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February 2013 (1)
January 2013 (8)
December 2012 (6)
November 2012 (7)
October 2012 (6)
September 2012 (7)
August 2012 (8)
July 2012 (8)
June 2012 (9)
May 2012 (8)
April 2012 (8)
March 2012 (8)

January 03, 2013

HOW TO Answer the "What's Your Greatest Weakness?" Question

​Answering "what's your greatest strength?" is a lot easier than answering "what's your biggest weakness?"  Interviewers aren't trying to trip you up with this question; they want to gauge your self-awareness and honesty.  A good answer can show how you overcome challenges, paint you as a committed professional who continues to improve herself, and actually highlight your strengths.

The Daily Muse created three strategies to ensure that talking about your weakness won't be the weak spot in your next interview.

1.  Show How You've Overcome Strength

Everyone has areas that could use improvement, but if you can describe how you've mitigated yours, you'll seem strong, capable, and in charge of your professional development.  So think of something that you struggle with but that you're working to improve.  You could explain that you've never been strong at public speaking, but over the past few years, you've run successful meetings and found tools to help you be more comfortable when addressing a crowd.

Another smart tactic is to describe something that was once a weakness, but that you now can point to as an accomplishment.  For example, "I've always had to work at math.  But I took a course in Excel, and that's helped me tackle quantitative analysis projects much more easily.  In fact, let me show you a report I recently developed."

2.  Address Uncertainties in Your Background

If your background doesn't completely match up with the requirements in the job description, or if you know that the employer has hesitations about parts of your experience, this question is a great time to address those uncertainties.

You can talk about something that she already knows is a hurdle, but at the same time, turn it around to highlight your strong points.  For example: "It might seem that my biggest weakness in applying for this position is that I don't have any inside sales experience.  But the skills I've gained during my five years of fundraising are incredibly relevant to the position - let me tell you why."

3.  Paint a Weakness as a Strength

Choose a shortcoming that can be explained in the most positive light possible.  Are you neurotic, stubborn, or incapable of delegating?  Instead, try using words that are seen as professional strengths, like dedicated, persistent, or thorough.  For example:  "I tend to be a perfectionist, so sometimes I have a hard time letting a project leave my hands until it's absolutely finalized."  This answer addresses an area you need to improve, but explains it in a positive way.

Just be sure to follow it up with how you've addressed this "shortcoming" such as: "But I've found that sometimes it's more effective to get feedback on a project along the way, even if it is not yet complete.  I try to strike a balance between getting things done right the first time and being open to others' input."

Put your interview skills to work by applying for a job with AAA Carolinas.

Published: 1/3/2013  3:51 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

December 20, 2012

A to Z Guide to Your Dream Job in 2013

​With only two weeks left to the end of the year, now is a great time to start mapping out your career path for 2013.  Below is a helpful A to Z guide on landing your dream job in the coming year from YouTern.

A - Take Action

Don't just dream of landing your dream job; take action towards it and do it now.

B - Be Social

For 2013, set yourself a target to become a regular user of LinkedIn and Twitter at the very least, and get a blog going too - it will help improve your job prospects in the long run.

C - Update Your Resume Regularly

And while you're at it, make sure any cover letters you send out are intact too.  With an average of 73 applicants going for every job advertised, you can't afford to neglect this vital process in landing your dream job.

D - Dress for Success

A bit of a cliche, I know, but first impressions really do count so make sure you're presentable wherever you go.

E - Educate Yourself

Expanding your knowledge base is another way to stand out in the job market so do a university or master degree if you need to, or enroll in a short, part-time or even long-distance course in a field related to your industry of choice.

F - Stay Focused

Concentrate on your mission and don't allow distractions to take you off path if you're serious about 2013 being your year to land your dream job.

G - Set Goals

If you haven't set goals before, now is the time to start.  Don't just think about what you want, write your vision down and make it plain; put it somewhere where you can see it everyday.

H - Ask for Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it - this could be as simple as sharing your goals with friends and family and making yourself accountable to them.

I - Develop Your Interests and Activities

Not only is this a great way to widen your network, it also gives you exciting stuff to talk about on your CV and at the interview, which may help you clinch the job.

J - Join Relevant Groups (on and offline)

These groups should relate to your industry of choice so you can keep up to date with developments and key contacts.  LinkedIn is especially good for this purpose.

K - Keep Going

Even when it gets tough and you're feeling discouraged from getting more rejection letters than you are job interviews; if you remain persistent and committed, things will eventually turn around for you.

L - Don't Stop Learning

Make 2013 your year of learning and commit to being a lifelong learner thereon.  This doesn't have to be formal education as before, but rather personal development through reading books, attending seminars, etc.

M - Manage Your Career

Nobody owes you anything in life so accept full and personal responsibility for creating the type of work like you want and get going to make it happen.

N - Utilize the Power of Networking

Who you know really does count so make 2013 the year of getting to know people in and out of your industry; start building connections now and it will pay off later in life.

O - Learn to Recognize and Embrace Opportunities

Sometimes the only way to know how good a swimmer you are is to go ahead and dive right in the pool (*disclaimer - don't take this literally; if you can't swim, get out of that water!)

P - Maintain a Positive Attitude at All Times

Be grateful for the things you have and opportunities that come your way; gratitude is a great way to keep your positivity tank filled up because no matter how bad it is, it really could have been a lot worse.

Q - Ask Questions

Find people you admire or people working in the organizations you want to enter.  Most people like being asked for advice (it gives us a chance to show off how much we know) so go ahead and ask questions - it will broaden your industry knowledge along the way.

R - Build Meaningful Relationships

Don't just network for the sake of filling up your address book or for what you'll get out of it.  Aim to build quality and meaningful relationships with people where there is mutual benefit.

S - Develop Your Public Speaking Skills

This is probably one of the most important things you can do for your career and for a better quality of life in general, and it applies even if you're a self-proclaimed introvert.

T - Think Outside the Box

Find ways to do things differently (like sending hand-written cover letters in the mail rather than typing and emailing it like everyone else.)

U - "Upskill" Yourself Regularly

Keep on developing your existing skills and look for ways to add new skills to your repertoire; the more skilled you are, the more attractive you become to a potential employer and therefore the more likely you are to get hired.

V - Volunteer Your Time

As a way to keep busy, build your skills and do good all at the same time.  It also gives you a good reason to get out of the house from time to time to escape the repetitiveness of constant job hunting.

W - Get Some Work Experience Under Your Belt

Any experience (preferably within your industry) is better than no experience at all.

X - Lose the Excuses

Overlooking the cheat with the letter X, excuses can be a barrier to your job-seeking success in 2013 unless you determine to put a stop to them once and for all.  Don't make excuses for why you're not where you want to be; instead invest that energy into finding out how you can get to your destination and then take the necessary steps to achieve it.

Y - You Only Live Once

No, I'm not advocating the reckless YOLO mindset but the truth is that you really do only live once so make sure the career you design for yourself is really what you want to be doing with your life.

Z - Be Willing to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone

From time to time, experience new things and get new results - this is probably the fastest way to enormous personal growth and awakening gifts and talents you didn't even know you had.

Published: 12/20/2012  2:45 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

December 14, 2012

Will Your Soft Skills Land You the Job?

​It's a no-brainer that your degree, work experience, and resume can all play into whether or not you land the job.  But many people neglect their "soft" skills, otherwise known as emotional intelligence, which may make a difference between an employee who can do the job and one who does it well.  Soft skills aren't typically taught in school but they're an important part of the hiring process.  Simply put, AOL describes soft skills as characteristics that make us more likeable.

Soft skills continue to play a big role in hiring decisions.  Employers realize they can teach hard skills, such as how to use a software program, but it's virtually impossible to retrofit employees with soft skills.

Below is a list of important soft skills that you may want to work on developing for future job interviews:

Adaptability.  No one loves change, especially at work, but today, being flexible and having a good attitude while welcoming the unexpected is a valuable skill.  Are you the first to complain if plans change?  Do you sulk and brood when things don't go your way?  If that's you, think about how you can be a little less rigid.  It will make you a more memorable job seeker.

Teamwork.  It's hard to find a job description that doesn't mention working with a team and collaborating cross functionally.  It might as well say, "Must play well with others."  You can practice being a team player by actually joining a team outside of work.  Consider joining a sports team or volunteer to work for a nonprofit organization on a joint project to practice and improve your teamwork skills.

Communication.  Probably the root of all soft skills, if you can communicate well, you are halfway there to many jobs.  Employers evaluate this from the start.  How do you handle yourself on the phone?  What does your application look like?  Can you send a strong email message?  The interviewer will know right away if you can communicate well by how you introduce yourself and how you address questions.  You can practice by preparing what you will say in the interview.  Think about ways you can communicate succinctly, because this is an important skill, even for people seeking highly technical jobs.

Positive demeanor. It's just another way to say "nice to be around."  If you're rude to the receptionist and don't hold the door for the person walking behind you, it's likely you aren't winning a lot of "nice" points.  If you're the office complainer, your attitude and behavior are probably hurting your job search.


Published: 12/14/2012  1:46 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

December 07, 2012

Interview Cheat Sheet

10015034_s - paid for.jpgDo you have an interview coming up?  Use this interview cheat sheet from Careerealism for the best tips, tricks, and advice on nailing your interview.

Interview Preparation

When you're preparing for your interview, you need to make sure you cover all of your bases.  Here are some tips on what you say to a potential employer.

  1. Be prepared with questions for the employer - Even if the interview was packed with information, always have questions prepared to ask the employer that have not been touched on or that you can benefit from by having more information.  Asking questions expresses to an employer that you are serious and sincerely interested in the company and position.
  2. Show them you did your homework - If you're able to share the company's background information and showcase knowledge of its future goals for the position in question, you'll undoubtedly catch the interviewer off-guard, in a great way!

Interview Questions

Being prepared to answer any question that comes out of the interviewer's mouth is a big advantage in interviews.  Here are some questions to go over before your next interview:

  1. "How do you handle stress?" - Interviewers are generally looking for an answer that indicates you can handle multiple priorities and projects at the same time.  An answer stating that stress is a natural part of life and you feel equipped to handle the challenges of the job and balance them with the rest of your life may be just the answer that earns you the job.
  2. "Tell me about yourself." - What the hiring manager is really asking: "How do your education, work history, and professional aspirations relate to the open job?"  Select key work and education information that shows the hiring manager why you are a perfect fit for the job and for the company.
  3. "Tell me about a time when you did___." - Just because you've never done something doesn't mean you can't do it.  And it surely doesn't mean you can't excel at it.  The best way to handle the question is to say something along these lines; "While I have not had any direct experience in XYZ, I am a fast learner, and I am confident that I could (do, manage, direct, handle, etc.) XYZ successfully and exceed your expectations."

Post-Interview Protocol

Even after the interview is over, you need to go the extra mile to impress the employer.  Here are some post-interview tips:

  1. Follow up with a thank-you note - Send notes to all the individuals with which you had a conversation.  Do not send one note to just the hiring manager.  You will miss out on all the other contacts that you made.  Make the notes unique to each individual based on the conversation you had with them.

Published: 12/7/2012  11:39 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

November 15, 2012

Signs You Nailed Your Interview

​If you're like most people, the moment you leave an interview you replay the entire thing in your head, trying to figure out how it went.  Until you develop psychic powers, you'll never know exactly what your interviewer was thinking, but the clues below from Aegistech will help you differentiate whether you nailed your interview, or if it was the final nail in your candidacy's coffin.

  1. You meet extra people.  If the manager you're meeting with decides to introduce you to his/her team or makes an impromptu introduction to another manager, it's probably a good sign.  There's no need to introduce you if you'll never be back in the office.
  2. The interview goes longer than expected.  If a scheduled one-hour interview turns into three hours of strong back-and-forth banter, things are going really well.  A manager has no need to continue a conversation if he/she has decided there's no future between you and the firm.
  3. You hear, "How soon can you start?"  While some companies ask this as a standard part of every interview, you've likely made a good impression if the manager isn't reading the question off of a form.  It's an even better sign if this comes later in the interview.  This is known as asking "buying" questions.  When a manager is truly interested in hiring you, they ask questions specific to closing the deal, such as "when can you start?" and "how much notice do you need to give?"
  4. A connection is made.  Like a first date, keep an eye out for subtle signs of compatibility.  The interviewer's body language, tone of voice, and demeanor all provide clues to whether or not you'll be taking things to the next level.
  5. You get all the dirty details.  If you spend time breaking down the specifics of the role, you've likely done well.  Going into the position's particulars is a key step in the manager understanding if you'll fit in.


Published: 11/15/2012  12:27 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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