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Continuous Interviewing

One of the hardest things about looking for a new job is this. Most people wait to start looking until they need a job. In other words, they’ve been fired, or they hate their work situation so much that they’re ready to quit. Does this sound familiar? The problem is, if you wait until you need a job, you’ve probably waited too long. The chances you’ll find a job on just the day you need it is low.

So, what can you do about this problem? I recommend what I like to call “continuous interviewing.” In other words, always network, always keep your eyes open for interesting job opportunities, and always be open to interviewing for a new job.

This process will keep you up to date on your industry. It will allow you to consider all opportunities to eventually find one that’s a great fit. It’s a proactive approach, rather than a reactive approach. In other words, if you wait until you need a job, your choices will be slim. If you always keep your eyes open for opportunities, you will have many options to evaluate. It will allow you to leave your current job when you want to, rather than when you have to.

I’m sure this sounds like a lot of work. It is a lot of work. But, it’s worth it. It gives you more choices and it allows you to make better decisions about your future. You may devote thirty minutes a week to continuous interviewing for one year. Or, you may devote over twenty-five hours to looking for a job in a short period of time when you’re unemployed. You’re spending a similar total amount of time either way. They’re just divided up differently.

So, how can you implement this idea of continuous interviewing? The next time a headhunter calls you to ask if you’re interested to learn about a new job, say yes. Talking to a recruiter isn’t an indication that you hate your job. And, it doesn’t mean that you have to say yes if they offer you something that’s not a good fit. A conversation with a recruiter is simply that: a conversation.

Visit Indeed.com and setup a job alert for your type of role. This way, you’ll be notified by email when companies in your area are looking for people like you. Sign up for the Glassdoor.com “Know Your Worth” tool to keep an eye on your salary compared to others in your area. Keep your resume up to date. And, update your LinkedIn profile to match.

Once these simple steps are in place, focus on networking. The more you’re able to get to know people in your field, the more they’ll think of you if something comes along. Continuous interviewing puts you back in the driver’s seat. It allows you to find the right job for yourself, at just the right time.

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.

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 Apple Podcasts 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

 

Apply Test & Learn to Your Job Search

As you already know, I started my career in the technology world. My undergraduate degree is computer and systems engineering, with a concentration in manufacturing. It’s like a combination of computer programming and electrical engineering, with a little mechanical engineering for good measure.

A decent part of my career has been spent creating new things. Whether it’s a technology, a website, or a marketing strategy – I was working on some kind of new idea.

But, this is the thing. New ideas fail. They fail a lot. They’re risky.

So, how do you get technologists to take the risks that are needed in order to come up with new ideas?

There’s more than one answer to this question, but one practice is what’s known as “test and learn.” According to Wikipedia, the test and learn process is designed to answer three questions.

  1. What impact will the program have on key performance indicators if executed across the network or customer base?
  2. Will the program have a larger impact on some stores/customers than others?
  3. Which components of the idea are actually working?

In other words, try something. See if it works. If it doesn’t work, adjust it and try something else. A CEO of Capital One, Richard Fairbank, described the test and learn process as, “a marketing revolution that can be applied to many businesses.”

So, what if that ‘business’ were actually your ‘job search’? What if you could start a job search without knowing all the answers? Or, you could go for an interview at a company without knowing for sure if you would take a job offer, if it was given?

When it comes to job searching, there’s not just one way to do it. There’s not one perfect elevator pitch or one right resume format. Thinking there’s one right answer will leave you frustrated to say the least.

Take a little pressure off of yourself. You don’t have to get it right the first time, or every time. But, if you don’t try at all, you’ll definitely fail.

If you give something a shot and it doesn’t work the way you want it to, adjust your approach. Then, try again. And, adjust your approach again, and try again. This is a never ending process.

I truly believe a test and learn approach might free us a bit from the idea of failure. And, it would give us more time to focus on landing that next job.

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.

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 Apple Podcasts 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 Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

If interviewing were dating

Interviewing for a job is a nerve racking process. When else do we want others to judge us? We spend so much time preparing – finding the perfect clothes, organizing our resume, and sneaking out of our job. We ask for recommendations from our old bosses.

Not only are we judged during the interview process. But, if we’re rejected, the company doesn’t even owe us any explanation. And, very often, they don’t give any additional information about why we weren’t picked.

That leaves our brain to wonder what happened. We spent so many hours preparing. Where did we go wrong? Did the hiring manager not like us? Did we fail a test? Were they looking for someone with more experience or a better education? Trying to sort through these possibilities is stressful. It can take days, and have no answer.

In reality, it’s possible we weren’t selected for reasons that had little to do with us. Really, this can happen. For example, the hiring manager may have already had a candidate preselected. Or, perhaps the job has been put on hold — and nobody was hired. Rarely will the company fess up to these details.

But, an equally important (but less considered) question is — what did you think about the company? Did you feel that you were a good fit with the hiring manager? Are you excited about the job? Do you want to work for the company?

Think of interviewing a little more like dating, and a little less like taking a test. Sure, you’re not looking for someone to marry, but you are looking for people you’ll spend a considerable amount of time with. You may even see them more than your spouse.

We would never go on a first date hoping the person might marry us – without knowing much about them. Then, why would we ever approach a job interview this way?

If you already have a bad job, why would you want to potentially find another bad job? The best job is always one where there’s a mutual match. The company likes you, and you like the company.

So, rather than spend all of your time worrying about whether the company likes you, shift your focus to whether or not you like them. Decide if you really do want to spend more than eight hours a day with these folks.

And, if you do get rejected, don’t assume it’s the end of the line. The company probably doesn’t really dislike you. Maybe the timing wasn’t right. Or, perhaps they see you in a slightly different role than the one that was available when you applied.

In fact, because they have met you and know you now, they may be even more likely to talk to you again when a future opportunity rolls around. Keep your eyes open for other jobs that may be a better fit. But, if you are called back in, be sure to find out if the company is a good fit for you.

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

What is Your Biggest Weakness?

One of the favorite interview questions of hiring managers continues to be, “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a tough question all the way around. If you are too honest, you may eliminate yourself from consideration and not get the job at all. But, if you’re not honest enough, you may come across as evasive.

So, what can you do when you’re asked this question during a job interview?

The very first thing to do is prepare. There’s a good chance you will be asked this question, so think about it in advance. Write down how you might answer the question, and practice your answer. Share your thoughts with a friend (or two), and get feedback. Find out what you could do better, and put time into perfecting your response.

Don’t give an answer that is truly critical to the job. For example, if you are interviewing to be a project manager, don’t confess that you struggle with organization and are often late on deadlines. These qualities are key to succeeding as a project manager and would immediately eliminate you from consideration.

On the other extreme, don’t give an answer that is not genuine. Many job seekers tend to give answers along the lines of, “I just work so hard. I can’t stop myself.” Or, “I’m such an overachiever and I have high expectations of those around me.” These answers come across as not being authentic, and no hiring manager will want to hear them.

Instead, I like to think of this question as an opportunity to address the elephant in the room (assuming there is one). For example, I was once asked to consider a part time coaching role with a large organization. During the job interview, the hiring manager asked me, “What is your biggest weakness?”

This was my response. “As you know, I don’t come from a human resources background, like many coaches do. That may be considered a weakness in comparison. However, I have extensive corporate experience in many industries and many job functions – from engineering to marketing. I have interviewed for many different roles myself, and I’m able to bring my own authentic experience to the table to help job seekers do their best.”

In this case, my hiring manager already knew that I had not worked in human resources. It was clear from my resume. She was probably trying to decide whether or not this difference in my background was a problem. Because I brought the issue up directly, I was able to put it to rest quickly. It also gave me a chance to explain why my own unique experience would be an asset to the organization, and might even give me a leg up on my competition. My answer worked well and created space to talk openly about my background.

There’s no one right way to answer this question. In order to give your best answer, prepare in advance. It will allow you to turn your potential weakness into a perceived strength.

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

Are you married, do you have children, and do you plan to have children anytime soon?

What’s the most unusual question you’ve been asked in an interview? In theory, the answer to this question should be a challenging question about your work. But, theory and reality don’t always line up.

What would you say if I told you I was once asked, “Are you married?” What if I told you I was also asked, “Do you have children?” And, what would you say if I told you I was also asked, “Do you plan to have children anytime soon?”

The first thing you may be thinking is…. “Angela, is this a joke? Surely nobody asked you these questions. They’re obviously ILLEGAL and INAPPROPRIATE! Nobody would ask these questions.

Well, if you guessed that, you would be wrong. Not only was I asked all three of these questions, but I was asked all three of these questions in ONE job interview.

You might assume that the person who asked me the questions was junior in their career. I mean, these are the kinds of things HR is supposed to brief hiring managers on, right? Wrong. The hiring manager who asked me these questions was a C-level executive at a very well known company. If I were to name the company, you’d know it. You’ve probably spent money with them before.

So, what can you about this sort of thing? Well, the first is, don’t be part of the problem. It’s obvious, but when you’re hiring, be sure to brush up on which questions you can and can’t ask candidates. To be honest, some are less obvious than you might think.

If you’re interviewing for a job and you’re asked these questions, it’s really up to you. You can answer the questions in a straight forward way, you can be direct and tell the hiring manager that the questions are illegal, or you can sidestep the questions completely.

Nobody would blame you for any reaction. You wouldn’t have blamed me if I had gotten up and left the interview, would you?

What I did may surprise you…

I answered the questions directly. Then, I made a mental note that I would not want to work for someone who was so disrespectful — and who so openly was willing to break the law by asking these questions.

If you’re asked illegal questions, just be prepared for how you might want to answer them. Remember that there’s no right way. It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with.

If you’re looking for more information on sticky legal situations that can arise during your job search, check out my podcast with employment law attorney Chip Cavagnaro.

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.

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 Apple Podcasts 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 Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

It’s critical that you keep your job search a secret

Can you keep a secret? Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Keeping private information private, especially about your job search, can be a tall order.

Getting an interview can be exciting and exhilarating, especially if it goes well. If you’ve wanted to leave your company for some time, the hope that a new job presents can leave you feeling on top of the world. And, the more interviews with one company, the surer you are you’ll get the job, right?

Some of the reasons I’ve heard for sharing this secret include, “I know this person is my friend, so it’s OK.” “My boss and I are close friends; they won’t mind.” “My company needs to know I’m looking, so they’ll be prepared if I do leave. I feel obligated.” “I want to see if my company will give me a higher salary to stay.”

First, none of these reasons provide you any personal benefit. They simply give away your power and put your current job at risk.

When it comes to interviewing, nothing is a sure bet. Even if a company has talked to you 10 times and is in love with you, the position may be put on hold for budget reasons. The hiring manager may leave, and the process may halt. The company could reorganize and the job may no longer be needed.

Until your offer is officially in writing and in your hands, there’s no offer. It could take you as long as a year or more to find a job. In the meantime, you still have bills to pay and a family to feed. Why would you put that in jeopardy?

So often, a boss you perceived to be your friend feels an obligation to let their boss know you have disclosed this information to them. Even if they like you, your job search may be perceived as being disloyal to the company. In the worst-case scenario, you may be fired and asked to leave immediately.

Keep this in mind when it comes to asking for more money. If you don’t have a written job offer, what incentive does your company have to give you a raise? They don’t. There’s no good reason they should offer you any more money just because you’ve been interviewing.

If you begin to tell colleagues about your search, don’t be surprised if the news gets around. People love to find something, or someone, to talk about. If you share information about your search, you’re setting yourself up to become next. The last thing you want is for word to get back to your boss before you’ve actually found a job.

As exciting as it is to share information about your job search, it’s 100 percent unwise to do so. You set yourself up for failure and disappointment on multiple levels that can be difficult to repair. When it comes to job searching, there’s no better alternative than to keep yours secret.

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.

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 Apple Podcasts 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 Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

This post previously appeared on the Memphis Daily News website.