Dear Addie — Should I follow up after submitting an application?

Dear Addie,

I have been submitting 10-20 applications per week. I’m including my resumé and custom cover letters specific to each company, but I’m not hearing anything back. Not even a rejection. I feel like my applications are being sent into a deep abyss. Should I follow up when I don’t hear back? And if so, when is a good time?

Thanks,
Applying into an Abyss

Dear AiaA,

First off, great work on keeping your application volume up. 10-20 applications per week is solid. It’s a pretty clear cause and effect scenario — the more applications you send, the more likely you are to get an interview, and so on. Even if every job application you send out isn’t a perfect match, it’s still a good idea to cast a wide net in hopes of landing an interview (and eventually a job offer).

The question still remains, though — are your applications getting lost in a deep abyss? It’s possible — and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t assume no response = no interest.

Should I Follow Up?

By all means, yes! You should follow up. I know, it seems pestering to contact an employer after an application is submitted. After all, wouldn’t they have just contacted you if they were interested?

Follow-ups can be tricky — you’re treading the fine line of being proactive and pushy. The reality, though, is application volume can be so high the hiring manager is equally as overwhelmed as the job seeker.

When Should I Follow-Up?

Is there a posting deadline? — Be mindful of the close date on the application. Do not contact the employer before the application even closes. Not only would be considered generally annoying, but it would be futile.

Wait until 5-7 days after the closing date to follow-up.

No posting deadline? — The same advice applies. Following-up 5-7 days after submitting the application, regardless of when you submit, is considered appropriate.

How Should I Follow-Up?

without coming off as annoying and/or desperate

This is probably the most important element to consider. If your application was never reviewed (and even if it was, hiring manager’s spend an average of six seconds looking at an application), this is your chance to make a positive first impression.

Keep it short and sweet. Don’t ask why you haven’t been contacted yet, but rather use this time as an opportunity to express genuine interest for the position available.

Should you pick up the phone or stick with an e-mail? It depends. Many applications explicitly state NO phone calls, in which case, the answer is pretty obvious. Simply do not call them. That’s a sure fire way to keep your resumé in the dark abyss forever.

On the other hand, if the application doesn’t discourage phone calls, this can be a pretty powerful follow-up tool — especially in an age where everything is textual and phones are really just miniature computers.

The key to a successful phone call? — Don’t call more than once. Consider it powerful ammo that you only need to deploy once. Keep it friendly and concise, using it as a brief introduction and and opportunity to get a handle on the timeframe for moving forward.

Writing an e-mail is also a great approach (and the only approach that is appropriate if the hiring manager wants to avoid phone calls…save showing up at the office, but we don’t really recommend that!). Again, it’s all about keeping it short and sweet.

Here’s a template you can easily customize:

Hello [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I hope this finds you well! I am following up on the open [position title]. I submitted my application and resume, and I would like to kindly ask for the timeline on the hiring process. I am very enthusiastic at the prospect of joining your team and leveraging [your specific skills, knowledge, and experience] to help you [what profit you’d bring to the company]. Please let me know if you need any more details about my application. I look forward to speaking with you and sharing my ideas on how to help you with your upcoming challenges.

Kind regards,

[Name]

[include contact info]


It’s really that simple. The hard part, which we can all relate to at some point in the job search, is accepting the reality that the employer may just not be interested. In which case, keep doing what you’re doing! If you’re tired of going at it alone, you can access one of our experienced hiring managers to help you along the way!

Cheers,

Looking for work in 2019? Things may be different than the last time you searched.

Last month we released our definitive guide to the science of the job search, which offered a comprehensive analysis about the job search landscape in 2018. With a wealth of information and data to help you put your best foot forward in terms of your job search, we also recognize that no two years (or job searches) are alike which brings us to…

Surprise! This year is different

There are tons of variables when searching for a new job — individual requirements, experience level, age, application processes, the list goes on. What may have been a straightforward process in the past is now full of nuances and surprises. What’s more is the increasing feeling that searching for a job is a part-time job in and of itself. While we like to think our research gives us a good idea of what to expect, we wanted to talk to the people who are going through the process right now to find out, more specifically, what’s different this time around. What makes 2019 different?

This time last year I was overconfident and a bit egotistical about my job search. I took a semi-passive approach – assuming they would contact me. However after a few months I realized my resume needed work, my cover letter (if I even had one) needed updating, and I needed to keep my resume updated as often as I update my Facebook status…

— Patrick D., Sales Manager

To put it simply: Even if you’ve done this before, don’t expect the search to be the same.

More jobs are available

Despite some challenges in the market, the fact is there’s a pretty significant increase in jobs available now than in previous years — over 200% in certain industries. The folks we surveyed reported wide-ranging observations of the increase of job availability specific to their situation — with job seekers increasing their experience and different fields growing, there are an influx of jobs available; there are even more options for both employees and employers, making for a difficult decision making process.

Survey says…

We talked to folks in all different stages of their careers, from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals. It’s only a few weeks into the New Year, but some common themes emerged. To start, 60% of people starting the job search in 2019 are still employed. We know from experience that people who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a +149% hireability boost.

More does not necessarily equate to an easier search —

“There are more jobs available, but the market is more competitive in the new city I’ve relocated to.”

— Travis S., Content Creator

60% also expect their current search to take longer than previous search. Why do people expect this search to take longer than previous ones? Well, for starters, 23% of that 60% have already been at it for a long time. In some cases, responders reported having been in full-fledged job search mode for 7-8 months. One user even stated they have been at it since November 2017.

We know people are looking, but what exactly do they want?

A whopping 70% are looking because they want a higher salary.

“In the last 10 years, total compensation for 90th percentile income earners went up by 26% compared to a 21% increase for 10th percentile income earners — but the real gap was in benefits, where the value of benefits for 90th percentile earners went up 37% compared to a mere 15% increase for 10th percentile earners.”

— The 2019 Job Search Landscape

It’s not surprising a higher salary is at the forefront of many job searches. As experience is gained, worth increases. Not to mention the cost of living is skyrocketing across the United States. The statistic above may not sound promising, but there are some things we can recommend.

What should job seekers expect?

The general blueprint of a job search is more or less predictable — from polishing your resumé and crafting the perfect cover letter, to filling out as many applications as you can (which we aim to streamline to save you time for the other surprises), to preparing for an interview and waiting, for what seems like an eternity, for a callback…

That doesn’t mean the 2019 search will be the same as years prior, though. over 90 % of our survey respondents said the job search feels inexplicably different this time around. But why?

Search criteria has changed

Gone are the days of staying in the same career from graduation to retirement. The minimum amount of time necessary to “build” one’s resume at a particular job are decreasing. Interests, requirements, and general life circumstances all contribute to the changing climate of the search.

“I will finish my Bachelor’s in a few months and am looking for a career in my chosen field rather than part-time work I have looked for in the past.”

— PJ D., Software Engineer

Entry-level jobs require more experience

How in the world are you supposed to build your resumé if your first career in the job force requires 3+ years of experience? We tackled this subject last Spring, but the experience paradox is still weighing on people’s minds. “[It seems] more and more entry-level positions are requiring professional experience in my field.” One TalentWorks user indicated the perils of not being able to start their search in a new career field because they were not qualified to even begin the application process until they completed the necessary certifications.

What can you do about this?

  • Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience — You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. From what we see, if you’re within ±2 years of required experience, hiring managers will often consider you “close enough.”
  • Use Freelance Jobs To Build Your Experience —Not only will you get paid, you’ll also have far higher chances getting your second job (everyone else’s first job).

Full details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

The application process is different, and so are employer expectations

Respondents reported companies wanting more for less (in addition to experience), such as more skills for less pay. That’s clearly not ideal — you deserve what you’re worth! Moreover, the application process can feel like one giant black-hole. Everything is automated and there’s no opportunity for personal touch, which can feel pretty discouraging.

With an influx of recruiters, the same positions are being submitted over and over again. The result? Companies are overwhelmed with the same applicants being submitted by different recruiters and agencies.

Want to cheat the system? Our AI-driven system saves you time, energy, and ensures you’re getting out a record number of applications. We even optimize the time and day of your application so it doesn’t fall into the blackhole.

Changing expectations

We know, it’s easier said than done. While we have a wealth of data available about the specifics of the job search, there’s a very human element that cannot be distilled in a set of numbers.

As people move through their career, pursue further education, explore the world of entrepreneurship, and experience the unpredictability of life in general, expectations for a new job can change, and may need to change due to life circumstances.

“For better or for worse, I’m focused on a few narrow, but related fields, rather than general fields.”

— Tracy B., Operations Leader

“I don’t know where I fit. I have loads of specialist skills. I’ve had similar jobs to what I’m looking for, but interviews demand much more and things change so quickly in my field…” 

— Amanda L., Digital Content

Expectations from employers are moving targets that can take anyone by surprise, but don’t let the fluidity knock you out of your element. Be humble; remain confident.

Take the surprise in stride

Even when you think you might know, you might not really know…surprises in the job search don’t have to mean completely recalibrating everything you once felt comfortable with in the search. It does mean, though, utilizing different tools to help you be successful, and staying positive — no matter what variables are present in the current job search climate.

Not prepared to go at it alone? We’ve got your back. Let us take care of the most consuming parts of the job search for you.

Outside sources:

Here’s A Trick That Will Instantly Make Your Resume Better

Looking for help in the job search can be nearly as overwhelming as the search itself. There are a million different articles full of billions of tips and tricks that will help push your resume to the top of the pile (and we’re just as guilty in creating the clutter).

There’s checklists, templates and run-downs of Never-Ever-Evers. There’s recommendations on everything from how to format a resume on down to file type and font. It’s a lot to take in. So, knowing that you have a few more tabs open to look at, we’re here to offer one simple piece of advice. No top 5, no samples to download, just one tip that will get your resume noticed.

Use task/result sentences.

That’s really it. Fix your sentence formatting in your resume and your callbacks will increase. Hiring managers are looking for people who get results and this one trick of sentence structure will make you that person.

How it works:

A resume is a list of work you’ve done. Because of that, it lends itself to rote listing of your duties and responsibilities in the past. Even if your resume is impressive, laying out your daily to-do list to a stranger is bound to make their eyes gloss over.

Task/result sentences avoid this trap by telling the manager what the outcome of your work was and the ways in which you helped the company. Rather than telling them what you did, you’re telling them how the company fared because of your work. That’s bound to stick out in a sea of drab responsibility-listing.

Any examples?

The way you’re probably writing your resume currently looks something like this:

JOB A

  • Ran the Etcetera, Etcetera Campaign
  • Handled social media outreach
  • Organized the office space

But with task/result sentences, it can look like this:

JOB A

  • Launched a fundraising campaign that raised $10,000 in 8 weeks which extended runway for X months
  • Created a social media influencer outreach campaign that led to 10K new Twitter followers and 11% increase in monthly revenue
  • Led a space planning and reorganization workshop that freed up 160 square feet of office space for the company
    Here’s an additional job search tip. Always use numbers where you can. Quantifiable impacts are much-loved by hiring managers. It makes it that much easier to pitch your worth to the people in the company.

Of course, there’s more than just sentence structure to the job search. That’s where we can help. Our ResumeOptimizer and fully automated job search suite is only $10 and guarantees that you’ll hear back from a job you want.

Searching For A Job? You Should Have A Portfolio

Listen, you need a portfolio. This isn’t some moment at the open mic where you can pretend the person on stage is talking to someone else. This isn’t a stage production of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you’re reading this, you should know that you need a portfolio.

How do I know you need one? Well, for one, you’re looking for a job and a clean-looking collection of all your accomplishments can only help. But mostly, a portfolio is just something that every person, no matter their field or job, should have.

The Big Reason Why

I know I’ve been telling you that you need a portfolio, now let me show you why they’re necessary. That’s actually exactly it: showing over telling.

Literally every single person who is applying for the same jobs as you is saying that they’re the right fit for the job. After a while, it’s all so much white noise. A portfolio showing that you’ve handled the exact sort of work that they’ll expect from you at this new gig is a surefire way to stand out among all the people who are just saying “trust me.”

If they are looking for leaders, go ahead and share a few projects you’ve lead. If they’re looking for someone with an eye for design, wow them with your work on a website that looks great. There’s no reason not to have examples of your work contained in one easy-to-navigate space.

But I’m Not A Creative

Doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t have copies of projects to share, a personal website with crisp and clean photos of yourself alongside you accomplishments is bound to make the right impression. As we’ve mentioned before, being heard above the din can be hard. You want to do anything that will help you stick out in a hiring manager’s mind even a tiny amount.

Knowing What Type Of Portfolio To Create

Since everybody needs one, quite a few places have cropped up that work well to host portfolios. Which portfolio works for you depends entirely upon what type of work you’re looking to do.

Behance works well for creative work, Medium is the spot for written words and Dribbble is for all the graphic designers. For the B.S. types, GitHub is great for engineering work. If your jobs have been a bit more nebulous, try out Squarespace or WordPress and fill the pages with stories about your experience.

What Should I Share?

Only your best. Seriously, go over all of your potential best projects and ding them. Be as ruthless to your own work as you possibly can. When you get done, you’ll probably be left with 3-5 really good examples and that’s what you want to build around.

Job Search Tip: While you’re in the mood for criticism, pass your portfolio off to friends and have them critique it. A fresh set of eyes never hurt.

While You’re Here…

We’re sure your portfolio is great, but that isn’t going to matter if your application never grabs a recruiter’s interest in the first place. For just $10, we can optimize your resume to make sure that it’s what hiring managers are looking for and automate your job search, sending out applications to all the jobs you want without wasting any of your time. We even offer a money-back guarantee because we know that our portfolio would be stacked with successfully placed candidates.

Making Sure Social Media Doesn’t Hurt You In The Job Search

We all preach keeping our personal life and work life separate. But in this endlessly interconnected age, that’s not always possible. Your personal online life will absolutely intersect with your professional online life at some point. It’s unavoidable.

But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With proper planning you can make sure that the crossroads at Facebook & Your Resume isn’t the site of a flaming wreck. Knowing that hiring managers are going to snoop on your social media profiles gives you the upper hand, allowing you to craft your online presence in a way that will show them what they want to see when they come digging.

To make it a little easier to snoop-proof your socials, we’ve put together a few tips.

Visit Like A Stranger

This is the most important part of any steps you might take to make your social media profile more presentable. You have to visit your page as an outsider if you want to have any hope of finding all the things that might pop up and scare off a prospective employer.

Dig around. Click on links that you wouldn’t if you were just using the platform in your day-to-day life. Double check what friends have tagged you in. If anything comes up that you think might throw off an employer, delete it ASAP.

Job Search Tip: Visit your pages in incognito mode to see what they look like to everyone else.

Make Sure You Match

Everyone stretches the truth during the job application process. You’re trying to make the best possible case for yourself, so you go ahead and look at your experience through rose-colored glasses and share that idea of yourself with recruiters. But that carefully constructed rosy reality can come crashing down quick if it doesn’t jibe with your social media profile.

Make sure that any recruiter who would stumble upon your page will find something roughly consistent with what you sent them. Your page doesn’t have to match your resume line for line. People do present themselves differently in different spaces, after all. But your employment history should match in a way that’s not going to send up any red flags.

Use A Professional-looking Profile Photo

This one’s easy. Try and get yourself a headshot. The first picture that any snooper might see should be a clean, clear photo of just you. Bonus points if you’re professionally dressed and smiling in a way that seems candid.

It Ain’t All Bad

I know we’ve made it seem like social media is nothing but a minefield meant to blow up any chances you have at landing your next gig. But social media can do at least as much helping as it does hindering, if you know how to make it work for you.

LinkedIn can be a great resource to provide you with legs-up and ways in if you regularly make a point of connecting with the people you’ve worked alongside. Growing your network (and maybe getting a few recommendations for skills you claim to have along the way) is a great way to show recruiters that real, live people enjoyed working with you.

Beyond that, Twitter is an excellent resource to find out who is hiring in the first place. Following people from the companies you want to work for can provide an inside scoop on a new gig, allowing you to get your resume in ahead of the horde.

We Can Help!

While we can’t paper over the pitfalls in your profile, we can help with everything else. For just $10, we will not only optimize your resume to guarantee that it’s giving hiring managers what they want, we’ll also automate the application process and send out that resume for you. We’re so confident in our method that we’ll put your money where our mouth is. If you don’t land an interview, we offer your money back. Luckily, our success rate makes this an easy bet to make.

 

Job Seekers Should Use The Tight Labor Market To Their Advantage

unemployment, job search, tight labor market

Unemployment has been historically low for an improbably long time. The New York Times reported that the last time we saw such a consistently tight labor market was nearly half a century ago. That might not seem heartening on first glance if you’re looking for a job now. But trust us, the low unemployment rate can be turned to your advantage during the job search.

unemployment, job search, tight labor market
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

If you’re looking for a job in this particular market, there are several ways that you can make this historic period of jobs gains work for you.  

Apply For Jobs You Aren’t 100% Qualified For

When the unemployment rate hits 3.9%, the hiring managers of the nation scramble. Their bosses are looking to hire ASAP and, if the last several years are any indication, the pool of talented applicants is only getting smaller. They need bodies and they need them now, so don’t feel put off by a job whose qualifications you aren’t fully meeting.

We’ve crunched some numbers and told you before that you should be applying to jobs for which you’re 60% qualified. Go ahead and bump that number down a bit. If you’re on the fence about an application, go ahead and throw it in. The time is right.

Hit The Job Search Hard (Especially If You Aren’t A White Guy)

The need for people can counteract some of the sadder facts of the job search. Where a market that’s weighted toward the people doing the hiring allows all sorts of biases to run rampant, a tight labor market with low unemployment means that hiring managers are forced to give applications from outgroups a fair shake.

“When companies have a hiring need and it becomes acute, all of a sudden, a lot of the old stereotypes and biases fade away, because need outweighs everything else,” Tony Lee of the Society for Human Resource Management told Marketplace.

Ask For More

This is probably the single greatest asset that a job searcher receives from low unemployment. Less people competing for the same positions means that you’re free to ask for more when the dreaded salary question rears its head during the interview. The supply-and-demand problem puts applicants in a position to ask for what they want and not what they think the person on the other end of the desk wants to hear.

All that being said, the job search can still be a difficult process. Even in a time of high demand, getting an interview is not a sure thing. We hear you and we’re here to help.

For just $10, we will do it all for you: we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. We can optimize your resume to make sure that those harried HR folks see exactly what they need to give you a call. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. It’s an easy bet for us to make: 90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less.

Looking Back on 2017: What I Learned on My Job Search and How I Plan to Rock 2018

2017…what a year. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go! When my husband and I were both laid off over the summer, I had no idea how we were going to bounce back. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We both found new opportunities within a couple months, which I’m very thankful for. 2017 will go down as the year I took the biggest risk in my career yet, and I’m still not quite sure how it will turn out. I guess I’ll find out in 2018.

Here’s what I learned during the great job hunt of 2017:

  • When they say the pay is “competitive”, sometimes they mean it’s competitive on Mars.
  • I got comfortable with saying “no”. Sometimes it even resulted in a better offer.
  • I started asking the questions I used to be too afraid to ask, such as how do you handle conflict as a manager? Regardless of the response, I got the answers I needed to make the best decision possible.
  • Sometimes they ask for a unicorn, but they’ll settle for a pony.
  • It’s okay if they don’t like what they see in me—having to be someone I’m not at work is way too stressful.
  • Being a comedian is probably not in my future, but I still love to make people laugh.
  • I need to work on listening to my instincts. There were a few times I ignored them this year (because I wanted them to be wrong) and ended up having a negative experience. Denial has never gotten me what I wanted in life.
  • If an employer is treating me poorly during the hiring process or they make commitments they don’t keep, I can walk away.
  • Sometimes what seems like a dream job is far from it. And sometimes a “boring” sounding job can be so much more than expected. I can’t judge an opportunity too soon.
  • I need to work for a cause I believe in—that’s when my best stories come out of me.
  • My cover letter and resume can always be better—even when I think I’ve nailed it this time.
  • Some employers will give you feedback when you ask how you can better present yourself (whether it’s your resume, portfolio, or interview skills). I asked for the first time this year—and the answer was almost never what I expected.
  • When describing my accomplishments, I embraced the importance of data and statistics and dropped the pointless adjectives.
  • Being a woman in a male-dominated profession (video production, in my case) is still an uphill battle. But it’s not one I intend to give up.
  • Being a woman with ADHD is a challenge. It’s also a gift—my imagination has no bounds, people.
  • Rejection still sucks—it will always suck—but the faster I move on, the faster I get over it. There will always be other opportunities.
  • I found myself disappointed a lot this year. Maybe I need to re-adjust my expectations or maybe I need to fight harder for change. More than likely, it’s a little of both.
  • Taking two part-time opportunities with two very different organizations isn’t exactly conventional, but the conventional route hasn’t taken me where I want to go so far. So, why not?

As I said above, I’m taking the unconventional route, splitting my time between two very different organizations—a start up and a large non profit—and writing for the awesome folks at TalentWorks. But I plan to go into 2018 with an open mind. I’m excited about all the possibilities. What stories will I dream up? What will I learn about these new industries I’m in? How many new people will I get to know and work with this year?

So, how do I plan to rock 2018? 

  • I’m going to keep asking questions. Why are we doing things this way? Can we do it better or more efficiently?
  • Being an introvert, it can be hard for me to develop new working relationships. But in 2017 I learned just how important those working relationships can be. I plan to make an extra effort to get to know my colleagues this year.
  • I’m going to push back when I need to, even when it’s intimidating.
  • I’m going to make it a point to learn something new.
  • I need to practice better self-care and set boundaries. In particular, this means not checking work email or thinking about work issues when I’m off the clock and making exercise, wholesome meals, and proper sleep a priority. I’m more productive at work and at home when I have “me” time.
  • No matter how well things are going, I know I can lose my job tomorrow. It’s time for me to start taking “saving for a rainy day” seriously.
  • If I find myself needing to hunt for a job, I’m going to be more selective about the roles I apply for. Unless I need a survival job, I’d rather wait to find the right job than take a role that’s wrong for me.

What about you? What did you learn this year in your job search that you’ll apply in 2018?

All I Want for Christmas Is My Dream Job

With one rough year coming to a close and a new year ahead, a seemingly blank canvas, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming. A lot of assessing where I am, how I got here, and what I want for my future. But I’ll leave that assessment for my next post.

Right now I want to dream with a mug of hot cocoa next to me. Care to join me in a little self-indulgence?

Most of us have to work for a living—there’s no escaping that. And, let’s face it, there are a lot of crappy jobs out there. But what if you could hop on a computer and design your dream job? What would it look like? What would you be doing? Sometimes, when we allow ourselves to dream, no holds barred, we realize what we think we want and what we actually want are very different.

My “dream” job looks different this year than it did last year. I’d been managing creative departments for a few years, and I was hoping to finally land my coveted role—Creative Director. Things didn’t go as planned. And you know what? It changed me. In fact, it changed my entire outlook on what I thought I wanted.

So, what does my dream job look like now?

  • I’m be doing what I love most in life—inspiring and being inspired. I’m a storyteller at heart, but I’m a restless storyteller. It’s not enough for me to just type words on a page. I want to create entire visual experiences. My dream job would involve telling stories through design, video, music, and photography.
  • No more 60-hour weeks. I want work-life balance, even if it means a salary cut or taking a less glamorous job title. A title is just that—a title. Being able to experience life on my terms, with those I love most, is more important than anything else.
  • I’m working for an important cause—anything involving animal rescue is a big passion of mine. But I’m also passionate about helping and inspiring others with disabilities and promoting youth literacy. I want more kids to read and I want them to dream big. If I can help make that happen, I will.
  • I have time to keep writing books for kids and young adults. The letters I get from young adults who’ve been helped in some way by my books inspire me to keep growing and keep dreaming. There are so many stories inside of me left to tell.
  • The people I work with don’t have to be perfect. We all get grumpy. We all disagree—life would be boring if we agreed all the time. But I like my team to be passionate about what they do, creative, and open to new ideas and perspectives. I thrive best in open communication environments where we are free to speak our minds and share our best ideas. We can laugh at ourselves and we aren’t afraid to be goofy just for the hell of it. Where people say – what can we do to make this better instead of this is just how things are. Change is possible if you want it badly enough.
  • A guacamole bar would be nice. Just sayin’.
  • A flexible work environment that lets me work where I’m most productive. Sometimes that’s having a brainstorming session with my team (in person), sometimes it’s at home, and sometimes it’s on top of a mountain. As long as the work gets done and we’re successful, does it really matter?
  • A manager or leader who has faith in me and my strengths. They give me autonomy and creative freedom in my area of expertise until I give them a reason not to.
  • Hiking meetings. Who says we can’t have a meeting, enjoy nature, and get some great exercise at the same time? Talk about efficiency.
  • Lastly, I’d like to bring my beloved cat (and best coworker ever) to my place of work.

Your turn! Tell us what your dream job would look like?

 

 

 

 

2 Interviews I Totally Biffed and What I Learned from Those Moments

We all have those interviews we look back on and think—if only. If only I’d taken ten minutes to review the company website. I might’ve said something better than “um” when they asked me what I knew about them. If only I didn’t forget my portfolio. If only I’d sold my skills more. We all make mistakes, just like we burp at the most inopportune times. But, in my book, mistakes make us more interesting. I grow a lot more as a human being when I make them.

Here are 2 of my not so glamorous interview moments and what I’ve learned from each experience.

Interview 1: When I showed up with my shirt inside out.

Yes, I actually showed up to an interview with my shirt inside out. Granted, it was one of those dress shirts, where the “inside” isn’t immediately distinguishable from the “outside”. I mean, it’s something you’d notice if you weren’t running fifteen minutes late and didn’t grab the first thing out of your hamper.

But I was running late, because… Okay, I didn’t have a good reason. I simply got distracted and lost track of time. So, I showed up at 8:59am (the interview was at 9), short of breath, because it was one of those maze-like office buildings and the suite was the last door I came to. You know, just like when you’re late for a plane, your gate is pretty much guaranteed to be at the end of the terminal. I discovered my shirt was on inside out, tag hanging out and all, right before the interviewer appeared to greet me.

Can you imagine how I came off when we shook hands? I watched their lips move, but all I could think was—oh my god. My shirt is on inside out. Have they noticed? Just how bad does this look? Should I ask to use the restroom or will that make everything worse? It’s probably rude to ask that now and make them wait. I was so inside my own head, I didn’t even realize the interviewer had asked me a question. Now they were looking at me expectantly.

Me: I’m sorry – what was that?

Interviewer (looks at me like I grew an extra head): Did you find us okay?

Me: Oh, yeah!

As you can imagine, the interview didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I was so distracted by my shirt that my normally cool and confident demeanor was replaced by nervous rambling.

What did I learn from this experience?

The importance of preparation, for one thing. These days, I make sure to pick out my interview outfit the night before and have it ready to go. I also put every interview on my Google calendar and have notifications turned on (I set mine to remind me thirty minutes before I have to leave). That way, when I get caught up in a project for a client, the latest book I’m working on, or even just a text conversation with a friend, I get a reminder to stop whatever I’m doing and start preparing to leave. So, if you’re easily distracted or have ADHD like me, you may want to consider setting reminders for yourself, even if it seems tedious or unnecessary.

When I come to an interview prepared, my mind is clearer and I just feel more confident.

Interview 2: When I let myself get rattled.

Sometimes interviewers don’t ask you the questions you expect. They throw things out at you to see how you respond. It first happened to me early in my career. We were having a standard interview until…

Interviewer: How many gas stations do you think there are in the city of Seattle?

Me: Um… I don’t know?

Interviewer: Take a guess.

Me: A hundred?

Interviewer: (smirks) Do you know the population of Seattle?

Me: Six hundred thousand or so?

Interviewer: So, you think there are a hundred gas stations in a city of six hundred thousand?

Me: I…honestly don’t know.

Interviewer: Well, how did you come up with that answer?

Me: The fact that I can never find a gas station when I need one?

Interviewer: (laughs) No, seriously. How’d you come up with that?

Me: Uh… (mind goes blank)

In that moment, I felt foolish. My answer must have been completely off the mark—why else would the interviewer look so amused, I thought. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t about the answer—it was about my thought process. But I’d let myself get rattled to the point of being speechless. For the rest of the interview, all I could focus on was how that one answer had completely did me in. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get a call back for a second interview.

Look, I don’t agree with that particular style of interviewing, even though I can see its purpose. I think it’s demeaning and not a great predictor of future performance or how well the candidate will fit into the role. I feel the same way about assessments. Not everyone tests well or fits into a neat little box. But some companies (and hiring managers) believe in them, so we, as candidates, either need to deal with them or refuse to move forward with companies that require them. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t an option for a lot of us.

What did I learn from this experience?

I realized that any interview I go on can have a curveball (or five) thrown at me, and I needed to learn how to take the unexpected in stride. It’s not about how fast I can answer a question. If I need time to answer a question, I ask for it. The world isn’t going to end if I don’t have the right answer. Like in the above example, it’s not even always about having the correct answer. It’s about how you handle the situation. Staying calm and having confidence in myself has made a huge difference in how frequently I get called back for second interviews.

How do I stay confident? I remind myself of my strengths. I also do my research on the many types of questions employers can ask and prepare myself for them. For example, when I schedule an interview with a company, I look them up on Glassdoor. Sometimes, under the Interviews tab, there are quite a few “reviews” from other candidates about their interview experience with the company, including what questions the hiring manager asked. This can often give me a clue about what to expect.

I’m always going to make mistakes. Some interviews just aren’t going to go well, no matter how much I prepare or how much experience I have under my belt. Maybe I didn’t sleep well the night before or I don’t mesh at all with the interviewer. Beating myself up over it isn’t going to do me any good. The only thing I can do is get back up, have a good laugh at myself, and move on to the next opportunity. After all, I want to find the right one for me.

Now it’s your turn. What interviews have you totally biffed and what did you learn from the experience?

 

10 Signs That Say–You Probably Don’t Want to Work Here

We’ve all been on interviews that don’t feel right. Maybe we can’t quite put our finger on it. Maybe the hiring manager had glowing red eyes, but your rent is overdue and you stuck it out. No job is perfect. So, how do you know if you should proceed with caution or run away screaming?

Well, only you can decide what you’re willing to put up with—we all have different boundaries. But there are signs that should make you think long and hard before taking that job. In fact, you may be better off having the manager with the glowing red eyes.

1. They only give you one day and time to interview. If you can’t make it, too bad.

I’ve had employers call and invite me for an interview that day. Well, “invite” is too polite of a word. It was more like—here’s when we can meet with you. Take it or leave it. If an employer refuses to work with you to find a good interview time, especially if you’re currently employed, that may be the first of many unreasonable demands. Do they want to interview you or are they just going down a list? In my experience, employers who were truly excited about talking to me asked when I was available and did their best to find a time that worked for both of us.

2. Your potential hiring manager and/or coworkers are rude or seem indifferent to you.

I once had an “interview” where the hiring manager looked me up and down (from head to toe), gave me a terse greeting, and then sat me in front of a computer and told me to take a test. Only the directions were contradictory and confusing. When I asked for clarification, the hiring manager snapped at me. I walked out and didn’t look back.

If they’re looking at their phone while you’re talking, being demeaning, asking inappropriate personal questions, or making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say—see ya! As candidates, we’re expected to bring our A-game to every interview. Why should it be any different for an employer wanting to attract the best candidates?

3. They keep mentioning how many other candidates they have over and over…

We get it. A gazillion other people applied for this job, and you have your pick. Yay you! If a hiring manager sifts through a stack of resumes in front of you, mentions how many interviews they have today, tomorrow, and next week, and generally can’t stop talking about how many GRRREAT candidates they have, you have to question the motivation behind it. It’s not like we don’t know we are competing against other candidates. I don’t know anyone who has gone into an interview thinking—I must be the only one they’re talking to. I’m just THAT fabulous.

So, why would any good employer need to constantly remind you how many options they have? If they’re a great place to work, it’s generally assumed they get a lot of applicants.

4. They put down other candidates or former employees

I’ve heard it all in interviews. We got 200 applicants, but half their resumes went in the trash. Another candidate did this or said that. One time a hiring manager even said—the person who used to be in this role could be a total b***! But you seem chill.

This is just straight up unprofessional behavior. And you know what they say. If they’re doing it to others….

5. They try to sell you on the benefits of working in a closet…with the copier and 4 other people.

Ah, lack of space in the office. That’s right up there with IT being overwhelmed and really bad coffee. Does playing musical cubicles sound familiar? It’s common to feel the squeeze, especially if you’re working with start-ups or smaller businesses.

But this is also a place where we have to spend 8-10 hours of our day…5 days a week. It matters. We can’t all expect the corner office with an ocean view, but you should have a space that is comfortable, sanitary, and your own. It should be a space you can be productive in, even if it’s not ideal. If they can’t provide you with that, ask if you can work remotely. If they say no, well…how badly do you want the job?

 6. Everyone acts like they’re stuck at a timeshare presentation.

An interview is a great time to scope out the culture and environment. You can actually tell a lot about a place in a short amount of time, if you’re paying attention. Are people talking to each other and laughing or are they all at their desks staring at their computers with zombie eyes? Do they look at your hiring manager in fear? Do they smile at you or stare at you with suspicion?

One question I always ask is—what do you love about working here? If they fumble with the answer or the best thing they can come up with is “I like the challenge of getting a lot done with little to no resources”, I know I’m probably looking at a not so great environment. You can tell when people love where they work. Their passion and energy is infectious and obvious.

7. They leave you waiting for fifteen minutes or more, and they don’t apologize.

Shit happens. Sometimes your dog eats your thumb drive, which has the only copy of the presentation you need to give in an hour. Sometimes your client’s website has crashed, and it’s all your fault. You knew you shouldn’t have installed that plugin.

But a candidate’s time is valuable too. We have places to be—like back at our current jobs. If a hiring manager leaves you waiting and doesn’t apologize or acknowledge the wait, don’t ignore that behavior. It might not be deal breaker the first time, but it’s concerning if it happens more than once.

8. They have bad reviews that point out the same issues. 

Isn’t it great that employers and toasters have reviews these days? Pay a visit to Glassdoor, Indeed, or other employer review sites before going on your interview. If you see multiple bad reviews that all point out similar or the same issues, take heed and ask questions that hit on some of those issues. For example, if people are complaining about micromanagement, ask the hiring manager what their management style is like or how projects get approved. If you don’t like their answers, that makes your decision pretty easy!

9. This role has been restructured.

I hate it when this happens. You think you’re interviewing for your dream job, and they sheepishly giggle and say – well, the role has shifted. You’ll actually be doing (something not even close to the original job). At best, they didn’t think the role through well enough. At worst, they have no clue who they need or what direction they want to go in next. Either way, they’ve wasted your time and that’s really not cool.

10. They pressure you into accepting the job offer immediately.

If an employer doesn’t want to give you time to think an offer over, which is in their best interest as well, consider that a huge red flag. Asking for a couple days is perfectly reasonable, especially if you have other offers to consider. You have to do what’s best for you, and if an employer doesn’t understand that, is that really someone you want to work for?

Remember: Interviews are a two-way street. They should be selling you on the job and company as much as you’re selling them on your skills. Listen to your gut, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.