can help steel yourself against falling back into past habits brought on by reverting to a crippling mindset. Be positive, remind yourself of what you’ve learned, and continue to do on your own what you began in groups you attended – this is vital.

Why You Won’t Get Job Alerts


I was prompted to write today’s blog after receiving a comment from an Employment Specialist with another social service agency yesterday. She was responding to what I shared regarding a woman who made two poor decisions which cost her a job I had encouraged her to apply for. The issue is a client in need of work, a Job Developer or Employment Consultant knowing of a job that might be a good fit, and the client being kept ignorant of the opportunity.

So on the surface, this doesn’t make much sense. After all, if the person needs a job, and you had an employer asking you to send them candidates, why would you hold back that information and keep the job seeker in the dark? Well perhaps for good reason. What it all depends on is perspective.

To the person looking for work, it appears mean not to allow them to compete for the job by having the information shared with them. To the employer, they want to reduce their time looking by only having solid candidates forwarded on to them, and to the Job Developer in the middle, they want to forward resumes of good candidates so that the employer is more likely to continue calling on them when they need more employees. All three people in this process have their own agenda, could defend their position and decisions and want results. The job seeker wants the lead, the employer wants applicants who already meet their requirements and the Job Developer wants a successful hire.

However, if you were the person looking for work, the only perspective you’d care about would be your own. So what do you have to say or do to get leads? What kind of behaviour is likely to get you provided with the information you need to know about those hidden jobs? (Hidden because the employer isn’t advertising publically and on job boards, they are going through an agency).

While the criteria may vary slightly, it will start with an up-to-date resume that best markets your experience, skills and makes it clear what you are looking for. And once notified of an opportunity, that resume will likely need some tweaking again to get it positioned to respond better than others the employer might receive to the needs of the employer.

It’s also critical to respond to a phone message promptly, otherwise the Job Developer will move on to someone pretty quickly because they now have an employer waiting for action. Not much point looking for work, and having an Employment Specialist of some kind also working on your behalf if you won’t return phone calls, or aren’t getting messages from others in your home.

You’ll be needing some references; people who can attest to your work ethic, experience, personal qualities, professionalism, and the best references are people you’ve recently worked with or for. If all your references are more than two or three years old, their feedback is less and less relevant. Walking around with a lovely letter from your boss you worked for at 20 years old is great if you are 21, but not worth anything if you’re now 46. All this would do is shine a spotlight on the fact that apparently no one since your were 21 is able or willing to attest to your work performance, and that raises doubt about your worth.

Another key requirement is how you respond to possible leads, opportunities, and whether you take suggestions from the person helping you or not. So if for example you were advised to brush up on your interview skills, but had done nothing by the time of your next appointment, your commitment to your job search might be questioned. Agreeing on a plan of action and following through shows commitment, a genuine desire to improve yourself, and a willingness to and of course moves you up the list in the mind of the person working with you to get a job.

Sometimes it may be that your work history is weak, out-dated, and sketchy. Volunteering might be suggested therefore as a way to obtain relevant and current experience. While this may seem like an unnecessary delay to obtaining paid work to you, it may be what you need in order to appeal to employers. If this is the advice you get, take it gladly and get volunteering. Think of it like on-the-job training; a lengthy interview. You’ll get a reference out of it, recent experience, some credibility, a rise in your self-esteem, some routine, you’ll feel valued and appreciated, and you’ll be filling in a gap on your resume.

The last thing a Job Developer wants to do is send people to employers who disappoint, don’t show up, perform poorly in interviews, turn down jobs, show up late or not at all, etc. This could lose the employer, and then the Job Developer has fewer places to send other clients; and while you as an individual might not care about other job seekers, you are but one they are trying to help.

Help others help you best by taking advice, being enthusiastic and dependable, following through on plans of action, and demonstrating you can be relied upon.

Young People, Old Problems


The problem that some young people are having in getting meaningful work isn’t really new. For years, students coming out of University and Colleges have had the advantage of recent education, youth and exuberance on their sides, but there are some nagging issues facing this age group that if you look back in time, you’ll find are the same issues and barriers that generations have had to deal with in years past.

To start off with, there is the issue of maturity. While young people are trying to convince employers that they are emotionally stable and mentally balanced, committed to employers and can be relied upon, in some cases it was only a short time ago; as little as a few months, when those same young people sitting in front of an interviewer seemingly the picture of maturity beyond their years, were partying four nights or more a week, skipping classes and generally letting loose. What Facebook, MY Space, Instant messaging etc. and other social media have done however is make much of that public sharing of their lives public and unwittingly available to employers. The images they find on-line are believed to be a truer representation of the person than the real-life version sitting in front of them. The reason? At the interview you are portraying for a short period your best behaviour. On Facebook etc., you are at your natural best (or worse).

Another issue that young people face is the sudden demand for them to be up and productively at work at 8:00a.m. or 9:00a.m. Monday to Friday, and to repeat this process again and again. Teens and young people tend to be more night owls by nature and therefore sleep in later in the day. This process fights the world of work that traditionally gets people working early and then hitting the sack at a regular time throughout a week in order to function at work. Then when the weekends hit, there’s also a demand on young people to curtail somewhat that wild life of recent University and College in order that they don’t bring the reputation of their companies to the bars with them.

Now is it fair that the way you act on your own time should somehow reflect on your employer and therefore you be asked to be mindful of this and tone down your party lifestyle? Maybe and maybe not; that’s an ethical question that you can weigh in on. However, the bottom line is that if you want to continue to move up in a company, your advancement will be tied to your reputation for any number of things – and your off-the-clock behaviour DOES impact on your career. Don’t plan on turning the bad behaviour off when it suits you because it can follow you and stick to you and takes a very long time to change your image once you’ve established it.

Now these comments I made are broad-sweeping; they paint an entire age group with the same brush and, well, that’s just not fair or accurate. Sure, I know that, and you should know it too. Neither is every 60-year-old job seeker over the hill and have nothing to offer. But the stereotype is something you may have to overcome with some employers. Good advice is to take a little thought to what might be important to you in a couple of years, and start thinking about what you could do in the here and now to get yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities you’ll want later.

One problem that comes up with young people entering the world of work is how to get a job with little experience while getting the experience you need to land a job! This valuable experience can be gained by volunteering, joining clubs and groups, developing their networking skills, getting out in the community and learning new skills. All these kind of skills can be supplemented with entry-level work in factories, fast-food restaurants, book stores, clothing stores, discount stores, summer camps for kids, etc. All this allows for those experiences to be the basis for your answers in future interview questions.

Getting experience is what it’s all about. Get what you can, where you can instead of just planning on going from no job to the job of your dreams. That entitlement is a problem that older workers stereotypically have a problem with when dealing with younger people. Knowing that now, might just help you out moving forward.

Cheers