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Bonus Episode | Angela Copeland TEDx Talk Behind the Scenes

This week, I’m back with another bonus episode! I was recently invited to share my personal story at TEDxWorthingon in Columbus, Ohio. My TEDx Talk, titled “How I broke the rules & found my perfect job,” shares my story of not waiting for permission and a little obsession I developed along the way.

This bonus episode provides a behind the scenes look at both my talk, and my career.

If you haven’t seen the TEDx Talk yet, check out the video on the TEDx YouTube Channel here: http://bit.ly/broketherules.

I hope you enjoy the talk! Please watch it and share it with your friends.

As always, thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

Breaking the rules and finding your perfect job

Sometimes in your career, things don’t always work out the way you plan them. For me, the first time I learned this lesson, I was in college. I went to one of those fancy, private schools to study computer engineering in the late 90s. I knew that an investment in such a great degree would guarantee me a job when I graduated. Not only that, it would guarantee me a great paying job.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The dot com crash came along right in the middle of my studies an put a halt on hiring. Even the recruiters that normally came to our school to hire students canceled their visits. It was something I’d never seen before and couldn’t have predicted.

This experience took me down a path of finding my transferrable skills and learning about new careers. Transferable skills are the strengths you can take from job to job. I also learned to interview for all sorts of jobs in many different industries – and I lost my fear of reaching out to strangers. It’s truly a skillset I developed out of survival. I needed to pay the rent.

I know it sounds strange, but when you look at interviewing from a different angle, it’s less scary and much more interesting. I looked at (and continue to look at) interviewing as making new professional contacts and learning about new jobs. I look at interviews as networking meetings, not as an opportunity to be rejected by a stranger.

And, you know what else? I don’t care as much if I meet every little minimum requirement on the job description. You know why? Because, truth be told, many employers don’t really care if you do. If an employer brings you in for an interview, it’s because they think you can do the job. Why not submit your application and let them decide?

If we could all spend a little less time worrying about being the perfect candidate, and a little more time just being the best candidate we can be, we’d all go a little further, faster. When I learned this lesson, my own career path changed dramatically. I went from being an engineer to a project manager then from a project manager to a digital marketing executive. Now, I’m a career coach. I could have never guessed in the 90s that my career path would have been so winding.

I was recently invited to share my own story of career success as a TEDx Talk. My talk, titled “How I broke the rules & found my perfect job,” shares my story of not waiting for permission and a little obsession I developed along the way. You may have already noticed. It turns out, I really like interviewing.

I invite you to check out my TEDx Talk on the TEDx Talk YouTube channel (http://bit.ly/broketherules). It’s my hope that you will be inspired to bend the rules in your own search, so you can find your perfect job.

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

134 | Getting Great References – Ray Bixler, Philadelphia, PA

Episode 134 is live! This week, we talk with Ray Bixler in Philadelphia, PA.

Ray is the CEO of SkillSurvey, an online reference checking firm that helps organizations recruit, hire, and retain talent. In addition, Ray has more than 20 years of human resource and career development experience.

On today’s episode, Ray shares his advice for identifying and getting great references. He shares the latest trend in reference checking technology. And, he also shares tips on how to avoid common mistakes we make as job seekers.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

To learn more about Ray and his company SkillSurvey, visit his website at www.skillsurvey.com.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

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.

You weren’t picked. Now what?

Being overlooked for a job is the worst. It’s especially bad after you’ve had a series of interviews. You took off work (multiple times), bought a new suit, and updated your resume. How could they reject you after all of that hard work?

First, I’m with you. It’s pretty awful when a company puts you through the ringer, just to toss you aside in the end. Sometimes they don’t even notify you. They aren’t shopping for a new pair of shoes. You’re a person.

So, what are you going to do now that you’ve been rejected? If you’re like most people, you are going to stay as far away from the company as possible. It’s like a bad breakup. They rejected you. Clearly, they didn’t want you. Why would you want to pour salt in those wounds?

This is totally reasonable. But, what if we chose to see the situation from a different perspective? What if it wasn’t a complete rejection? Just maybe, hiring could have been put on hold. Another candidate could have been preselected. Your salary history could have been a bit high for the role. Or, perhaps the hiring manager felt you were overqualified for the job. Often, we don’t know what the real reason was. We make assumptions; assumptions that the company didn’t like us.

What if we decided not to take it personally? What if we looked at the interviews as the start of a longer conversation?

If we did this, we would probably reach back out to the hiring manager in the future. We’d keep an eye on new jobs in the same department. And, we might even meet up with someone from the team every now and then for a coffee.

What’s the worst that could happen? The hiring manager might get to know you better. They might really like you. And, they might call you the next time they’re hiring. In fact, they might call you before the position is posted online.

But, this approach takes two things. First, it requires you to separate yourself from the rejection of not being selected the first time around. You have to be confident enough in your skills to say, “This wasn’t the right fit this time” instead of, “this will never work.” Second, it takes longer. It requires you to put in more time. It’s not an immediate answer, and it could even take years to build a relationship with the company that rejected you.

I’d argue that it’s worth it. If you take this approach across the board, you will grow your network more than you can imagine. Instead of searching for a new job, jobs begin to come to you. Hiring managers will call you when you are a good fit. They will call when they can pay you enough and when they have a job that really meets your skills.

But, it requires looking at things differently when you’re not picked. So, what’s your next move – complete rejection or conversation starter?

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

Answering Illegal Interview Questions

I often get asked, “What should I do if I’m asked an illegal question during an interview?” This is such a tough one. First, you’re caught totally off guard. And, you know the question isn’t right. You know it. But, you only have a moment to think about what to say, and the mold is set. So, in that moment, what should you do?

If you’ve never been asked an illegal interview question, you are fortunate. They are incredibly tricky.

To demonstrate the point, I’ll share with you a time when I was asked multiple illegal questions, back to back. You see, not everyone can guess my age very well. So, sometimes interviewers have questions about me. During an interview, the hiring manager said, “Do you have children? Are you married? Do you plan to have children?”

Yes, this really happened. When it happened, I was a little surprised. But honestly, I wasn’t as surprised as you’d expect. The reason is because I’ve been asked this sort of thing before.

I’m honestly not sure why these questions still pop up at this point in time. But, I can only assume that human resources isn’t training hiring managers well on what they can and cannot say. My guess is that they don’t spend much time on it because frankly, it seems obvious that this question isn’t appropriate.

But, I digress.

So, back to the point. How do you answer an illegal question?

Some interview coaches would tell you that you should say something light, yet quick witted, such as, “I think you’re asking if I’m committed to my job – and I am!” Answers like this can avoid the question, while at the same time, sticking up for yourself in a non-confrontational way. If you’re up for it, this can be a great option.

But, what I always think is this. Is it more about how I answer the question? Or, is it more about the person asking the question? I mean, when I’ve been asked “Do you have children? Are you married? Do you plan to have children,” it’s a sign to me. It’s a sign that I would prefer not to work for this hiring manager.

And, I’d also like to keep the tension in the interview low, so I can keep a good relationship with the company – in case I ever want to interview there again (for someone else). For me, I choose to politely answer everything I’m asked.

But, I make a mental note of what was asked. I think about it afterward and decide how I want to use the information I’ve been given. And, honestly, I’d much rather know in the interview that you (the hiring manager) aren’t going to treat me fairly than find out after I’ve been hired.

So, thank you ‘illegal-question-asking-hiring-manager’! You’ve helped me to avoid a huge career pitfall!

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach