HR Specialist

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

7 Things You Should Say in an Interview

In Human Resources on April 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

Today’s job market is as competitive as ever. You need to be able to effectively communicate you skill set so that you will give yourself the best competitive advantage to secure employment. During the interview process, you want to highlight as many of your strengths as possible. An easy way to do this is by slipping a few simple phrases into your next job interview. Here are seven things you should say in an interview.

1. I am very familiar with what your company does.
Letting a prospective employer know that you are familiar with what a company does shows that you have a legitimate interest in the business and are not just wasting their time. Do your homework before arriving for an interview. Check out the company website for information about products and services. Search for the latest transactions and pertinent business news.

Be sure to let the interviewer know that you are familiar with the newest company acquisition or the latest product that was just developed. Explain how your skills and experience are a perfect fit for the employer.

2. I am flexible.
Work environments are always changing. Prospective employers are looking for candidates that are open to change and can adapt at a moment’s notice. In today’s fast paced business world, employees must have the ability to multi-task.

Stating that you are adaptable lets an employer know that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. This may mean working additional hours or taking on additional job duties in a crunch. Show your potential employer that you are equipped to deal with any crisis situation that may arise.

3. I am energetic and have a positive attitude.
Employers are looking for candidates with optimism and a “can-do” attitude. Attitudes are contagious and have a direct affect on company morale. Let the optimist in you shine during the interview process.

Be sure to always speak positively about past employers. Negative comments and sarcastic statements about past employers and co-workers will make you look petty. If you bad mouth your past company, employers are liable to believe that you will do the same thing to them.

4. I have a great deal of experience.
This is your chance to shine. Highlight any previous job duties that relate directly to your new job. If it is a management position, state every time that you were responsible for the supervision, training and development of other employees. Discuss your motivational techniques and specific examples of how you increased productivity. Feel free to list any training classes or seminars that you have attended.

5. I am a team player.
Do you remember when you were young and your teacher wanted to know if you could work well with others? Well the job market is no different! Companies are looking for employees that are cooperative and get along well with other employees. Mentioning that you are a team player lets your prospective employer know that you can flourish in group situations. Employers are looking for workers that can be productive with limited supervision and have the ability to work well with others.

6. I am seeking to become an expert in my field.
Employers love applicants that are increasing their knowledge base to make themselves the best employees possible. Stating that you are aiming to become an expert causes employers to view you as an asset and not a liability. You are a resource that other employees can learn from.

This is also a subtle way of illustrating that you have an attitude of excellence. You are aiming to be the best at what you do! This will let employers know that you are not just a fly-by-night employee, but in it for the long run.

7. I am highly motivated.
A motivated employee is a productive employee. Talk about how your high level of motivation has led you to accomplish many things. If you are a meticulous worker, discuss your organizational skills and attention to detail. Companies are always looking for dependable employees that they can count upon.

The Bottom Line
Remember that a job interview is an opportunity to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Be sure to slip in the right phrases to give you the best chance possible of securing that cushy corner office on the ninth floor.


Job Search Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

In 1 on April 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

 In any economic climate, job hunting is nobody’s idea of fun. And with the growing number of folks hitting the bricks these days, it seems the task is getting even harder. But that’s not precisely true, because the actual job-hunting strategies and techniques remain the same in any climate. What is bothersome, however, is that the process is likely to take longer. This leads to increased stress: financial stress, physical stress, emotional stress and family stress.

Most people do not perform at their best in stressful situations. They get tired more quickly, they get frustrated and run out of patience, and they make mistakes. Here are six job-hunting mistakes frequently made during a recession.

Mistake No. 1: Feeling entitled
In the new economy, your stellar background, great track record, prestigious degree and glowing references guarantee you nothing. The new employment paradigm is, “What have you done for me lately?” You must be constantly developing your skills and talents, broadening your interests and driving your career development. If you don’t, you may well be left behind.
Mistake No. 2: Focusing on yourself, not the employer
Spend your time finding out which of a potential employer’s needs are unmet instead of touting your brilliance. Saying, “I need a job” is irrelevant and depressing; that’s your problem and has nothing to do with why this organization is hiring. Uncovering an employer’s problem areas demonstrates your bona-fide interest, and offering your solutions demonstrates your critical thinking, creativity and approach to problem solving. This is how to get hired.

Mistake No. 3: Taking rejection personally
Face it; there are a lot of jobs you are not going to land. Use rejection as an opportunity to assess and build your job-hunting skills. Evaluate what you could have done better in your research or interview or with your follow-up. If you aren’t getting rejected regularly, then you either aren’t working hard enough to get your foot in the door or you’re applying for jobs beneath your capabilities. No employer makes a decision not to hire you; they make a decision to hire someone else who did a better job of selling himself or herself into the position.

Mistake No. 4: Focusing on your age
It is human nature to focus more on one’s perceived weaknesses as opposed to one’s strengths.  This is especially true for people in the job hunt. Younger folks worry about not having enough experience; older folks worry about looking  overqualified.  If you don’t want a potential employer to focus on your age, make sure you focus on what strengths you bring to the party: energy, track record, endurance, patience, technology skills, people skills, creativity and work ethic. Sell yourself based on what you have.

Mistake No. 5: Looking for a silver bullet
Some job hunters swear by recruiters; others by online job postings. The latest buzz is that social networking sites are making all other job-hunting techniques obsolete. There is no one best way to job hunt.  If you want to increase the effectiveness of your job search, you must spend more time on it and use every technique in the book. This means answering print ads, responding to online job postings, contacting recruiters, cold-contacting potential employers, networking your brains out and using social networking sites to pursue all of these strategies. Sorry, there are no silver bullets or genies in a bottle.

Mistake No. 6: Absorbing too much news
Yes, there’s a recession. Yes, a lot of folks are out of work. And, yes, finding a job is a hard job in and of itself. But, no, the sky is not falling. And yes, if you work hard and long enough at it, you will land a good job. The media’s motto is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Bad news is their stock in trade. You will never see a story about company hiring back 10 workers or a person who landed a great job after a rigorous job hunt.  A regular diet of bad news will convince you that no one is hiring (untrue), that you should avoid employers that have had layoffs (bad strategy) or that maybe you should just move to China (bad idea unless you speak Mandarin). Get out, have some fun, work at keeping your energy and spirits up, and network with optimistic people.

Eventually this recession — like all recessions — will really be over and you’ll be better prepared for (gulp) the next one.

Are Your Employees Happy?

In Human Resources on April 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

As job losses continue to pile up, the vast majority of Americans still say they love their job as much as before the recession, a year ago.

Of 2,158 Americans surveyed by the Swiss human resources firm Adecco, 78 percent report they love what they do as much as or more than before the start of the recession. Only 14 percent said the economic downturn has made loving their job less important.

But the report also suggests their true feelings are mixed. Fifty-four percent would pick another career if they could choose again. And the biggest pre-workweek emotion was not excitement or even indifference, but gratitude. Forty-one percent reported that appreciation for having a job as their dominant feeling on Sundays.

Bernadette Kenny, Adecco North America’s chief career officer, warned employers against taking advantage of these feelings by overworking employees.

“While it is normal for companies to ask their staff to do more during a recession to keep the business performing successfully, equally important is recognizing the limits to each employees’ time and capabilities,” she said.

After fifteen years of research into well-being in the workplace, Thomas Wright, a professor of management and chair of business administration at Kansas State University, concludes happy employees are crucial to a successful organization.

“The bottom line is that there’s a definite benefit for companies,” he said. “Whether it’s just a means to an end or an end in-and-of itself, the evidence is extremely clear that the individuals who have better psychological well-being are better performers.”

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

In Pre/Post Employment Services on April 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

Over the past couple of months, career expert Jeff Hunter has surveyed a group of recruiters and HR managers in order to provide job seekers with insight into the hiring process. His list of ten questions inspired interesting responses, including varied answers regarding resumes and resume length. It’s clear that there isn’t a straight answer to the age-old question “How long should my resume be?”

Here are some of the responses from top recruiters and HR executives:

“1-2 pages for a junior candidate, 3-4 pages for a senior candidate.”–Glenn Kwarcinski, senior technical recruiter in the Wireless Technologies Division of Apple

“One page, but I don’t ding people for more than that.”–Craig Campbell, director of talent acquisition at Dolby Laboratories

“2 pages . . . that’s it. But I believe a true recruiter’s job is to set interviews, not submit resumes.”–Sean Rehder, recruiter

“There is [no single correct answer.] But remember that the longer you go, the greater the chance of boring the reader.”–Jeff Hunter, career expert

And here are five tips to consider as you update your resume and debate the length it should be:

1. Make sure your resume clearly and succinctly communicates your achievements. Avoid resume “filler”–vague language that doesn’t precisely explain a skill or an accomplishment. According to Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, you should try to tie each thing in your work history to a measurable result you achieved.

2. Evaluate whether an achievement is best highlighted in your resume, in an interview, or perhaps in your cover letter. Rueff says, “The resume is an outline, or a storyboard of you. It tells a story of continued achievement and growth. Storyboards hit the high points; the interview is when you can introduce dialogue, drama, the overcoming of barriers, and so on.”

3. Consider whether a long-ago job best supports your qualification for a job you’re after today. For example, a valuable experience waiting tables at one of the busiest restaurants in your town may have taught you how to multitask, but does that job readily speak to why you would make a great software engineer at Oracle?

4. Look at the format of your resume with fresh eyes and consider whether a brief paragraph or five to seven bullets would more easily express what you managed to do in your last few jobs. Rueff explains, “Consider your audience. For example, if you’re applying for a job that will require a lot of writing, consider developing a two- or three-sentence paragraph for each job that gives a hint of your writing skills. However, if you’re in a technical field, brief bullets may best showcase your experience. The bottom line is that whether you bullet-point your achievements or offer more color in a paragraph format, everything should be tied to a result and tell a mini-story within the bigger career story of you.”

5. Avoid cliffhangers or one-liners that extend your resume to a second or third page. Often that last hanger line will either be ignored or simply have the potential employer asking, “Why didn’t they clean that up?!’

And last but not least, if you’re concerned about resume length even after running through each of these considerations, do not shrink the font size to something barely readable. Recruiters, hiring managers, and others who can help get you a job want to actually read your resume, so don’t make doing so difficult. While there is no rule of thumb when it comes to the overall length, one to two pages is still the average. For your resume, ask yourself whether it’s direct, informative, insightful, and appropriate to your skills and experience. No problem, right?!

7 Things Your Boss Should Never Say to You

In Human Resources on April 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Last week, I listed seven things employees should never say to bosses. A look at the various comment threads shows that a few bosses out there could also benefit from a review of the basics of good workplace relations–not to mention a quickie refresher of what constitutes good leadership.

So, bosses, are you listening? Here are seven things you, as a boss, should never say to your employees:

1. “I pay your salary. You have to do what I say.” Have you not heard? It’s the 21st century. Threats and power plays just do not cut it anymore (and they were always a terrible way to manage). Yes, you pay people’s salaries but that doesn’t mean you’re their lord and master. You are their leader, however. Leaders lead by inspiring, teaching, encouraging, and, yes, serving their employees. Good leaders never need to threaten. So keep your word, set a good example, praise in public, criticize in private, respect your employees’ capabilities, give credit where credit is due, learn to delegate, and when you ask for feedback don’t forget to respond to it. (Another sentence to be avoided: “Do what I say, not what I do.”)

2. “I don’t want to listen to your complaints.” Hey, boss, you have this backwards. You do want to listen to employees’ complaints. That’s part of your job. You should be actively seeking feedback, even negative feedback. It may be annoying, even painful, but that’s why you get the big bucks. Complaints point to where your processes and practices need improvement. And even if a problem absolutely can’t be helped, allowing your employees to vent can go a long way toward restoring morale and building loyalty.

3. “I was here on Saturday afternoon. Where were you?” This kind of “subtle” pressure to work 24/7 is a good way to burn out your employees. You won’t get that much more productivity out of them, and you will destroy morale. You may choose to work seven days a week. That’s your call. But your employees shouldn’t have to. If you observe that they are working way more than their job descriptions call for, consider that maybe it’s because you’re overloading them. Look for ways to fix this problem.

4. “Isn’t your performance review coming up soon?” Maybe you’re trying to motivate an employee to do a better job. Maybe this is just a ham-handed way to remind underlings of who has the power. Who knows. Either way, a statement like this is not only tacky and passive-aggressive, it’s ineffective. If you really want to motivate people, consider giving them a stake in the success of your enterprise. Show employees you value them. Let them know what they have to gain by doing a good job. The results may surprise you.

5. “We’ve always done it this way.” Want to crush your employees’ initiative? This is a good way. News flash: Your employees may actually have a pretty good idea of how to do their jobs. Maybe they know even more than you. Your job as boss is to encourage them to have the energy and motivation to be innovative. In fact, employees who come up with better ways to do things should be celebrated and rewarded. (Hint: Cash is nice.)

6. “We need to cut costs” (at the same time you are, say, redecorating your office). Nothing breeds resentment more than asking employees to tighten their belts while you, to their eyes, are living it up. Even if the office redecoration can be totally justified in business terms, or the budget for it was a gift from your uncle, it still looks hypocritical and is demoralizing. Being sensitive to other people’s feelings is good karma. Leading by example is the best way to lead.

7. “You should work better.” Managers need to communication expectations clearly, to give employees the tools they need to do a good job, to set reasonable deadlines, and to offer help if needed. When giving instructions, ask if they understand your instructions. Don’t assume. You may not be the stellar communicator you think you are. If your employees are making mistakes, or not performing up to par, consider that maybe it’s because you’re giving them vague instructions like “you should work better.”

The bottom line is that in the workplace respect, a little tact, and a good attitude go both ways.