Just because the job market is hot, does not that mean that applicants can cool off on properly preparing for interviews. Preparation is key to success in many aspects of life, including interviewing.
At WEDL, we work every day to prepare our clients for a successful return to work. Many times, that means helping them get ready to interview for jobs that they have not specifically done before, positions that require will them to articulate and use transferable skills that they have acquired in past positions that will make them good at what they want to do next.
Job seekers look for new lines of work all the time. Many are seeking a different career path for a variety of reasons, such as more flexibility or better work-life balance, so it’s important for job seekers, especially those returning to work after a work comp or long-term disability leave, to remember to focus on the skills and value they will bring to the job, and not the reason they are seeking a new line of work.
We’d like to share some common keys to successful interview preparation that can help prepare the job seekers in your life, whether that is you or someone you are guiding through the process.
- Know the job. Take time to read the entire job posting and research the company online.
- Know yourself. Take time to review your resume and think about why you would be a good candidate for the job.
- Align your skills with the job requirements. Put the job posting side by side with your resume. Highlight experiences that align with what they are seeking. Prepare talking points that will help you articulate those skills and capabilities.
- Have a strong “tell me about yourself” introduction pitch at the ready. Make sure it introduces what you have done professionally in the past, what you would like to do next (citing the job you are interviewing for), and, most importantly, why you would be good at it. Leave personal details out of it.
- Practice responses to common interview questions. If you get stumped on a question during the interview, don’t panic. Simply say, “that’s a good question. Give me a moment to think about it.” Then respond.
- Prepare good questions. What do you want to learn during the interview?
- Smile. A smile conveys confidence.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Once you have prepared, put it away and give yourself some time to relax knowing that you are ready to go! Review your notes the next morning.
With proper preparation, applicants will increase their chances of moving on in the process and receiving a job offer!
Earlier this week, a recruiter friend of mine encouraged me to look at the number of new jobs being posted online. After doing some searching on LinkedIn.com in the Minneapolis, / St. Paul market, I was surprised and encouraged at the number of new job postings for mid-level jobs and above jobs. With unemployment numbers increasing each day, it would seem natural to assume that companies are not hiring or are taking a wait and see approach.
To my surprise, I found there were 5,600 new jobs posted in the last 24 hours in the Twin Cities! 40% of these new jobs had wages paying $45,000 or more and were in a variety of industries and roles, not just healthcare, delivery, and distribution.
This is good news! I believe this shows that smart recruiters and companies are realizing that this is a hiring opportunity that has not presented itself for many years. Although start dates may vary from company to company, strong candidates are still in demand, just like they were 2 weeks ago.
If you find yourself in a job search, don’t let the unemployment numbers lead you to assume there are no jobs out there, or that you should pause your search. Job seekers that stay active during this transition by increasing their visibility on social media and job boards, continuing to network, and proactively following up with opportunities will find themselves well ahead of those that do nothing and wait.
Let’s Get Working!
These are unprecedented times we are living in. People conducting a job search might be wondering what is going to happen to the job market. We don’t know the definitive answer to that, but we do know that the best thing to do right now is to stay active in your search process. Use this time to research target companies, build your LinkedIn network and improve your job search skills. Video interviewing is one skill that will be necessary during, and after, this crisis. Having patience, building a game plan and focusing on what you can control, your activity, will be helpful in the long run.
- Treat this time of uncertainty as a temporary slowdown in hiring. Simply because fewer job postings are active today than normal doesn’t mean that companies don’t have the need. When they are ready to hire again, they will need people immediately. Be ready!
- Be prepared for video interviews! With more companies encouraging their staff to work remotely, that will mean an increase in video communication. We will be updating our “how-to” video on video interviewing in the next day or two. In the meantime, watch this video on video interviewing tips: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/john-wedl-0681883_returntowork-disabilityinsurance-jobplacement-activity-6612358932608360448-2CCt
- Increase your exposure! Try using keywords like “Work from Home” on your resume will help you be noticed by Bots and Applicant Tracking Systems identifying qualified candidates.
- Update your online profiles every 2-3 weeks. Make sure your resumes on job board resume databases are updated on a regular basis. Recruiters and Bots don’t search for resumes older than 30 days.
- Follow your target companies on their social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Companies will be communicating via these resources more often during this unique time.
Video Interviewing. what to know before you take part in one.
Have you ever missed an opportunity to go to see your favorite band live because you couldn’t get your hands on tickets once they went on sale? You knew they would go on sale on a certain date, but when you went to purchase them online, they were gone! Unless you were on a special mailing list or “knew someone who knew someone,” you were going to have to wait for hours in long lines, hoping to get lucky. Job search can be the exactly same way. Reactive job seekers wait for the jobs to “go on sale” before they apply, then deal with long lines and tons of competition, often missing the best job opportunities. Everyone knows you can’t wait until tickets go on sale if you hope to get the good concert seats. But, how do you apply this knowledge to a job search?
With the current employment climate, there are more job opportunities out there than people realize. Unfortunately, most job seekers still think all available job are posted on job boards. When in reality, fewer than 20% of all jobs available are posted on job boards. So where do job seekers go to find the other 80%? How do you get on a special groupie mailing list, get “presale” tickets, or find someone who knows someone?
Here are a few hints:
Special groupie mailing lists = Social Media: Many companies would much prefer not to use large online job boards because of the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of unqualified resumes they get through that resource. Social media tools allow companies to communicate directly with an already interested and loyal group of followers on Twitter, Facebook and their own company webpage. Social Media is one great way to access the hidden job market!
Presale tickets = Cold Calling Target Companies: Today, companies are having a very difficult time finding qualified candidates and many of these companies don’t have recruiters, so the hiring managers are on their own to find good candidates. Since most managers don’t have extra time to do a lot of recruiting themselves, they would jump at the opportunity to talk to someone that contacted them directly simply to tell them their background and that they were available. This is a great time of year to introduce yourself and the value you can bring to their company, while, at the same time, gain some inside information on when appropriate jobs might be coming available. If you do this well enough, perhaps you will get the opportunity to interview for the job before it is even posted. Talk about front row seats!
Knowing Someone Who Knows Someone = Networking: Of course the oldest job search strategy in the book is still the best way to get into your most desired companies. First, rather than asking your network for current job openings (most likely none), inquire about people they know in the industry or companies you are targeting. This will get you closer to people that actually might know about upcoming jobs. Second, use LinkedIn proactively vs. reactively. Don’t simply post a profile and wait for people to find you. Use the power of electronic networking and go find the contacts that need to know who you are, and what type of job you are looking for.
Follow these simple tips and you will start getting your hands on more tickets (interviews!) and find yourself getting closer to the job you really want every day!
Recently, I was talking with my 9th grade son about a mountain bike race he had completed earlier in the weekend. We briefly talked about the course and the race and I asked if he was happy with his result. He answered, “Well, I tried my best.” Down deep, I knew he didn’t get the results he had wanted, but gave me the old “I tried my best” because it sounded good.
I asked him “Did you TRY your best or DO your best?” He looked confused, so I continued stating “you said you tried your best—how did you try?” Puzzled, he said, “I don’t know, I showed up and raced.” I asked him about what he had done to prepare for the race. He said “nothing.” Earlier in the year, he had learned from his coaches that race prep could really help maximize your results. Things like making sure your tires are inflated for the type of course, making sure your chain is properly tight and gears are oiled and shifting well so you don’t have mechanical issues on the course, and making sure you have proper tools to fix a flat tire.
During the race he had just finished, his chain fell of 4 times, tires were inflated to a lower pressure which matched the type of course he had raced the previous weekend but slowed him down on this particular course, and he caught a flat heading into the last quarter mile. Since he did not have the extra tube he was supposed to have with him, he had to walk his bike across the finish line.
I said, “There is a big difference between trying your best and doing your best. The only way you can DO your best is if you have done everything within your power to prepare for a successful completion of what you are trying to accomplish.” Usually that takes preparation, forethought, and planning. The same thing applies to the work world. Most people can’t expect to do well at work if they don’t prepare and plan every day. They will get to work late if they stay up watching movies and snooze their alarm too many times. They won’t successfully be able to accomplish key office tasks if they don’t pay attention to new memos and department process and procedure, and if they fall behind and don’t put in the extra time to get things done on time, they will lose customers—or their job.
DOING your best takes a lot of effort, planning, and follow through. If you do your best, there still is no guarantee of success. But, if you can say to yourself “I did everything I could to prepare for this,” then you have DONE your best.
I think after our talk, my son understood that even though he showed up, there were a lot of other things he could have done differently to maximize his chances of achieving the results he desired.
In 2018, don’t try your best or hope for the best….DO your best and good things will happen!
23 years ago I worked for a staffing and recruiting firm in Minneapolis and helped place a front desk receptionist at a large law firm downtown. I was excited for this sharp candidate because what she lacked in experience, she made up for it with an amazing attitude that I knew was going to take her places in the future! One day, a few months after she started, I dropped by the firm for an appointment with another hiring manager and I overheard her talking to someone in the lobby. She said four words that shocked me, “I am just the Receptionist!”
I was shocked because of the lack of confidence she was showing; I had ever seen that side of her before. After the front lobby cleared, I took the opportunity to tell her that I hoped she’d never say those four words again. She looked surprised, so I explained, “I understand there are a lot of high powered people around you every day, but you are not JUST the receptionist.” I asked her “Ann, what happens when you need to step away from the front desk for a few minutes and an important client is not greeted in the proper way, or when you are at lunch and a lawyer needs something that the backup receptionist can’t provide, or when you are sick and there is an important meeting that needs a lot of extra TLC?” She smiled and said, “It’s not pretty!” I told her to remember that, and to never consider herself anything less than the leader of that front desk and the law firm’s very important first impression. Our conversation gave her new confidence about the value she really offered that law firm, regardless of the size of her paycheck.
Lack of confidence is an anchor that can weigh you down when you are starting a job search or changing a career, especially when you are forced to do so because of a disability. Lack of confidence is one of the leading causes for RTW claimant failures. Here are three of the biggest confidence drainers when it comes to conducting a job search– and how to help your claimants get their confidence soaring again!
1) Claimants don’t know where to start.
In their past, many of our claimants have been able to find work without much of a problem because they were doing the same job in the same industry. They knew exactly where to look and who to talk to, and had confidence doing so. But, now they are in new territory, looking for jobs in industries where they have little to no experience. Where do they start?
A great way to help increase confidence (and update a resume at the same time) is to write down all past accomplishments. It is critical to not forget to write down those that you were not formally recognized for. For example, many times companies will recognize the top sales person, but fail to acknowledge the person that reorganized the shipping and receiving department that resulted in lowering of stock inaccuracies, increased speed of filling orders, and cut inventory time in half!
Since high levels of confidence are associated with past successes and a lack of confidence is connected with past failures, it is critical to start making a list of the positive things people have accomplished to help their past employers, customers, or co-workers. Help them identify their value and watch the confidence meter start to tick upwards.
2) Many claimants don’t believe anyone would want them.
If true, this certainly would be a drain on my confidence as well. But, it is usually not true. Once you have had your claimant write down the list of their accomplishments, you need to determine which are the most transferable skills, capabilities you can use to build a resume given their new work abilities. For example, if a truck driver’s biggest accomplishment was quickly loading and unloading their truck and they now have physical restrictions, they might not be able to use that as a core competency. Instead, focus on the accomplishments that they can use, such as when they were given an opportunity to work in logistics re-routing trucks and daily delivery schedules due to a large road construction project saving the company thousands of dollars a year in drive time, delivery time and even finding faster permanent delivery routes!
Given the fact that so many disability claimants have never changed careers, it is no surprise that they don’t know the first thing about how to determine what they have to offer an employer or how to communicate those offerings. Help them figure it out and their confidence will rise.
3) Claimants fail to put on their sales hat and conduct their job search in a proactive way
Once your claimant understands they DO have something to offer, they need to learn to sell themselves! A job search is a proactive sales process; not a reactive, post a resume on a job board and hope the phone starts to ring process. This is what you can do to help:
First, discuss past successes, determine how they helped previous employers save time or money, or how they improved a process or procedure. Finding their value helps them identify their new product that they can then sell to new employers. Then, help them develop a 30 second introduction pitch focused on the value they can bring to those companies. Finally, using a business directory, help them identify companies in their area of job search that are within 20 miles of their home and encourage them to pick up the phone and call those companies.
Once your claimants know the direction they are going to take their job search and how to sell themselves with newfound confidence– they will be well on their way to returning to work!