Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: The Interview Prep

Thanks for keeping up with my series on Job Hunt Tips.  Click below for previous posts.
Part 1: The Pursuit 
Part 2: Linkedin 
Part 3:  The Resume

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So you have an interview scheduled!  This is great!  You have already passed the first test, and now you have them interested.  Next comes your chance to seal the deal, and I really believe that these tips can bring the odds more into your favor.  I know it's a lot, but I believe that looking through all this will help you feel more prepared, it will help you look more confident, and it could really be clutch in an interview.  Good luck!

Research the company
I assure you that the interviewer is expecting you to know about the company, what it does, and how you think you might fit.  Researching will help you seem knowledgeable, and it will give you a chance to really think about how you'll fit.  All this knowledge can come through in your interview and make for a good impression.

Prepare questions for your interviewer
You can bank on being asked "Do you have any questions for me?"  Even if you feel like you've gotten all of your questions answered, not having a question could make you seem ill-prepared.  Alternatively, having questions ready will make you seem interested and engaged.  Just don't ask about salary; that conversation will come when you're hired.

Feel free to ask about the things you want to know, and then ask a question or two that show the interviewer you mean business or that you were paying attention.

 Here are some great questions to ask:
What is the culture of the company (or department) like?/What do you enjoy about working here?
Asking about the culture is my favorite question, because it shows that you're interested not just in the money, but in the company, which is very good and can be impressive!
What traits do you see as important to work here/in this role?/How do you see me fitting into this role?
This requires the interviewer to visualize you in the position, which can be very helpful to you when they're remembering your interview.
What can I expect the day-to-day to look like in this position?
This shows interest and could lead to some very valuable information about the position.
Do you have any concerns about my eligibility that I can address for you?
I think this is a great question because it gives you a chance to find out what they're thinking, and it gives you a chance to change their minds if they don't love you already.  Save this question for near the end.
When can I expect to hear from you?/When is a good time to follow up?
Asking about the next step in the process projects an avid interest in the position.  This question should be last.


Study your résumé
Be prepared to answer any questions about where you worked, when you worked there, why you left an employer, or why you took a break from the workforce.  If you were fired from a position, work on a gracious, tactful, and positive way to briefly explain what happened.  For example: When cleaning the photo processing machines, I used the incorrect cleaning solution and destroyed valuable pictures.  I took full responsibility, but I had to be terminated.  I know that this was a mistake that I made, and I am determined to learn from it and to not make the same mistake again.  Google "exit statements" for more information and better examples.

Prepare for behavioral interview questions
Practicing possible interview questions could help a lot with feeling prepared and keeping the interview conversation going.  Things like "Tell me about yourself," "What do you think you bring to the table," "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses" are typical.  I highly recommend checking out this list of wrong and right answers to common interview questions.

Another kind of question that interviewers usually ask is called a behavioral interview question.  These ask about a past situation at a previous job.  When asking these questions, the interviewer is looking for clues about how you would act in a future, similar situation.  For example, he/she may ask, "Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker," "Tell me a time when you overcame a challenge," or "Tell me about a time when you made a mistake."

Okay, here's where we get to for real homework time.
I'm not kidding.  Get a pen and paper, or at least someone to talk to about these things.
  1. Before your interview, think of some of your past accomplishments and challenges from work, school, or other projects.  Think of times when you went above and beyond, when you had to resolve conflict, or when you took the initiative on something.  Look at this list of 50 behavioral interview questions for ideas, but you should only have to think of 3 or so stories.
  2. Take the time and WRITE out #1 the Situation/Task, #2 the Action you took, and #3 the Result(s).  (Acronym: STAR!)  Do this for each of those those situations you thought of.
  3. Having these stories ready in your mind will help you when you're asked a behavioral interview question.  Oftentimes, you can use the same story for different questions, so having a few stories in your pocket is a great way to make sure you're ready for many different questions.  Also, it's a great way to show what you've done and how you work.
  4. Be sure to present your story in the STAR order.  It's the best progression to keep your audience engaged.  People remember stories, and I'm sure that your interviewer will have a better chance of remember you if you tell them a good story.
Here's a real life example from when I was teaching in Korea.
In one of my classes, I had a special needs student who was very far behind the others.  Learning disabilities are taboo in Korea,  so I couldn't talk with the student's parents about the issue.  The administration basically brushed the kid under the rug, because, being a business, they legitimately cared more about the paying parents' happiness than the student's learning.  The student's parents had even complained about how he had been feeling made fun of in the class.  I realized that I had to choose whether to push the student to do better in the class or to just let him have fun.  To make the kid comfortable and to cover for him in the class, I had to work hard to give him the right attention  from me and to pull away the wrong attention from the other students, while still giving him moderate grades, too.

Situation/Task: Challenged by the parents and my supervisor, I chose to make the student feel comfortable and get as much out of the class as possible.
Action: I manipulated the class dynamic to make the student feel more comfortable (which required quick thinking and keen perception).  I did this by setting the other students on a task and spending extra time with the special needs student to prepare for the tests and quizzes that were coming up.
Result: The student's parents felt better about having him in my class, and he became visibly happier to be in my class.

Now.  Looking at this list of 50 different behavioral interview questions, I can think of how I could use this story and package it properly for 25 of these questions.  TWENTY-FIVE questions.  One story.  After going through this homework exercise and having this story in my back pocket, I found that I used it two times, maybe more, in my interviews last year.  When behavioral interview questions came up, I felt prepared and ready to give a good answer.

Practice
Practicing with a friend or family member, though it might sound silly, will help you get in the groove of answering questions and thinking about your presentation.  Have your partner ask you some typical interview questions and then some behavioral ones, too.  Allow yourself to take a moment to think if you need to, but hopefully practicing with someone you're comfortable with will allow you to give natural answers, which will then help you give more natural answers in the real interview.  If you're pretty sure you're going to be asked certain questions, why not practice!?

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Have you had any memorable interview experiences?  Any other recommendations?  Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: The Resume

 Here's Part Three of the Job Hunt Series.
Click here for others tips:
Part 1: The Pursuit
Part 2: Linkedin
Part 4: Interview Prep

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  How to Craft a Bang Up Résumé
Ah, navigating the résumé.  It really is a make or break point of your search, and I'm going to help you make sure yours is excellent.  I've written before on what not to do on your résumé here and here.  Go ahead and check those out, but read ahead to learn about what to do.

Get the right perspective
 The object of your résumé is to get an interview (not a job).  You want to do everything you can to present yourself in the best possible light on one or two sheets of paper.  This means you're not going to be listing everything you've done in your life.  That math award from college?  Your research project on honey bees?  This obscure software?  Unless it's undoubtedly pertinent to the position or company you're applying for, leave it out.  Include the information most likely to get the job you're applying for.  Don't let anything detract from the pertinent info that the hiring manager is actually looking for.

This does mean that you will most likely want to create a few different versions of your résumé.  Have one focusing on penguin care and one on customer service.  If you don't want to work at the Georgia Aquarium, maybe having résumés geared toward project management, administration, and sales.  This will let you have versions already tailored and ready to go for all of those positions you're applying for.  Consider even tailoring your résumés for each company you apply for.
Also, make sure the aesthetics or your résumé are absolutely professional.  Keep your format clean and crisp.  I recommend using bold and italics to let your companies and titles stand out.  Use bullet points below each of your work experiences.

Consider your verbage
Back in college I learned the importance of the words you choose to use on your résumé.  In the bulleted lists under your work experiences, you want to give powerful pictures of what you accomplished.  Take your time and research strong words that will catch the eye.  Adding in numbers and percentages, when available, can give more credibility to your statements, which is always good.

Consistency and Accuracy
Go over every detail of your résumé for errors and for inconsistency.  Correct all spelling errors and grammar errors.  Take out the periods if they're not closing an actual complete sentence.  Make sure all of the dashes between your dates look the same.  Everything single spaced.  All bullet points the same size.  Be scrupulous.  Then have a friend comb for errors, too!

A Résumé Before and After Story
I have an example for you.   I did a résumé revamp for a stranger on the internet recently.  I'm glad I get to show you all some real world application of what I've been talking about.
You can take a look at the before résumé here and after résumé here and see comments I gave the stranger below.  The stranger is applying for a job in the ecology sector, which I know very little about, but thankfully, résumé formatting spans across fields.



Changes I’m making:
  • Bolder heading on first page so that your name/address/number looks professional and is easy to see
  • No silly old high school awards from 2005
  • I removed your "First Aid at Work" and "City and Guilds" stuff to "Skills". Keep them on your resume ONLY IF these awards are pertinent to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying to work at the Georgia Aquarium and these awards deal with forestry, then listing the awards will just be white noise to the person reading your resume. It could detract from something really important that could sell them on you. 
  • Do the same with your skills. There is so much stuff there, I don’t want to take the time to read it all. I think that a lot of what you have listed can be put underneath your different work experiences. Do that as much as you can, especially with the surveying/conservation stuff. This large wall of text you have is daunting, and it’s hard to find what I might be looking for. 
  • For your technical skills, leave whatever will help you get the job you’re applying for (you might have to switch it up when applying for different jobs), but I’m going to leave just the general stuff. And, I don’t know if identifying solitary bees and wasps is a skill that would get you a job… is it? I really don’t know anything about the ecological sector, but the bees/wasps thing seems very specific.
  • I took out the page number footer.  I don't think it's necessary.
  • I personally don't like personal activities/hobbies sections. You make it clear through your objective statement at the top and through your work experience that you care a lot about wildlife and nature preserves. It’s up to you, but I’m going to take this section out in my version. 

General tips:
  • When you’re going through editing, make sure you are consistent. Make sure you choose to either use “Sep” or “September,” then use the one you choose every time. Even keep an eye out for those dashes between your dates and make sure they all look the same. 
  • It’s no longer required that you keep your resume to one page, but if you can tweak your font size or margins or add a page break so that there aren’t any awkward breaks in your company work sections, try and do that. 
  • Using the bold and italics helps the important information stand out. The bullets below your company and title give you a chance to show your accomplishments and the skills you acquired there. If you have actual figures to share, share them (e.g. Reduced Reserve expenses by x%...). Try to use strong action words at the beginning of your bullet points. I gave you some ideas in my After version, but of course you’ll want to put in the actual stuff you did. 
  • Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for. If you change your mind about the ecological sector and you want to go into administration, hype up the administrative tasks you did like filing, copying, faxing, mailing, or whatever.
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  Do you think it looks pretentious to use the accent marks for résumé?  Writing resume would be much easier, but it's also a different word.  What do you think about that?  What do you think about the tips above?  What do you think someone would need to include in their resume to elicit interest from the Georgia Aquarium?  Shout out in the comments section below.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: Using LinkedIn to its Full Potential

Here's Part Two of the Job Hunt Series.
Click here for others tips:
Part 1: The Pursuit
Part 3: The Resume
Part 4: Interview Prep

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 Potential employers will look for you on LinkedIn.  Give them something impressive to look at.  Create a LinkedIn profile if you don't have one already.  Here's mine, if you'd like an example.

General tips to start you off:
If you know what field or what position you're interested in, look for three or more people on LinkedIn who currently have that job.  Comb through to find the common threads.  Do they all have a certain certification you might need?  What skills do they have listed?  What duties are they responsible for in their current job?  This will give you an idea of what companies are looking for when hiring for this position.  If you can do so honestly, incorporate these elements into your own profile, rephrasing as needed.

Get as many connections as you can.  Think back to your high school classmates and teachers, sorority sisters, baseball co-coach, family friends, ex-coworkers, and the guy you exchanged business cards with on the airplane.  Add all the people you know.  Definitely add people you meet while networking.  Fee free to ask "Do you might if I connect with you on Linkedin?" while swapping business cards.  (Don't feel awkward.  This is how it works.)  In my opinion, if you aren't adding connections, you need to check and see if you're hunting hard enough.   Building your numbers not only shows that you're active in the workforce or community, but it can also come in handy should you need an online introduction.  (I won't be covering that part here, but Google should bring up some handy posts about etiquette and tips.)

Filling out your profile:
In "Edit Profile," you can add in all the information you like.  I'd recommend adding in all of the following:
  • Picture: This is a chance to make a great impression.  Find someone with a smartphone if you have to, get yourself into some nice clothes and good lighting, and flash your most winning smile.  Make sure the photo is cropped like a head shot or something equally focused on your face.  Make it flattering.
  • Professional headline: This is where you put your professional title, right below your name on your profile.  If you're seeking a job, you could say something like "Seeking penguin care position," "Open to new administrative opportunities," of "Seeking challenging role in Java Development."
  • Location and industry: Add this so people  in that location and in that field can find you.  I put "Greater Atlanta" to attract people from all over the city.
  • Contact info: Phone number and professional email.
  • Summary: The people at my Job Seekers meeting said that this section is best used to give a concise version of your résumé.  You don't have to include everything that you list in work experience.
  • All pertinent work experience: Maybe don't add the fast food joint you worked at right at the beginning, but for all other experiences, list how long you worked there and what you did, like on your résumé.
  • Volunteer experience: If you have done volunteer work, listing it here shows that you're a go-getter and that you're willing to pitch in.  Add in the times and duties, just like for work experience.
  • Skills: Look around at others' lists of skills and online lists like this and this to get ideas and to really flesh out this section.  Type up what software skills you have, too.
  • All education after high school: I consider listing your high school as optional.  If you were involved in some good programs at school, add those in under Education's "Activities and Societies" section or even in the volunteer experience section.

You can also manage your Public Profile.  This will let you choose what people see when they're not one of your connections.  On the right, you should see a bar like this.



Click to customize your public profile URL and change it to something professional, like a variation of your name.  You can share this URL on your résumé, if you like.

Using Linkedin to find jobs:
Linkedin's advanced searches can come in very handy.  You can search for location, company, dates the job was posted, experience level, and more.  Use these tools to your advantage, but don't stop there.  Once you have some target companies, dig into their Linkedin profiles.  Follow their company profile, if you like.  Then, go and find someone in the company you can talk with through Linkedin.

First, go to the profile page for your target company.  There you can sift through all of the employees who've connected to the company on Linkedin.  Click to see all of these employees.

 To the right, you will see a lot of filters you can use.  Here, we will focus on Industry.  Go ahead and click there.

You'll see some industries populate automatically.  If you don't see Recruiting or Staffing in that short list, go ahead and add it in.

Sometimes HR could be an option, but most big companies will have a recruiting section.  Type in what you're looking for and hit enter.  This will apply the filter.

And then all of the people who work there and who are also in recruiting show up!

The next step is to send an InMail to Mr. Terry L. or to connect with him.  Tell him where you are, that you'd love to work for the Georgia Aquarium, and does he have any advice?  Is there anywhere you could help out around the office?  Is there someone he could put you in touch with who knows more about the field you're interested in?  Could you come in and discuss how you might be able to fit into the company?  Would it be possible to work you way up to the position you want?  Are there any positions open?  Get those doors open!

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Tune next week for more job hunt tips.
As always, you're welcome to share your own tips and thoughts below.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recommended with Granola Trail Mix

Caleb and I went camping this past weekend, and we each made our own personal trail mix to take along.  I used this recipe from Chow.com as a springboard, and then I made plenty of adjustments.  And so, I'm sharing my first ever original recipe!

Follow all the directions listed on Chow, but you can use the ingredients below for a healthier version.  I used coconut oil for vegetable oil, agave nectar for honey, and I took out the brown sugar because coconut oil is sweet on its own, and I don't like very sweet snacks anyway.  I also made a smaller batch than Chow suggested, so my measurements are different.  And then for my add ins, I chose my favorites tasty things that, when combined, made the perfect summery, sweet and salty combination.  (I believe I added some salt at the end to tweak the taste a bit.) 

Golden Summer Trail Mix | Lindsay Eryn

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Collected Links:

My good friend Alyssa has come to an amazing place in her fitness goals, and she's started writing about it here.  Follow with me?

My dad writes about the prospect of No Permanent Address.  I laughed (and cried a little).

My BFF just moved to Oregon, and she posted some poetic and poignant writings from before her move on new addresses and new home.

Rubyella, a blogger in California I follow, usually shares links every week, like how I do every so often.  Last week, she shared small confessions instead.  I like this idea, and I'm going to collect some of my own confessions for next time.

While we were camping, my brother-in-law saw a fox near our campsite at night.  It was watching one of the blue lights we had.  I'm sorry I missed the fox, but this video makes up for it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Job Hunt Tips: Focusing Your Pursuit

To commemorate my first year working as a recruiting coordinator, I’m sharing some tips I’ve picked up at work and during my 7-month job hunt before that. Here’s the first batch!
Part 2: Linkedin
Part 3: The Resume
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Job hunting can be very discouraging, but it doesn't have to be!  Here are my tips for keeping motivation, making progress, and measuring your progress.

Find a Community
What helped me the most in my job search was finding this Job Seekers group that meets in Peachtree City. Look and see if there's a similar group in your area. It's a great way to keep positivity and motivation in your search, and it's a great way to practice networking. Caleb and I both went to this group and learned loads and loads of invaluable information that helped us land our jobs.


Networking
I'm sure you've heard this over and over, but there's a reason for that. I'm going to assume that I don't have to tell you why it's important. If you're new to networking, though, or if it makes you nervous, there are many ways to ease yourself into it. Here's an excellent article with tips for how to start networking. Go out and see what your area has to offer!  (Also, if someone asks you to send along your résumé in an email, be sure to follow up.  It's common sense, but I've got to mention it.)

Networking Pro Tip:
Make yourself some business cards and have them ready to trade at networking events.   This is nonnegotiable.  If you're looking for a job, get yourself a business card.  Using a Word template and printing your info on card stock will do.  Having a business card ready to swipe out of your wallet will make you appear much more professional and put together.

Get Focused
CareerBuilder. Job Fairs. The career center from your university or your community. Those are all great ways to get exposure for yourself and you can learn a lot through these avenues, but I want to let you know something else. One, see if there's a recruiter around who specializes in the field you're interested in. If you're entry-level and “just looking for work,” check out staffing agencies in your area. (Kelly Services, Hire Dynamics, and Randstad are popular ones in Atlanta.) Here's the other thing, though. Quite possibly a more important thing. A thing you should definitely think long and hard about. Is there a company you'd really like to work for? The Georgia Aquarium? Focus a large percent of your efforts on that company. If you know any contacts there, call them up. When you’re networking, mention that the Georgia Aquarium is your goal. Make connections, work the web, and ask people if there's anyone they could put you in contact with who does the job you want to do. Then say to that person, "I've been interested in penguins my entire life, and I just finished up a research project in Antarctica. It's my dream to work at the Georgia Aquarium. Could you tell me what it takes? How can I get to where you are?"

Build relationships in your target company. Keep in touch. Show them your drive and your purpose. Don't let them forget you. Show them you mean it when you want you want to work for the Georgia Aquarium. My friend Sim spent 3 months bugging emailing the guy who eventually hired him to be the strength coach at the Yongsan army base in Korea. Persistence is powerful. Never forget that.

Track and Celebrate Progress
During my job search, I recorded every little thing that I accomplished in a Word doc. The first page is almost entirely "applied for this place, applied for that place," but later in the timeline I would add in bullet points that said "revamped resume," "edited LinkedIn page to include recent experience," or "decided to pursue administration specifically." I also saved all versions of my resume and my different cover letters. If you laid all of my records out together, you could see a good jump in quality once I started going to Job Seekers. I got to list interviews, correspondences, my impressions, and things I wanted to change. The difference from the beginning of the list to the end is pretty stark.

When I became discouraged and I worried that my efforts were useless, I looked at my list and told myself, "No, girl. Applying for 98 positions is a heck of a great achievement. Now, how can you do better?" If you're getting advice, readjusting your focus, and constantly improving yourself and your image through your job search, you can rest assured that you are getting better at this.

Find a partner. Think of your job search as your job. As the leader of my Job Seekers group said, If someone were to try to convict you of searching for a job, would there be enough evidence? Don't stop. Onward and upward. You got this.

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For more Job Hunt Inspiration, check out the articles I've pinned here and be sure to check back next week for some LinkedIn tips.

Did I miss anything? If you have any questions or thoughts, be sure to comment below.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Work Anniversary Present and Introducing a Short Series

I've been here a year!  I've worked as an administrative assistant/office manager/recruiting coordinator for this power punching, darling little office for a year!

This has been the least stressful work year I've ever had.  Teaching children English and getting to love on them will always be my most rewarding job, but where I am now is an absolute second.  I get to work with professional peers and mentors and I'm part of a great team.  We appreciate each other, and we celebrate together.  Fun fact, my office is all women!  My mother-in-law still can't believe that we are a drama free zone, but it's true.

I really am lucky to have this job.  I get paid to organize!  I have my own office!  And you should see our Christmas party!  Also, I wanted to share this perfect little present my coworker got me to commemorate my first year!


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Reflecting on my first year leads me to think about the 6 months of job hunting that came before being hired.  One of the neat parts about working at a recruiting firm is that, even though I'm not in a position to get people jobs, I have picked up a lot of knowledge on how to interview well and present yourself well.  I want to pass along some tips from my pocket to people on the job hunt.  Throughout the rest of July, I'll be sharing posts on the following topics:

The Pursuit
Linkedin
The Résumé
The Interview Prep
The Interview
The Follow Up


Check in as you like and feel free to share anything you think might be useful.  If you have any specific questions or if you'd like to know more about a recruiting coordinator's perspective, drop a comment or shoot me an email.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kickstarter for Potato Salad


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/324283889/potato-salad

The internet has exceeded this guy's goal by 2,171%!
I am shocked and amazed, and I think this might be one of the most ridiculous and awesome things I've ever seen.