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.

What Not to Do in an Interview

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Job interview, Young executives man asking questions to applicant about work history, colloquy dream, Skill, expertise, experience and businesswoman listen to candidate answers

By Neal Morrison, City Career Fair

This is one of the most asked questions by candidates during my many years of producing the Annual Diversity Employment Day Career Fairs and Roundtables across the U.S. Few candidates have any idea of the potential field of land mines that await them in an interview.

So we surveyed for their input over 500 recruiters and staffing managers who are on the front lines of recruiting for major corporations, government agencies and non-profits.

Here are their top 10 should NOT’s for an interview.

  1. Be Late – Noted by 100% of the Recruiters

“Next!” that’s what you might hear when you finally turn up—late. If an unavoidable delay occurs, immediately let the employer know before your scheduled interview time.  This shows consideration and a level of professionalism.

  1. Lack Adequate Preparation – Noted by 98% of the Recruiters

Not knowing what the company does or details about the position you’re applying for indicates to the Recruiter that you’re unprepared and may not be the right person for the position. Asking relevant questions that allow you to engage with the recruiter indicates just the opposite.

  1. Inappropriate Attire – Noted by 93% of the Recruiters

If you don’t know the appropriate attire, just call and ask the company’s HR. Business suits are always your best bet.

  1. Complain about your Current or Past Employer – Noted by 92% of the Recruiters

Don’t do it. You’ll be perceived as a complainer and possibly, someone who holds a grudge.

  1. Become too personal or familiar – Noted by 90% of the Recruiters

Flirting is unacceptable and should be avoided. Telling personal stories and sharing intimate details during your interview is taboo and could put-off the interviewer.

  1. Lack attentiveness and expressed interest – Noted by 88% of the Recruiters

Yawning, slouching, fidgeting, and clock watching send negative non-verbal cues to an experienced recruiter.

  1. Cursing or use of excessive Slang – Noted by 99% of the Recruiters

Not acceptable in the work place and will certainly eliminate you as a possible contender for the position. It could also draw question upon your emotional and psychological suitability for the position.

  1. Fail to smile appropriately and make eye contact – Noted by 83% of the Recruiters

Appropriate and regular smiles along with eye contact provide the first line of successful engagement with the interviewer.

  1. Talk or texting on your phone – Noted by 84% of the Recruiters

Talking and texting during an interview is disrespectful and will certainly eliminate you from further consideration.

  1. Forget to ask the interviewer their first impression of your qualifications – Noted by 75% of the Recruiters

Remember a golden and rare opportunity exists to gain valuable feedback from an experienced observer—the interviewer. Most are willing to share their observations and assessment of your qualifications and prospectus for getting the position, if asked.

Regardless of how you’ve done on interviews in the past, these insights when applied should build your confidence and thereby increase your success.

Neal Morrison is Diversity Outreach Director at City Career Fair (www.citycareerfair.com).

Early Bird Gets the Worm

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Sunday nights can be scary before the work week begins, but Monday and Tuesday, especially in the morning, are when employees are most productive, suggests new research from staffing firm Accountemps. More than half of workers surveyed said their productivity peaks at the beginning of the week, with Monday (29 percent) edging out Tuesday (27 percent) by two points. After Hump Day (20 percent), worker productivity dips: 13 percent of employees do their best work on Thursdays, followed by 11 percent on Fridays.

Many professionals said they accomplish more work at the start of the day: 44 percent are most productive in the early morning and 31 percent in late morning, compared to 2 percent, who like to burn the midnight oil. It’s probably best to avoid scheduling meetings at noon: only 2 percent of workers surveyed said they get the most work done at lunchtime.

For peak productivity, where is as important as when to work, but employees are divided:

  • Those ages 55 and older have the strongest preference for working in an office, with nearly half (45 percent) reporting they work best in a private office with a closed door, according to the survey.
  • Meanwhile, working in an open office (38 percent) was the top response among 18- to 34-year-olds.
  • Telecommuting was a close second choice for younger workers, at 36 percent, compared to 26 percent of professionals ages 35-54 and 17 percent of employees 55 and up.

Employees were also asked about the single biggest distraction that impacts their productivity during the workday. Coworkers who are too chatty and social topped the list (32 percent), followed by office noise (22 percent), unnecessary conference calls and meetings (20 percent), cell phone use (15 percent), and unnecessary emails (11 percent).

Steinitz added that workers should hold themselves accountable for their own productivity and offered suggestions for minimizing disruptions: “Employees should focus on important assignments when they’re most alert and energized, and if necessary, consider posting a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at their desk or switching team chat status to ‘Busy.’ Finding ways to shut out distractions can help maximize productivity, no matter the day, time or place.”

Additional Findings

The survey revealed the following differences by market:

  • While workers, on average, ranked Monday as their most productive workday, Tuesday came in first across 13 markets and tied for the top spot in Denver and Houston.
  • Nashvillians are the most likely to have productive Fridays, at 21 percent.
  • In Miami (35 percent) and Chicago (26 percent), office noise is the top productivity disruptor.
  • Workers in San Francisco are almost equally distracted by their cell phones (25 percent) as they are by chatty colleagues (26 percent).
  • Los Angeles professionals report a near-even split for preferred workspaces: 24 percent for open office, 31 percent for private office, 22 percent for working from home and 22 percent for working from an offsite location.

About the Research

The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 2,800 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments in the United States.

Productivity at work can hinge on what you do off the job. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Being out of balance in any of those three areas can throw off your ability to concentrate.

Ask These Questions Before Accepting a Job Offer

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You’ve been offered a job and can’t wait to jump on the opportunity. But before accepting the offer, ask yourself the following questions.

1 What is the company’s reputation?
The organization you work for will have an impact on your short- and long-term career. With that in mind, research the business to find out what kind of reputation it has and what its actions show about its values and the work environment. Look over its annual report and information about the company in news articles and elsewhere to decide whether the business or the industry it’s in are facing any financial or legal challenges. You want to join a financially strong company where you can feel comfortable and grow professionally.

2 What are compensation and benefits?
Make sure the salary being offered is comparable to what other companies are offering to people with similar experience in similar positions. Ask if you can earn bonuses or other additional types of compensation, especially if that’s the case in your current job. Compare the benefits package with what you may be receiving now or could expect from another employer to be sure you’re not losing out on any benefits.

3 What will you actually do?
Ask as many questions as necessary to determine you understand what is expected, what opportunities are available and whether you will be satisfied in the job.

4 Will it cost me more to work here?
Your review of the benefits plan can help you answer this question, since it can tell you whether you will have to pay more for health insurance or any other crucial benefit than you are paying now, as an example. If you will have to move or face a long commute, consider whether the extra expense is worth changing jobs because, say, the new company offers better career opportunities.

5 Is this a good next step in my career?
The answer—and the factors you consider—will vary based on your ambitions and current position. Issues to consider—and ask about in interviews—include the advancement opportunities, in-house training available and educational financial assistance the company offers.

6 Will I like it here?
This can be a tough question to answer before you’ve even started. If possible, reach out to people who work at the organization, or see if friends or business contacts know anyone there you can speak with about the culture and other factors important to you. Another consideration is whether you will have to work longer hours or travel more in the new job. Will you consider those changes a drain on your free time or decide you should accept them as the price of getting ahead? And if you now can set your own hours or work remotely, find out if they are available with the new company. The answers to all of these questions can clarify which job is best for you.

Source: 360financialliteracy.org

15 Work Conversations That Could Cost You Your Job

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In August 2019, Google issued a new set of community guidelines that banned political discussions at work.

The new policy states, “While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not.

Our primary responsibility is to do the work we’ve each been hired to do, not to spend working time on debates about non-work topics. Avoid conversations that are disruptive to the workplace or otherwise violate Google’s workplace policies.”

Talking about politics isn’t the only conversation you should avoid at work. There are plenty of types of work conversations that could cost you your job, so you’ll want to learn how to avoid them if they come up.

Talking Openly About Wanting To Quit

Even if you’re among co-workers you trust, it’s a bad idea to talk openly about wanting to quit your job, said Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation.

“No matter how close you may be with your co-workers or even if you said it out of frustration, it’s best not to discuss something this sensitive in mixed company,” she said. “News of this nature travels quickly through an office grapevine. Before you know it, your manager might find out and will have questions for you.”

“The best approach is to avoid discussing this topic altogether with co-workers,” Case said. “It’s a personal matter that should be kept to yourself and a conversation to have with management when, and if, the time is suitable for it.”

Discussing Religion

In general, it’s best to avoid any topic that could make your colleagues uncomfortable and raise a flag with human resources. Because religion is such a sensitive topic, it’s one you should not discuss at work.

“You may need to talk to HR or a supervisor if you need accommodation for your religious beliefs, such as time off for religious holidays or a place to pray during the workday,” said Paula Brantner, an employment attorney and principal at PB Work Solutions. “But when it comes to your co-workers, no one wants to be proselytized to at work since you’re compelled to be there, and it’s harder to politely decline.”

“Although religious discrimination is illegal, you also need to be focused on your job while at work, so don’t spend time engaged in religious conversations,” she said. “And don’t engage in discrimination against or harass other workers in violation of federal, state, and/or local law because they don’t share the same beliefs or have individual characteristics that you don’t agree with.”

Discussing Your Home Life or Marital Issues

Leave any issues you have with your home life at home, said Baron Christopher Hanson, lead consultant and owner of RedBaronUSA.

“News about your home life or any litigious matters you or a spouse may be facing can spread … or reveal weaknesses that competitors and foes in any workplace may use against you,” he said.

Airing Out Workplace Secrets

“Any workplace secrets — marketing plans, financial strategies or legal disputes — that your company is dealing with should never be discussed in public where details may be overheard, recorded or distributed digitally in nanoseconds,” said Hanson.

“In today’s modern world, communication comes at us seemingly from every direction — other people, our computers and especially our smartphones. Private texts and conversations can be seen or heard over our shoulders like never before, even on the train home from work when you think no one is really listening or seeing what you type.”

Discussing Health Issues

As with your home life, discussions about your health don’t belong in the office. Talking openly about a medical issue should not cost you your job, but it can make co-workers feel uneasy.

Telling your co-workers that you had a routine dental appointment isn’t necessarily an issue. Still, you might want to hold off on discussing serious medical problems, Annette Harris, president and founder of personal branding agency ShowUp!, told HuffPost.

“Similar to marital problems, people often just don’t know how to react or respond in a work environment,” she said.

Gossiping About Other Co-Workers

You probably won’t like every person you work with, but you should definitely keep those thoughts to yourself, said business coach Stacy Caprio.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

The 50 Most Powerful Latinas in Corporate America

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ALPFA women announce the Most Powerful Latinas

The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) announced its list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2019, announced during its Women of ALPFA luncheon at its annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

This is the third iteration of the Most Powerful Latinas list.

ALPFA’s Most Powerful Latinas list highlights the achievements of senior Latina executives running Fortune 500 companies, departments, and large private firms, and also includes a few entrepreneurs leading global companies.

They were chosen according to ALPFA’s strict selection criteria.

The full list and rankings are available on ALPFA’s website

Powerful Latinas
Powerful Latinas
Powerful LatinasPowerful Latinas

About Women of ALPFA:Launched in 2002, the Women of ALPFA(WOA)initiative provides unique development and networking opportunities for ALPFA’s Latina members and the companies that want to reach them.WOA is dedicated to the professional success of Latina women, offering targeted programs and training through a professional development curriculum. WOA aims to provide professional Latinas with the tools to strengthen their leadership and management skills, fostering both their professional and personal growth.

About ALPFA:Founded in 1972, ALPFA (The Association of Latino Professionals forAmerica) was the first national Latino professional association in the United States. ALPFA’s purpose is connecting Latino leaders for impactand is committed to developing Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. Today, ALPFA serves over 92,000 members in 160 student chapters and 45 professional chapters across the country.

5 expressions to avoid in formal networking situations

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Group of Business People Networking

Networking is a delicate art. While it’s certainly evolved in the past decade, there are still certain situations (and certain industries) where you must abide by a particular set of strict, unspoken rules. Mess one of these up, and you risk missing out on a critical opportunity to advance your career.

When speaking to someone more senior—and business networking usually involves an “ask” for help from senior people—you need to convey respect and recognition of their status.

Remember: People will go out of their way for you if they like you and feel inspired by you. But turn them off, and they’ll tune out.

With that in mind, consider skipping any of the following casual or unprofessional expressions:

1. “Hey, I’m ______”

Introducing yourself casually is fine in most situations. But this language can come across as too casual if you’re introducing yourself to someone older or more senior who might be a good lead for a job.

Saying “Hello” is a better bet. And giving both your first and last names is more professional. You don’t want that other person walking away and thinking, “I met someone named Paul, but I never got his last name.”

2. “I’m VP of sales for company X”

When networking at a business event it’s tempting to rush in with your title. After all, you want your new contact to know you’re a professional with some status. But it will sound arrogant to add this so quickly.

I recently met a young woman at a networking event, and within the first 15 seconds she let me know that she worked for a big Silicon Valley firm and had a good job in IT. She never bothered to ask my name, work situation, or title. I was not interested in speaking to her again because the encounter was one way.

Rather than hurling your job title at a new face, wait until the other person asks for that information. If you ask them about themselves, they will likely raise the same questions about you. It means a lot more when they ask you what you do than when you shout it out to them.

3. “That’s cool”

Once you get into conversation with an executive, your words will define the kind of relationship you want to have with that person. If you’re too casual, you’ll sound like you don’t necessarily aspire to a professional connection.

Suppose you’re in conversation with a vice president who works in a firm you’d like to do business with. You ask, “Who do you hire for your sales training?” When you find out, you might be tempted to say something like “Hey, I know them,” or “Cool.”

Instead, opt for a more polished expression, such as “Yes, I’m familiar with that firm, and I believe we can offer something more.” This positioning will get you further in pursuing a possible business contact.

4. “Can I impose on you to make a call?”

Once you’ve gotten a good conversation going, you may be ready to pitch the other person for a lead. But the “ask” has to be handled with delicacy.

The phrase “can I impose on you” sounds like you haven’t done the groundwork for the “ask.” So go through the steps that will make you feel you are not imposing. This can include a lot of listening and selling yourself. Once you’re convinced you are not imposing, you can confidently say, “I’d love it if you could make a call on my behalf.” Now you’re off and running!

5. “Let me know how it goes”

If someone has been kind enough to speak to someone else on your behalf, be sure you do the follow-up—don’t expect them to get back to you.

Ask your new contact when you should follow up with them. You might also inquire “What is the best way to reach you?” They may give you their business card or phone number or say “Text me at this number.” The point is that you want to close on this networking opportunity, and that means the next step should be very clear.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Science Says You Need 1 More Thing to Be Exceptionally Successful (and Incredibly Wealthy)

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business meeting

Think about any incredibly successful person and it’s easy to assume they possess something special: Talent. Perseverance. Intelligence. Skill. Education. Connections. Emotional intelligence. A growth mindset.

By Jeff Haden

Who they are inside — and what that then allows them to do — makes all the difference.

Or not.

Research shows that traits like passion, mental toughness, constant learning, and a willingness to take risks do lead to greater success:

  • Hard work is usually rewarded.
  • Perseverance is often the difference between success and failure; give up and failure is guaranteed.
  • Intelligent risk does, at times, pay off. (And if it doesn’t, what you learn from new experiences makes success more likely the next time)

When you out-work, out-think, out-skill, and outlast other people…  you’re much more likely to be successful.

Think of it as the 80 Percent Rule: Do what other people are unable, or just as importantly, unwilling to do, and in time you should at least make it to, say, the 80th percentile of successful people.

But to get the rest of the way?

To be one of the most successful people?

Bill Gates was talented. And lucky.

Science says you’ll also have to be lucky: To be at the right place at the right time, to meet the right person at the right time, to stumble on an idea, a market, an audience… to experience something you weren’t necessarily looking for.

Take Bill Gates. Young Bill was clearly smart, creative, driven… he had all the qualities that tend to create success. (Except maybe emotional intelligence.)

Yet because his family could afford to send him to a private school, and because that school was one of the few in the country with access to a teletype that could connect to a GE time-sharing computer… and because his friend Paul Allen shared an article about Altair, the first microcomputer kit, which led them to convert Basic into an operating system for Altair…

Bill might still have become successful. He had the mental and emotional tools. But luck — or coincidence, if you prefer — also played a huge role.

Millions of other people are talented. And lucky.

Who you are — and what you do — matters. But success is also based on factors you can’t control.

For example, research shows:

  • “In any group of elite hockey players,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “40 percent will have been born between January and March.” Being born early in the year tended to make them the biggest, strongest, and fastest in their junior age groups.
  • People born in June and July are significantly less likely to become CEOs. Why? Because they were the youngest in their classes.
  • People with easy to pronounce names are “judged more positively” than people with difficult to pronounce names. Why? Good question.
  • Over half of the variation in income across the world depends on the country of birth. Where you’re born — something you obviously can’t control — matters greatly. As the researchers write, “The role of effort… cannot play a large role in explaining global distribution of income.”

Bottom line, luck definitely plays a role.

But so does what you do it.

And whether you try to create your own luck — because you can.

How to Get “Luckier”

  1. Meet more people.

Mick Jagger ran into Keith Richards on a train station platform. They noticed each other because Keith was carrying a guitar, Mick an armful of records. A friend introduced Woz to Steve Jobs because he knew they both liked electronics and playing pranks. Sergey Brin met Larry Page during a tour of the Stanford campus.

Meeting the right person at the right time can make a huge difference. But, like many things, it’s a numbers game: You can’t luck into meeting the right person unless you meet a lot of people.

And if you assume that good things will happen — that every person you meet is worth meeting.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Try more things.

While sometimes success is a straight line, most successful people have tried and failed at a number of things. That’s why they’re successful: They were willing to try something new, something hard, something off the beaten path… and to learn from what did and didn’t work so that next time they were even more prepared, more skilled, more talented, and therefore more “lucky.”

Try things. Then try more things.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Try more “off course” things. 

Doing the same things, day after day, typically creates the same results.

The only way to achieve differently is to do differently.  Embark on a side project. Learn a new skill. Open up to different experiences.

Do a few things you assume — but don’t actually know — you won’t like.

Because you never know where it might lead.

  1. Ask.

Luck sometimes results from the right person saying yes: To your idea, to your startup, to your pitch, to your proposal, to your request….

But no one can say yes unless you ask.

As Steve Jobs said:

I’ve never found anybody that didn’t want to help me if I asked them for help … I called up Bill Hewlett when I was 12 years old. “Hi, I’m Steve Jobs. I’m 12 years old. I’m a student in high school. I want to build a frequency counter, and I was wondering if you have any spare parts I could have.” He laughed, and he gave me the spare parts, and he gave me a job that summer at Hewlett-Packard … and I was in heaven.

I’ve never found anyone who said no or hung up the phone when I called. I just asked. And when people ask me, I try to be responsive, to pay that debt of gratitude back.

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates, sometimes, the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.

Unlucky people wait to be discovered. Lucky people discover themselves — and ask for what they want.

Start asking — nicely — for what you want.

Because you never know where it might lead.

This Navy Vet Is Now Taking His Military Skills To Home Inspections

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Joseph Cruz stands in front of his home inspection vehicle

Shortly after retiring from a 21-year career in the Navy, Joseph Cruz, 41, had an honest conversation with himself about his next steps in life.

Cruz took a job with a medical gas company to gain experience in sales. He really wanted to be in business for himself so after much soul searching and due diligence he is a first-time business owner who opened his Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise of Knoxville.

Driven by his longtime interest in real estate coupled with a desire to drive his own future as a business owner Cruz was ultimately drawn to Pillar To Post’s strong reputation coupled with the promising home inspection market. A recent survey from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) found that 88 percent of all U.S. homeowners believe home inspections are a necessity instead of a luxury.

As it turns out, homes operate a lot like vessels. Both require various well-oiled systems that must work together seamlessly to function optimally. Cruz plans to apply his many years of experience working on three warships (the USS O’Bannon DD-987, the USS Higgins DDG-76 and the USS Rafael Peralta DDG-115) to his new career providing quality home inspections to realtors, homebuyers and sellers.

“Like a well-built and properly-operating home, a Navy ship has various inputs of air, water, power and data that all work together,” Cruz said. “I’m looking forward to applying my helicopter-view mindset of a ship’s operations to the home inspection industry. I’ve owned several homes in the past and in the process of buying and selling, I fell in love with real estate,” Cruz said. “After the Navy, the possibility of a career in real estate was intriguing. As I researched franchise opportunities for veterans, Pillar To Post stood out at the top of the rankings for franchised companies that cater to veterans, with a 5-Star status from VetFran, the IFA’s program for veterans.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, the company is enjoying its 19th year in a row on that list.

All veterans know all too well that the path to achieving one’s dreams takes a mix of determination and sacrifice peppered with a bit of a sense of adventure. Opening a business takes a lot of the same grit, and Cruz has proven he has the endurance and focus to make his business a success by moving his family across the country from San Diego to Knoxville last June. The past five months has been filled with change for Cruz, who packed up his van and left California behind with only a tent, sleeping bags and a power generator in tow.

“We camped along the way, staying at various National Parks until we finally arrived in Knoxville in July,” Cruz said. “I very much look forward to becoming an integral part of my business community.”

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise go to pillartopostfranchise.com.

17 College Majors That Report Higher Underemployment

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teacher in a classroom full of students

According to a recently released survey from salary, jobs and career database, PayScale, holders of these bachelors degrees said they felt they were unemployed.

To complete its study, PayScale collected data from 962,956 workers.

Physical Education Teaching

% Underemployed: 56.4%

Human Services

% Underemployed: 55.6%

Illustration

% Underemployed: 54.7%

Criminal Justice

% Underemployed: 53.0%

Project Management

% Underemployed: 52.8%

Radio/Television & Film Production

% Underemployed: 52.6%

Studio Art

% Underemployed: 52.0%

Health Care Administration

% Underemployed: 51.8%

Education

% Underemployed: 51.8%

Human Development & Family Studies

% Underemployed: 51.5%

Creative Writing

% Underemployed: 51.1%

Animal Science

% Underemployed: 51.1%

Exercise Science

% Underemployed: 51.0%

Health Sciences

% Underemployed: 50.9%

Paralegal Studies

% Underemployed: 50.9%

Theatre

% Underemployed: 50.8%

Art History

% Underemployed: 50.7%

Continue on to Forbes for the complete slideshow.

Messed up in a job interview? Here’s how to recover

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Hispanic woman interviewing for a job with two people behind desk

Your stomach drops to the floor. Your palms get sweaty. You begin to ramble incoherently, or worse, can’t come up with anything to say at all. Almost all of us know the feeling of making a big mistake during an interview.

Great. There goes that opportunity, you might think.

Don’t be tempted to wave the white flag of surrender just yet, though. Everyone stumbles in interviews once in a while—the trick is to handle it well, so that your interviewer is able to look past it.

Below, we’ve outlined four common examples of interview flubs and how to deal with them. Use these strategies, and you just might be able to win back your interviewer.

Scenario 1: You’re running late

It’s unavoidable—even the most punctual people are sometimes late. And unfortunately, it seems like obstacles always tend to pop up at the most inconvenient time, including a job interview. But while showing up late to an interview certainly isn’t a good look, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running entirely.

The best thing you can do is be proactive and reach out ahead of time if you’re running behind.

“If you know within a reasonable amount of time that you’re going to be late, it’s a good idea to call the hiring manager that you’re meeting with to let them know,” says Chris Myers, CEO and president of staffing and recruiting company Professional Alternatives.

Once you arrive, acknowledge your tardiness and explain why you were late, while still taking full responsibility—you don’t want to sound like you’re just making up an excuse. Afterwards, make sure to reach out to your interviewers.

“Writing a personal note of apology after the interview, re-explaining the reason for your lateness and acknowledging that you really appreciate them still making the time to see you, should be well received,” says Sue Andrews, HR & business consultant at KIS Finance. “Good manners are important in business, and your apology will hopefully show that your lateness was out of character for you.”

Scenario 2: Your nerves get the best of you

Few things are more anxiety-inducing than an interview for a job you really want. As a result, it’s not uncommon for candidates to draw a blank when asked a question, struggle to properly articulate your answer, or fail to mention a critical detail. Drawing attention to yourself in this moment might be the last thing that you want to do, but it can actually benefit you.

“Ask for a time out and acknowledge to the recruiter that . . . you need a second to regroup. You can tell the recruiter that you are an introvert, and even if you did prepare and practice for the interview, you will need a moment to find your calm,” says HR consultant and career coach Irina Cozma. “The recruiter might [view] this as an authentic gesture, and most people will be supportive and encouraging in those moments.”

To avoid this hairy situation again, make sure to double down on preparing for your interview next time. Grab a friend or family member to ask you common interview questions so you can rehearse your answers out loud until you know them like the back of your hand.

Scenario 3: You didn’t do your homework

It’s true that an interview is just as much an opportunity for you to learn about the company as it is for them to learn about you—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do some additional research beforehand.

“Although in interviews companies will often tell you about them and the role, they expect you to be prepared and if not, that could cause you to flub the interview. With so much public information available, people expect you to have done your research,” says Howard Prager, president of Advance Learning Group. “If you don’t find ways to include this, it can show that you didn’t take the job interview seriously.”

If your answers are too vague, or you trip up on a basic question like “What’s the name of our CEO,” try not to let it psyche you out too much. If you dwell on your mistakes, you’ll likely be thrown off your game and struggle throughout the rest of the interview. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on hitting the rest of the questions out of the park.

After the interview is over, try “researching the company online using sources such as Glassdoor, using LinkedIn to find contacts that know someone at the company, and reading about competitors,” Prager says. Once you do, you can drop that knowledge into your follow-up note.

“In your thank-you notes to everyone who interviewed you, be sure to list some reasons that you are drawn to his company and position,” Prager advises—the more specific, the better!

Scenario 4: You don’t have any questions for them

We’ll let you in on a little secret—when interviewers ask whether you have any questions for them, they’re not doing that just to be nice. They often use it as a test to see how interested you are in the opportunity, how much you know about the company, and how engaged you are in the interview process.

“Interviewers almost always will ask you what questions you have, and if you are only focused on preparing answers to other questions, you won’t be ready for this one,” Prager says.

Ideally, you would always have a few detailed questions on hand that show off your knowledge of the company and their industry, but sometimes life gets in the way. You might have been too busy or preoccupied to come up with questions beforehand, or it might have slipped your mind completely. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with asking a more generic question like “How would we work together?” or “What is it about this company that keeps you here?”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.