Job Failure: What have You Learned?

September 23rd, 2016

During your interview session, your employer may ask you to directly address some of the stumbles and setbacks from your professional past. In some cases, your interviewer may ask you to explain a resume gap (which can be tough to do if you were fired). In another common scenario, you may be asked to describe the “greatest failure” in your working life, or simply discuss a time in which you let your team down, missed a deadline, lost a client, or otherwise fell short of the expectations placed upon you. What should you do when these questions come your way? Start by keeping these tips in mind.

Go all in.

When you answer this question, don’t hedge. Jump in with both feet. Instead of timidly choosing an event from your past that doesn’t qualify as a “failure” (“I was almost five minutes late to work once!”), choose a serious disaster. Going all in will help you achieve two key goals: it will demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experience, and it will also get your interviewer’s attention. The bigger the failure, the better the story.

Stay positive.

Your darkest moments and biggest failures felt truly terrible… at the time. Five minutes after they happened, you may have wanted to go home, crawl back into your bed, and never come out. But no matter how bad they felt, those dark moments are long in the past now, and your story has arrived at a happy ending. So focus on the rain that followed the rainbow. Before you even begin telling your tale, recognize that this is a tale of triumph, not tragedy.

Emphasize the personal qualities that turned your ship around.

When the worst happened (you lost, failed, crashed, etc), you had nowhere to go but up. And you climbed back to victory by relying on your rigorous training. Or your hard-earned experience. Or your tenacious nature. Or your special talents. Or your innate courage and determination. Let this quality—whatever it may be—become the hero of your story. Explain how the better elements of your nature came to your rescue.

Share the credit.

Of course you’re great (that’s why your story ends happily), but you’re also aware that you couldn’t have pulled
out of your spin without the help, knowledge, generosity, kindness or competence of those around you. Whatever you do, don’t throw anyone else under the bus or blame another person for your shortcomings and problems.

Describe what you learned.

No matter how your story plays out, make sure your take-home message is clear: your failure provided you with valuable lessons that you won’t ever forget. Explain what the entire experience taught you about the nature of your industry, the keys to success, or what you might have done differently and will surely do differently the next time the situation arises.

For more on how to grab the spotlight and ace your interview, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing team at PSU.

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Welcoming Generation Z into the Workforce

September 9th, 2016

On the heels of the baby boomers, Gen X, and Generation Y — also known as Millennials — a new generational cohort is about to step into the professional workplace. Get ready for Generation Z! These are the entry-level employees of the not-too-distant future, and since they fall between the ages of 16 and 22, they’re working their way through high school and college right now. Their sights are set, and the first wave of them will likely be submitting applications for internships and lower level positions within the next year or two. Are you ready to welcome them onto the team? Here are a few moves that can help you and your young employees get to know each other.

These are the real digital natives.

Members of Generation Z were born after the year 2000, so if you thought millennials were comfortable with technology, you haven’t seen anything yet. Generation Z, by contrast, will be uncomfortable without it. They played with smartphones and tablets in their cribs, and they can’t imagine a world before the internet. Leverage this to your advantage, and allow them to connect and communicate using their preferred resources.

Generation Z will be anxious.

These young people grew up in the early 2000’s, an era of economic uncertainty, stagnating wages, college debt, and an unreliable job market. They’re been pressured to “succeed” at all costs or face a life of dismal prospects, so their worldview may be slightly anxious and negative. If you encourage optimism and make them feel secure and appreciated, they’ll be more willing to take risks, grow, thrive, and contribute.

Let them make mistakes.

All young people and entry level employees should be encouraged to learn and bounce back from their mistakes, but for Generation Z, encouragement and coaching will have an extra impact. If you crack down on them for small mistakes, prepare to lose them quickly. But if you help and guide them with an eye on the long term future, you’ll benefit and so will they.

Help them make decisions.

Generation Z will face an unprecedented variety of options as they map out their careers, so if you can help them assess their strengths, choose a path, or pursue a certain branch of the industry, they’ll appreciate your input. If they stay with your company for several years, your investment and interest will pay off.

Be patient, generous, and optimistic.

If you treat members of Generation Z as the valuable future assets that they are, they’ll be far more likely to treat you and your company with the respect you deserve. Help them make the transition into the adult working world and they’ll apply the full force of their youth, energy, and enthusiasm to your enterprise.

For more on how to cultivate and retain the youngest members of the workforce, contact the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

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