Don’t Brand Yourself as a Desperate Job Seeker

August 28th, 2015

You’re doing absolutely everything you can to impress employers, and hold onto their attention once you’ve made a grab for it…But are you coming off as desperate? There are obvious and also subtle ways to avoid this. Make sure you’re staying on top of both, and recognize that it’s easy to become blind to the implications of our own behavior when we really want something. Steer clear of common moves like these.

Misrepresenting yourself to “get your foot in the door”

For perpetrators of this move, the logic is simple, and it sounds something like this: “If I can just get a few minutes of the hiring manager’s time, my charm and credentials will take care of the rest”, or “if I can just manage to get her on the phone, I’ll be able to find out where my application stands.” Or the most dangerous of all: “If I can just manage to snag an interview, that’s all that matters, so I’ll go ahead and say anything I want to in my resume.” This is a questionable assumption, and if you lie about who are you are or what you can do, the end result can be rejection, humiliation, or worse.

Being a “Yes” person

If your boss asks if you’re available on Tuesdays and you aren’t, just say so. If you can’t speak French, if you’re a follower instead of a leader (or vice versa), if you don’t want to travel more than 50 percent of the time, or if you don’t want to work for less than 50,000 per year, just say so. When the answer to a question is no, say no. If you lie and eagerly answer yes to everything, you’ll only be telling your interviewer what you think they want to hear, and this won’t benefit either of you. Besides, they can probably tell. And the effect isn’t becoming.

Excessive follow up

It’s good to follow up and be persistent, but one voicemail or email per week will more than suffice. Calling every hour and spamming your employer’s inbox won’t help you reach your goals any faster. And it might derail your chances altogether.

Claiming vague, generic goals

Younger job seekers and recent grads often don’t know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Goals can be somewhat abstract at this early stage, since candidates haven’t had much exposure to the world or much time to develop specific passions. But if all you want is a job, any job, and all you care about is grabbing the bottom rung of any ladder at all and collecting a paycheck while you work your way up, reconsider. Most employers have more respect for candidates with a sense of self-direction.

For more on how to land your dream job while keeping your dignity intact, reach out to the staffing team at PSU.

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Preparing to Interview Administrative Candidates

August 21st, 2015

You’ve recently published an opening for an administrative professional and you’re starting to receive a steady flow of resumes in response. Now you’re ready to schedule some interviews and find a candidate who can handle the requirements of the job and represent your company and your personal brand to the world. You’ll need a problem solver, a positive person who’s pleasant to be around, and someone with the rapid multitasking ability and tech skills to quickly dispatch whatever challenges the day delivers. That’s what you need. But here’s what you have: a stack of nearly identical resumes and a lobby full of fresh faces that don’t reveal much about the minds and personalities behind them. Use these interview tips to sort through the haystack and find your perfect needle.

Skip the obvious single-answer questions.

Go through your list of questions and delete everything that can be answered with a single word (like yes or no) and every question that comes with a fairly obvious answer (like, “Are you a hard worker?”) These questions won’t help you at all. Instead of giving your candidates an easy pop-quiz, use the meeting to launch a conversation. Then read between the lines and use the conversation to make your decision.

Ask for stories.

Ask your candidates to tell you a story (or a series of stories) that will provide insight into their preparation for the job. For example: “Can you tell me about a time when you set a goal, gave it your all, and fell short? What happened and what did you learn from the experience?” You can also ask your candidates to review the past and tell you a story about a workplace conflict, a leadership challenge, a difficult deadline, or any other event that might tell you something about the person’s character and communication skills.

Explain the most unpleasant aspect of the job.

This can be a very telling moment in an administrative interview. If you have one especially nasty client, or a dirty chore, or a tedious responsibility that comes with this job title, describe it and ask the candidate what he thinks. How will he handle this odious task? If he answers with enthusiasm and doesn’t bat an eye, that’s a good sign.

Ask about the filing systems and scheduling tools she’s used in the past.

Listen to the sound of her voice as she answers. Is she comfortable learning to depend on new technology that she’s never seen before? Is she likely to pick up new tools and new methods quickly and without complaint? Will she thrive within the status quo? If so, she’s probably the perfect match for this position.

For more on how to identify and hire winning administrative candidates, reach out to the staffing team at PSU.

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Three Tips for Newly Graduated Job Seekers

August 14th, 2015

You’ve recently completed your degree and taken your first shaky steps into the “real” world. Like an optimistic baby bird, you’re setting your sights on the sky and hoping for the best. Which, in your case, will be a stable, fulfilling entry level position that you can eventually leverage into a lasting and meaningful career. At this stage in your life, you won’t be able to throw a stone without hitting someone who’s eager to give you advice. Friends, mentors, employers, recruiters, and total strangers will tell you exactly what you need to do to find “success”. So instead of adding to the chorus, we’ll just offer three simple tips drawn from our experience in the staffing field…These are the three that we’ve found to be the most useful for new graduates like you.

There is only one definition of “success”: yours.

Success does not mean tons of money. It also doesn’t mean a wall full of degrees, a dozen children, or non-profit foundation launched in your name. Success can be defined in only one way: Imagine your life five years from now if everything works out the way you’d like it to. That’s what success means to you, and that’s the only vision that matters. Ironically, this vision will probably change before the five years are over. When that happens, you’ll need to restart the clock. And then you’ll need to do this again, and then again, and then again, for the rest of your working life. If you enjoy this exercise at any given moment, congratulations! You’ve succeeded.

Take praise and criticism with a grain of salt.

You won’t get where you’re going if you hang your happiness on the approval of others. Your boss will criticize you on some days and praise you on others, and these moments of criticism and praise have much more to do with her and with the circumstances of the moment than with your actual value as an employee and as a person. The same rule applies to job offers and rejections. Don’t be confused or deterred by the responses and evaluations you receive from strangers. Just do the best you can.

Stay in motion.

Most of the time, when you ask happy middle-aged people how they got where they are in their lives and careers, they can’t precisely tell you. Many of their greatest moments and amazing opportunities came their way by chance, and they happened to be standing in the right place at the right time when the moment occurred. But here’s something on which most of them will agree: when the moment came, they weren’t sitting on the couch watching TV. They were doing something. Working, studying, trying, failing, playing, reading, meeting new people, exploring, doing chores, or even just digging a big hole in the ground for no apparent reason. But they were doing something. If you stay in motion, you help opportunity find you, and vice versa. Slow down, make wrong turns, and reverse when you need to…but don’t stop moving.

For help and guidance as you shape your career path, contact the staffing experts at PSU.


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How to Address Gaps in your Resume

August 7th, 2015

If you’re like most professional employees who graduated and launched their careers several years ago, your work history doesn’t exactly follow a straight path. Instead of telling a simple story or resembling a boring straight line, your record includes twists, turns, unexpected setbacks, swerves, and goal shifts. After a few years in the adult world, most of us have changed our minds, developed new and interesting passions, gained jobs, lost jobs, and spent some time on the market…probably more than once.

Most employers—especially those with experience—have no issues with resume “gaps”, or periods of time during your adult life when you haven’t appeared to be gainfully employed. But in the interest of due diligence, they’re likely to ask you about these episodes, and they’ll be sifting your answer for clues about your personality and work habits. Here are few moves that can help you inspire trust and reassurance instead of skepticism.

Be honest and direct.

If you spent a few years away from the office to raise a child, take care of a family member, attend to an illness or injury, or work on a personal project, don’t hide or spin this fact. This is a positive and a selling point, not a negative that needs to be swept under the rug. If you find yourself stammering out an apology for your life story or making excuses for who you are, something is wrong. This may not be the right job for you.

A long job search

If you’ve been on the market searching for work for more than a year, your employers may ask for more detail about your search. How hard have you been looking? What else have you been doing with this time? Again, as you answer, don’t apologize. Just give a brief, positive response and turn the conversation back to your strengths and credentials.

A lay-off or firing

If you were laid off from your last position, briefly explain the merger or restructuring process that brought this about, and make it clear that your performance and behavior played no role in the event. Most employers will understand this, and will even see this as a plus if you learned something or gained some key insights as a result of this setback. If you were fired due to your own performance or actions, expect more questions, and don’t shrug them off. Answer honestly and don’t make excuses. Take responsibility for any mistake or failing on your part, and reassure your current employer that this single episode doesn’t represent who you are.

Own your past, and if your previous job wasn’t a fit for your working style or personality, just say so. For more on how to keep your resume gaps from threatening your career, contact the job search experts at PSU.

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