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What have you done in the last five years?

There’s a new question emerging in the world of job seeking. It’s something I never expected. It doesn’t happen in every interview, but it happens enough that it’s worth mentioning. As you grow in your career, companies expect more. More senior roles require more experience. Job descriptions will ask for ten or fifteen years of experience in a particular field. If you have the ten or fifteen years of experience, this can seem like a great thing. You’ve finally arrived!

Throughout your career, you go through different phases. Perhaps there was a time when you were doing detailed, fundamental work (maybe right out of college). There was another time when you learned to manage people. Or, another phase where you learned to managed vendors and cross departmental relationships. You career has been an evolution.

You go into a job interview, ready to share the ten or fifteen years of accumulated experience that you bring to the table. You finally meet all of the requirements on the job description (or at least most of them). The question you aren’t expecting comes out of nowhere. The recruiter says, “Tell me about yourself.” That part is doable. You’re ready! Then, the recruiter says, “…but keep it to the last five years. We only want to know about the last five years. Recent experience is all that counts here.”

This question has been a bit baffling. The company wants ten or fifteen years of experience. And, it’s all those years that truly makes you qualified. But, if you’ve got to limit your answer to the last five years, you may miss out on half or two thirds of your experience. It’s one thing to be brief in an answer. It makes sense to be concise. But, it’s a completely different thing to omit large chunks of your professional background.

It feels like companies are asking for fifteen years of experience, packed into a five year time frame. This expectation seems to be an unusually high burden on the job seeker. I have to wonder how this strategy is impacting the companies that are using it. Are they able to find people with fifteen years of experience, who have done some of everything in the last five years?

This criteria doesn’t seem to favor young workers or older workers. Young workers don’t have enough experience to meet the minimum requirements. And, older workers very likely haven’t covered every inch of everything within the last five.

Whatever happened to being able to do the job? When I hire someone, I want someone who can do that job. The details of when or where they got the experience leading up to that point are much less important. A job interview should not be a computer game or a puzzle. It’s an opportunity for a company to find a motivated, experienced person who is dedicated and willing to do the work at hand.

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 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

 

The Interview Feedback Loop

I’ve been talking to a number of job seekers lately about illegal interview questions. They keep coming up, and I keep asking myself why that is. When you’re a job seeker, you may not realize how common illegal questions are because you’re interviewing for only one or two jobs at a time. But, surprisingly, they’re popping up in job interviews quite a bit.

Common illegal questions include: What is your marital status? How many children do you have? Are you planning to have more children? How old are you?

Honestly, it’s hard to understand why these questions are coming up. I have wondered how hiring managers don’t seem to know what not to ask. And, I’ve wondered why they’re even asking at all.

In some cases, the hiring manager may be simply trying to make small talk. They may be trying to get to know you. But, it’s really hard to say. In some cases, the hiring manager is clearly asking the question for unethical reasons. But, in other cases, someone may have been trying to make casual conversation and may have unknowingly stumbled into murky waters.

So, why does it keep happening? My best guess is this. Hiring managers are rarely trained on what not to ask. Human resources often assumes that in today’s day in age, we all know what not to ask. Then, when the hiring manager does ask these questions, the candidate doesn’t react negatively. The reason is this. If you want the job, you don’t get upset by a potentially off-putting question. That’s a fast way to eliminate yourself from the candidate pool. So, the hiring manager gets no feedback in the moment. After the hiring process, if you’re not selected, you have little to no interaction with the company. You are at times lucky to get an automated rejection email for your time.

What’s a company to do? I propose that companies should install a system to solicit feedback from candidates. This would close the loop on hiring. The company could ask the candidate for anonymous feedback about their interview. It could then be routed to human resources who could be alerted to potential issues in questions. This would protect the company’s interests, educate the hiring manager, and improve the experience for the job seeker. It’s a win-win-win.

One company that is implementing something similar to this process is Amazon. After a candidate interviews with Amazon, they receive an anonymous survey titled “rate our phone interviews.” The survey asks whether or not the interview experience was frustration free. It also asks for what they could do to improve, and it gives the job seeker a free form text box to provide feedback.

Implementing this sort of feedback treats the job seeker like a valued player in the process – similar to a customer. And, this is a great foundation of mutual respect on which to build a future working relationship.

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 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

 

Interviewing Is Not Hazing

When I was in college, I never joined a sorority. But, like you, I’ve heard some of the horror stories about what it can sometimes be like to become part of Greek life. For some (but not all) student led organizations, hazing rituals are just a part of life. Looking back, it seems like they’re a silly college-aged tradition that have been left in the past. Somehow, these rituals are following us into adulthood. They’re showing up in the most unexpected place: the job interview.

Some employers put candidates through stress interviews. They ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions in an effort to get a reaction from the job seeker. They’re interested to see how you might react under stress. The answer often matters less than the reaction. I recently heard from a job seeker who was cursed at during a job interview in a confrontational way – in front of a group. The hiring manager was trying to get a reaction out of him.

Other employers are asking candidates to do homework, lots of homework. It may come in the form of creating plans that the company may use. It may involve taking tests. Many of these tools are meant to help identify the most capable candidates. But, it often discounts the work experience a candidate has in favor of how well they perform under pressure on a particular day.

In other situations, employers may put the candidate through physical stress. Perhaps they’re booked with back to back travel and interviews with no time for bathroom breaks or rest.

The most surprising interview trend I’ve seen lately that falls into this category is company-wide voting. Did you know that if you interview at a company, there’s a chance that the company’s employees will vote on whether or not they liked you, just after you leave the building? It might be one thing to ask folks if they have concerns with a candidate and if they do, what those concerns are. But, in some organizations, employees are given a simple yes or no choice. If anyone votes against a candidate, there’s a decent chance they will be kicked out of the process.

With all of this comes a note. I’ve heard of these practices more within the tech world than anywhere else. So, if you have an important corporate interview coming up, don’t fear. There’s a decent chance that you will not be exposed to most of these tactics.

On the flip side, I do understand that when you’re the job seeker, you should be willing to go along with most of the things a company asks of you – especially if you want the job. But, if a company treats you badly in the interview process, don’t forget it. That may be how the plan to treat you as an employee. If the job interview process seems immature, it’s possible the staff may be too.

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 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

 

What salad dressing best emulates your life philosophy?

When it comes to job interviews, I’ve seen it all. Most interviews come in a fairly straight forward format. You do a phone screen with human resources and then a phone interview with the hiring manager. Afterward, you come in person for meetings with the hiring manager and other folks on the team.

But, not every interview is so simple. Some companies ask job seekers to do a presentation about themselves. Others ask you to complete an IQ test. And, some ask you to create a proposal of how you would spend your first ninety days if you were hired. And, then every once in a while, a company will ask you, “What kind of salad dressing best emulates your life philosophy?”

I know this must sound like a joke. But, no, I’m not kidding. Companies will ask questions such as, “If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?” and, “What font best describes your personality?”

These types of questions can serve a few purposes. First, they can test how you react under pressure. Are you able to roll with the punches, even when you’re asked something outside of the box? They can also test you from a culture fit perspective. Do you answer in a way that is in line with the company culture? And, they can test your creativity. How interesting, thoughtful, and unique is your answer?

Although questions like this really make no sense to many people, I can get behind them under one condition. That condition is that the interview process is a two-way street.

If the job seeker is going to go along with your crazy line of questions, then you in turn (the hiring manager) should treat the candidate with an equal amount of respect. If they’ve put in a lot of time doing homework as part of your process, take the time to follow through with them – even if it’s a little more work. Interview them when you say you will. Respond to their emails. And, if you don’t select them, let them know quickly and in a respectful manner.

The part about this type of process that I do not like is when the entire thing is a one-way street. If a candidate is going to play along with this sort of line of questioning, the company should be prepared to be respectful in return. This is especially true if the candidate has put in a significant amount of time into the application process.

Ghosting a job seeker or taking weeks and weeks to follow up on email communications is not acceptable. It’s no way to treat any potential employee or future representative of your company. When you treat the job search like a joke, you’re treating the candidate as if they are disposable. And, they will likely feel the same about you in return. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

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 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

 

178 | Gutsy Job Seeking | Kate White, Author & Former Cosmopolitan Editor-In-Chief, New York, NY

Episode 178 is live! This week, we talk with Kate White in New York, NY.

Kate is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve murder mysteries AND multiple career books, including I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve, and The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success.

On today’s episode, Kate shares:

  • What she learned from her career as Editor-In-Chief at Cosmopolitan magazine
  • Her advice for media and journalism job seekers
  • Brave job search strategies for job seekers
  • Tips on your appearance during an interview
  • What she learned about asking for a higher salary that will help you in your job search

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

To learn more about Kate’s work, visit her website at http://www.katewhitespeaks.com/.  You can also follow her on Twitter at @katemwhite. You can find her books on Amazon.

Thank YOU for listening! If you’ve enjoyed the show today, don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts! When you subscribe, it helps to make the show easier for other job seekers to find it!

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