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Close Your Interview on a Positive Note

We’ve all been there: It’s the end of the interview, and after nearly an hour of pouring your heart (and work experience) out to a potential employer, the hiring manager asks if you have any last questions before wrapping up.

It’s meant to be a formality, of course—a way to end the conversation without kicking you out right then and there. But it’s also an opportunity, intentional or not, to make one final impression and give your interviewer something to remember you by.

As Marshall Darr points out in his short piece on Medium, this final remark is actually a moment to “add value to the conversation” before you both head your separate ways. It’s especially noteworthy when you do manage to pull that off, since so many other candidates, having already asked many questions throughout the session, mindlessly shrug off this little last thing at the end.

But if you play your cards right, he says, it can turn a completely lost cause into a foot in the door. According to Darr, you should wrap things up nicely with this question:

“Actually yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at [Company Name] was?”

This simple ask, cleverly masked as innocent curiosity, can give you many important insights—on your interviewer’s values, the company, and how well you might fit in with a position there. Think about it: There’s no higher note to end on than with your interviewer’s fondest memory of the company, a feeling that can now be subconsciously associated with your prospects as a future employee.

And aside from being an emotional plus for you, it’ll also give you an idea of what your future co-workers might value, and the kind of culture that company cultivates for its team members. If your interviewer struggles to come up with a meaningful memory, that’s a helpful red flag for you to keep in mind if you end up with an offer.

So, the next time you’re hard-pressed for something to say in those awkward few moments before the door closes with you on the other side, give this question a shot. Odds are, it can only help.

Article written by, Caroline Liu, freelance writer, graphic designer, and computer programmer studying at Wesleyan University.

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Advice To New Graduates Still Looking For The Right Opportunity

College graduates who packed up their dorm rooms last month but still haven’t found a job may be beginning to feel nervous about their prospects. Liz Wessel, cofounder and CEO of student-focused job and internship match site, WayUp, has some advice for those who may be imagining the future as permanent residents of their parents’ basement.

“I see so many recent grads freak out when they don’t have a job lined up for graduation. Just breathe! ” says Wessel. “ You are NOT alone.”

Wessel says that grads who still haven’t locked down a job are still in a strong position to find full-time employment over the next several months, and a few small tweaks to their job search and an open mind about available opportunities can make all the difference.

1. Take a a moment to reassess your application plan.
Grads without an employment plan may be feeling the pressure, but Wessel says not having work lined up when you don your cap and gown is not at all uncommon and no reason for panic.

Many of the companies that hire during the school year are large organizations looking to snag top talent before their competition has the chance, while companies with less robust hiring mechanisms often wait until after graduation so that applicants who are hired are available to start work immediately.

“Most new grads in the country will not work for employers who use these tactics, so there’s no need to assume you’re behind. Look for smaller and younger companies (who prefer to hire one to three months in advance), or even local businesses.

2. Missed your chance with your dream company? You might have another shot now.

If you missed the recruiting season for one of the bigger employers or applied and didn’t get an interview, you may have another opportunity. “Some of these larger players often underestimate their head count because they attempted to hire so far in advance,” says Wessel. “Their HR teams will quickly try to fill up spots starting now.”

3. Employers know you don’t have “one-to-three years of work experience” yet, and that’s OK.

Don’t be deterred by job descriptions that require applicants to have one to three years of job on the job experience. According to Wessel, most companies won’t rule out hiring a new graduate for this type of position, provided they have a relevant background and internship experience.

“We speak with businesses all the time who say that ‘one-to-three years of work experience’ still means that the role is entry-level, which means that new grads are OK to apply,” she says. “Employers are more than aware that recent grads have been in college and do not have 1-3 years of experience in any field.”

4. Evolve your search.

At this point in your job search Wessel says it may be time to expand your horizons. This may mean seeking roles in a city you hadn’t considered or exploring different types of companies or applications of your skill set. In particular, she recommends considering smaller operations where a new graduate can get lots of training and experience right off the bat–and which are likely still hiring.

“Working at a small boutique firm or a smaller-scale company can often push you to learn what you’re good at and how you’re going to excel,” says Wessel. Further, she says, “Look for training or rotational programs, which give you the opportunity to be in a somewhat structured environment where you still get to try out different roles to see what you like.”

Article by Kathryn Dill, Staff Reporter, Forbes.

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It’s All About Finding The Right Fit For You.

The number one reason why employees change jobs varies depending on the source you’re reading. One list says its “appreciation and recognition,” while another says that “dissatisfaction with upper management” is to blame.

But whatever reason is given, one thing’s for sure: It can be grouped under the overarching category of “cultural fit”.

What Is Cultural Fit?

When we talk about cultural fit in a business setting, we’re talking about a common understanding of expectations. These expectations may relate to the times at which employees arrive at work. They may relate to the standards of dress required during business hours, or the office setup, or how formal or casual conversations should be. They may even include expectations about how quickly employees should respond to emails and phone calls.

Often, we assume that we can work in any environment. Or, we may feel that if there’s a problem with the environment, we’ll be able to fix it. It may never cross our minds that different offices operate with different sets of norms than we might be used to.

These details may seem insignificant at first, but the reality is that they can greatly influence your happiness at work.

What Do You Want in an Employer?

When I meet with a job seeker, I ask them to outline their future employer wish list. Often, however, they produce a list of what they want to avoid, rather than a list of what they want. At the top of the list is generally something like, “I want to work in a respectful environment.” This is the sort of requirement that seems incredibly basic – until it’s not.

Unfortunately, many office environments turn out to be unhealthy places to spend your time – but you often don’t learn this until you’ve already quit your old job and started at the new one.

This is a lesson we should all keep in mind when we interview. Rather than getting caught up in whether or not a company chooses us, we should spend more time thinking about whether we choose the company.

Finding the Right Fit for Yourself

There are a number of ways to determine whether or not a company is right for you. First, how do your priorities stack up against what the company has to offer? Is this a promotion over your last position? Does it offer more money or better benefits? The answers to these questions will be vitally important in evaluating any job opportunity that comes your way.

Then, you can look at sites like Glassdoor, where employees are encouraged to rate their employers in much the same way that customers rate hotels and restaurants.

Some of the information you can gather will be very direct and straightforward. Other information must be uncovered through thoughtful observation and research.

At the end of the day, it’s far less important that you receive an offer for every job you interview for. It’s more important to find a job that fits you. This will ultimately lead you to fewer jobs, but the ones that do surface will be much more closely matched to your skills, background, and preferred company culture. This will increase your chances of happiness and, therefore, success.

After all, you aren’t made for every job. Wait for the best fit.

Article written by Angela Copeland, Career Coach and CEO, Copeland Coaching.

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It’s Graduation Season – 5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Career

Welcome to the workforce, Class of 2016! Not two weeks ago, you were posing for tasseled cap pictures with your shiny new diplomas, packing your bags, and moving out of your college digs. But now it’s time to get down to business and put that hard-earned degree to good use. It may be stressful and even intimidating at first, but the job hunt you embark on now is not just a paycheck search. In fact, if you play your cards right, your first position out of college can be much more than just a job. It can actually be the first step of your career—the beginning of all your future professional endeavors.

We spend our days talking with experts, reading the latest research, and leading discussions and training sessions worldwide, in all types of organizations. And one thing we’ve learned is that there a few basic practices any employee, even recent graduates, can do to cultivate a fantastic career.  Time and again these practices are shown to accelerate your climb to the top.

1. Ask more questions. Years of school have already taught you that there are no stupid questions. As you jump into your career, this mantra still rings true. Regardless of how thorough your orientation and information packet are, it’s unlikely your employer will cover all you need to know. You won’t be able to fully understand team dynamics, objectives, and office culture unless you ask for clarification when something is unclear. The HR department, your manager, and your new co-workers are all great resources of information. Once you’ve got your footing, start asking probing questions whose answers can add new ideas and business value. Questions that are curious and thought provoking, and explore how to develop and improve products and processes, have been proven to be the starting point of great work. Making a difference people love is a fantastic way to gain momentum and respect throughout your career.

2. Find a mentor. We recommend that every new hire seeks out a mentor at their organization, but this is especially crucial for recent grads. Whether it’s a senior leader in your department or even your funny coworker one cubicle over, you’ll find your professional world expands vastly once you find a great mentor. But, be mindful of your choice—negative people, will hinder your growth, while positive and supportive people will boost you. Not only will your mentor be the perfect sounding board for your questions, but they will also introduce you to new contacts, expand your business understanding, and impart their knowledge and skills. Many of the greatest entrepreneurs and leaders credit their success to a fantastic mentor who shared their insights. One day, you may too.

3. Work smarter. Conventional workplace advice tells you to be the first to arrive and the last to leave at your new job to demonstrate to the team that you’re dedicated from day one. But we’ve written about conventional advice and why it’s often wrong. So instead of working harder and longer, aim to work smarter. Before you step foot into your new office, educate yourself on the tools of the trade. Whether you read up on new programs or phone apps designed to integrate into your industry’s work, or the latest research pertaining to your specialty, get smart on how you can be more productive. It’s a fantastic way to show initiative and intelligence. Think of it as the professional version of doing your homework.

4. Get in the thick of the action. The majority of award-winning work happens when people step out into the world where their work is utilized. So if you want to take your next project from good to great, follow this simple piece of advice: go see for yourself. Witness how your product, process, or solution is used—and by whom. Discover its ease of operation, benefits, and possible shortcomings. You may be amazed at how different your perspective becomes when you’ve interacted hands-on with your work. Seeing for yourself is a great way to gain knowledge and experience—and to show you’re invested in the project. Then, take your project to the next level by checking out the other proven steps to great work.

5. Communicate clearly. In work as in life, most misunderstandings can be avoided by better communication. Learn to communicate clearly and concisely—whether you’re writing a department-wide email or leading a small meeting. Ask close friends or family members for feedback on how you can improve at your communication skills before you arrive in the office and take their words to heart. And once you get to work, remember to communicate your appreciation when you see a job well done. Nothing conveys professionalism like a sincere, meaningful expression of gratitude.

Regardless of your industry, starting position, experience, or company, these tips hold true. Hang up your cap and gown and try this advice on for size instead. You hold the future in your hands—and it’s up to you to mold your own fantastic career path from day one. Congratulations, Class of 2016!

Article by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom, writers and contributors, Forbes.

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Words of Advice For New Graduates

If you’re one of the thousands of new graduates who have claimed their diplomas and set their sights on life after college this spring, job hunting is more than likely at the top of your priority list. As you polish your resume and take those first halting steps toward creating a LinkedIn profile, you probably have certain expectations around what your first real career job will look like.

I’m here to shatter those.

The first job you land out of college doesn’t matter. It matters that you find work, of course, but the nature of the work isn’t of particular consequence at this stage in your life. Here’s why:

Your degree likely won’t be necessary.

The subject you spent four years studying may have absolutely no bearing on what you end up doing immediately after graduation. While 88% of the Class of 2016 expected to land a job in their field of study, only 65% of their peers who completed their education in 2014 and 2015 report that they have been able to do so in the time since they graduated. As is consistent with recent labor market trends, it’s possible that you’ll end up underemployed (working in a job that doesn’t require a college degree, working fewer hours than you want), as 51% of 2015 grads reported in that same survey reported they are. Starting your working life in a career-focused role is becoming the exception to the rule. A stint at Starbucks or the mall while you work on networking and next steps isn’t a black mark to signal a post-graduation slacker, it’s now the new normal. Take whatever comfort you can in that.

You’ll switch jobs and careers many times.

Research projects that you’ll hop jobs at least four times in your first post-college decade. In some cases, you’ll be switching careers entirely. If you kept up the same pace for the 30 working years after that, you’d add another 12 roles to your resume. Your career will be a long one (probably longer then you even anticipate) and how you began it will eventually become a speck in the rearview mirror that you’ll think of with the same sense of vague nostalgia reserved for your high school prom date or a particularly pretentious Comparative Lit professor.

Unless you’re waltzing into a red-hot job market with a highly-coveted degree (hello, software engineering prodigies in Silicon Valley), your entry-level role likely won’t be one that allows you to make a unique contribution to the company. To a certain degree, project assistants, account associates, admin assistants and junior whatevers are interchangeable. The hiring manager knows this and you’ll soon come to know this too. Beyond a paycheck, what your generic first job offers is the opportunity to understand what being part of a team day in and day out is like, to improve your ability to read people, to absorb the norms of a given workplace and figure out if they’re ones you can live with. You can do that just as well at Company A as Company B.

While you may have visions of a dream job dancing in your head, don’t let  unrealistic expectations keep you on the sidelines of the labor market waiting for the perfect opportunity to come your way. For better or worse, your first post-college  job is a learning experience and the best learning is hands-on.

Article by Maureen Henderson, Contributor, Forbes

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You Have 6 Seconds to Grab the Attention of a Recruiter!

You Have 6 Seconds to Grab a Recruiter’s Attention—Here’s How to Do It

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Arrive at every interview armed with these 6 company facts

As a hiring manager, I was part of a collaborative interview process that usually involved a variety of team members. When we evaluated candidates after a round of interviews, the main question we asked was, “Do they really want this job?”

What was interesting, but maybe not that surprising, was that how well a candidate did was predicated upon how well she had prepared for the interview. In fact, one person on my team immediately eliminated any prospective person who asked a question that could be found with very little effort on the company’s site, lamenting, “He didn’t even do anyresearch before he came in!”

If you want to be on the short list, you need to make it clear that you took the time to learn about the company—beyond what you can find out via a quick Google search. Of course, you’ll want to be equipped with the basics: how many employees the company has (if this can be found online), industry rank (depending on the industry), and the latest annual revenue numbers (which may take some digging but probably not an extensive amount).

But you’ll stand out even more if you can further demonstrate your knowledge about the organization. Being armed with beyond-the-basics information really will give you a competitive advantage.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. What and Who the Company Is

You certainly want to be clear on who makes up the organization and what its place in the market is. Know major products, company leaders, and competitors (and how to pronounce their names). Know where the company is based, and, if applicable, the number of locations it has in the region, country, or world.

As you discuss your potential role in the organization, you’ll be able to ask questions about how, or if, you’ll get to work with teams in other locations. Hopefully, you’ll also have an opportunity to discuss how inter-departmental information would impact your team in terms of both challenges and opportunities.

2. What’s Happening in the Industry

There’s so much information to be gleaned from an employer’s website, and you definitely don’t want to overlook that wealth of material, but you also don’t want to stop there. Be prepared with knowledge and an awareness of what’s happening in the industry at large.

A simple Google search on “trends in [name of field]” will give you an indication of ongoing, relevant ideas concerning the industry.

Imagine how informed you’ll sound when you drop a question about how the growth of cloud computing and the emergence of SaaS-based solutions is affecting the employer’s hardware business. Try to come up with a few such thoughts that show you know your stuff.

3. The Business Strategy

An employer will hire you because you have the ability to help the company win in the marketplace. To that end, you’ll want to go into the interview with a clear idea of the business strategy—or, at least, as clear an idea as you can obtain as an outsider. During the interview, you can try to make connections that show you have a grasp of the overall plan.

A simple way to discover what’s happening in a company’s strategy is to do a search for freshly posted articles from industry sources. For example, if you Google “Nike 2016 strategy” you’ll get a rich assortment of articles that talk about what Nike’s doing differently in 2016.

One big initiative is ramping up its digital strategy. In a single, concise article I learned what that digital strategy is about, how it differentiates Nike from competitors, and how that strategy will support big revenue growth goals in 2016 and beyond.

Voila! You now have strategy information to ask about and comment on, as it relates to the role you’re discussing.

4. The Company Culture

Since being experienced and skilled are only a couple of things employers are looking for, you’ll want to go beyond demonstrating the fact that you check off those boxes. If you’re interviewing at a place that ranks its culture as a top priority, making sure you’re a good fit can be pretty essential.

A description of the company’s values and culture are typically found on its site, so take time to study it. Then, address the way that you and your personality—not just your skills—are a match.

Again, if the company cares about fostering a certain kind of culture, don’t be surprised if you get asked questions about how you’d fit in and if your work style is a match. Perhaps you’re interviewing with a company that has a strong culture around customer satisfaction. If you get a question about how you’ve gone above and beyond to make a customer happy, you’ll be able to demonstrate in your response (via a hopefully delighted customer service story) why you’re a perfect fit.

Or, maybe an employer asks what kind of work environment helps you be most productive and satisfied at work. Ideally you’ll know that their offices, designed to foster a culture of collaborative work, will be a great fit for your team-oriented style. Moreover, you’ll know that the environment and your knowledge of company values sits well with you.

5. Who the Competition Is

I had a college-student client who interviewed for an internship with a major footwear brand. In the interview, he was asked whom he saw as its three biggest competitors, and how the potential employer’s brand was better. That’s a pretty meaty interview question—but one that you can be prepared to answer!

A quick search for “biggest footwear brands,” for example, quickly results in the top brands, the home base, and the annual revenue. Since winning in the marketplace is an outcome you’ll be signing up for, being able to speak to the competitive landscape can help up your game.

6. The Reputation

Check the organization’s social media feeds for late breaking updates, and see how it responds to comments or consumers if applicable. What do you notice? Are they accommodating and responsive? Or is there a litany of complaints?

Find out what “best employer” lists a company is on. Check out reviews on Glassdoor for comments on the company and the leadership, and look for testimonials from employees, customers, business partners, and so on.

All of this information helps you get an informed sense of what the organization is like. Additionally, it gives you insight about what kudos you can offer and what clarity you might need. Citing negative social media comments can be leveraged in a positive way to highlight issues you might be able to help the employer address. If it’s a story that’s in the news cycle right now, you can also broach the topic, testing to see how much weight the online stories hold and how the organization’s responding.
One of the most powerful ways you can stand out is by being prepared with information, statistics, and insights. Being able to speak intelligently about opportunities and challenges enables you to demonstrate how you’ll help the company succeed. Trust me: It’s delightful for a hiring manager to see someone who’s really done his or her homework. Because when you do your homework, and can cite a deep knowledge of the employer’s profile, you prove yourself to be a candidate worthy of moving forward.

Article by Lea Mcloed, Leadership Coach | Job Coach | Workshop Facilitator | Author + Coach at The Muse.

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Three Ways to Increase your Chance of a Call Back

We are trained from a young age that right after we graduate high school or college, we need to find a job. We frantically throw together a resume and start applying to any company that lets us upload our profile, impatiently waiting for anyone to give us an offer. This mind-set tends to continue on for many people as they get older, especially when they find themselves in a situation where they desperately need a new job. What is the right way to go about it?

I love helping people find jobs. My family and friends know it as well; whenever anyone I know is in the market for a new position, they tend to call on me for help. My years as a Recruiter paired with my job searching experience has taught me a lot on how to streamline the process and find a new job for someone quicker. One of the most consistent struggles I hear from job seekers is that they are not getting any responses from applications that they have submitted.

While it is a tough market out there, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of hearing back:

1. Apply for more jobs. If you think you are applying for too many jobs, you aren’t. Research has shown that for every 50 jobs you apply for; you will hear back from one. I always recommend setting aside the first hour of your day to scour the job boards every morning and apply for all new and suitable (see below) positions posted. You are more likely to get a call back if you are one of the first applicants to apply rather than being the 50th person to apply after the position has posted for 20 days. You should shoot to apply for a minimum of ten new jobs per day until you start lining up consistent interviews.

Note: Make sure you keep a spreadsheet of all the positions you have applied for. Include the company name, position title, and source (i.e. what job board you found it on) so you can make sure not to duplicate your application. I like to keep a copy of the job description as well so you can quickly reference the details if you get an interview.

2. Only apply to positions you are qualified for. I cannot stress the importance of this. If you feel like you are applying for dozens and dozens of jobs and aren’t hearing back from anyone, you are probably applying for jobs that you are extremely under-qualified for. Make sure to take the time to read the responsibilities and qualifications section and only apply to those where your skills and experience match the majority of what is listed. Recruiters are typically turned off by a candidate who applies to every single opening at a company regardless of experience; this tends to show you are not taking the time to read the description and aren’t very concerned about finding the right fit.

3. Proofread your resume – and have someone else do it too. A Recruiter wants to see your attention to detail and having a typo on your resume will show the exact opposite. Don’t count on Microsoft Word to proofread for you; you’ll be surprised at how many mistakes it can miss. If writing is not one of your strengths, reach out to a professional resume writer for assistance – the investment will be worth it in the end.

Article by, The Job Girl, Kerri Mills

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