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Make your next interview a success with these three things

Interviewing is hard work. If you’re currently looking for something new, you know that finding a job is a job. From preparing your favorite suit to revising your resume to networking and rounds of interviews – there are times it feels like it will never end. It can be tough to keep your head above water with your existing role while you’re balancing your life and your job search. To ensure you’re making the most out of every interview, do these three things.

Research. The best part about job searching in the age of the internet is transparency. This is something that has never existed in the same way in the past. Take advantage of it. Use websites like Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Indeed to find out how much companies are paying. Look up company reviews to find out what employees think of their workplace. Read through the common interview questions for the company you’re interested in. Search on Google and the company website to learn what new changes the company has recently undergone. And, use LinkedIn to learn more about the hiring manager– or better yet, use it to find the hiring manager’s name. The internet is an invaluable tool to job seekers.

Customize your application materials. If you’ve been working to crank out a high volume of applications every day, it’s something you may not have thought of. The more you target your application materials to the company (and the particular job), the more you increase the likelihood a company will be interested in you. And, it’s not hard to do. Start with your resume. Read the job description closely and ensure you’re highlighting the skills the employer is looking for. Customize your objective statement to include both the job title and the company name. Use a similar approach with your cover letter. Specifically mention the job title and company name — and ensure you explain why you’re a perfect fit for this particular role.

Don’t take it personally. Unfortunately, you’re not going to get every job you interview for. The higher you climb the ladder and the more specialized your skills are, the truer this becomes. Just because you weren’t hired doesn’t mean the hiring manager doesn’t like you. There are a number of reasons you might have been overlooked that have nothing to do with your skills. For example, an internal candidate may have been preselected. The job may have been put on hold. The hiring manager may have left the company. None of these reasons are about you.

When you’re rejected, you can either choose to walk away unhappy. Or you can choose to build a relationship with the company. Very often, when you first interview with a company, they’re just getting to know you. If you stay in touch, you will increase your odds of being hired the next time they’re looking for someone with your skillset.

Doing your research, customizing your application, and moving through rejection are three keys to making your job search a success.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Key To Winning Job Candidate’s Heart? Flexibility

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to meet a number of folks who work at the job website Indeed.com. If you’ve looked for a job in the last ten years, there’s a good chance you’ve visited Indeed. In 2010, they passed Monster to become the highest trafficked job site in the United States. In May, a report from SilkRoad found that Indeed helps people get more jobs than all other sites combined. According to SilkRoad, the site delivered 72% of interviews and 65% of new hires in 2016. That’s powerful stuff.

I spoke with Paul Wolfe, Indeed’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources. I wanted to get his take on what job seekers are looking for in a future employer. Not only does Paul lead the charge on Indeed’s hiring, but he has insight into the hiring process at companies around the world.

As you might expect, one of the key things employees are looking for is flexibility. Since 2014, job searches including words related to flexible work arrangements (think ‘work from home’ jobs) has been on the rise globally. “Flexibility is a big thing,” said Paul. “With the advances of technology, you can do your job from any place really.”

Student debt is also on the minds of job seekers. 25% of students say that loan assistance is a high priority for them, while just 3% of employers are offering it. “In some cases, it takes twenty-one years just to pay off your four-year degree. You’re in a hole before you even start your career, which is tough.” For the companies that do offer this benefit, some structure it around specific performance goals similar to a bonus payout, while for other companies, it’s a fixed amount.

Paul is an advocate of unlimited paid time off too. I’ll admit – I find this concept a little hard to picture at first. Paul explained, “I want our employees to be happy. I want them to continue to nurture relationships outside of the company – with family and a significant other, friends, colleagues.” Paul says he wants his employees to take time off before they hit a wall. “As a HR leader, I know that when you hit the wall, productivity is not great. Your work product suffers. You have probably become a little disengaged at that point.”

Paul also observes other trends related to flexibility, such as expanded maternity and paternity care plans that offer longer leave periods.

Indeed’s employee tagline is, “We care about what you care about.” Ultimately, if a company wants to capture the hearts and minds of their employees, they need to find out what’s important to them. I speak with job seekers every day who would give up a portion of their paycheck in exchange for flexibility, respect, and fulfillment. It seems that Indeed is finding the same to be true within their organization.

For my entire interview with Paul Wolfe and to learn more about Indeed, watch for the upcoming podcast episode on iTunes.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Get Inside the Head of the Job Seeker

Typically, this column is targeted toward the job seeker. Today, I’m going to take a slightly different approach. I’ve received the same question from multiple different employers in the past week, “How can I hire better candidates?”

Although this sounds like a straightforward question, the answer isn’t so easy. But, I’m going to try to share a few observations with you that I’ve seen working with job seekers.

The internet has changed the job search game. In particular, candidates are studying employer reviews. Sites such as Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com both give employees a way to leave a company reviews in the same way that they’d leave restaurant reviews on Yelp. If you’re hiring, check yours and do what you can to improve it.

Beyond online reviews, job seekers are looking for fulfillment and flexibility. Rarely are candidates looking for money alone. They want to be able to work from home on Friday or to have more vacation time with their families. They want to be able to take leave when their children are born. They’ve been down the road of being worked to the bone and they want to get closer to happiness and balance. Although they value money, they’d often give up some to feel happy at work.

Last, but not least, the job seeker wants to feel like a respected human being during the job search process. It makes them uncomfortable to be forced to divulge too much sensitive information such as their entire pay history. It’s upsetting when a company asks them to do extensive homework in early stages of the interview, such as building a portfolio or completing other paperwork beyond a normal application. Job seekers understand why this type of information gathering can be helpful, but wait to ask it of them until they’ve made it to the final stages of the interview process.

And, when you make a promise to the job seeker, keep it. You expect them to keep their promises to you. They expect you to do the same. When you tell the job seeker that you’ll let them know something by Friday, let them know something by Friday. If you haven’t been able to come to a decision for one reason or another, let them know that. They’ll understand. But, what they won’t understand is radio silence.

If you’ve spent hours interviewing a candidate and then decide not to move forward, send them a personal email to let them know. If they email you after the interview, respond. Don’t ignore them or send an automated email. If the candidate asks why they weren’t selected, consider giving them feedback. Candidates are left reeling after a great interview when they aren’t selected. Perhaps there was nothing wrong with the candidate, they were just second in line. Let them know. You may want to hire them for another job one day.

In summary, job seekers want to be treated with honesty and respect. If you value them, they will value your company.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

It’s really okay to say no.

Okay, this is going to sound strange. But, bear with me. After having coached hundreds of folks on their job searches, I’ve noticed a pattern. And, it’s not one I would have expected.

What’s one of our number one fears when it comes to job searching? It’s actually that we will get the job! That’s right. We are afraid of being offered a job.

Why in the world would that be the case? It’s a great question, and the answer to this important question could unlock a key to the job search.

First, let’s rewind a bit. Think back on how you got your current job. Then, think about how you got the job before and the job before that. If you’re like most people, you got most of your jobs through a networking contact. Someone happened to know who you were. They thought you might be a great fit, and they offered you a job. It was as simple as that.

This makes our deliberate job search so much more difficult. We have much less experience selecting what we want to do, and then going after it. We’ve typically just gone with the flow. If a friend thought we might be good at sales, we tried sales. If an uncle had an operations role available at his company, we gave it a shot.

Proactively and deliberately searching for a job takes on so much more responsibility for our own futures. So, why would we fear a job offer when we are clearly looking for a new job?

Well, if you’re like most people, you have taken most every (if not every) job you have ever been offered. When your friend or your uncle told you about a great opportunity, you went for it.

The thing is, when you aren’t quite sure what you want to be, you might be afraid of getting a job offer because it could mean taking a job that’s not right for you. We are afraid that we will be offered something because we assume that being offered a job means taking a job.

So, we sit and stir. We think and think about what we might want to be – one day. But, we are so paralyzed with fear about making the wrong choice that we make no choice.

But, what if – what if we decided that it would be okay to say no to a job offer that didn’t feel like the right fit? What if we decided that it wouldn’t be wasting the company’s time to go through the interview process, even if we didn’t take the job?

My guess is that we would be less paralyzed by fear. We would look at job searching more like a fact finding mission rather than a scary commitment. And, why not? The company would happily interview a candidate five times before walking away if there wasn’t a good fit. Why wouldn’t we as candidates be willing to do the same thing for ourselves?

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Please, let your child grow up.

Today’s young people are more thoughtful and kinder than many of the older job seekers they’re competing against. They care about making a difference more than their own personal finances or another self-serving endeavor. From the outside, it seems that parents are pouring more of themselves into these young hearts and minds than ever before. This effort is incredibly admirable.

But, can I please make a plea to you, Mom and Dad? Once your kids are on their way out of college, please let them grow up.

Very often, parents want to perform a job search on behalf of their child. The parents mean well. They don’t want the child (or should I say adult) to struggle on their way into the real world. The problem is, brokering the child’s job search doesn’t do the child any favors.

Many young people today seem to be so used to parental involvement that they don’t recognize their parent’s behavior as unusual. This means that they don’t push back when the parent has crossed a line.

But, you know who does think it’s unusual? The hiring manager and the other people in the child’s life who might otherwise help them to find a job. Whether they share their thoughts or not, they’re thinking it.

Struggling to find a job is part of life. That may sound strange, but the process of finding a job doesn’t just land us a place to work – it teaches us how to look for a job. It teaches us how to network. It teaches us how to solve problems. And, sometimes the process of looking can also teach us what we do and don’t want to do for a living. Those are very important lessons. Lessons that we will miss if mom and dad serve us a job on a platter.

Don’t get me wrong. Advice from a parent is incredibly valuable. Talk to your kids. Answer their questions. Give them guidance. You’ve been down the road and you have so much helpful information to share.

Then, take a step back. Let your child do the work. You wouldn’t take a math test for them in high school. You’d help them study and then you’d let them prove themselves in the classroom.

Last year, I interviewed a Chief Marketing Officer for my podcast. He described a situation to me where a young employee received a performance review they didn’t like. You won’t believe what happened. Mom called him to talk over her child’s concerns. Can you imagine how much that hurt the child’s future? The child missed the lesson, and in the process, they lost the precious respect of their boss.

I get it. Parents are just trying to help. But, at this stage of life, parents will be the most helpful from the sidelines. Trust that you’ve been in enough work to this point. Your young person has their head on straight. They know what’s important to them. Now, let them go out and get it.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Questioning Your Hiring Manager

Sometimes, getting a job is dependent more on what you ask than what you answer. Let me explain what I mean by this. We spend so much time preparing for how we will answer the hiring manager’s questions, yet very little time thinking about what we want to know.

I often compare job interviews to dating. And, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been on a first date where I hoped that the guy sitting across from me would propose. That would be crazy, right? But, somehow, we do it every day with job interviews. We show up just hoping to be picked. We forget to think about whether or not we actually like the company.

The place where this is especially problematic is with the questions we ask. Very often, during a job interview, the hiring manager will say, “Do you have any questions I can answer for you?” If we’ve been in an all-day interview, it’s not uncommon to have gotten all of our questions answered over the course of the day. We may respond with an honest, “No, thanks. I’ve already gotten all of my questions answered.”

This response seems reasonable. Unfortunately, many hiring managers don’t think so. It surprises me the number of hiring managers I’ve talked to who are stuck on this issue. When the job seeker doesn’t ask questions, the hiring manager doesn’t assume their questions were really answered. They assume the job seeker isn’t interested. That’s right – they think you don’t care about the job.

Well, we all know that isn’t true. You didn’t take off an entire day at work to interview for a job you don’t care about!

Let’s avoid this unnecessary hurdle of the job search process. Make a list of questions. Research questions online. Keep more questions on hand than you’ll need, with the expectation that you will only ask a few of them.

If you find that by some chance, the hiring manager does manage to answer all of your questions, don’t stop there. Think of more on the fly. I know this can sound daunting, but here is an example of a question that the hiring manager probably didn’t fill you in on already.

“Why did you choose to come work here, and what’s your favorite thing about the company?”

This is a good question, because it helps you to learn more about the hiring manager. It gets them talking about themselves. It helps you to learn more about the company. And, most likely, it will be a question the hiring manager didn’t answer before. As hiring manager’s, we tend to focus on asking the candidate questions – and on sharing information about the role. We are rarely talking about our own personal experiences.

Before your next interview, list everything you want to know. Decide whether the company is a fit for you, and avoid being the desperate candidate. It will help you get your questions answered, and will increase the chance of a job offer.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.