Dry Run….

Here’s some raw footage of what I hope to accomplish over the life of the blog. Don’t worry, I have many improvements to make to produce the kind of tutorials you can truly benefit from. But for now, enjoy!

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Dry Run….

Here’s a quick test run of what I hope to accomplish over the life of this blog. It’s raw and not the prettiest instructional video, but I wanted to give my readers a glimpse of the entire process from the beginning.

ENJOY!

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Draw a Blank

I was inspired this morning by an article I read, rather quickly glanced through, about the impact of a blank business card. This article, posted on Lifehacker and written by Melanie Pinola, describes CJ Chilvers choice to carry blank business cards with him everywhere because it offers the receiver a more personal impact than the over-glossed brand badge provided by your employer. I was even more struck by this  because I have recently ordered personal business cards with merely my twitter handle and personal contact info on it to acheive the very same purpose. However Mr. Chilvers takes this to a whole new level, one I was motivated to achieve this very afternoon.

So while I was running errands today, I planned to stop by a local printer and order a stack of elegantly blank business card stock, when I realized, it’s almost as easy and far more instantaneously gratifying if I make them myself. So off the Staples it was! Almost imediately after arriving with all hopes of picking up some sheets of  “print it yourself” business card stock from Avery, I realized that the paper included was no thicker than normal printer paper; this is neither original nor peronal and looks cheap. So I left and headed over to Dick  Blick Art Supplies next door where I paced down the paper isle to find the perfect weight and texture in watercolor art pads. For less thatn $10, I picked up a pad of paper used for water color painting and a knife  and  make my way home. With some patience and a steady hand, I was able to knock out 100 blank business cards in under an hour, using my company card as a template. The entire pad of paper should yield about 150 cards. assuming I don’t screw any of them up.

Now, rather than giving out company business cards with my work contact information, I can make the interaction a lot more personal and a little more artistic. Of course I still plan to order a supply of blank cards but this method will work if you’re in a pinch or like to make things yourself rather than just buying them. This is also a great way to hand out your contact info if you’re currently unemployed – just make sure you bring a pen with you!

Cheers!

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Interview Tips from HR.

A very good friend of mine invited me into a thread with the Hiring Manager of a well established company. He was kind enough to offer up a few things to consider while interviewing for a job to improve your chances of getting hired. I won’t ramble on any more, here’s what he said….

 

Here are a few somewhat random additional thoughts:

*     I generally take a candidate negotiating comp as a positive sign, even if I don’t raise the offer.  I wouldn’t worry that the company will rescind the offer, or that you’re going to start out on the wrong foot just because you asked for more. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend working for someone that is uncomfortable having a compensation conversation, or holds it against you, but….

*      If we’re off by a huge amount (I offer you 60 and you come back with 90), I might rescind the offer; in my experience, an employee who truly feels undercompensated does not a happy team member make. If you’re desperate for a job and are taking something that pays well below your market value, I feel sorry for both sides. I try really hard not to hire those folks.

*      Have a specific package in mind – starting pay, vacation days, bonus percentage, job title, whatever…just know what you want.

*      As noted in a prior reply, be able to explain why you deserve whatever it is that you are asking for.

*     Be ready with a fallback position….maybe you start at the proffered comp and agree to a salary review in three months. Maybe you get a bonus if you hit certain performance targets. If you go this route, agree up front on the goals you need to achieve and what the parameters of the increase are.

*    Do everything in person if you can; don’t be uncomfortable asking for a meeting to talk about the offer.

*     Recognize that if I start you out higher I might be giving you lower raises in the future.

*      Get the whole deal in writing – if your employment letter doesn’t exactly reflect your discussions, don’t sign it.

Thank you Mike and Shane for the incredibly helpful insight!

Cheers!

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The Art of the Phone Interview

If you’ve been avidly applying for jobs, you’ll know that it’s rare for an employer to receive less than 100 applications for each open position and that your chances of getting even a rejection email is a rarity these days. But if you’re lucky enough to get a call or email requesting an interview, odds are, that the initial interview for the job will be over the phone. Just as the amount of  applications an employer must sift though is high, so then is the amount of interviews they must hold. So to help ease that process, most employers start with a quick phone interview to simply get a feel for who they think they want for the job. And you better believe that a phone interview is just as important, if not more, than an in-person interview.  So here are a few tips to help you for that upcoming chat.

Be Prepared. Have a copy of your resume out and ready to use as a reference when being asked about your job roles and accomplishment. Also make sure you have pen and paper ready to jot down any mention of the important stuff such as compensation, insurance, etc. Part of being prepared should also include securing your phone connection. I’ve unfortunately blown one too many interviews as a result of a poor phone connection or excessive background noise. Be sure to  set aside a time and clear connection for you and your interviewer to comfortably discuss all the arse you’re going to be kicking for them.

Be very mindful of your speech.  Even if you have all your  bars, the connection still may be bad on their end and there could even be a slight delay if you’re speaking with someone in another time zone. And if you’re like me, speaking too fast when excited, make sure you speak slowly and clearly. It’s much easier understanding people when they’re sitting 5ft in front of you, not always so much when you’re heard over the phone. This also means: no gum chewing, no carbonation prior and no smoking. Also, NEVER interrupt your interview, no matter how long winded they may be, this is just as disrespectful as if they interrupted you, no matter how good of a point you want to make.

Maintain a positive physical appearance. This may sound strange, but if you dress nicely, smile and do all the things you would at an in-person interview, you’re bound to come off just as positive over the phone.  No matter what day or time, I never do interviews laying around in my pajamas while watching Jersey Shore. Shower, put on some clothes that make you feel good – I don’t care if wearing a suit around the house sounds ridiculous – and smile. This will keep your energy high, something that needs even more expression during a phone interview.

Follow though. Always confirm the interviewer’s name and the company/position they are hiring you for. I’m sure it’s safe to say this isn’t the only job you applied for, so make sure you know you’re taking to. Never answer with simple “yes” or “no”, always start your answer by touching on the question asked and give a thorough response. If the interviewer is asking you thoughtful question, let them know if you need time to think about it. It’s ok to ask for a moment to think, just make sure you ask rather than leaving unexplained ‘dead air’.

While it may seem that a phone interview is less important that an in-person interview, rest assured that it’s no less important that correct punctuation on your resume, and equally and devastating if done poorly. Think, breathe and let them control the pace. This interview is for them to make sure you have a pulse and a voice, so treat the interviewer with the same respect you would your priest and everything and hopefully they’ll be calling you back again for something a little more serious.

(Oh, and make sure you follow up your interview with a “thank you and looking forward” email!)

 

Cheers!

 

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So You Snagged an Interview!

Congratulations! After weeks of applying for jobs like teen girls calling in to radio stations for Justin Bieber tickets, you finally got a call or email back. You should definitely be proud of yourself! The majority of employers today often have to sift through well over a hundred applications and resumes before narrowing a few down and calling you. Not only are you lucky, but that shows you did something right to grab their attention. But now that you’ve scheduled your interview, here are a few tips on preparing before you walk in.

Dress the part. Send your suit to the cleaners, iron your shirt and shine your shoes. More importantly than what you wear – keep in mind a suit is not always necessary – is how you wear it; you should be dressed immaculately. Take your time getting ready before hand and make sure your image is flawless. If you are in a position where you are leaving mid day from your current job to go on an interview, be sure to make time to ensure you have a proper change of clothes or the time to spruce up your current appearance. You can consult the Gilt Manual for more advice on dress. How to Dress for a Job Interview

Speaking of taking time from a work day, that’s a whole ‘nother issue. Avoid leaving mid day from your current job to interview for another as much as humanly possible, it’s almost as tough as juggling two girlfriends/boyfriends, not that I would know. But if you truly must, be sure you take your time to plan the day. Create a flexible excuse such as dentist appointment, picking a loved one up from the airport, taking the dog to the vet, etc. Notice that all of these excuses can easily break any time constraint previously set. If you tell your boss that you have to step out because you have to a visit a client  or you’re going to lunch, there then becomes a good chance that you’ll get in trouble if it goes long. By saying that you are picking your parents up from the airport, you can pick a phony flight and say that the airport was jammed so it took an extra 30 minutes. I can promise you, your boss won’t call your folks to ask about their trip, and if they do, they’ll most likely make up a story for you. If an employer is showing honest interest in you, they’ll usually accommodate your busy schedule.

Now that we’re talking about time, be sure to show up on time! My personal mantra is ” If I’m early, I’m on time; if I’m on time, I’m late. No future employer will disregard your tardiness to your interview. It’s far worse than showing up late to your first day of work. So all that hope and excitement you had when you got the call in the first place will be lost simply because you wanted to play one more round of Call of Duty before you left.

Come prepared. As I mentioned earlier, employers will look though over a hundred resumes before selecting yours, so it’s a good idea to bring copies to the interview. While the employer knows why they called you in for that meeting, it’s in your best interest to hammer it home as to why you’re the person for the job; it also shows that you’re prepared and organized.

Of course there are plenty of other things to focus on once you’re actually in the interview, but we’ll concentrate on that in a later post. Remember, you were chosen for an interview out of possibly hundreds of applicants. It’s now your responsibility to keep that momentum moving, so hopefully you can take my advice to snag yourself a second interview, if not the job. Good luck!

Cheers!

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Business Advice from Oscar Wilde (cont)

In my previous post, I presented Oscar Wilde’s concept of choosing your enemies and how that choice can drastically effect your relationships between colleagues in the work place. Today, I’m going to dive deeper into choosing your enemies, along with how and why it’s important not only to actually choose one, but to choose the right one; but please make sure you take a gander at the previous article before going further or you might just think that I come off and vengeful.

The first critical factor when choosing your enemies to understand that it truly is a conscious choice. Wilde wasn’t trying to be a smartass when saying “You can never be too careful in the choice of your enemies”, he was honestly trying to get us to realize that’s having enemies is a choice. Understand that an enemy (try to keep the quantity to a mininum) is a slightly more sinister name for competition. Everyone needs competition because life is a competition and your career is life’s tournament – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post- and everyone needs a level of comparison. A level of competition such as an enemy serves not only as a reflection of your level of work, but also an example of either what or what not to do to get ahead. They also serve as the perfect method of motivation. There is no better way to motivate a human being (or two) than to put them next to each other and say “go”. So by accepting an enemy or competition, you create not only a way to compare your current work against another, but it also serves as motivation to do better in your position, to beat the other guy at the same game.

Next, be mindful of who you make enemies with, that too is a conscious choice. You never want to be enemies with your boss for obvious reasons but you also do not want to be enemies with someone from a completely different department in your company. Why? There is way no compare yourself to them because you don’t do the same job and they will forever have leverage on you because of that. For example: If you have become enemies with the accountant and you are a salesman, you’ll never win because every transaction you make, whether it be a sale or expense report, must go through your accountant before it goes to your boss, so they will always be making you look bad. See my previous post, “Where’s My Money?” if you need help dealing with your company’s accountant(s). By making enemies with someone from a different department, you are putting your credibility in their hands.  It’s important to have an enemy who you can literally compete with. If you’re in marketing, your enemy should be too. If you’re a salesman, so is your enemy. This way, you have a direct comparison or level of measure you can rate yourself against. It’s impossible for them to have any real leverage on you because you both do the same job and your credibility cannot be manipulated by anyone other than you and the work you’ve done.

My final word of advice for dealing with your enemy, is to keep emotion out of it! No one has ever was as much as a game of checkers by doing so with their emotion. When competing with your enemy, you need to make calculated, strategic moves in order to ensure your success. Any actions as a result of emotion will ruin your credibility and are looked upon as a character flaw. Your boss doesn’t want to employ the hosts of The View, he/she wants a machine: a smart, calculated and confident individual who thinks before they act. You do not want your judgement clouded by anger for our enemy, stay ice cold and more importantly, beat them at their own game. You do not want your emotions running your actions to create a coup against this person. Remain cool and in control to defeat your enemy with the weapons of your trade, not of your emotion.

Choosing an enemy is about an fun and inevitable as dental surgery. But if you choose wisely and act only with calculated thought, your enemy or competition can easily vanquished; at which point you’ll have been promoted to a new enemy. Good luck!

Cheers,

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