Good Advice

Job Search

  • Find a Recruiter. One with expertise and connections in your industry will be your best resource. Don’t limit yourself by geography. Industry focused recruiters tend to work nationally and internationally and where they are physically located means very little.
  • Know What You Want. Take time to reflect on your strengths and the type of work you enjoy doing. What is most important to you in a job? Title? Money? The work? Location? Company culture? The more you know yourself, the better the chances you’ll find a job that offers satisfaction.
  • Google Yourself. If there is anything negative that might be seen by a potential employer, you should be the one to bring it up and address their concerns. Don’t hope that it won’t be seen and be in the position of having to explain later. Your integrity will take you much further.
  • Social Media. Know what can and can’t be seen on any of your social media profiles and make sure that your online image projects a positive and professional version of you.
  • LinkedIn. A strong LinkedIn profile is critical in the modern age of job search. By far, it will be one of your best resources for being found, networking, researching companies and finding job openings. Your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date and an accurate reflection of you and your career. If a potential employer does a side-by-side comparison of your LinkedIn profile and your resume, there should be no discrepancies.
  • Networking. Many jobs are found by networking, so build and cultivate your network – both in person and online. Consider joining relevant industry associations. If you are uncomfortable asking for job leads, try a less formal approach and ask for information and advice.

General Interviewing

  • Do your research. Search the web to gather current information about the company and its management. You don’t have to be an expert on their business but know the basics.
  • Know your audience. Do some research on the individual(s) with whom you’ll be meeting. Prep some questions that are specific to them.
  • Anticipate questions. Be prepared to answer any tough question and practice your answers out loud. This will help you clarify your thoughts and make you more comfortable during the interview.
  • Be clear and concise. Overlong and rambling answers will leave the impression that you are scattered and indecisive. Avoid the gory details and stick to the facts. Answer questions as specifically as possible.
  • Remember STAR. Let this acronym guide you as you answer behavioral interview questions. Situation: Describe the situation. Task: Explain the task you had to complete. Action: Define the actions you took to complete the task. Result: Finish with the result of your efforts.
  • Be the solution. Remember it’s about what you can do for the company. Think about what they need and determine the benefits and skills you bring to the table.
  • Be yourself. You don’t need to seem perfect in the interview. Don’t try. Keep it light. Be human.
  • Ask questions. An interview is a two-sided dialogue and mutual evaluation. Make sure you leave with a good understanding about the company and specific job. But, remember there is a difference between asking questions and interrogating.
  • Don’t badmouth. Disparaging former employers and bashing former bosses or coworkers will only backfire on you. Avoid blaming others and take the high road.
  • Listen.  Stay tuned in and pay attention. This is your chance to garner the information you need to make your own decisions. Equally as important, this is your chance to impress your interviewer. Your best questions will come from hearing what is said and not said.
  • Be professional. Remember that you are always being evaluated. Treat everyone you meet with respect.
  • Don’t lie. There is just no upside. The truth always finds a way of coming out in the end, and no one wants someone who is dishonest on their team.
  • Act interested, not desperate. Sometimes it may take longer than you’d like for a company to finalize their decision. Be patient and never needy. Delays happen. Behaving frustrated and annoyed will not help you.
  • Remember to say thanks. Thank your interviewer at the end of your time and be sure to follow-up with a thank you email within 24 hours. Showing appreciation for their time goes a long way.
  • Maintain confidentiality. It is never wise to share proprietary information from your current employer.
  • Compensation. This is a delicate topic. In fact, in many states it is illegal to ask about compensation while interviewing. Talk with your recruiter for guidance handling this topic. They will guide you to answer the honestly without putting yourself in a box too early in the process.

Phone Interviewing

  • Take it seriously. Treat a phone screening just as you would an in-person interview. Be prepared.
  • Find a quiet spot. Make sure that you are in a private and quiet spot with no loud background noises. Turn off any music, TV, mobile devices and put the dog out of earshot. At the very least find a room where you can shut the door and focus. Don’t be driving.
  • Take your time. Speak slowly and pronounce your words clearly, particularly if you are on a cell phone where coverage can become choppy at times. Where possible, a landline is best.
  • Be respectful. Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink during your call. But keep a glass of water handy, just in case you get a tickle in your throat. A quick sip if your mouth gets dry is okay.
  • Listen carefully. Stay focused during the conversation and avoid talking over or interrupting the interviewer. Remember to keep your answers clear and concise. Don’t ramble. Don’t dominate the conversation. Let the interviewer guide the conversation.
  • Take notes. Have pen and paper handy.
  • Smile.Your tone of voice will reflect it. When you smile while talking, your voice sounds more positive and friendly.
  • Be comfortable, but… not too comfortable. Sit at a table, a desk or stand. Don’t lay down or slouch as this will affect your phone voice.

Face to Face Interviewing

  • Arrive early. Build in extra time for unanticipated events like traffic, parking or getting lost.
  • Dress for success. Be mindful of the image you want to project and create a look that is appropriate. When in doubt, err on the side of being slightly overdressed. Keep your look basic and conservative.
  • Be memorable. Make your first impression a professional one. Smile, make eye contact and maintain good posture. Your behavior should be friendly, but businesslike.
  • Put your best foot forward. Avoid heavy perfume or cologne. Turn off your cell phone. Don’t chew gum.
  • Be prepared. Bring a portfolio or notepad for taking notes. Have a few copies of your resume in case you are asked for it.

Video Interviewing

  • Do a trial run. Make sure that the software is up-to-date, the camera is functioning, your microphone is working and you can hear the person on the other side. Give yourself at least 24 hours so you’ve got time to fix any issues that may arise.
  • Prepare your surroundings. Find a private and quiet spot, ideally with a door, and declutter the space. Set yourself up in a spot with good lighting and a blank or neutral background so that you are the focal point.
  • Eye contact. Remember that maintaining eye contact requires looking at the camera as much as possible. Avoid watching yourself or looking at your interviewer during a video session. This can seem a bit unnatural – so practice. No need to stare unblinkingly, just keep your eye contact natural. If you are faced with a blank or black screen, assume they can see you. Don’t forget to smile!
  • Use a laptop or desktop computer. Close all other programs on the computer so you maintain a good connection and you are undistracted. If possible, avoid using your cell phone. If you must use your phone, balance it on a solid surface. Don’t do the interview handheld.
  • Look the part. Treat a video interview just as you would an in-person interview and dress the part from top to bottom. It’s better to be ready for the unexpected and you’ll feel more prepared when you look the part.
  • Avoid fidgeting. This can come across as if you are not paying attention. Also, this could lead to the video feed and sound becoming choppy.
  • Speak slowly and deliberately. Internet connections can become spotty and lead to dropped syllables while speaking. Slowing down will help to minimize the frustration of any online delays.

Resume Writing

  • Contact Information. Include your phone, email and address. If you don’t want to include your full mailing address, at the very least include your city and state. Be sure that your outgoing voicemail message sounds professional and keep your email address simple and professional – avoid anything overly personal or tactless. Never use your current work email address.
  • Appearance. Choose a basic font and font size that is easy to read. Use appropriate margins and spacing. Differentiate yourself with your accomplishments, not fancy formatting tricks. Use a standard format and keep it simple and easy to read.
  • Length. Forget about the much touted ‘one page’ rule. Your resume should be an accurate reflection of your entire career history. If you have 20 years of experience, it is going to be difficult to provide an accurate reflection of that history on one page. But don’t ramble either. Any resume over 3-4 pages is getting too long.
  • Format. List positions in reverse chronological order. If you’ve held multiple positions with the same company, include them all to exhibit growth and career development. Include the month and year for each start and end date.
  • Don’t Leave Gaps. Gaps anywhere in your career history make it appear as if you have something to hide. Perhaps a stint in prison? You don’t need to elaborate on every position if it doesn’t seem appropriate, but your resume should be a complete professional history.
  • Job Titles. If your title is specific to your organization or not widely used, include a translation in parentheses.
  • Company Descriptions. To provide context for the reader, include a very brief description, which includes the business focus and scale of operations, underneath the name of each employer on your resume. Without this information, their focus will shift away from you and over to trying to find this information for themselves.
  • Accomplishments. Employers want to see how you’ve increased revenues, saved money, increased efficiencies, cut overhead, generated sales, improved processes or productivity, etc. The more specific you can be – the better. Be sure to include any quantifiable achievements.
  • Name Drop. ‘Customers’ or ‘clients’ are very generic terms. Include the names of relevant customers and/or clients to provide additional substance and perspective.
  • Be Concise. Net down your experience and accomplishments and purge generic descriptors like ‘hardworking’, ‘detail-oriented’ or ‘proactive’. These traits don’t separate you from the crowd. Focus on the specific skills and accomplishments that set you apart from everyone else.
  • Final Elements. Include your educational background, including degrees earned, and any professional training, relevant affiliations, licenses, unique technical skills and languages in which you are fluent.
  • Proofread and Edit. Proofread and edit again. Your resume is your first impression and shouldn’t be riddled with errors. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to review it for mistakes and readability. Don’t rely exclusively on spellcheck. Reading a document backward will help you focus on the spelling of words.
  • Electronic File. Save and send your resume as a Word or PDF document. If you are creating your resume using a program other than Microsoft Word, be sure to save the final document in Word format. Send the document to a trusted friend or colleague and make sure they can open and read the file.
  • Be Honest. Very little will cause more problems than lying on your resume. Period.

Resigning

  • Cross All Your T’s. Be sure that all of the details of the new position have been finalized with your new employer before you approach your current employer.
  • Face-to-Face. When geographically possible, it is always best to resign in person. Find a time when you will have your manager’s undivided attention and clearly state your intentions. Anticipate any questions ahead of time and be prepared to respond. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible, a phone call is the next best thing.
  • Write a Letter. Be polite, professional and decisive. Your letter should be addressed to your manager and should solidify your plans and confirm the date of your last day. Think of this as an opportunity to express your gratitude. Remember that this will become a part of your employment file, and you don’t want to burn any bridges.
  • Don’t Fall for the Counteroffer. They are often a knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected and provide a band-aid solution for your current company to manage their own risk. No matter how generous the offer may seem – it is not about you or your aspirations. The high from a raise and/or promotion will wear off, and the reasons you started your job search in the first place will remain. More importantly, the short-term relief experienced by the company, nearly always turns to resentfulness in the long run.
  • Leave a Good Impression. Rather than leave your current boss in a lurch, do what you can to formulate a list of recommendations for transitioning your responsibilities. And serve out your notice period with gusto.
  • Talk to Your Recruiter. There is no comparison to the advice that you will receive from a good recruiter with whom you have fostered a meaningful relationship. They will likely provide more insight and perspective than anyone.

Counteroffers

  • Avoid Them. Avoid Them Like the Plague. Prior to embarking on a new job search, we routinely counsel our candidates to sit down with their manager to discuss their future at the company. A wise manager will always be alert for opportunities to elevate the performance of employees and should be well-tuned to the career aspirations of their team. Having that conversation does not have to indicate dissatisfaction or telegraph a move. It should be a checkpoint for career advancement and how one will grow and flourish in their current environment. If you are unsure about initiating that conversation, talk to your recruiter. We routinely coach people through that conversation.
  • As an employee: It is far better to have this conversation prior to receiving an offer from another company, where you’re likely to get a panicked and dishonest reaction once you blackmail management by tendering a resignation.
  • As a manager: Wouldn’t it be better to know when someone on your team would rather be in another position or division than be surprised by their resignation?