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Category: Human Resources

How to Decide if a Job Offer is Right for You

Job Offer - Accept or Decline

Accept or Decline: How to Decide if a Job Offer is Right for You

After weeks (or maybe months) of job searching, you’ve become a pro at finding the names of hiring managers, writing personalized cover letters, and, of course, mastering the interview process. And then it happens: You’ve just been offered the job.

Congratulations! That was the hard part, right? Maybe not. On two separate occasions, I had multiple job offers so determining whether to accept a job can be just as challenging.

In today’s economy, many workers spend five years or less in a job. Being able to evaluate whether a prospective job offer is a good fit for your immediate and long-term professional goals is critical.

Ultimately, I have either turned down great jobs or accepted the wrong job for a myriad of reasons – some good, some bad. When evaluating a job offer, you need to keep the following in mind:

Research the company and the position.

During the interview process, ask questions about the company’s future direction and its corporate culture to assess whether working there will be a good fit for your professional goals. If you’re on the fence after receiving the offer, you may want some time to think it over then go with your gut. If you have a bad gut feeling about a job offer, you shouldn’t ignore it.

Be realistic about your prospects.

If you know you are a final round candidate for multiple jobs at once, you’ve got some flexibility when it comes to making a decision. However, if you only have one offer on the table, it can be difficult to compare with other possibilities. If you’ve been out of work for a while, you may not be in a position to hold out for a better offer that may never come.

There is no “dream” or “perfect” position.

No job will ever be perfect. Whether it’s an annoying co-worker or a long commute, there’s a downside to just about every job. As objectively as possible, weigh the pros and cons of accepting this new position. If the salary is not as high as you were expecting, will you be learning a new, valuable skill or significantly expanding your professional contact base that could offset a lower salary? If the commute is longer than you want, are there opportunities for telecommuting or flexible hours? Talk to the hiring manager about how you can shape the job to better match your professional and personal needs.

Never take a job out of desperation.

I know all too well about taking a job out of desperation just to get back to work. If you do end up in the wrong place and want to leave again fairly quickly, you’ll now have a pattern that makes you look like a job hopper. It also means you could end up in a job that you’re not good at and get fired from. Then you’re unemployed, with a firing to explain, and an unhelpful reference from your most recent employer. That’s inflicting a lot of damage on yourself just to get out of a bad job a little more quickly.

You need to be wary of “rose-tinted spectacles” you might wear if you are unemployed or have been searching for a long time. Instead of talking yourself into something, you may want to explore other alternatives like accepting the job for a short-term period, while you look elsewhere. If that’s not possible and you really need the job, know the risks. Many people underestimate the impact of switching jobs and what it does to your client relationships, network, and prospects.

Whether it’s a mismatch in company culture or lack of professional challenge, don’t be afraid to walk away from a job offer that just doesn’t fit your needs. If you feel like you’re taking a job out of desperation, you may resent the position and ultimately underperform. As stated above, this could damage your industry reputation and hurt your candidacy for future positions. It’s better to be honest with the hiring manager about why you are declining the position than accept a job that ultimately will make you – and everyone around you – miserable.

There is a downside to this. The honest truth is there are times when you’ll have to take any job you can get, even if you know it’s a bad fit. Maybe your house is about to be foreclosed on, you can’t make rent, or you have a family depending on you for income. There will be times when finding ANY job is a priority over the PERFECT job.

Have you ever walked away from a job offer?

The Misconception About Being “Downsized” or “Let Go”

The Misconception About Being “Downsized” or “Let Go”

In the last four years, my career has taken some unexpected turns. First, the hospital where I worked for years needed to become as lean as possible given that the healthcare industry was undergoing major changes. The uncertainty of how healthcare reform would affect our industry, including how hospitals would be paid for their services, called for conservative measures. Our department, along with many others, was streamlined in anticipation of this trend. I was “downsized” or “let go” as were many others in the organization. I was out of work for seven months.

After I lost my job, I went through an outplacement agency. Unbeknownst to me, the outplacement agency sent my resume to an outpatient facility dedicated to treating patients with opioid addiction and substance abuse. One of the job responsibilities was to detox patients for their inability to pay. I was so worried about never getting hired again that I felt I had to take the job. At the time, I was in school pursuing a degree in communications, so eight months later I decided to leave the job to pursue other possibilities within my chosen career field.

I was so happy to receive a job offer where I would be gaining experience in my chosen field. During my interview, I was informed that the company was going through a rebranding and a Board restructure. Six months later, it happened again. I was let go, along with many others, as part of the restructuring process.

It took me 11 months to find my next job. During that time, I focused my efforts on doing an internship in marketing and communications and taking classes to enhance my current degree.

Once again, worried about never getting hired, I took the first job offer. The company was not quite the right fit for my long-term goals and there were no opportunities for advancement. After six months, I left for what I thought was a better opportunity.

“Let Go” Not Once, Not Twice…But

DownsizedTwo weeks after I was lured away from a secure job, I was informed by my new employer that the company had been sold and my job eliminated. I was devastated.

I’ve now been looking for work for seven months.

After the first two layoffs, I was confident that my long time excellent work reputation and continuing determination to find the right position would serve me well.

Millions of people have been let go.

Today, it’s the norm for employers to regularly restructure to keep their staff lean and mean. Layoffs are never going away.

From what I have seen, companies are hiring more contract workers. Contractors are here to stay. Why? Essentially, companies no longer feel they have the ability to offer long-term, full-time jobs. Full-time employees are very expensive, or many companies have implemented hiring freezes; however, they still need experienced people to perform the work. Also, contractors can cost less in terms of fully loaded costs as companies are not required to pay for benefits like vacations, sick leave, or medical insurance. Even if the contractors are higher priced on an hourly basis, it might be less expensive for the company to hire them for a project or limited time.

I feel that stable employment may be a thing of the past. Furthermore, as long as employers have the power with the “at will” state law to terminate employment, there will always be many unjustifiably terminated employees.

Job Search Strategies

Job Search Strategies

Job SearchIt may be surprising to learn that executive-level job seekers face the same challenges as the average job applicant. Implementing the correct search strategy could mean the difference between landing a dream position and remaining in your current role.

Whether you are actively searching for a management position or just want to keep your options open for future opportunities, the job market has become more competitive in recent years. Many companies have pared down their staff and are no longer willing to dedicate limited financial resources to candidates with high salary expectations. Other companies are retaining Baby Boomer employees longer and, therefore, have limited available for outside applicants.

In addition, technology has changed the methods that recruiters and hiring managers use to locate talent, which could limit a technically challenged candidate’s chances of being hired.

Social Media Strategy

With over 500 million users, LinkedIn is the largest job networking site on the internet. Career-minded individuals used to need to attend networking and conference events to gather business cards and develop relationships with industry experts. Now, professionals can accomplish a significant amount of networking through LinkedIn without ever having to leave the office.

A comprehensive, searchable LinkedIn profile can increase a candidate’s online presence, add to his or her credibility and reputation, and reach recruiters and hiring managers. In fact, recruiters regularly browse LinkedIn using specific criteria designed to locate relevant key words, education, company, industry, position, title location, skills and much more.

If you don’t already have one, you can create a LinkedIn profile for free. If you already have a profile, ensure that it is comprehensive, meaning you have completed every section and utilized keywords that recruiters may be search for. LinkedIn even tracks profiles for completion and provides suggestions for improvement.

There are a few general rules regarding professional LinkedIn profiles:

Social Media Strategy

  • A professional photo is a must. Profiles with photos are viewed more often than those without.
  • Content should be professional.
  • Active participation in group forums and discussion threads is just as important as maintaining a profile and reaching out to your connections.

Networking

Although social media is important, it is not the “be all, end all” of networking strategies. My professors and bosses have always stressed the importance of networking, and I couldn’t agree with them more. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds a lot of truth. No matter what level you are in your career, it is always important to attend industry conferences, networking events, alumni gatherings, and trade shows to stay relevant and discover and maintain connections. Networking in person provides people the opportunity to cultivate relationships that were started via social media.

Another benefit of networking is that job seekers can secure interviews and gain a leg up on the competition. Employers prefer to hire based on referrals or recommendations which people in your network can provide. In fact, many job seekers have landed their current position through a personal or professional referral as opposed to completing an application or submitting a resume.

Have You Seen My Blog?

When you see the word “blogging” you should see a flashing sign that reads, “easy marketing opportunity.” Blogging may sound intimidating but maintaining a blog is less involved than you think. Posting once or twice a month depending on the material is enough to maintain an online presence. The key is to stick to a schedule and maintain consistency. A blog can show hiring managers that your wealth or knowledge would be a great addition to their company while also displaying your personality.

Creating a Brand

Think of companies like Apple, Rolex or Nike. These names are recognizable and appealing to consumers around the globe because of their great branding efforts. Apple always has the newest, user-friendly technology products while Rolex’s quality, elegant products are unmatched. Staying current with industry trends, Nike has established a timeless brand through merging sports and fitness interests. Just like these labels, you can create a personal brand that differentiates yourself from the competition.

For example, what are your specialties, talents, and achievements? personal brand benefitsYour brand should demonstrate who you are, what you have done, what your strengths are, and how you can help a company solve a problem. These are your selling points so this information should be consistent on your resume, blog, and LinkedIn profile.

 

Attitude Counts

attitude countsA candidate’s skills, achievements, and networking efforts matter, but so does attitude. Hiring managers indicate that a candidate’s enthusiasm for acquiring new skills and learning on the job can play a crucial role in their hiring decision. Companies want to know that a candidate will not have a “know it all” attitude. Also, many recruiters are concerned that Baby Boomers have already “checked out” and are looking toward retirement in a few years, which may dissuade them from hiring an older professional in favor of a younger one. Baby Boomer candidates search for long-term positions should be sure to convey their company loyalty and enthusiasm for continued work.

In conclusion, many candidates have realized that the job search is tougher than ever. But with the right attitude, brand, social media strategy, and networking efforts, any candidate can succeed in securing a better job opportunity.

Types of Interviews

Interviews

Types of Interviews

Employers conduct different types of job interviews, but each has the same goal. They wish to assess how well a potential applicant fits the position.

In many interviews, employers combine several types of interviews to evaluate competencies for the job.

Most people think of the typical one-on-one selection interview when they think of an interview, but there are many kinds of interviews. This article categorizes several types of job interviews. Knowing what type of interview you will be having will help in your preparation. Remember! The more information you gather before interviewing for a job, the better you are able to prepare effectively.

Types of Interviews:             Interview Types

  • Phone Interview
  • One-on-one Interview
  • Group Interview
  • Team Interview
  • Behavioral Interview
  • Speed Interviewing
  • Campus and Job Fair Interview
  • Informational Interview
  • Screening Interview
  • Mealtime Interview

Phone Interview: An increasing number of organizations are choosing to use the phone interviewing method to screen candidates before calling them for the actual interview. The main thought behind conducting a phone interview is to allow the company to verify the basic details of the applicant while also scrutinizing his/her basic English speaking skills, enthusiasm for the job and also do a check on the details you have mentioned in your resume.

Be prepared for the interview and always have a copy of your resume and information about the company right in front of you while you talk to the interviewer. Arrange a time when you can speak freely without distractions such as children or pets. Unlike an in person interview, you can have notes in front of you. Take advantage by setting up information sheets about the company and your interview. Organize your notes in bulleted points and prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. Know your salary requirements as many prospective employers begin the dialogue with this question.

One-on-One Interview: The most common interview type of interview is the one-on-one (or face-to-face). This interview is traditionally conducted by a direct supervisor and if often the last step in a series of interviews. The interviewer may or may not be experienced in conducting interviews and, depending on personality and experience, the interview may be directive following a clear agenda, or non-directive relying on you to lead the discussion as you answer open-ended questions. You will likely be asked a variety of interview questions, so be familiar with all of the different types of questions so that you can adjust your answers appropriately. It is important to be thoroughly prepared – know the job and know yourself.

Group Interview: In a group interview, several candidates for a position are interviewed simultaneously. Candidates may also be asked to solve a problem together which allows interviewers to assess candidates’ skills in action. Regardless of how you may feel about any member of the group, treat everyone with respect, and avoid power struggles, which make you appear uncooperative. Be aware that all interactions are being observed; don’t let down your guard or lose your perspective.

Team or Panel Interview: In this type of interview you alone are being interviewed by a panel of several employees of the company offering employment. The key to success in a panel interview is to interact with each member of the panel. Team or panel interviews are designed to reduce individual interviewer bias. One member of the panel may ask all of the questions or individual panel member may take turns. Make eye contact with the person asking the questions, but also to give every member on the panel your attention, regardless if they ask any questions at all – treat them all with equal importance. Be prepared to extend more energy in this setting, as you need to be alert and responding to more people.

Behavioral Interview: In this type of interview, you will be asked questions about how you acted in a specific situation. Behavioral interviewing is an interviewing technique in which the questions asked (and the answers received) assist the interviewer in making predictions about a candidate’s future performance based on his/her actual past behaviors. Questions might include: Describe a situation where you had to resolve a conflict or describe a situation where you were not successful in resolving a problem. Here the interviewer is looking for evidence of responsibility and the ability to learn from mistakes.

Speed Interviewing: During my college coursework, the company where I was working was going through a major restructuring and regrettably I lost my job. I went to speak with the career counselors at my school who invited me to attend speed interviewing.

One of the latest techniques to hit the job market is the speed interview.  The method, much like speed dating, allows both the interviewee and hiring company to assess the potential match of candidate to corporation. It also exposes the applicant to a large number of hiring companies in a short timeframe, thereby maximizing the chance of finding a job.

Speed interview sessions are usually held during career fairs or during college recruitment events such as career days. 

Depending on the size of the event, the number of participating companies can range from a dozen recruiters to over 100.  Hiring companies can expect to interview over 100 job candidates in a single day.

The total length of the interview will only be 5 to 15 minutes in length, and candidates can expect the interview questions to be challenging. 

First impressions do count, especially when it comes to speed interviews. Job candidates have a short amount of time to make a great impression. When interviewing, dress professionally, have a firm handshake, be polite, prepare your elevator speech, bring copies of your resume and writing instruments, and research the companies attending the session.

Campus and Job Fair Interviews: Campus interviews are a form of screening interview. They are shorter, usually one-on-one interviews and are designed to allow a recruiter to see a large number of applicants on a single trip. Most college and university career placement offices have procedures for scheduling these interviews, which are typically with larger, corporate employers. Follow the procedures established by the placement office or job fair sponsor, or you might miss out! Campus recruiters are trained interviewers. You should prepare for your interview thoroughly. A recruiter is looking for the candidate who is alert and well-presented and who comes to the interview with knowledge about the company. Your placement office can help you gain this information. If you are successful at the interview, you may be asked to an onsite interview at the company. Don’t forget to write your thank you note. It might help you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Informational Interviews: When I was looking to transition from an Executive Assistant into marketing, I coordinated several informational interviews. These interviews are not about employee selection at all. An informational interview is an informal conversation with someone working in an area that interests you who will give you information and advice. Remember! It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings. Resist the urge to ask about open positions.

You may feel awkward scheduling an appointment with someone you don’t know about their work. However, I have found that most people actually enjoy taking a few moments out of their day to reflect on their professional life and to give advice to someone with an interest in their field.

When scheduling an informational interview, allow 20-30 minutes tops.

When sending your request, veer away from contacting human resources employees, since their standard answer will be to send a resume. Your best option would be to find someone within the role you’re hoping to fill, or one-step above that, who is close to a hiring manager.

When sending your request, make sure to be clear and concise about your motivation. The biggest mistake people make at this stage is not customizing what they say.

Following is a brief script that I used when scheduling my informational interviews:

“I am writing to introduce myself and ask about your willingness to meet with me to discuss careers in the marketing/communications industry. Recently, I graduated with a degree in Corporate Communications from Notre Dame of Maryland University and have been working as a Marketing and Communications intern with the Alzheimer’s Association. I am writing to seek information about career opportunities in this field.

I would like to emphasize that I would simply welcome any career advice or information you can offer me as I explore my options.

If you are able to spare the time, I would like to meet with you briefly (approximately 20 minutes) to learn more about your career and the industry. I am available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  If these days are not a viable option for you, I can rearrange my schedule accordingly.

Thank you for your consideration.”

Screening Interview: The first phase of an interview can be termed as a general interview or even as screening interview. The main purpose of this type of interview is to segregate the suitable and non-suitable candidates. Those who are selected move to the next round of interviews. Screening interviews are shorter in length and are usually performed by a member of the Human Resources Department.

Mealtime Interview: Sometimes an interview will take place over lunch or dinner, or a series of interviews will lunch. Dining with your interviewer is a great opportunity to develop a more comfortable relationship. BEWARE! You are still on an interview. Do not forget this! Resist the urge to become overly familiar with the interviewer. Remain professional, and remember your table manners: no elbows on the table and don’t speak with your mouth full. Other something in the mid-price range on the menu, but nothing messy, like spaghetti. Avoid alcohol, and don’t smoke. Your host will almost always pay the bill. Let them.

In conclusion, companies carry out many different types of interviews. Knowing what type of interview to expect will help you properly prepare. A group interview will be very different from a phone interview or one-on-one interview.

Does More Time Off Makes Us More Productive?

Does More Time Off Makes Us More Productive?

Time off - VacationMost Americans take some time off during the summer, and I’m no exception. Most years I take a staycation. But, in 2013 and again in 2015, I was blessed where I could take my family to Europe. Since I would have no access to phone or email, I had to wrap up all loose ends prior to my vacation so my co-workers wouldn’t have to deal with any messes while I was away.

Those weeks leading up to my vacation turned out to be some of my most productive weeks. Essentially, I had accomplished more work in less time. So, I began to ponder if it was possible to work fewer hours and actually be more productive.

Europeans certainly get more vacation than Americans. By law, every country in the European Union has a minimum annual entitlement of four weeks’ vacation in addition to bank and public holidays. In stark contrast, the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have statutory requirements on employers to provide paid vacation, holiday, or sick days. Most U.S. companies, of course, do provide vacation as a way to attract and retain workers. When companies do give vacation time; however, it averages only 10 days a year.

In the U.S., our culture believes, at its core, that the harder we work, the more we will succeed. But, there’s actually no proof that working harder and not taking time off leads to greater success.

The truth, in fact, is that vacations are necessary to our well-being and performance. Taking regular breaks from work greatly improves productivity while skipping vacation often leads to stress and exhaustion. This is why vacations from work are important. Our brains and body need time to recharge. Rest, relaxation and stress reduction are important for people’s well-being and health. Therefore, vacations are necessary for mental and physical health and, in turn, productivity.

Americans need to reassess their perceptions surrounding the relationship between time spent working and productivity. In turn, they will find that they’re healthier, happier and better at their jobs.

Why do Europeans and Americans differ so much in their attitude toward work and vacation? I feel that it comes down to culture. Europeans have a fuller appreciation that life is to be enjoyed. Work is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In stark contrast, Americans are more materialistic and values stuff such as their big homes and cars more than they value time. We all have to pay the bills. But, life will slip past you if you’re not careful. There is a world to be explored beyond your place of work.

Based on my previous experience, I think that awarding more vacation in order to boost productivity just might work. It’s time to start planning my next vacation.

The Importance of Internships

Internships

As you search the job boards, you may notice that internship hunting season is upon us and is quickly becoming commonplace—at least on college campuses. Many universities require seniors to complete an internship in order to learn more about their proposed career. College Career Centers help connect employers seeking interns with students looking for field experience. Internships can vary in nature depending on the employer and the student. Furthermore, they can range from local to international, for-credit or not, paid or unpaid.

The hope of gaining a competitive advantage for future employment has increased both the number and quality of internship applications. In today’s economy, internships have become a significant and important way for graduates to catch the eye of potential employers.

Even employers place more importance on their own internship programs as a recruiting tool for full-time employees.

Internship programs have taken a lot of heat over the past few years. Some for good reason—not every internship is legal according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, especially opportunities where for-profit companies expect candidates to work full-time for no pay.

 

Internship Law 101

As more internships have developed across the country, Congress passed a number of laws regulating them, including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. More recently, the Department of Labor has come up with six conditions that firms must meet when offering unpaid internships. As long as companies abide by the laws surrounding internship programs, these opportunities should not be written off.

  1. The internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees;
  4. The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern;
  5. The intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and
  6. The intern understands that he or she is not entitled to wages.

Benefits of Internships

Besides getting a foot in the door with a potential employer and looking good on a résumé, internships have other advantages:

Internship Benefits

Gain Industry Knowledge You Don’t Learn in College

I took a different approach to interning. Returning to college as a highly motivated adult, I was looking to transition into the field of marketing communications after graduation. When I lost my job in healthcare, I decided to pursue an internship in my new chosen field. In 2015 my internship in marketing and communications with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Maryland Chapter was productive and inspiring. During my undergrad coursework, I learned concepts and theories but I didn’t have the practical hands-on experience necessary for the workforce and this is where the benefits of my internship became apparent.

Acquiring New Skills

Employers know that internships are designed to be learning experiences for students, so not only do you get to participate in multiple tasks, but you are given the hands-on training and feedback that empower you to leave your internship with the confidence to tackle any task at your next job.

I remember very clearly my experience as an intern. I developed digital marketing collateral in line with brand standards that included postcards, brochures, print ads, digital ads, banners, posters, and website images. Additionally, I was assigned an interesting social media project where I created photographic and video communications from storyboarding to publishing in a weekly video series. These videos were then posted to a different media channel. Now, I can demonstrate new talents to prospective employers.

Establishing Relationships and Chances to Network

Another benefit I took away from my internship was the personal references I can use when prospective employers ask for them. While interning at Alzheimer’s Association, I’ve also been able to do some networking and got a few informational interviews and prospective leads on other workplaces that might be hiring.

Your Confidence Will Improve

I’m in the process of searching for a job, and I have a great résumé. I have the confidence and I have the names, references, and organizations to back me up.

In conclusion, internships are a proven way to gain knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important networks in the field. Moreover, internships are a great way to find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job.

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