Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Describe Your Work Style By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers

During the course of any job interview it’s likely you’ll be asked to describe your work style. How you answer this interview question will help the interviewer determine how well you’ll fit into the company.

When the interviewer asks this question, here are five key points he is looking to find out about you:

1. Do You Like to Work Autonomously or Collaboratively?

During the job interview, detailing how you work with others is important. The vast majority of companies value a collaborative work style. If you prefer working independently, the best way to answer this interview question is to say, “While I do my best work alone, I like input and feedback along the way.” This will communicate to the interviewer that you value the opinions of others, but prefer executing primarily on your own. If you enjoy working collaboratively, let the interviewer know that. Elaborate on the process and rewards (synergy, fun, superior results, etc.) that come from working closely with others.

2. How Do You Like to Work with Your Boss?

This is one of the most common interview questions. The interviewer wants to see if you and the boss would work well together. Some people prefer a boss who simply states the goal and then lets them run with it. If that’s you, say, “I like a manager who sets the main objective and then lets me figure out the best way to reach it.” Others may prefer having the boss give more specific direction up front. If that’s more your style, in the interview, emphasize that, in return, you like to provide regular updates to your boss so he’s informed about the status of the project.

3. What Is Your Communication Style?

How you communicate is part of your work style. The interviewer may ask if you like to communicate through email, phone or in-person meetings. Some cultures place a premium on written communication, while others are less formal. Email is generally more efficient; however, it’s important to balance email with a personal touch -- whether it’s a phone call or meeting. During the job interview, discuss the framework in which you typically communicate. For example, some people like to give an overview while others get deep into the details. Both can work depending on the situation and audience. A more balanced approach to this question would be, “I tend to give the overview and then a few supporting details.”

4. What Hours Do You Work?

Let the interviewer know how many hours you work in the course of a day. Some people like to get in early and leave before rush hour, while others conform to whatever the work hours are. What the interviewer wants to hear is that you are committed to doing whatever is necessary to be successful, so you might want to say something like, “I’ll work as late as needed to get the job done.”

5. Do You Plan Your Day?

During the interview, talk about how you approach your day. People who plan their days typically get more done. Let the interviewer know that you focus on getting the most important things done first. This will let her know that one of your strengths is prioritization.

Being asked to describe your work style is an open-ended question -- and your opportunity to focus on the things that will portray you in the most positive light. For example, if you say, “I start at 7 a.m., like to work collaboratively, plan my days and always make sure I get the most important things done early,” that helps the interviewer picture you successfully doing the job. You can’t ask for a better result in a job interview than that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 job-search tips for career changers Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder Writer

You've hit a turning point in your career. Whether it's because your job has slowly become less satisfying over the years, or you woke up one morning and realized you hated going to work, you've decided it's time for a change.
If only you knew what you wanted to do next. Details.

The "I don't know what I want to do, but I know it's not this" predicament is confusing at best. Besides the issue of figuring out what you want to do, there's also reality to consider. You might think you'd make a great marriage counselor, but do you really have the time, energy and means to get the necessary training? Will your career change require you to relocate? How will you convince potential employers that, after 10 years in one career, you have the necessary experience for a new one?

Because the career-change process is complicated, it's important not to rush into anything. Take time to explore your options and answer all of the questions you have about the career paths you're considering. Or, as "What Color is Your Parachute?" – the best-selling career guide – puts it:

"Good career choice or career planning postpones the 'narrowing down' until it has first broadened your horizons and expanded the number of options you are thinking about. For example, you're in the newspaper business, but have you ever thought of teaching, or drawing or doing fashion? You first expand your mental horizons, to see all the possibilities, and only then do you start to narrow them down to the particular two or three that interest you the most."

Once you've got a short list of potential careers, it's time to begin your job search. Mark C.D. Newall, senior vice president at Keystone Associates, a career transition and management firm in Boston, offers the following quick tips for job searching in a new field.

1. Play the game. As newbie, you're going to have to put in a lot of footwork. "Intensively networking, utilizing technology, honing your interviewing skills -- all of these things are important and need to be done," Newall says.
2. Identify your edge. Since you won't be able to rest on your experience, it's important to identify other selling points that will make you stand out to employers. "Everybody is smart, everybody works hard, everybody has a good degree -- differentiate yourself from all of the others by having an edge," Newall advises. "If you have global expertise, call it out. If you have outstanding and demonstrated interpersonal skills, let interviewers know that you will connect with and take care of their clients."
3. Be willing to move. Flexibility can go a long way when breaking into a new career. "Expanding your geography will also expand your opportunities," Newall says.
4. Speak to your passion. "Know what is important to you -- what really gives you that sense of accomplishment -- what gets you out of bed in the morning. Hiring managers will see your passion and how it relates to their business, and they want to hire that," Newall says. Given the amount of self-reflection career change usually requires, rattling off a list of things that make you tick shouldn't be too hard.
5. Have a solid methodology. Like in any job search, you'll need a game plan, Newall says. "Organize your time, your contacts, your approach, and conduct your job search in a planned and thoughtful manner. Then be ready to toss aside your plan, and be able to react to that last minute call."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The One-Page Resume vs. the Two-Page Resume Best Practices for Resume Length By Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Resume length is one of those issues that vexes job seekers. So we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the matter: “Should you have a one-page resume or a two-page resume?” Here’s what they said.

Pro: One-Page Resume

“Ideally, your resume should be one page, because recruiters and managers have short attention spans,” says Jennifer Brooks, senior associate director of the MBA Career Management Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s your ad; it doesn’t have to be comprehensive. If you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done in your entire career, you’re not thinking about the buyer, who just needs to know what’s relevant.”

Her tip for keeping your resume short and easy for the “buyer”: Use a summary statement. “It’s better than a career objective,” she says. “It’s what you want me to know about you in a nutshell. That makes it easy for recruiters to know your focus and your skills.”

Dani Johnson, author of Grooming the Next Generation for Success, agrees. “If you have a long work history, know that most people don’t read what you did 10 years ago,” she explains. “Put the focus on your most recent accomplishments, and if you have skills that repeat from one company or job to the next, state ‘same as above as well as these’ to save room.”

Pro: Two-Page Resume

While everyone agrees shorter is better, it’s a fact that some of us will need longer resumes. If you’ve got a lot of varied experience or a long career, you may well need more space to tell your story.

“Two pages may be OK,” says Paul C. Green, a former hiring manager and the author of Get Hired. But three or more pages is too much. The best way to present your career information is through a chronological resume format with bulleted skills listed below each position.” One exception: Any skills that are relevant to a particular employer or are in demand in today’s workplace, like critical-care nursing, nanotechnology or eliminating environmental hazards, for example. For maximum impact, list these skills in your resume's career summary.

Kim Isaacs, Monster's Resume Expert and director of in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says even if you’re going long, stay focused on what’s most relevant to prospective employers. “Let go of information that doesn’t help win job interviews,” she says. That includes positions held long ago, outdated accomplishments, old training and hobbies. She also suggests putting effort in your presentation. “Design is equally as important as resume length and content. A one-page resume that’s crammed with information is less desirable than a well-organized two-page resume that is easy to read and digest.”

Compromise on Resume Length

Like any good argument, there is a middle ground solution, according to Chris Laggini, vice president of HR for DLT Solutions, an IT reseller and service provider in Herndon, Virginia. “Recruiters read for speed," he says. "They are on a minute-long word hunt for certain titles, skills and years of experience. Hiring managers read for detail. So, we recommend that you have both a one-page resume for the recruiter and an in-depth resume format to be shared with the hiring manager. In your short version, make certain to highlight keywords and titles referenced in the ad for the position. In the long version, provide the hiring manager with enough detail for them to get an accurate picture of you, what you are capable of accomplishing and what you want from the career path.”

The Final Word on Resume Format

All our experts agree that the key to writing an effective resume of any length is to choose elements carefully. “A good way to filter your experiences is to survey your network on the needs of employers, and sample business articles for common themes of discontent in the workplace” Green explains. “List 10 ways employers are hurting today [and] describe 10 of your skills that you can deliver to deal with them. Use your resume to convert what you have done in the past to what you can do in the future -- then your phone will ring.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

1 in 6 Job Seekers Found Their Latest Job On A Social Network ~Josh Constine

Despite LinkedIn’s professional focus, it’s Facebook that’s leading social networks to become a major way people find new jobs. 16% of those unemployed and looking, employed and looking, or employed and open to a new job said “an online social network directly led to finding their current/most recent job”, according to a newJobvite study. Of these 22.1 million Americans, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn, and 42% cited Twitter. The findings should signal HR departments and recruiters of the importance of social networks, and especially Facebook, to their success.
Last year, just 11% of job seekers had found their latest gig from a social network. Jobvite surveyed 1,205 American adults for this year’s study.
The rise of Facebook as a job source can be in part tied to the proliferation of tools that harness the social network’s biographical data and massive user base. BranchOut released its Recruiter Connect enterprise search product, and Jobvite, Work4 Labs, and now provide ways to distribute job openings through Facebook.
A year ago, Facebook redesigned the profile to make work info immediately visible, which prompted more users to keep it up to date. Combined with the size of the user base and the frequency with which they visit the site, recruiters can both search a larger pool of applicants and expose job listings to a larger audience using Facebook than LinkedIn.
The dedicated professional social network is still very important for recruiting high profile white collar employees. However, as Facebook improves privacy controls to make it easier to count both professional and personal contacts as friends, it is chipping away at LinkedIn’s value-add for the blue collar work force.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Motivates You? Strategies to Answer This Tough Interview Question By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer

"What motivates you?" is one of those tough interview questions where your answer will depend on your background and experiences. This soul-searching interview question can really catch you off guard unless you've thought about it before the interview. Contemplating when you have been most satisfied in your career will not only help you answer this question, but it will also help you focus on what you want in your next job.

Two candidates answer the motivation question, reflecting their values and what is important to them.

The first one says, "In my previous job, I worked directly with customers and their problems. What I liked was solving problems and helping people. Sometimes it took a lot of effort on my part, but it was very rewarding when the customer appreciated the service."

This answer reflects the candidate's interest in helping people and the satisfaction he gets in finding solutions.

The second candidate says, "Two years ago, I was involved in a project I was really excited about. The team I was working with had to come up with innovative ways to market a product that was not received well by consumers. It took lots of effort and long meetings, but we met our deadline and launched a terrific marketing campaign. It was really a motivating experience."

This candidate likes thinking outside the box and being part of a team. He loves a challenge and works well with pressure and deadlines.

Prepare Your Script

Writing out your thoughts will help you think about times when you felt energized by your work, times when you looked forward to going to work. For a source of ideas, refer to your resume. Which tasks did you list? Were they the tasks you enjoyed most and felt most motivated doing?

A statement on your resume might be:

Project leader: Led a team in coordinating and monitoring the progress of projects to assure the flow and completion of work on schedule.
What was it that was motivating about this experience? Being in charge? Being the source of information? Controlling the flow of work? Making sure the standards were in line with your work values?

By making a list of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did before. Do you want more of this type of responsibility in your next job? The answers to these questions will give you insight into what stimulates you as well as possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs with similar responsibilities.

Additionally, by focusing on times when you were energized by your work, you may become more enthusiastic about the job you are seeking.

There is no such thing as the perfect answer to the motivation question. Your answer will be based on your own individual experiences and analysis. Ultimately, this exercise will help you reveal to the interviewer what turns you on in your work. Even if you are not asked this question, your preinterview thinking, analysis and scripting will help you be more focused, projet more interview confidence and be more in control of what you want in your next job.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Prep for the Top 10 Interview Questions By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer

Too many job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions are coming out of left field. But many interview questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers ahead of time so you'll be ready to deliver them with confidence.

1. What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."

2. Why Should We Hire You?

Summarize your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

3. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, "I've selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices."

4. What Are Your Goals?

Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."

5. Why Did You Leave (Or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

If you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me."

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."

6. When Were You Most Satisfied in Your Job?

The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me."

7. What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can't?

What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly."

8. What Are Three Positive Things Your Last Boss Would Say About You?

It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor."

9. What Salary Are You Seeking?

It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: "I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?"

10. If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Want to Be?

Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer "a bunny," you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer "a lion," you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do Your Research Before a Job Interview By Charles Purdy, Monster+HotJobs Senior Editor

You hear it all the time from career experts: "Research the company before you go into a job interview." But what does that mean, exactly? Here are some tips on using the Internet and tapping your network to gain information and insight that'll improve your interview answers -- and help you ask the right questions.

The Company's Mission

Your prospective employer's Web site is a great place to see the company as it wants to be seen. Look for its mission statement -- something that outlines the company's values (perhaps on an About Us or similar page). Then consider how the position you want relates to that mission. Also think about how your experience and background have prepared you to support the company’s goals. Don't parrot a mission statement back word for word, but do let it inform your discussion.

Recent Company Achievements

While you're at the company's site, look for a Press Room or Company News page that links to recent news releases. (Or simply search the Web for news about the company.) Then think about the long-term implications of this news -- not only for the company, but also for you when you get the job -- and prepare some questions about the news if that makes sense. Your well-informed conversation may be a critical factor in your interview's success.

Your Interviewers

If the company site has a search tool, use it to search for the names of the people you'll be meeting. You may find bio pages or press releases that give you insight into their most visible activities at the company. Then look to LinkedIn or do a general Web search to get some more background information about them. You might find some common ground (for instance, a shared alma mater) you can bring up in conversation, or a recent professional achievement for which you can pay a compliment.

What to Wear

The company's Web site can also help you determine how to dress for the interview. Are there pictures of the executive team? If they're all wearing dark business suits, you should probably dress very formally. If the CEO is pictured wearing a T-shirt, business casual is probably fine (though you'll rarely want to dress more casually than that).

The Industry

Next, learn what general-interest publications, trade publications and blogs are saying about your employer and the industry as a whole. Search national publications for news on major corporations; use hometown newspapers to learn about small businesses or local industries. Depending on your field, you should be prepared to discuss your industry's financial prospects or other industry trends.

People on the Inside

People who already work at the company are another great source of information -- they can give you insight into business initiatives, corporate culture and even personality dynamics. Start on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections -- but don't stop there. Look to professional organizations and alumni organizations you belong to, and ask friends and relations if they know anyone who might have information to share about your prospective employer.

Research Yourself

Now that you've found out everything you can about the company and the people who'll be interviewing you, Google yourself -- you can be sure the interviewers will be doing the same. (If you have a common name, use your name and city or your name and industry as the search term.) First, make sure that everything a Web search reveals about you presents you in a good light. Then prepare to discuss the search's top hits -- they might just come up at your interview.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Job-Interview Myths By Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

Think you know all there is to know about interviewing for a job? According to career coach David Couper, many surprising myths surround job interviews. In his book Outsiders on the Inside, Couper lists several myths that, if you believe them, may prevent you from landing your dream job.

More Resources from Monster:
Interview Coaching Service
Start a Job Search
All Interview Preparation articles
So here's the truth about three of those myths -- as well as several tips on making the most of a job interview:

Myth 1: The Interviewer Is Prepared

"The person interviewing you is likely overworked and stressed because he needs to hire someone," Couper says. "He may have barely glanced at your resume and given no thought to your qualifications."

What You Can Do: Think of a job opening as a set of problems to which you are the solution. Prepare for an interview by identifying the problems hinted at in the job ad (if there's no job ad, research the company and industry) and preparing examples of how you'll solve them. For instance, if one of the primary job requirements is to write press releases, the problem the employer has is a lack of effective press releases. For the interview, you could prepare a story about specific results you've achieved with press releases you've written. Show how you can solve that problem.

Myth 2: The Interviewer Will Ask the Right Questions

Many interviewers prepare no questions beyond "tell me about yourself," says Couper. And in some cases, you may be interviewing with a human resources representative or a high-level manager who doesn't have a lot of specific information about the open job's duties.

What You Can Do: Prepare several effective sound bites that highlight your past successes and your skills. A sound bite is succinct and not too detailed, so it's catchy and easy to remember -- "I was the company's top salesperson for eight months in 2008," for example.

Reference letters are another great source of sound bites. If a former manager wrote something about how amazing you are, quote her (and offer to leave a copy of the reference letter when you leave the interview). For instance, "Company Z's art director called me the most thorough and well-prepared project manager she'd ever worked with -- and that ability to plan for any possible problem is something on which I pride myself."

Myth 3: The Most Qualified Person Gets the Job

No one believes this myth any more, right? As Couper says, "Less-qualified but more outgoing candidates may win over an interviewer's heart."

What You Can Do: If you're on the shy or introverted side, practicing your interview techniques beforehand is key. Work with a close friend or relative until you're comfortable with your interview answers. You never want to be stuck with a short, one-word answer -- so prepare explanations and examples to discuss.

Also, research the interviewer. Find her profile on LinkedIn or look for recent news about the company. To set the tone for a friendly interaction, find a reason to compliment her for a professional accomplishment or her company's success. And don't forget to smile and make eye contact.

Finally, keep in mind that looks matter: You should be well-groomed and dressed to impress. If you're not sure how formal your attire should be, ask the human resources person you've been dealing with what's typical. Alternatively, find someone inside the company to ask, or check the About Us page on the company's Web site. If the management team is pictured in dark suits and neckties, you'll likely want to dress as formally as possible. If the CEO is pictured in a T-shirt, business-casual clothes are fine (but you'll rarely want to dress more casually than that).