Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back Again

I have been out of the seen for a while and unfortunately have not been updating my blog. I have been reading a new book called "Peak Learning" and it talks about the development of our brains and how we learn things. It has always been said that you quit learning as you get older so if you want to learn a new language you should do it as a child. I always found this alarming and felt I could still learn as I get older.

Do you think we can still learn as we get older?

Leading experts in our emerging world of ever more rapid change agree that learning throughout life is now a key to personal success. "In the new information society where the only constant is change," says John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends, "we can no longer expect to get an education, no one skill, that last a lifetime now. Like it or not, the information society has turned all of us into lifelong learners."

We each approach learning differently, what have you found to be successful?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to avoid top 5 interview mistakes?

Imagine you are a hiring manager for a moment. You have an interview set up and the candidate walks into your office very meekly and offers up a limp handshake with a "Please hire me, I need a job so bad" look on his/her face. Despite the lack of confidence, you pursue the interview and the candidate seems to answer your questions and then some, talks badly about his/her previous employer when asked why he/she left, and seems only concerned about his/her new compensation, benefits, and/or vacation. Upon completion of the interview the candidates gets up to leave and makes little eye contact. Immediately following the interview your receptionist comes in and complains how the candidate was quite rude. As a hiring manager do you think you would hire this candidate? I seriously doubt it.

As such, I have compiled the five interview mistakes you absolutely need to avoid when meeting with a potential employer.

The Handshake: First impressions are lasting and a handshake can make or break you as a potential new employee. The handshake can exude confidence or a lack thereof and set the tone for the meeting. You would be surprised how often a weak/overly aggressive handshake will blow an entire interview. A weak handshake shows the interview that you are not confident, are not interested in the position, and/or lack the ability to engage. On the opposite end of the spectrum an aggressive handshake can alert the interviewer’s defense mechanisms and make him/her think you are too much of a salesman and question your sincerity. Ideally, a quick, firm handshake is way to go and a great approach to start the meeting off right. Try your handshake on your friends and perfect it before interviewing.

Lack of/Too Much Eye Contact: Either one of these can create a negative experience for the interviewer. A lack of eye contact will present a lack of confidence, disinterest, or a lack of "truthiness". Similarly, too much eye contact will be seen as aggressive, fake, and will put the interviewer on edge. Try to find a good balance and level of comfort that will project confident, interest, and the ability to engage the interviewer with clear, concise answers.

Negative Talk: When asked about your previous employment it is always best to take the high road. Sure, your boss may have been an overbearing tyrant who talked down to the office and flew off the handle if the AC was a degree off. However, you are applying for a new position and want to be as positive as possible because the interviewer is likely to assume that you will do the same to him/her when you move on from that position. Always take the time to put a positive spin on your past employment experience and keep the interview moving towards what you can do for this company and how you would be an asset to them.

Professional Speak: Multiple surveys have found that public speaking is the number one fear of people across the world. This is understandable, just remember that similar to the fact that public speaking takes practice, so do interview. How often do you get annoyed when you are watching a presentation or speech and they constantly use the words, "umm", "like", "you know", or something similar? Your tone and approach needs to remain professional at all times. Try to limit the amount verbal ticks you have by pausing for a few seconds before answering your questions. This will give you time to think about your answer, exude confidence, and deliver a informational, positive response. Similarly, hiring managers are all different and can take on different styles of communication when interviewing. While one manager may be very personable, another may get right down to business and be very professional. It is essential that you match the interview techniques to ensure optimal success. If a hiring manager is asking direct questions you need to answer directly, and follow up with asking if they need additional information. If they are very personable then feel free to be personable as well. You want to gain rapport with the interviewer and this is a great way to do that.

Jumping the Gun: Make sure to keep interviews professional, about what you can do for the company, and how you can be an asset to them in the role you are interviewing for. An instant interview killer is to make it all about you and what the company can do for you. Refrain from asking about compensation, benefits, vacation, etc. before making sure you have sold the interviewer on the fact that you are the right fit for the position. Your number one goal for an interview should be to get the job. If you do your research before you interview, you should already know this information anyway. The best time to bring up this information would be when they have extended you an offer and begun the negotiation process.

Social Networking Sites

Are you using social networking sites as part of your recruiting -- either for finding and/or vetting candidates? What are your observations and tips about how candidates can use these sites effectively as part of a job search?

Leverage the Opportunity

Currently, we are using social networking sites -- mostly LinkedIn. Where we use Facebook is more in the groups section. I have joined a few alumni groups and have posted a position there.

More than 75% of companies in the U.S. were polled and agreed that utilizing social media was a necessary outlet for recruiting.

I would recommend that if you are actively interviewing, keep your profile clean. No profanity (this goes without saying), no inappropriate photos or negative comments. Be smart -- use it as a tool -- add your awards, accomplishments, professional goals. With more and more employers turning to this inexpensive tool, leverage this opportunity.
-- Carolyn Dougherty, owner of IntelliSource Inc.

Don't Ditch the Fundamentals

We have found that the most effective ways to vet applicants are meeting with them in person and speaking directly with their references, approaches that cannot be duplicated or replaced by social networking.

Job seekers should combine personal and social networking activities, while also focusing on tried-and-true techniques such as developing targeted resumes, preparing thoroughly for interviews, and working with specialized recruiters. When tapping social networks, candidates need to dedicate the same care to crafting their profiles as they do to the content in their resumes. These sites also can be great sources of recommendations and referrals, and professionals need to promptly thank those who help them in their search.
-- Andy Denka, executive director of Accountemps

Keep It Current

I've worked with companies who have used social networking sites as a means to post jobs and track candidates, and although the value of these sites remains to be seen, the immediate impact of people following the job was positive. If used correctly, these sites can be an easy, fast, innovative, and fun way to advertise current and potential opportunities.

My advice to candidates: Keep your profiles and activity current.
-- Bob Hancock, senior staffing consultant

It's Easy Public Research

We currently do not use social networking sites as part of our established sourcing or screening process. However, many hiring managers are becoming savvy with these online communities and may visit them on their own initiative, developing impressions about candidates from the results of their research.

I would advise all job seekers to maintain a professional public appearance online. Even if researching these sites is not part of a formal process, any information a hiring manager gains about a candidate can play a part in their hiring decision. It's wise to learn how to effectively use the privacy features of social networking sites to ensure that you can manage what information is available to the public.
-- Noah Apodaca, lead recruiter for staff at the University of California, Irvine

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Becoming The Obvious Choice

This topic will need to be covered in several separate posts!!!

Part 1

"Time for a Reality Check"

Let's face it. Not every person is cut out for every job. For some, promotions into management can be a disastrous career step.

Many times the best salesperson is promoted into sales management. Within a month or even less, that same "best sales person" has created nothing but chaos for the once crack sales team, customers and everybody else. An excellent nurse may not be a good nursing supervisor. An outstanding insurance agent may not be a good corporate trainer. You get the picture.

The intentions of the hiring managers were to provide the best leadership for the available positions. But, the job just did not fit the talents of the individual contributor. In fact, that outstanding salesperson, nurse, or agent would much rather be doing anything other than giving performance reviews.

It is your manager's responsibility to prevent this disaster from happening to you?

No! It is your responsibility to know and understand your talents, values, and desires. Then, your additional responsibility is to evaluate how these elements fit the requirements of the new position. If you find that there is a conflict within any of those three areas, you are destined to be miserable and chances are, you will not be successful.

One other fact to consider, not all people want to move up, and that is ok.

Some immediately find their niche and are happy, working to be the best in that one job. Of course, with the speed of change in today's workplace, niche workers rarely survive for an entire career. Jobs and job responsibilities evolve into totally different areas of responsibility, which means the more flexible you are in your job often determines how marketable you will be in the future.

There are three tests you can give yourself to determine if you should pursue the next opportunity. Does the new position pass the talent test, values test, and desire test?

Here is how you can tell:

"The Talent Test"

Everyone has talents. These talents vary from person to person but everyone has areas of excellence. The key to job satisfaction and long term success is discovering what your talents are and becoming the best at putting these talents to work.

Your greatest area of expertise may be in your current job, nothing wrong with that. If this is the case and you are reaching your goals, great! But if you have talents that exist beyond your current position, you're cheating yourself and your employer by not pursuing advancement.

But, a word of caution: Don't confuse talent with desire.

TALENT is being naturally gifted in a certain area. It may be writing, selling, auditing, human relations, nursing... whatever. DESIRE is something you like to happen.

For instance, I would love to be an artist. I have that desire and I am willing to work twelve hours a day to make it happen. The problem is, I'm not a very good painter and, frankly, I do not think anyone would ever pay for my work. No matter how much I want it or how hard I work for it, I will never make a living as an artist. I would be thrilled to have some of my work chosen to hang in a museum, but that will never happen. I assure you, the museum would not be a place that you would pay to go see if my work was featured.

What I realize is this: My talents are in other areas and this is where I need to spend my energy.

So, where are your areas of excellence? What activities are seldom boring, even when you are doing the same thing over and over? What do others say that you are especially good at doing? What comes naturally to you? What skills feel good, comfortable when you use them?

Discover those areas and focus on finding the right place, the right job, that relies on your "talent," your gifts.

The Values Test

You probably know more than one extremely intelligent, successful person who is totally miserable because their job clashes with their personal values. Maybe the job requires constant travel and time away from family. Or, they have to work a schedule that keeps them away from the family. The money may be great, but that person my be under constant stress because of their desire for more time at home.

Somewhere along the way, you will probably face a tough decision: Are you willing to sacrifice your personal values for short-term gain?

Before pursuing your next position, that next step up, know yourself and your values. Then check out what the position requires and make sure that it won't create a "values clash." You may have to make trade-offs in some areas, but at least take the time to fully understand what's involved in this giving-and-taking process.

The Desire Test

"Do I really want this promotion?" Only you know that answer. If that next job is something that fits into your long range plan, go for it. If it does not help you achieve your personal goals, let others pursue it.

There is a price tag on every job. The price may involve taking time out to develop new skills. It may also contain a component called "fear of the unknown." It may put you in the position of becoming the manager of current associates or many other not-so-comfortable situations.

The message here? Take the time to evaluate the price you may be called upon to pay and match it up with your desires, values, and talents.

It's good to remember this: Life is too short not to be happy and too long not to do well!

If you have a talent that coincides with your values and you have a desire for that next job, go for it with all your have. However, if the results of any of the three test - talent,value, and desire - are not positive, ass on this opportunity and continue preparing for the job where you will be more successful.

I will end this here and pick the next part up in my next post!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Future Subjects

I am trying to figure out what I should blog about in future posts. Here are a few additional subjects, any suggestions would greatly appreciated. Here is just a few topics:

- Resume Builders and Tips


- Interview Questions

- Sexual Harassment

- Counseling/Documenting Discipline

- Internet Use

- Firing

- Employment Laws

- Performance Appraisals

- Hiring

- Team Building

- Wages & Benefits

- Workers' Comp

- Discrimination

Please email me at on what you would like to see more information about or if you have a current issue that you would like to get an answer on please send it to me. I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Hiring "Do Not Ask"

Surely, all managers know by now that there are some things they should never bring up when interviewing, right? WRONG!!!

I want to give just a few things not to ask in an interview:

Date of birth. It is OK to ask if applicant is over the age of 18, you can obtain DOB after hire.

Race, color, religion, or national origin.

Physical traits. Height and weight requirements have been found to violate the law if they eliminate a disproportionate number of femal or other minority group applicants.

Arrests. Inappropriate unless the job is security-sensitive. It is okay in most states to aks about convictions.

Garnishments or bankruptcies. Seen as discriminatory because more members of minority groups have their wages garnished than do whites.

Current family or future family plans, including marital status, number of children, or child-care arrangements.

Any obvious disability. And never ask, "Do you have disabilities?"

Alcohol or past drug use. Applicant my be protected by the ADA.

Military Service

Medications they may be taking.

Workers' compensation claims or workers' compensation injuries.


Past of present union affiliation.

Do not make any notes at all on the resume or job application. Keep this information on a seperate piece of paper.


"It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be."

"Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have."

"Without having a goal it's difficult to score."

"Don't look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity."

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

"Time flies. It is up to you to be the navigator."

"I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened."

"You can never get much of anything done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready."

"The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well."

"A small trouble is like a pebble. Hold it close to your eye and it fills the whole world and puts everything out of focus. Hold it at a proper distance and it can be examined and properly classified. Throw it at your feet and it can be seen in its true setting, just one more tiny bump on the pathway of life."

"Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands."

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."