Getting these 5 questions wrong can ruin your chances in a job interview

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Latina woman talking to interviewers about a job opportunity

By Judith Humphrey

Making a good impression at a job interview involves a lot more than just, being on time, and researching the company. Here are five key questions to answer for yourself if you want to make it to the next round.

1. How will I strike a balance between selling myself and praising the company?

Everyone knows that pitching yourself is key, but overdo it and you’ll turn the interviewer off. You need to strike the right balance between talking about the company you’re interviewing with and talking about yourself. Suppose you start off with, “Here’s why I’d be great for this job. Here are my accomplishments.” You’ve just dug a hole for yourself, because you’re making the interview all about you. Instead, start with explaining how you admire the company, its accomplishments, and leadership. If you can, show you know something about the person interviewing you. Express your excitement about that particular position. In short, talk about the opportunity–and then show why your qualifications make you such a good fit. Your interviewers will be impressed. You’ve made the connection between the job and your abilities, and so will they.

2. How will I tout both my knowledge and my teamwork?

Be proud of what you’ve done and your credentials, but remember, you’ll lose big points if you come across as a know-it-all. Be sure to acknowledge the people who mentored you and teammates who helped you with your achievements. The interviewer wants to know that you work well with others and give credit where it’s due. Sounding too smart will make people feel that you won’t fit in, that if you’re hired you will tell your team just how to do things, and when they get it wrong, you’ll tell them how stupid they are. So be careful. Don’t put down others or correct the person interviewing you. If you say you restructured an organization that was badly in need of your expertise, you’re dissing your former colleagues. If you correct the person interviewing you by saying, “Well, actually, I didn’t work for that division,” or “I’m late because I think you sent me the wrong time in my Google Calendar,” you might as well kiss the job goodbye. Even if you’re right, you’re wrong to sound superior.

3. How do I avoid sounding passive?

Interviewers will ask you specific questions. Answer them but also come prepared to shape the dialogue. The secret is to prepare a narrative that shows your strengths and illustrates why the job is right for you. This script should have a main message about you, as well as key supporting points explaining why you feel qualified for the position. When you’re asked a question, let the answer flow into the material you have prepared. If the interviewer asks, “What is your most outstanding characteristic as a leader?” you’ll have the answer and more: “I see myself as a leader who can inspire others. I do this in several ways. First . . . ” This preparation will give you a stronger presence. It also means that when you leave the room, you won’t have regrets about failing to mention any of the reasons that make you a strong candidate.

4. How eager should I be?

You may be uncertain about whether you’ll take the position. After all, every interview flows both ways–you are evaluating the company, just as they are judging you. But regardless of such feelings, you should act hungry for this job. It’s easy to feel ambivalent about a major career move. Maybe you’re not quite ready for a big jump, perhaps the company interviewing you is not in your industry of choice, or the salary and benefits are not wholly to your liking. But beware: Recruiters and employers will pick up on your ambivalence. They’ll hear it in your tone of voice, your body language, and words. So avoid giving mixed signals. Don’t suggest you’re considering other positions. Express how excited you are about this opportunity. Once the job is offered, you can decide whether you want it.

5. How much should I rehearse?

There’s nothing more important than rehearsing for that interview. But too many candidates think they can wing it and find out (all too late) that strategy was a mistake. The executive communications company I founded and headed for 30 years often rehearsed leaders for job interviews. I know from experience that practice made all the difference. Rehearsing allows you to fine-tune your “pitch.” Work with a communications professional if you can, but even if you deliver your remarks to a family member or friend, you’ll find that trial run useful. A rehearsal will also allow you to address delivery issues. An audio or video recording, as well as feedback from a coach, can lead to remarkable improvement. It can help you get rid of filler words like “um,” “ah,” and “like.” Rehearse well, and you’ll enter the room with a great deal of confidence.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

These 6 Customer Service Skills Will Help You Land Any Job

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Working in retail, hospitality, a call center, or another job focused on customer service can give you vital workplace skills. No matter which industry you want to work in, the following six strong customer service skills are transferable to any job.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Good communication is the key to good customer service. It’s also the cornerstone of working in any industries where you need to work with other people, from customers to colleagues, and clients to business contacts.

Through your customer service role, you’ll learn how to explain concepts to others in easy-to-understand terms and how to placate people who may not share your point of view. You’ll find that you use these same skills in most roles. Your oral and written communication skills will also help you get your points across in meetings and during collaborative tasks.

2. Solid Active Listening Skills

Good communication and active listening skills tend to go hand in hand. Good communication is a two-way street. While effective public speaking skills are important, so is effective listening. Customer service professionals hone their active listening skills when they listen to what a customer says, then ask questions to clarify what they’ve heard before delivering a response.

A study by Korn Ferry International, an executive search recruitment firm, found that active listening is the most important competence for any workplace. The firm gave active listening this rating because it believes active listening can cover gaps left in other workplace areas. For example, if you don’t yet have skills in negotiation, you could rely on your active listening skills to get through a negotiation process.

3. Excellent Problem-Solving Skills

Customer service representatives are pros at problem solving. So much of their job involves handling complaints and queries customers have. They must use ingenuity to find solutions that work within a business’s preferred practices yet satisfy customers. Problem-solving skills cultivated in a customer service role are transferable to almost any profession, but they are especially important for creative and technology roles, such as advertising executivesengineers, and software designers.

4. Ability to Work as Part of a Team

No customer service worker is an island. Instead, customer service employees work as part of a team to support their employer’s positive image and customer service standards. Many customer service workers find themselves jumping in to help colleagues address customer queries or assisting their co-workers when they’re especially busy.

The kind of collaborative teamwork skills demonstrated by customer service workers is essential for success in many professional environments. It’s important for people in a range of industries to work within their designated roles but come together when required, such as for group projects and meetings.

5. Good Multitasking Skills

Many customer service professions require you to multitask well. Every customer wants to feel important, even though your attention may be pulled in several directions. It’s not uncommon for customer service professionals to run computers or cash registers while speaking with customers.

You might also deal with a number of customers at once if people with more urgent concerns need help while you’re dealing with more routine matters. And, of course, you must do it all efficiently and with a smile on your face! That aptitude for multitasking is useful for working in any busy profession.

6. The Ability to Show Resilience

Customer service workers must be resilient. While most members of the public are pleasant, some can be short-tempered and belligerent. In these circumstances, customer service workers must rely on their skills of resiliency to power through. Otherwise, they can’t deliver their best service to the next customer they interact with.

Similarly, you won’t find all the people you deal with any profession in good humor all the time. Sometimes, events in life simply don’t go your way. Despite the challenges, it’s important to rely on your skills of resiliency to move on to the next task. Demonstrating your resilience to a potential new employer will hold you in good stead on any job interview that you face.

Don’t underestimate how important having a background in customer service can be. A role focused on helping members of the public can position you well for landing any job.

Source: CareerBuilder

4 Tips for Responding to “Sell Me This Pen” in an Interview

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You’re in a job interview for a sales position, and things are going well. Then the interviewer presents the challenge that you knew to expect (yet were still dreading): “Sell me this pen.”

This type of prompt is enough to send your stomach plummeting to your shoes. It’s challenging to think on the fly to begin with, and when that’s combined with the fact that your nerves are running high, it’s common to draw a blank and stare at that pen completely slack-jawed.

Fortunately, like any other type of job interview question, a little preparation and practice can help you knock your response out of the park.

So what do you need to know to effectively answer a “sell me something” interview question? We’re covering all of the details right here.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

As you might guess, this type of question is frequently asked in interviews for sales positions.

While a pen is a common default object, that’s not the only scenario for this type of sales prompt. Your interviewer might say, “Sell me this bottle of water” or even simply, “Sell me something” and then have you choose an item in the room and state your pitch.

It’s tempting to think that they’re only asking this to stump you or put you in a tough spot—and honestly, that’s partially true.

“Sales can be a very high-pressure job. Interviewers want to see how you answer the question, not necessarily what you say,” says Neely Raffellini, Muse Career Coach and founder of the 9 to 5 Project. “Do you respond with confidence? Do you seem genuine?”

In any sort of sales role, you’ll occasionally find yourself in sticky situations. So interviewers don’t ask this question with the expectation that you’ll have a flawless response (although that certainly doesn’t hurt!). Instead, they simply want to observe how you react under pressure.

4 Tips for a Solid “Sell Me This Pen” Answer

It’s comforting to know that employers are more interested in your overall demeanor—as opposed to only the content of your response.

However, you still need something to say (and ideally, it’ll be effective and impressive). Here are four tips to help you craft an impactful answer to this common question.

1. Be Confident

Remember, the primary reason your interviewer is asking this is to gauge how well you respond when you feel pressured or caught off guard.

Even if you don’t have a perfectly polished sales spiel to whip out at a moment’s notice, do your best to display a level of confidence as you work your way through your answer.

Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and smile. Those nonverbal cues will go a long way in making you seem poised and self-assured—regardless of the actual content of your sales pitch.

2. Highlight a Need

In a famous scene in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character tells a salesperson, “Sell me this pen.” The salesperson immediately takes the pen from DiCaprio and then asks him to write his name down—which is impossible to do without any sort of writing utensil.

“The purpose is to prove that he needs the pen,” explains Dan Ratner, a former account executive at The Muse.

While you might not replicate that exact approach, this is definitely a tactic that you can borrow when answering this question yourself.

The best place to start is by asking questions. The temptation is strong to jump right in with a long-winded sales pitch. But remember that a good salesperson takes the time to learn about the needs, goals, and challenges of their prospective customers so that they can tailor their pitch to their audience.

“Your goal is to dig deeper and to understand why they need whatever you’re selling,” adds Ratner. “Usually, this can be ascertained by simply asking, ‘why?’”

Ratner demonstrates the power of asking this type of question with the below interview question and answer example:

Interviewer: “Sell me something.”
Candidate: “Okay, what do you need?”
Interviewer: “A new car.”
Candidate: “Why do you need a new car?”
Interviewer: “My car’s a gas guzzler and I want something that has better MPG.”
Candidate: “Why do you want better MPG?”
Interviewer: “I’m tired of spending tons of cash to fill my SUV. I want to save money.”
Candidate: “Why is it important to you to save money?”
Interviewer: “I’m saving up to buy a house.”
Candidate: “What I hear is you’re in need of a car that helps save you money in the long run so you can buy a home. Is that right?”
Interviewer: “Yes, exactly.”
Candidate: “How serendipitous! I’m in the business of selling electric cars. I’d love to get you started on your dream as a homeowner. Do you prefer cash or credit?”

3. Emphasize the Features and Benefits

In addition to connecting your sales pitch to specific needs, it’s also helpful to call attention to the features or benefits of whatever you’ve been asked to sell. This is all about setting up a distinct value proposition for that item.

“For example, does your pen write with very smooth ink? How will that benefit them? Maybe it can help them write faster or more effortlessly. Does your pen have red ink? Red ink will help their markups stand out on a page,” shares Raffellini.

Raffellini says that selling these unique attributes or perks is a tactic she has used herself in job interviews.

In her first sales interview, “the interviewer [who] asked me this question already had a pen sitting in front of them and pointed to the pen sitting in front of me saying, ‘Sell me that pen.’ I realized that the interviewer didn’t need a pen, so I explained why I would choose the pen that I had in front of me. It worked, because I got the job!”

4. Don’t Forget to Close

The close is the most important part of the sale, but it’s also an easy one to forget when you know that the interviewer won’t actually be cutting you a check for that pen of yours.

The last piece of your response is the portion when you can really end on a strong note and leave a lasting impression, so don’t fall into the trap of leaning on something weak like, “So yeah, that’s how I’d sell that…”

Instead, summarize the main points you made and then show the interviewer you know how to close by actually making the ask (like you would in a real sales situation). That might look something like this:

“With its comfortable grip and smooth ink, this pen can help you increase your writing speed, save precious time in your workday, and get more done. Should we move forward with placing your order?”

When you’re on the hunt for any sort of sales position, you need to be prepared to answer some variation of the “sell me this pen” interview question.

The good news is that interviewers don’t expect that you’ll have a completely polished sales pitch ready to go—they’re mostly trying to discern how you respond in high-pressure situations.

Continue on tho The Muse to read the complete article.

Wells Fargo Collaborates with Diverse Chambers of Commerce For Leadership Development Program

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Chamber-Leadership-Alliance-2019

Today an alliance of diverse chambers of commerce, in collaboration with Wells Fargo, launched a new Chamber Leadership  Development Program to support diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S.

The alliance includes the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation.

The diverse business communities represented by the alliance of chambers account for an annual estimated contribution of more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy. The Chamber Leadership Development Program is aimed at educating and developing leaders of diverse state and local chambers of commerce to support diverse entrepreneurs. The program also will include university partners and will affect more than 400 chamber leaders through innovative programming designed to empower chamber leaders to better serve their local communities of diverse businesses.

“Diverse businesses are growing across the United States,” said Regina Heyward, senior vice president and head of supplier diversity at Wells Fargo. “Through the Chamber Leadership Development Program, Wells Fargo sees an opportunity to strengthen diverse leaders within the small business community and to support local chambers in capacity building.”

In 2019, the program will be offered to chamber leaders at the conferences of each of the alliance of diverse chambers organizations. The first session will be held at the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation CelebrASIAN Procurement + Business Conference in Houston, Tx, June 4–5. It will be followed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce International Business and Leadership Conference in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 12–13; the U.S. Black Chambers National Conference in National Harbor, Md., Aug. 19–20; and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention in Los Angeles, Ca, Sept. 28–29.

In addition to these in-person sessions, there will be two virtual sessions in 2019.

“The Chamber Leadership Development Program is an important step in strengthening our local diverse chambers across the U.S.,” said National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “With stronger diverse chambers in each city, we are able to provide more opportunity for local diverse business owners, concurrently strengthening local economies and increasing the ability for diverse business owners to scale their enterprises —underscoring our importance to the small business engine that makes the U.S. economy run.”

Ron Busby, U.S. Black Chambers president & CEO, noted, “The Chamber Leadership Alliance develops and empowers diverse chamber leaders while providing unique educational opportunities on how to grow and build their local organizations for the benefit of its small business community members.”

Susan Au Allen, National President and CEO of the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, said, “We are proud to be a stakeholder in the Chamber Leadership Alliance, a collaboration spearheaded by Wells Fargo, that addresses critical nonprofit business organization leadership gaps in our diverse business communities. Our shared vision is to cultivate chamber leaders who will become innovators, beacons, and change agents — thus collectively building a framework for sustainable business growth and success for our respective constituents and the wider community.”

Ramiro Cavazos, U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO said, “The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is proud of our intersectional partnership with other alliance members, and we are excited about the benefits this will bring to all of our members. With sponsors such as Wells Fargo, we reaffirm our its commitment to Hispanic- and diverse-owned businesses to provide resources for our community that are just as timely as they are innovative.”

About the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT-owned businesses, known as LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs). nglcc.org

About the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) provides committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. usblackchambers.org

About the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The USHCC actively promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of more than 4.37 million Hispanic-owned businesses, that combined, contribute over $700 billion to the American economy every year. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local chambers and business associations nationwide. ushcc.com

About the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
Founded in 1984, USPAACC promotes, nurtures and propels economic growth by opening doors to procurement, educational and professional opportunities for Pan Asian Americans and their business partners in corporate America, the federal, state and local governments, and the small and minority business communities in the United States, and the Asia-Pacific and Indian Subcontinent regions. uspaacc.com

About Wells Fargo:
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 37 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 259,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

NGLCC

For additional information, please visit  nglcc.org.

Career Advancement Strategies for Millennials

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Picture of four millennials dressed in work clothing.

Professionals born between 1977 and 2000, are a generation that employers are eager to recruit into their organizations, as part of human resource and legacy planning.

The next generation of career professionals faces some unique challenges establishing themselves in business sectors which are occupied at senior levels, by employees and managers with senior tenure and expansive work experience.

What kind of career strategies should millennials consider, to progressively advance their careers in a new a rapidly growing global market?

Career Strategies

Grow Your Skill set

There are many affordable online resources that provide career professionals with resources and training, that can help you grow your skillset, to compete for opportunities with some of the world’s leading employers.

A degree is the first step to establishing a foundation of skills that will get you hired, but what employers like to see is a candidate that has persisted in professional development, by taking ongoing continuing education courses and certifications.

Some of the most competitive training opportunities, are available from non-traditional education providers, like Udemy, which now offers over 55,0000 online courses.  Invest in the growth of your career, by completing ongoing training, and remember to add the completed coursework to your LinkedIn profile and CV.

Organize Your Personal Brand

Recruiters and leading employers do not hire based on what they may or may not find, when they search for social media, blog and other online communication written by a prospective candidate.

But it is important to know that what you do share online, does reflect strongly on the impression that you make, before you have been interviewed.

How can you organize your social media to attract employers or recruiters?  Start by spending extra time on your LinkedIn profile, as it is the first and most often searched resource during the interview and hiring process.

Don’t treat your LinkedIn profile as a repository for the details of your CV, but rather as an opportunity to share portfolio items, and measurable accomplishments.

  • Ask for referrals and endorsements from previous colleagues and managers, to provide references that future employers can easily review.
  • Consider writing and publishing professional articles on LinkedIn Pulse, that demonstrate your learning and growing knowledge about your industry.
  • Join groups and follow leading brands and organizations on LinkedIn, and contribute content, such as comments, shared links and other insights.

One of the most important things you can do with regards to personal branding, is evaluate the content that you have previously shared on social.  Does it contain language that would be offensive to potential employers?  Are there pictures that you have shared, that can be viewed by the public, that could deter an employer from hiring you?  Spend some time ‘cleaning up’ objectionable content, and consider adding industry related articles, comments and insights weekly, to establish yourself as a quality hire.

Explore Offline Networking Opportunities

Today’s professionals are wired to technology, and that is both a good thing, and a bad thing for millennials, who may not develop the soft skills and offline networking talents they need, to grow within their career.

While conferences and conventions can be expensive to attend, they are a valuable opportunity to meet other professionals within your sector.  Job fairs and technology accelerator events create the face-time needed to meet prospective employers, and to learn more about the skills you will need to advance in your career.    Consider the benefit of a printed business card, with your name and telephone number that you can give to organizations you are interested in.  It is a small thing that can make a lasting impression and open the door to new opportunities.

Seek Out Mentoring and Industry Advice

Finding a mentor in your career sector can be difficult, but the rewards and benefits are many.  Not only can a mentor share how they successfully grew within your industry, but they can help point you in the right direction, in terms of training, associations and other activities that can make you more competitive in the global job market.

Stay Informed About Your Industry

Did you know that one of the things that successful career professionals have in common, is that they are constantly browsing job opportunities online?  Even if you are currently happy with your role and the organization you work for, there are many insights that you can learn by regularly reviewing the competitive requirements that leading businesses are looking for.

For technology professionals, the sector is constantly changing.  If you are in an entry-level or middle role and wish to transition to a future executive or management position, start by looking at the experience and requirements that are advertised by employers.  It will provide an actionable list of certifications and associations that you can become involved with as a volunteer, or part-time intern, to build your portfolio of relevant work experience.

Latino Executives from Nation’s Top Firms to Discuss Workplace Identity & Inclusion at HACE’s 37th National Leadership Conference

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The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), a national nonprofit organization devoted to the employment and advancement of Latino professionals, will be hosting its 37th National Leadership Conference with a theme of “Beyond Latinidad: Identity, Intersectionality & Inclusivity” on April 25-26, 2019 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

HACE’s National Leadership Conference includes career exploration, professional development, powerful networking and open dialogue to raise awareness of the many identities Latinos represent. Partners are invited to attend the career fair on the second day of the conference to showcase job opportunities to over 400 high-potential candidates and participate as experts in discussions focused on diversity & inclusion, recruitment practices and the multi-generational workforce.

“Currently there is a lack of leaders who represent our community. With our programs and services, we are able to shine a light and really feature Latinos that have made it, that are successful, to our younger generation so that they can envision themselves getting there,” said Patricia Mota, HACE’s President & CEO.

Interweaved throughout the Conference are key insights that explore the challenges the U.S. Hispanic community faces due to its continued underrepresentation in all sectors of society, despite being America’s largest diverse community – a market of more than 55 million Americans, representing $1.7 trillion of annual purchasing power, according to nonprofit We Are All Human led by Claudia Romo Edelman, who will keynote the national leadership summit luncheon. “At a time when so many Hispanics feel estranged and threatened, I cannot think of a more important priority for us than to unify as one U.S. Hispanic community,” Romo Edelman said. “I know in my heart it is what our Hispanic community needs at this pivotal moment in history.”

The conference will open up with a powerful panel of Hispanic and Latino leaders will discuss what Latinidad means to them, their individual identities, the intersection and impact of these identities, and how their stories help to foster spaces that build inclusivity.

Speakers include:

Vania Wit, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, United Airlines
Michael Alicea, EVP, Global HR, Nielsen
Rosie Kitson, VP, System Integration Sales and Transition, AT&T
Lourdes Diaz, VP, Global Diversity and Inclusion, Sodexo
Patricia Mota, President & CEO, HACE
Anne Alonzo, President, American Egg Board Association

Awards Gala to Honor Latino Leaders

HACE’s annual awards ceremony honoring the accomplishments of its members and the generosity of its partners will take place on the evening of April 26, 2019.

Winners include:

Corporate Champion: AT&T
Latino Employee Resource Group of the Year: Jones Lang LaSalle
Servant Leader Award: Andrea Saenz, Chicago Community Trust
Leaders: David Romero, United Airlines; Marisol Martinez, Allstate; Yahaira G. Corona, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Summit top sponsors include:

Eli Lilly & Company, McDonald’s, AT&T, Nielsen, Sodexo and United Airlines. Additional sponsors include AARP, Abbvie, Accenture, ADP, Advance Auto Parts, Army ROTC, HCSC Blue Cross Blue Shield, Barilla, BP, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Grainger, Hyatt, Navy Exchange (NEXCOM), Omnicom Group, PepsiCo, TIAA, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, Walgreens, Abbvie, DIAGEO, MillerCoors, Motorola Solutions, Burson Cohn & Wolfe and University of Chicago. (Sponsorship opportunities are still available).

12 Proven Strategies to Prepare for a Job or Career Fair

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Job-Fair-Attendees

Knowing the right way to prepare for a job fair can help you land the next great job on your career path. Whether you’re seeking your first job or your fifth job, attending a career or job fair is a smart strategy for marketing yourself to potential employers.

Forget reviewing hundreds of online ads or spending countless hours filling out applications and emailing resumes! At a job fair, you can connect directly with recruiters and hiring managers from a wide range of companies, learning about them as they learn about you.

Yet, knowing how to effectively prepare for a career fair means you’ll stand out from other attendees and ultimately find your next great career role. Follow these steps to make the most of every job fair you attend.

How to prepare for the career or job fair

A key contributor to your success will be in your preparation. Here are some tips:

If you can, pre-register for the event: This can include submitting your resume and/or other information just in case attending employers review your information before the fair.

Research the companies that are attending: Having a background on these organizations means you can ask specific questions about the job and company. “This impresses [company] representatives because it shows a genuine interest in them,” according to the UC Berkeley Career Center.

After researching, decide who you’ll talk with: By doing this, you don’t have to waste precious time wandering around and deciding who to start a conversation with. You’ll know when you walk in the door, greatly increasing your chances of success. If you can get a layout of the fair beforehand, you can make a “plan of attack” to see each employer in order of interest.

Prepare and print your resumes: Bring more than you need, as some companies may want more than one copy. If you have multiple job objectives, make sure you bring enough versions of each resume, and of course, be sure your resume is well-written and free of errors.

Create and practice your elevator pitch: This 30- to 60-second speech should explain who you are, what your skills are, and what your career goal is. This is one truly important piece of learning how to prepare for a career fair, and Carnegie Mellon University has a page with some great tips on creating a solid elevator pitch.

Prepare for potential interviews or interview questions: Check out this list of the most common interview questions and prepare your answers beforehand. This will ensure you present yourself professionally and help calm your nerves.

What to do on the day of the fair

Arrive as early as possible, come dressed appropriately for the job fair, and then follow these tips to make the most of your time:

Be confident and enthusiastic: Introduce yourself with a smile and a firm handshake. Companies are there because they want to meet you, and more importantly, make a hire. Be ready to give your elevator pitch when appropriate. If you’re still a student, talk about your academic and extracurricular experiences as well as your career interests.

Take notes if necessary: Do this especially “when you inquire about next steps and the possibility of talking with additional managers,” says the UC Berkeley career center. “Write down the names, telephone numbers, etc. of other staff in the organization whom you can contact later.”

Ask the company representative for a business card: This will give you all the information you need to get in touch with this person if necessary and to send a thank-you note for the time the representative spent with you. Believe it or not, many a candidate has won the job because of a thank you.

Network, network, network: In addition to the company representatives, make time to talk with other job seekers to share information on everything from the companies to job leads and get their contact information if possible. Also, definitely approach any professional organizations at the fair and get information for future networking opportunities.

Actions to take after the event

Once you’ve prepared for the career or job fair and then actually attended, there are a few important things to do once it’s over. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Follow up with company representatives you talked to: As mentioned above, send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the fair. Review your interest in and qualifications for the job and promise to follow up with a phone call. You can also attach another copy of your resume to the note or email.

Continue to network: Reach out to fellow attendees you talked with to share your experience of the job fair and ask about their successes. Tell them you’ll keep them in mind if you see an open position they might want and ask them to do the same for you. Join any of the professional organizations that were at the fair if they are appropriate to your career goals, as well.

In addition to the tips above, the University of Minnesota has advice from employers on various aspects of how to prepare for a job fair, which is helpful for both students and experienced professionals alike.

By following these guidelines at your next career fair, you’ll give yourself an excellent chance of landing that next great job in your career path.

Continue on to read the complete article at topresume.com

What Is an Intrapreneur and Why Does Everyone Want to Hire Them Right Now?

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Sure, there’s plenty of talk nowadays about entrepreneurs and freelancers—people who work for themselves, set their own days, and run their own businesses. But there’s another crew in town that’s becoming increasingly popular: intrapreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with this term, you’re not alone.

The first time I heard it was from William Arruda, a global personal branding expert whose clients include many Fortune 100 companies and the author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand. In it, he describes an intrapreneur as “a person who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit within an organization.”

This concept shows just how much the employee-employer relationship has evolved. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in today’s working world. Employees are demanding more freedom and autonomy in order to grow. And employers are understanding the need to create a strong company culture that retains top talent and fosters innovation.

The result? Companies are eager to welcome and embrace people who are creative, proactive, and flexible—in other words, intrapreneurs. I’ll explain what it means to be one and the benefits they bring to employers—and how you can be an intrapreneur, too.

What Is an Intrapreneur?

In many ways, an intrapreneur could be considered an in-house entrepreneur. If we go back to Arruda’s definition, this group of people is classified as having an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

So, what does that mean, exactly?

Well, entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create new services or products. In doing so, they develop original ideas, think beyond what’s already been done, and are always looking to provide valuable solutions to common problems. They’re personally invested in achieving a successful outcome.

The same thing can be said about intrapreneurs. They’re creative freethinkers who are passionate about sharing new ways to get things done. The difference is, they operate within a company rather than solo. While no one’s job title is likely to be “intrapreneur,” you can adopt the mindset in pretty much any role.

What Are the Characteristics of an Intrapreneur?

You can instantly spot an intrapreneur within a company because they treat their job as if it were their own business. Also, an intrapreneur’s ingenuity makes them a star employee—they’re always coming up with resourceful ways to approach challenging situations.

Here are some more characteristics that make them truly special.

They’re Authentic

An intrapreneur’s greatest trait is being consistently humble and sincere—whether it’s in an email, meeting, or passing conversation. This makes them experts at establishing trust and highly respected and liked throughout a company.

They’re Savvy Collaborators

Ever known someone who can pick up the phone to ask for a favor or information and get an immediate response? Well, that’s a classic intrapreneur move. As masters of building relationships, they never run out of people to contact who are willing to help—because they’d do the same in return.

They’re Highly Confident

It takes a certain level of confidence to express creative ideas and proactively start a project. Intrapreneurs are risk-takers, so they trust their actions and aren’t afraid to try something different or learn from trial and error.

They’re Uber Resilient

Whether it’s about finding an answer to an ongoing problem or hammering out the details of a new plan, an intrapreneur won’t give up. An intrapreneur is not easily deterred and hasn’t met a challenge they’re not willing to tackle head-on.

They Have Strong Personal Brands

Intrapreneurs are highly aware of how they communicate their unique strengths and work hard to maintain a positive external reputation in order to promote their expertise and services. Because their professional image is important to them, they also have just as strong of a presence online as they do in person.

Why Are Intrapreneurs So Valuable to a Company?

You may think, “Hmmm… Wouldn’t these kinds of people be perceived as a threat to a company’s success? And wouldn’t they just take off the second something better came along?”

But it’s actually to a company’s advantage to have employees who take ownership of their work. Employees who feel like their talent and contributions matter (for real) will work smarter, feel more satisfied, and bring forth their best ideas—which will ultimately become the company’s ideas and products.

Some may fear that allowing employees to be too innovative will lead to folks using what they do at work to benefit their own side hustle. However, even if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as there’s no conflict of interest (for example, working on outside projects during work hours or working on something that’s a direct competitor to the company).

Why Should You Be an Intrapreneur, and How Can You Be One at Any Company?

So as you’re thinking of ways to grow your career, consider how the mindset of an intrapreneur is also an asset to your own brand and success. Sure, your ideas are going toward a company’s vision, but you know where else they’re going? Into your resume and LinkedIn profile—your own portfolio!

Every successful initiative you’re a part of gives you concrete examples of scenarios when you took action and delivered results. This increases your potential to make more money and access more growth opportunities down the road (for example, a promotion, a new role you get to define, or a completely new start somewhere else). Plus, being an intrapreneur allows you to pursue a passion project with the added benefit of having a company’s resources and budget—as opposed to having to start from scratch and launch it all on your own.

As an intrapreneur, your experience is tied to in-demand skills that are transferable anywhere you go, instead of a specific job title.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Have a Job Offer? Consider these 5 things before saying yes

LinkedIn

Corporate culture may be the key to happiness at work. You can have an exceptional job offer, but if the culture is not a match, it could be problematic.

You deal with a lot—coworkers, the boss, and office politics. If you can’t succeed in a certain culture, you can’t succeed in the job.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

It is too simplistic to think that corporate culture is solely about mission and values. It manifests itself in other avenues, such as working overtime, availability of flextime and telecommuting, how people interact with each other, the dress code, benefits, professional development opportunities, how performance is evaluated, leadership style, and the decision-making process. In essence, everything is culture-driven.

When you have a pending job offer, primary consideration may be compensation, benefits, and perhaps the commute. Those are all significant factors, but when you are thinking about making a move, dig a little deeper.

Key Considerations Before Accepting the Job

1. How did you feel when during the interview?

It is normal not to feel completely at ease, but you should have some sense of feeling comfortable. During the interview, be a consummate observer—from the time you walk in until the time you leave.

Pay attention to the way you were greeted and how were you treated during the entire process. Were all communications professional, timely, and respectful?

If you hear a common theme in the questions the interviewer asks, that is a clue about what he or she will expect from you. For example: “Tell me about a time when your workload was particularly heavy. What steps did you take? “How do you establish priorities to never miss a deadline?”

Also observe how people interact with each other in the office—were they friendly or did you detect friction? Pay attention to how they act when their boss is around.

2. Can you thrive with the office vibe?

Is it a suit-and-tie culture when you are a business-casual person who loves jeans on Fridays? Is it the ever-popular open office space? I’m the quintessential introvert, and I know that an open office space would severely limit my performance. It is simply not how I work best. If that defines you as well, see if you can tour the office before you make a final decision. The physical space, noise level, and interactions with staff will all play a crucial part. There’s most likely not going to be a perfect environment, and all jobs will include some sort of give and take. The bottom line is to know your deal breakers so that your performance and satisfaction are not inhibited.

3. Is the company on firm financial footing?

Due diligence is the name of the game. If the company is public, you may be able to gather information on their financial stability from public filings and reports. If you are thinking about working for a government contractor, it is OK to ask about the length of the contract. If the contract is nearing an end, will they be able to place you elsewhere? You can also uncover information from a simple Google search and checking their social media mentions. You’ll be able to get a sense of whether there might be trouble ahead. Try to ascertain whether they have been adding jobs consistently or if hiring has been shrinking.

4. Will you be better off after taking this job?

Here is a million-dollar question: If you had to find a new job in the following year, will this job help you with your professional development? Before you start any job search, you should have a strategy. Accepting a new role should be a stepping stone that inches you closer to your career goals. By the same token, if you stay with this organization can you see a path of career development? Avoid exchanging one dead-end job for another one.

5. Can you respect and like the person to whom you will report?

Studies have shown that a significant number of people leave a position because of their boss. Having a great manager can make or break your work experience. When you’re in an interview, it is a two-way conversation. You owe it to yourself to ask questions. Find out how success will be determined. Learn as much as you can about your manager’s expectations beyond the job duties, as well as his or her leadership style. This will give you an indication of whether you’ll be working for a leader who is reasonable or one that will make you unhappy.

Author
Jan Johnston Osburn
news.clearancejobs.com

7 Examples of What Being an Ally at Work Really Looks Like

LinkedIn

Diverse and inclusive workplaces can be both difficult to find and hard to create. But if you care about making your own workplace truly inclusive, you have the ability to effect real change—as an ally.

An ally is someone who is not a member of an underrepresented group but who takes action to support that group.

It’s up to people who hold positions of privilege to be active allies to those with less access, and to take responsibility for making changes that will help others be successful. Active allies utilize their credibility to create a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, and find ways to make their privilege work for others.

And wielding privilege as an ally doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve seen allies at all levels take action with simple, everyday efforts that made a difference—often a big one!

Here are a few roles that allies can choose to play to support colleagues from underrepresented groups in beneficial ways.

1. The Sponsor

I once worked for a software company that was acquired by a larger company. In the first few months following the acquisition, I noticed something interesting. My new manager, Digby Horner—who had been at the larger company for many years—said things in meetings along the lines of: “What I learned from Karen is the following…”

By doing this, Digby helped me build credibility with my new colleagues. He took action as an ally, using his position of privilege to sponsor me. His shoutouts made a difference, and definitely made me feel great.

When an ally takes on the role of the Sponsor, they vocally support the work of colleagues from underrepresented groups in all contexts, but specifically in situations that will help boost those colleagues’ standing and reputations.

How to Act as a Sponsor

  • Talk about the expertise you see in others, especially during performance calibrations and promotion discussions.
  • Recommend people for stretch assignments and learning opportunities.
  • Share colleagues’ career goals with influencers.

2. The Champion

In May 2015, Andrew Grill was a Global Managing Partner at IBM and a speaker at the Online Influence Conference. He was on a panel along with five other men when a female member of the audience posed the obvious question to the all-male lineup: “Where are the women?”

The moderator then asked the panelists to address the topic of gender diversity, and Andrew, after sharing some of his thoughts, quickly realized he wasn’t the best person to respond. In fact, none of the panelists were. He instead asked the woman who asked the question, Miranda Bishop, to take his place on the panel. By stepping aside, Andrew made a bold statement in support of gender diversity on stage and championed Miranda at the same time.

Since then, the nonprofit organization GenderAvenger has created a pledge to reduce the frequency of all-male panels at conferences and events. It reads, “I will not serve as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.” Anyone can sign the pledge on their website.

When an ally takes on the role of the Champion, that ally acts similarly to the Sponsor, but does so in more public venues. Champions willingly defer to colleagues from underrepresented groups in meetings and in visible, industry-wide events and conferences, sending meaningful messages to large audiences.

How to Act as a Champion

  • Direct questions about specific or technical topics to employees with subject-matter expertise instead of answering them yourself.
  • Advocate for more women, people of color, and members of other underrepresented groups as keynote speakers and panelists.
  • If you’re asked to keynote or serve in a similar public role and know someone from an underrepresented group who’d be an equally good fit (or better), recommend that person (after asking them first if they’d like to be put forward).

3. The Amplifier

In a Slack channel for female technical leaders, I met a data engineer who was working at a 60-person startup. One team inside the company had an unproductive meeting culture that was starting to feel truly toxic. Yelling and interrupting frequently took place, and women in particular felt they couldn’t voice their opinions without being shouted over.

One of this engineer’s colleagues decided to take action to ensure that the voices of those who weren’t shouting would be heard. She introduced communication guidelines for a weekly meeting, and saw an immediate improvement. The guidelines included assigning a meeting mediator (team members would take turns in this role), setting clear objectives and an agenda for every meeting, conducting a meeting evaluation by every participant at the end of every meeting, and reminding the members to be respectful and practice active listening.

When an ally takes on the role of the Amplifier, that ally works to ensure that marginalized voices are both heard and respected. This type of allyship can take many forms, but is focused on representation within communication.

How to Act as an Amplifier

  • When someone proposes a good idea, repeat it and give them credit. For example: “I agree with Helen’s recommendation for improving our net promoter score.”
  • Create a code of conduct for meetings and any shared communication medium including email, chat, Slack, and so forth.
  • Invite members of underrepresented groups within your company to speak at staff meetings, write for company-wide newsletters, or take on other highly visible roles.

4. The Advocate

Shortly after she became the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki spoke up about how tech industry titan Bill Campbell had advocated for her. In an article for Vanity Fair, she wrote:

I learned about an important invitation-only conference convening most of the top leaders in tech and media, yet my name was left off the guest list. Many of the invitees were my peers, meaning that YouTube wouldn’t be represented while deals were cut and plans were made. I started to question whether I even belonged at the conference. But rather than let it go, I turned to Bill, someone I knew had a lot of influence and could help fix the situation. He immediately recognized I had a rightful place at the event and within a day he worked his magic and I received my invitation.

When an ally takes on the role of the Advocate, that ally uses their power and influence to bring peers from underrepresented groups into highly exclusive circles. The Advocate recognizes and addresses unjust omissions, holding their peers accountable for including qualified colleagues of all genders, races and ethnicities, abilities, ages, body shapes or sizes, religions, and sexual orientations.

How to Act as an Advocate

  • Look closely at the invite list for events, strategic planning meetings, dinners with key partners, and other career-building opportunities. If you see someone from a marginalized group missing, advocate for them to be invited.
  • Offer to introduce colleagues from underrepresented groups to influential people in your network.
  • Ask someone from an underrepresented group to be a co-author or collaborator on a proposal or conference submission.

5. The Scholar

I’m a member of the Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit leadership incubator for women. Many of our events are open to guests, who come to hear the speakers and participate in our workshops. Most guests are women, so it stood out when a male guest started attending our events. I asked one of my friends who he was, and she told me he was a former colleague who wanted to better understand the challenges women face in the workplace. He spent many evenings at our events, listening and absorbing information about the issues we discussed so he could be a better ally.

When an ally takes on the role of the Scholar, that ally seeks to learn as much as possible about the challenges and prejudices faced by colleagues from marginalized groups. It’s important to note that Scholars never insert their own opinions, experiences, or ideas, but instead simply listen and learn. They also don’t expect marginalized people to provide links to research proving that bias exists or summaries of best practices. Scholars do their own research to seek out the relevant information.

How to Act as a Scholar

  • Investigate and read publications, podcasts, or social media by and about underrepresented groups within your industry.
  • Ask co-workers from marginalized groups about their experience working at your company.
  • If your company or industry has specific discussion groups or Slack channels for members of underrepresented groups, ask if they’d be comfortable letting you sit in to observe. Asking is essential: Your presence may cause members to censor themselves, so be sure to check in before showing up.

6. The Upstander

I remember being impressed by Lisa, a white software engineer who stepped outside of her comfort zone to be an ally. When asked to name her “spirit animal” as part of a team-building exercise, Lisa spoke up. She wasn’t comfortable taking part in an exercise that appropriated Native American spiritual traditions.

When an ally takes on the role of the Upstander, that ally acts as the opposite of a bystander. The Upstander is someone who sees wrongdoing and acts to combat it. This person pushes back on offensive comments or jokes, even if no one within earshot might be offended or hurt.

How to Act as an Upstander

  • Always speak up if you witness behavior or speech that is degrading or offensive. Explain your stance so everyone is clear about why you’re raising the issue.
  • In meetings, shut down off-topic questions that are asked only to test the presenter.
  • Take action if you see anyone in your company being bullied or harassed. Simply insert yourself into a conversation with a comment such as, “Hi! What are you folks discussing?” and then check in with the victim privately. Ask if they’re okay and if they want you to say something.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

4 Questions Candidates Should Ask During a Job Interview

LinkedIn
Hispanic woman in interview

It’s a great time to be searching for jobs and exploring different opportunities. And ideally, that’ll mean going on lots of interviews.

Now, you’re surely aware that as part of the interview process, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your work experience, skills, and goals. But at some point during each conversation, you’ll most likely also be asked to come up with questions of your own. And that’s where a lot of job candidates find themselves stumped. Rather than let that happen, go in prepared with a list of insightful questions that show you’ve put thought into the role at hand. Here are a few you can start with.

1. How has the company evolved over the past few years?

Generally speaking, it’s best to work for a company that’s been showing signs of growth. And a good way to figure out whether the employer you’re applying to falls into that category is to see how it’s changed over the past few years. Ideally, your interviewer will give you insight as to how the company has progressed and developed its staff and product or service line. As a follow-up question, you might also ask how the company has adapted to recent challenges to get a sense of how it operates. Not only are these thoughtful questions, but they’re ones whose answers will inform your decision of whether to accept a job offer if you get one.

2. What has your experience been like working for this company?

Asking your interviewer about his or her personal experience working for the company you’re applying to is a good way to gain insight as to what your own experience might entail. It also shows that you’re taking an interest in your interviewer, and that you value his or her opinion.

3. What’s the company culture like?

You want to enjoy going to work, and a company whose culture promotes a pleasant environment is generally one worth pursuing. It’s always smart to ask about company culture during an interview because it can give you great insight into what your days might be like. Ask how the typical day goes for the average employee, and what steps the company takes to foster collaboration and teamwork. Along these lines, don’t hesitate to ask whether employees generally manage to maintain a decent work-life balance. While the answer might vary on a case-by-case basis, you should try to get a general sense of whether employees get enough personal time or are pushed too hard to always be available for work purposes.

4. What made the last person who filled this role successful?

Assuming you’re not the first person to land the position at hand, it pays to ask what made the previous employee good at what he or she did. Was that person a strong project manager? Was he or she a risk-taker? Asking this question shows you’re invested in being successful yourself.

The last thing you want to do during a job interview is come off as apathetic or unprepared. Before you sit down to meet with a prospective employer, jot down some important questions to ask in advance, or use the ones we’ve discussed here.

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