It happens to everyone. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. Some leaders and managers are great at their jobs, but stink at interviewing for key talent. As a candidate, an unskilled interviewer can set you up for a disadvantage if you are not prepared for it.

Handling Awkwardness

Some interviewers think of questions as it comes to them. Or they have not thoroughly read through your documents in advance so they are asking questions you feel they should know. Some are terrible at small talk or trying to make the candidate feel comfortable.

In these situations, always be courteous and polite. Ask the interviewer some questions about the job and company. When appropriate, follow up on how you can perform the task or describe relevant past experience you had that could help the company.

I always coach clients that silence is ok because thoughts have to be collected or maybe notes need to be made. However, there is a limit to silence when it just starts feeling uncomfortable. In this situation, practice your approachability. Smile and expand on any answers you may have given before. You can also ask if they would like more examples when you have completed a certain task. Don’t appear to be bored or frustrated.

Answering Questions Not Asked

Sometimes the interviewer does not ask the right questions to showcase your skills. If that’s the case, be prepared to add a little extra information about your skill set into each answer.

Another great idea is to research the position in advance and ask a question directly related to the position description that you can give a great answer to. For example, say something along the lines of, “I noticed in the posted job description, you want someone with experience with specific programs. Tell me how those are used within the company.” When the interviewer is finished, then inform them about the experience you had with that program and how you utilized it. Tell the interviewer that the more understood their needs for the position, the more you feel that position is for you.

You don’t always get the chance to put your best foot forward in these situations before you leave. If that happens, follow up with a phone call or an email. You may inform them that after reflecting on the position more, you felt it was beneficial that they knew a specific piece of information about you when selecting the right candidate for the role. Make sure your closing comments reflect you are the best candidate.

As a job seeker, you are most likely already following the standard advice: clean up your Facebook posts, rework your resume, and attend networking opportunities. However, even if you are not looking for social media as a career, it is beneficial to your job search.

 

  1. LinkedIn: Job Site and Posting Platform

Unlike other job boards like Indeed and Monster, LinkedIn is a social media platform for job hunting, networking, and thought leaders.

It is also a great place to post an article about your experiences in a field and any advice for those just starting out. Write an article on new trends in your industry, experiences that you’ve used to do a better job, or even on what could be next for your field. Employers want engaged employees, and creating thoughtful, engaging content is a great way to showcase this skill.

 

  1. Twitter: Create New Conversations among Thought Leaders

Twitter, unlike LinkedIn, provides a space to reply quickly to thought leaders in your industry, as well as making lists of thought leaders and potential companies of interest. Whether sharing an interesting article, responding to comments about a new trend in your field, or simply showcasing your own work, Twitter provides real-time engagement.

 

  1. Facebook: Groups for Networking

Facebook is another great place for networking. Many networking and professional organizations have groups on Facebook, which is a great opportunity for making connections. Just be sure to keep it professional, and you have a great way to make industry contacts.

 

  1. Instagram

Are you a graphic designer, visual artist, or advertising professional? Instagram, of course, may be a platform you are already using, but it is also a great way to showcase your current portfolio of designs and ads created for clients or even past employers.

 

Even if social media is not a required skill for your next career move, it is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and connect with potential employers, as long as you keep it professional.

 

-N.G.

It’s no secret that the most successful businesses have engaged employees. Engaged employees are generally more satisfied and overall happier with their jobs. A question often posed is, “How do I make my employees happier at work?” Just asking the question is the first step to a more engaged workforce.

1. Communication

How often do you hear employees say they did not know about something or complain they were not informed? It’s a fairly simple, yet often overlooked piece to the engagement puzzle. Employees want to know what is going on. If you feel like you have a good communication plan but still hear these complaints, maybe it’s the method or frequency of the delivery. Some organizations benefit from a newsletter or an email that discusses the happenings of the week. If you always email company information, setting up quarterly meetings may be beneficial. Make sure leadership is passing along crucial information to their staff.

2. Direct Supervisor

There is a lot of research that suggests that happiness and engagement in the workplace is connected to an employee’s direct supervisor. Develop strong leaders that are consistent with their staff and care about them. Leadership expectations should be clear. Much of a manager or supervisor’s work frustrations are often passed along to the staff. Keep managers in the loop about the business and give them key information they should take back to their staff.

3. Recognition

Feeling validated and acknowledged is important to life at work. There are many ideas out there to make your employees feel recognized for a job well done. A handwritten thank you from the supervisor may be appropriate in some situations. Public recognition through a meeting or company communication allows others to recognize their team mate if appropriate. Think through recognition from the employee’s perspective. How would they feel most appreciated? The biggest impact on long term engagement is how an employee feels recognized for their efforts day to day.

4. Employee Development

Employees want to grow and learn for their current position and beyond. They need these opportunities to grow within the organization. Employee development could be as simple or complicated as you want to make it. Each employee could have an employee development plan or a budget could be set aside for each department or individual. If the funds don’t currently exist for these opportunities, look for experts to conduct training in house. Speak with your vendors to see if they are doing any developmental opportunities for their staff or customers. Finally, online training opportunities can be a cost effective way to get the same information to a large number of employees.

5. Compensation, Rewards and Benefits

Employees getting paid significantly different for the same job will find out. Discover the gaps and develop a plan to address them. Pay employees fairly for the work they are doing. Set aside money from the budget to financially reward high performers and to motivate employees. Looking beyond traditional health benefits can be a key in employee engagement. Perhaps you can work out a discount for employees through one of your vendors. Or you can talk to some local gyms to offer your employees discounts by doing onsite advertising. The options are endless and don’t need to be expensive.

The time invested in employee happiness and engagement can result in a great working environment for your employees and boost your business. Get creative and your employees will appreciate it.

If you ask 15 people what leadership is, you will probably receive 15 different responses. We all know what it looks like when we see it. Leaders inspire and motivate us.

There may be strong leaders among the mix of your employees that you may not even realize. Discovering these employees and fostering a leadership culture may boost profits and create a strong working environment for all employees.

Manager vs Leader

Not every manager is a great leader and many rank and file employees are strong leaders. Although the terms manager and leader are often used interchangeably, they are different roles. Leadership is needed at all levels and positions. Not every strong leader will turn into a manager and that is OK. Embracing the idea that having great leaders scattered throughout the organization is key.

Leadership Style

Everyone leads in different ways. While we will not go into detail here, become familiar with different leadership styles. In a Harvard Business Review study from 2000, Daniel Goleman summed up various leadership styles and research discovered that leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability. He outlined six different type of leadership. From a pacesetting leader to a democratic leader, different styles can be utilized at different times. Leadership can and should be situational based on the needs of the team.

Getting From Here to There

Cultivating a leadership culture may take time. It may be challenging if the culture did not recognize leaders at all levels previously and may require training implement. The entire organization must buy in and be involved to make it work. Gathering feedback from all levels of employees is critical to the success in building a leadership culture. Schedule regular meetings to obtain feedback from management and employees on what is working and clearly communicate expectations of all employees.

Empower employees in non-supervisory roles to make decisions. Providing decision making exposure to all employees will develop leadership skills. Allow these new leaders to voice concerns and take part in business strategy. Provide opportunities to them to lead projects. Understand that mistakes will be made. Decide how to handle these mistakes ahead of time as the reaction from the boss may make or break a future leader.

After you have current employees on board, the next step to ensure the continuity of this new leadership culture is building it into the hiring process. Review the recruitment process to seek out the people that will fit your new leadership culture. When you identify these individuals, ask them to refer your business to others. Mention the culture in job descriptions and recruiting materials.

Fostering a leadership culture touches all employees in an organization. It takes planning and forethought. Remember, the outcome is worth it.

You set your New Year’s resolutions. It is now July 1. How’s those resolutions coming along?  If you lost focus on your career goal, you aren’t alone.  Many people loose site of their New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February.  Maybe other things came up for you.  Or maybe you are finding that reaching the goal was more difficult than you thought.

Were your resolutions really an opportunity to make valuable changes in your career or were they a set-up for failure?  What do you really want for yourself?

Change is complex and may take a multipronged approach.  Here are some steps to recommit yourself and make the necessary changes in your life and your career:

1.  Think about why you want to make change.  What is at the core that makes you want this change?

2.  Having too many goals causes distraction.  Define one as a top priority and give it your focus.

3.  If you set a huge goal for yourself, it may seem like a daunting task to achieve.  Break it up into smaller pieces.  Think about the first step you need to achieve to accomplish the larger goal.

4.  Instead of thinking it is “all or nothing”, reflect on what you did achieve.  Give yourself credit for it.

5.  Create a different “focus” each month.  For example, if your overall goal is to create a better life/work balance, go to the gym for 30 minutes, three times a week for the month of March.  In April, pick two evenings a week that you would like to go for walks with your partner after work.  Be creative.

Get more specific.  When you give yourself a goal with the words more, less, or better, what are you really wanting?  Quantify those words into numbers.

As a final note, most of us can’t go it alone.  Having support to keep yourself accountable is a key ingredient in making valuable change.  You still have the rest of the year to make it happen!

Success is defined in the dictionary as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Seems straightforward, doesn’t it? We all want it. However, it can be such a tricky word and so hard to reach.

If you ask several people what success means to them, you would get completely different answers. And that’s OK. Some define it as receiving a particular job title or a salary threshold. Others define it as spending as much quality time with their significant other or children. All of those are great definitions of success.

A problem lies, however, when someone cannot define success for themselves or they reach success but cannot decide what to do after it. They aimlessly float, hoping to stumble across something great. Maybe they try too hard to define it in one word or perhaps they feel that it is extra pressure to strive for success. Sometimes they are too worried about how others have defined success for them.

Method to Define Success

I have seen that much too often. When I work with a client on career coaching or consult with a business owner, I help the client get specific on their definition of success. I have a method on developing the definition of success with my clients. We explore what gives them joy, what gives them balance, and what they feel is currently missing.  We discuss how to balance their definition of their career with their personal life. We then set goals and draw up plans to reach those goals. When goals are set up in subsets or chunks, it’s much easier to reach.

My Definition

I define success as supporting others on their career journey, helping them achieve their goals in their business and career. My definition of success has changed over the years. For me, success is not stagnant. I need to continuously push myself further and reach for new goals.

I once thought that if I had a certain job title by the age of 30, I would feel I “made it” and was successful. When I received that job title at the age of 28, I felt successful, but I didn’t stop there. I redefined success for myself several times after that. I look at success as a journey instead of a one stop destination.

What is your definition of success? I would like to hear your definition in the comments below.

When I was in college, I was part of an internship program that gave me the opportunity to work with a career coach on resume building and interview skills. The best part: it was FREE. You would think that would be a no-brainer decision. I wish I could say I worked with this coach and she brought me great success in my job search. That’s not how my story goes, however. I chose not to work with the coach.

The Others

Almost every other student in the internship program worked with the career coach. With the help of this coach, I witnessed one of my friends get his dream job with a huge corporation. He still works for the same company, has traveled the globe in various positions, and has been promoted numerous times. Another student in the internship program had multiple high salary offers to choose from. A goal from another student going through career coaching was to make a difference and brand herself for an employer involved in community activism. She is currently the regional director for well-known non-profit organization. It appeared that everyone that chose to work with the coach had success. She taught them important skills that will last them a lifetime.

Me

Why in the world would I have made the decision not work with the coach…for free? The answer is pretty simple. I was scared plus my ego got in the way.

I was very proud of my resume. I worked very hard putting it together to make it look nice. I didn’t want someone tearing it apart and start all over. I had the opinion that my resume was top notch. I had no one else’s opinion about that, though.

Interviews were not my strength. And I knew it. I didn’t want to be told I stunk by someone else, I thought. I wanted to keep it a secret but I thought I was a failure. I was fearful the coach would tell me that I was a waste of her time to help me. I assumed my future employer would see what a great student I was and the experiences I had and hire me no matter how I did at the interview. I figured a good job would come up sooner or later. I clearly needed that coach.

The thing is, looking back, I had the skills and knowledge for the jobs I applied for. I didn’t know how to communicate those skills and knowledge to my potential employer and I had no idea what my strengths were that I could offer my future employer.

Breakthrough Moment

Several years later, I had the opportunity to work with an executive career coach through my employer. What I learned through the process was nothing short of amazing. She opened my eyes and had the ability to push me further into career success. It was truly a great experience. She helped me find my strengths. Through that coaching experience, I finally learned how to communicate my strengths to others.

I have had great success in my career, but I always wonder what may have been different if I decided to work with a career coach in college. Don’t let fear or your ego get in the way of your success.
If you are ready for your career breakthrough moment, let’s discuss the strategies you can use to reach your career goals.

Internships provide real world experience to gain the skills needed to enter a particular career field. Several movies have come out featuring internships as a main story line. They usually feature interns we don’t typically think about. In the movie, “The Internship”, two characters played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson find themselves downsized from their sales roles and they want to get back in the workforce by working for Google despite their lack of technical skills. As a side note, following the release of that movie, I heard about employees requesting sleeping pods from their employer. If you have seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. In “The Intern” featuring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, a retired executive widower sees an ad for a senior intern program at a fashion startup company. After some struggles in the relationship, Ben, the character played by De Niro, shows Jules, played by Hathaway the leadership ropes in her developing company. I enjoyed both of those movies because I have personally seen non-traditional internships work in business.

Traditional Thinking on Internships

Traditional internships provide a bridge in taking what’s learned in a classroom setting and apply it to the real world. We often think of college students taking an internship over a summer or the employer working with the college to provide credit to the student. Many internships tend to be career specific, focusing on a particular interest or the major the student has in college.

Non-traditional Internships

But what about those movies? Do those types of internships exist in real life? Yes. It may look a little different than the movies, but many employers are looking at providing non-traditional internships as a method of recruitment to attract from other sectors of potential employees. Often referred to as “re-entry” internships, they can be a win-win for the employer and potential employee.

These types of internships are designed for job candidates looking at reentering the job market, someone looking at a different career path, individuals returning from military service, or retired workers that discover retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It provides a great opportunity for someone getting back into the workforce to gain experience in a different field. In other cases, it provides great purpose to the interns who are more satisfied providing a service to a potential employer.

Re-entry internships allow employers to make a more informed hiring decision on potential employees. These interns often possess great work experience and have a mature perspective. Employers jumping on the re-entry internship band wagon include IBM, GM, Caterpillar, JP Morgan, and many others. I have seen this work in the education field where retired engineering employees earn an education degree. After participating in a teaching internship they have the opportunity to teach math and science courses at a high school. Talk about a win-win.

The future of the Internship

What does the future hold for internships? Many employers are turning to virtual internships. This allows greater flexibility for the employer and intern. The employer does not need an office space for the intern and they have the ability to attract candidates from around the globe. Interns get the opportunity to work with companies that may not be in their backyard. The possibilities are endless in today’s technology for the future of internships.

I came across an interesting statistic published by AON. It was discovered 54% of US women feel they are “paid fairly for the work they do” vs 65% of US men. There may be various reasons behind this statistic, but negotiating your salary is something that many people do not feel comfortable with.

In asking for a raise, preparation and timing are key. Obviously each situation is unique. You first want to draft what you should say during that conversation. This may take multiple tries. Address the goals you accomplished. Bring up why the work you produce is valuable. I discovered most people lack communicating what was is in it for the employer or manager. Don’t leave that part out. Appealing to the needs of the organization will set your conversation apart from your co-worker’s request.

Now, you need to time that conversation strategically. Usually employees plan these conversations when they need the money. But that may not jive well with your employer’s timeline. Do you bring it up during a performance review? Or when your manager is setting budgets for the next fiscal year?

If you received your raise, make sure you properly thank your manager with a personal note. If there were others involved in that decision, make sure to thank them to. Then follow through with the commitments you made during that conversation.

Let’s say you didn’t get the raise you requested. If your manager comes to you and said that they took a hard look at things and cannot do it at this time, thank them for looking into the request. Assure them that you are still committed to continue with your best work and you would like them to revisit it when there is a better opportunity.

The next step you take is up to you.

There may be several times in your career when working with a career coach would be beneficial. Perhaps you are looking for your first job and need some pointers. Or you don’t enjoy your current work and want to explore a change.

Working with a career coach is a great opportunity for both career and personal growth. Here are the top five reasons why working with a career coach is a good choice.

  1. Get advice for YOU!

General career advice will only get you so far. Your career situation is unique, so the career advice you receive should be tailored to you.

  1. Dedicated time.

This works both ways between you and your career coach. You receive individualized attention from your career coach. This allows the coach to understand your unique situation and provide direction based on

In the same token, you carve out time to focus on your goals and career needs. Time that you may have said in the past that you were too busy for or you thought you would eventually get to. Year after year goes by and   A career coach can show you simple strategic ways to improve your career situation without adding to the mountain of responsibilities you have.

  1. Unbiased advice for YOU.

Let’s face it, there are goals others want us to achieve and there are goals we want to achieve. Career coaching allows you to separate out

You have an idea – you want to switch careers, go back to school for a new career, or start a business. So you pitch that idea to your friend and mom. They often give great advice, but the problem is that their advice will be biased because they know you TOO well. They may not have the experience to be able to give you a solid foundation in the area you are seeking.

For example, a common question to kick off an interview is, “Tell me about yourself”. You might not feel comfortable experimenting with your elevator pitch with someone that will respond, “Tell them about the time when you were running late

Sometimes too much familiarity isn’t a good thing. Career coaching allows you to think through ideas and experiment in a low-stakes kind of way.

  1. Experience.

A career coach helps you discover your unique strengths. Then they work with you to confidently communicate those strengths in order to reach your goals. A career coach helps you go from ideas to action. They are able to do this through experience. Look for a career coach that has experience in hiring people and managing others. This experience is invaluable as they help you explore your options.

  1. Become comfortable with YOU.

You probably have heard about being authentic or branding yourself. What does that really mean?

Let’s say you have a friend that has a job we want. So, we try to copy that friend to land a similar job. We imitate how they dress, speak and even their LinkedIn profile. Then you get that job and you are disappointed. Why? Because you were not being you. You have unique talents and strengths that only you can capitalize on to have a successful and rewarding career. A career coach helps you promote your brand to your employer or prospective employers.

 

This might be all well and good, but who can afford a career coach? The best thing about working with Insight Career Solutions is you receive a free career strategy session and can choose between individual sessions focused on your needs or you can select a package which bundles individual sessions at a lower price. You do not get a cookie cutter approach to your career goals. Get more information at info@insightsolutionspro.com today.