Job Interview Prep – What Have You Got to Lose?

Job interview preparation is critical–if you hope to have a positive outcome for interviews. And why else would you be pursuing interviews?

Very few people in this world, from entry-level to senior executive, can afford to blow off interview preparation as if they’re somehow “above” it and don’t need to pay attention to it. I’ve never met anyone who could legitimately make that claim–smart job seekers at all levels know better.Interview Preparation Concept

Interview preparation is simply an item that should always rank at or near the top of your priorities in the job search.

Job Interview Prep – What’s the Worst that can Happen?

Let’s see… if you blow the interview by failing to prepare appropriately, you could lose any chance at landing the position you’re aiming for.  Worst case, you could leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth that would kill your chances of landing any job at that company in the foreseeable future.

Is that a serious enough consequence to make you abandon any thought of leaving job interview preparation off your job search “to do” list?

Okay, I get it. There are a lot more fun or interesting things to do than buckling down to get ready for an interview. The trouble is, most of those won’t do a darned thing to help you snag your next job, much less advance your progress toward ongoing career success.

Interview Prep: Timing is (Almost) Everything

There’s probably a right way and a wrong way to bring up certain topics in an interview, and doing proper interview preparation can help you decide what the right (or best) way is for some of them. One good rule of thumb is to consider the employer first and yourself second. By that, I don’t mean that what you want necessarily matters less than what the employer wants/needs. However, putting your own desires out there first and foremost can demotivate employers in a hurry.

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Tough Job & Career Choices

If you had several job opportunities to consider, wouldn’t you think that was a great situation to be in? Maybe. Sometimes, having multiple possibilities to choose from isn’t as clear-cut as it might seem at first.

Tough Choices & Only You Can Decide

Confusion about decision.Suppose you have five companies interested in you. You’ve had preliminary phone conversations with them and have had a job interview or two, with the possibility of more in the near future. I have a friend who was in this situation just recently, and she received a firm job offer from one of the companies. However, there was somewhat of a catch.

What was it? Company A needed an answer (i.e., accept or decline the offer) by a date just a few days away. At the same time, she was still in discussions with some of the other organizations.

Also, although she really liked the people she met at Company A, she was a bit unsure that the nature of the job would challenge her enough to keep her fully engaged, and the possibility of advancement or professional growth into another position was probably a couple of years in the future.

Ultimately my friend decided to decline the offer and continue to investigate the opportunities with the other prospective employers–and to keep the door open for other possibilities that might come up.

What would you have done in her situation?

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Job Interviews & Salary Negotiation – Winner or Loser?

Is there one right answer to how to be a winner in job interviews and salary negotiation? Not really. There are many ways to be a winner–or a loser, if you don’t handle the situation well.

I should note that before I became self-employed, I never negotiated a salary as high as 6 figures , so I can’t say I’m an expert on that, although I’ve talked to quite a few people who did. However, you don’t have to be aiming that high to realize you need to be on your toes throughout the interview process–if you’re looking for a job offer to consider and possibly negotiate.

Salary Negotiation – Not a Slot Machine Gamble

Salary Slot Machine Wheels Dials Job Income Pay EarningsIf you view salary negotiation as like pulling the handle on a slot machine, you’re on the wrong track. Achieving a desirable salary can’t be left to luck. You need to be able to position yourself and be prepared to make your case. But NOT along the lines of, “Gee, I really need the money!” Hardship is not a convincing argument.

Arming yourself with salary-related information is an obvious first step toward negotiating effectively. How can you negotiate appropriately if you don’t know:

  • What you can offer that’s more (better than) your competition does
  • What you’re currently worth in the marketplace you’re targeting
  • What employers are or could realistically be paying for someone like you
  • What external factors might affect your target range (geographical location, etc.)

Job Interview Value Proposition

You need to have something your target employers want badly enough to consider paying you close to the salary you’re after. Unless you build a value proposition based on skills and/or specific experience you can offer, you’re going to find yourself at a serious disadvantage in any negotiation–or in the interview itself, for that matter.

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Career Opportunities with a “Catch”

What would you do if the kind of career opportunity you’ve been eagerly seeking suddenly appeared–but it came with a “catch”? That is, it carried some baggage that wasn’t what you wanted. Would you walk away in disappointment or take it and hope for the best? Career opportunity decisions can force choices you’re not sure how to make.

What Do Career Opportunities with a Catch Look Like?

Let’s suppose you’re targeting advancement from your current position as a sales department manager to a role as sales director–within your current company or at a different company. You’ve been discreetly looking at job possibilities for several weeks and finally get an opportunity for a higher role in your existing company, along with a decent compensation increase.

African suricate making decision

What’s the catch? The company wants you to relocate from your current location in Pennsylvania to its new headquarters in California. In fact, the job offer is contingent on your acceptance of the move.

The problem with this is that your family is nicely settled in Pennsylvania. Your spouse has a great job there, and your kids are happy in their schools. Also, you’re aware that the cost of living in California is higher than in Pennsylvania, and your current home wouldn’t sell for enough to make up the difference in California’s exploding housing market.

Good Choice and Bad Choice Road SignSo where do you go from here? How do you make the best choice and avoid one that’s going to cause you grief?


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Resume Impact – Executive Summary vs. Objective

Are you still clinging to the idea of starting your resume with an objective? You know the kind: “Position utilizing my extensive background in technology sales and marketing.” Or maybe: “Growth-oriented technical sales position in a well-established company.”

Stop! Please! These are painful.

I hate to tell you this, but you’ve just put your intended audience (potential employers) to sleep! Or worse, you’ve sent them rushing on to the next resume–your competitor’s.

Why an Objective Doesn’t Work Well – If at All

First, too often you use an objective that says more about what you want from the company than what it can gain by hiring you.

Second, an objective tends to look and sound more or less generic, so it fails to distinguish you from your competition–that is, make you stand out from the herd.Depositphotos_79821198_m-2015

Finally, an objective basically wastes valuable “real estate” (space) by stating the obvious (“I want a job”).

Why an Executive Summary is Better – Or Could Be

Quick note: “Executive” doesn’t mean you can’t use one unless you are a senior-level person already; you could word yours somewhat differently so it’s appropriate for your situation.

A good executive summary gives prospective employers a quick snapshot of your potential value–it doesn’t make them try to decipher that by reading reams of material.

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Job Search: Are the Odds Stacked Against You?

As if job searching weren’t enough of a pain to begin with, it seems new wrinkles are added all too often. And they’re basically never designed to make your life as a job seeker easier. Companies seem to do their best to put distance between themselves and the great talent they say they need to hire.

Find a Job - Business People in Maze

This means that something already considered painful or unpleasant just got harder. You’re forced to stumble around trying to find the path to your desired goal–a new job that gets you to a better place in your life and career.

Who or What is Standing in Your Way?

Theoretically a lot of things could stand in the way of conducting a successful job search. However, one that keeps rearing its ugly head in one way or another is “service providers” that insert themselves into the recruitment process between the hiring company and you as the job candidate. It’s one more hoop for you to jump through, and sometimes there’s more than one such hoop.

I recently read a blog post by Nick Corcodillos (of Ask The Headhunter) that comes down hard on this aggravating situation, and I strongly urge you to read the entire post, which is too long to quote here in a meaningful way. You can find the post at “HR’s Submission to ZipRecruiter.”

What are some of the disturbing complications being introduced into the employment process by ZipRecruiter? According to Corcodillos and the job seekers who’ve been contacting him, these include:

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Your Job Search Marketing “Campaign”

You do have a job search marketing campaign, don’t you? Even if you’re not actively job searching now, you should have a campaign either in mind or in the works. To paraphrase an old saying, “An ounce of job search preparation is worth more than a pound of after-the-fact damage control.”

What’s  a Job Search Marketing Campaign?

A campaign has been defined as work performed in an organized and active way toward a particular goal. More specifically, a marketing campaign could be “a specific, defined series of activities used in marketing a new or changed product or service.”  In the latter case, we’re talking about a campaign to bring you to the attention of prospective employers in a way that leads to job interviews and job offers.Campaign 3d Word Mailbox Deliver Direct Message Advertising Poli

To mount an effective job search marketing campaign, you need several things. For sure, you want to be considering these five:

  1. A clearly defined sense of purpose: Where you want the job search to take you–“a job” isn’t a clearly defined goal.
  2. A realistic grasp of the scope of the challenge: For instance, is your goal aggressively ambitious? That might require additional thought.
  3. An inventory of your most valuable assets : This is something you should maintain on an ongoing basis, so you don’t have major work to do when the time comes.
  4. Understanding of the probable needs, challenges, etc., of the organizations you want to work for: You need to be almost ruthless–for example, if you target companies that don’t have the kind of need you want to meet, you’re wasting time.
  5. A campaign plan that assesses and organizes critical elements as accurately and realistically as possible: Make sure the plan includes timelines for key milestones. Otherwise you might get bogged down on something not worth the time and effort you’re investing.

However, there are some things you do not want to associate with your job search marketing campaign, because they could slow down your progress or force your job search to a grinding halt.

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Not Thinking About Retirement Yet? You Should Be!

If you’re viewing retirement as some far-off future event that you don’t need to think about now, you’re fooling yourself. Likewise, if you feel smugly confident that you’ve made shrewd investments and will be in great shape when you finally decide to retire, you might face a rude awakening. Almost the only factor you can count on about retirement is that you can’t count on matters staying as they are.

Retirement–New Game vs. Old Game

You probably already know that the concept of retirement has changed considerably over the past few decades–as has the recommended approach to preparing for it.

One major event that triggered massive change was the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which had global impact. It was blamed for causing a devastating recession that many people considered the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

That event wiped out the retirement reserves of many Americans. You or someone you know could have experienced that disaster personally. If you were young enough at the time, you’ve had a chance to work at recouping those losses. Otherwise, you’re most likely engaged in a struggle to Road closedreach the point where you can even contemplate retirement–if you have a choice.

Sometimes you don’t.

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