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Job Interview Blog Archive of Michael Petras

Past gems from my Job Interview Blog archive to give you an edge during your job search. Contains pearls of wisdom, links, and facts about job hunting that you may not have heard about.

Hopefully one of these gems will create a breakthrough for you.

Click on a topic to jump to that entry:

  1. Indiana Law Allows Concealment of Criminal Past
  2. OK to Collect Unemployment & Launch a Business?
  3. 10 Outdoor Careers With High Income Potential
  4. Companies scale back use of online job boards
  5. Getting Hired Through Employee Referrals
  6. Assistance for Unemployed: Dial 211
  7. There are Always Jobs Available
  8. Everyone Has a Gift to Give You
  9. Tell Me About Yourself
  10. No post interview feedback. Now what?
  11. Ok to Post Your Resume on the Web?
  12. Is Job Hunting Over the Phone Really Effective?
  13. Is There a Glut of Job Seekers?
  14. Avoid Resume Rejection
  15. Considered Temp/Contract Work?
  16. Bring Samples of Your Work to Your Interview
  17. Telephone Follow Up on Resume You Sent
  18. Getting Hired: Skills or Attitude?
  19. Job Interview Advice: Ask for the Job
  20. Ok to Mass Email your Resume?
  21. Temp Hiring on the Rise...fast way to job?



Indiana Law Shields Criminal Past

In 2011, a new law went into affect in Indiana allowing non-violent offenders to shield their criminal history from public view.

This has long been a problem for job seekers who may have been convicted of drunk driving, theft, or drug use years ago, but are still being rejected on job applications.

What's really interesting about this new Indiana law is once a person successfully gets their criminal past blocked from public view, they can legally lie on employment applications about certain crimes.

Niki Kelly, a reporter for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, wrote an article about the new law in their Sunday newspaper.

Wikipedia has a good overview of how the expungement process works and what kinds of crimes can be permanently erased.

Although these kinds of laws are controversial and hotly debated, they do provide job seekers with a second chance in certain cases.

True Story: When companies take things to extremes, laws like this are necessary. A couple of years ago, a female production supervisor with 15 years of service, was fired because of her criminal past. When she was 18 years old, she was convicted of shoplifting a pair of jeans from a department store.

Although she paid her debt to society and never broke the law again, this conviction stayed on her public record. Despite glowing reviews from her company, a promotion, and many years of devoted service, she was fired when the company put into effect a strict "no criminal past" policy.

Not only did this effect new hires, but everyone working there. Despite being a single mom with kids to support, she was ushered out the door and treated like an outcast.

Is common sense dead these days?

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Collect Unemployment & Launch a Business?

What do you do if you can't find a job after months of trying? Lots of talented folks opt to start their own business even while they are collecting unemployment benefits.

But is that legal?

As of February 2011, six states (Oregon, Washington, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey and New York) offer the unemployed a program called Self-Employment Assistance (SEA).

Under the SEA program you can collect your unemployment benefits while launching a new business.

This is a wonderful idea and I don't understand why more states haven't jumped on the band wagon. After all, the economy needs more jobs, right? What difference does it make if you work for someone else, or create your own job if no one will hire you?

For more insight into this trend and a recent success story in NJ, read Barbara Haislip's article in the Wall Street Journal: Laid Off and Launching.

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10 Outdoor Careers With High Income Potential

If you love the outdoors, or simply can’t stand being cooped up in an office during daylight hours, you might want to consider pursuing a degree that leads to an outdoor career.

Check out this blog article on Best Universities.com about 10 Outdoor Careers that Can Earn You a Good Living.

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Companies Scale Back Use of Online Job Boards

According to a 2010 December survey from the Corporate Executive Board Company, 24% of companies plan to scale back their use of job boards. This trend is continuing in 2013.

However, nearly 80% of companies surveyed said they plan to increase their use of other websites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Read all about this trend in an article written by Joe Light in The Wall Street Journal, Recruiters Change Employee Hunting Tactics.

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Getting Hired Through Employee Referrals

True or False: Employers prefer to hire people who have been referred to them by one of their employees.

TRUE

FACTS:

  • Recent survey of corporations revealed that 27% of their hiring comes through referrals...1 in 4.
  • Getting referred into a company by an insider is by far the best way to get a job.
  • 70% of the most effective job search strategies are through networking...leaving 30% for the other ways.
  • Saves companies time and eliminates the pain of having to sift through resumes and interview lots of people.

YOUR BEST STRATEGY:

  • Spend the majority of your job search efforts networking with people on the phone, at a local networking group, and through social networking site like LinkedIn.
  • Park your ego. Ask people for their help and influence. Most people want to help you, but they aren't mind readers.
  • Develop a long term networking strategy so the next time you need a job you have tons of connections.
  • Make sure you give back and help others when you're back in the saddle. What goes around, comes around.

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Assistance for Unemployed: Dial 211

Over the weekend I read a disturbing story about a man in Las Vegas who just exhausted his unemployment benefits and is facing homelessness in 3 weeks. His biggest fear is not being able to bathe regularly and how this might affect him during job interviews.

And this is happening right here in America!

I wonder if this unfortunate soul knows there is an emergency number like 911 for people in desperate financial straits. If you dial 211, you will be connected to a volunteer from United Way. They will assess your situation and share with you short term and long term resources that may be available to you in your own community.

Note: 211 won't work with some phone carriers. In this case, simply call your local United Way office and explain your situation.

Another fantastic organization is The Salvation Army. Volunteers are very knowledgeable about grants, charities, government programs, and other resources to help you when there is no where else to turn.

Quote by Spencer W. Kimball: God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.

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There Are Always Jobs Available

America is still the land of opportunity with a bright future. No other country has people literally beating down their doors to get in.

I know the news media is often negative about the employment landscape...and you might be at the end of your rope. But, you need to ignore these sweeping mega-trends and stay focused on your individual job search.

Fact: There are always jobs out there. People die, quit, retire, get fired, relocate, and get promoted. Not all companies are struggling in this economy. It's true...unemployment is 9.5%...but, that means 90.5% have jobs. Your job is out there patiently waiting for you. You just have to find it by putting yourself at the right place at the right time. Stay in the game. Do something daily to keep yourself exposed to job opportunities.

I'm optimistic. The best days for America and for you are still ahead.

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Everyone Has a Gift to Give You

Pearl of Wisdom: Everyone has a gift to give you. It may be one tiny piece of information that leads you to someone who knows about a job opening. Often times opportunities are laid right at our feet, but our limited awareness of things prevent us from truly listening and taking action.

Don't make that mistake.

Getting a job offer is nothing more than putting yourself in the right place at the right time, with your best game face on. That involves connecting with as many as people as possible on a regular basis.

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Tell Me About Yourself

Pearl of Wisdom:Believe it or not, 60% of the decision to make you a job offer will be based on whether or not the interviewer likes you.

Fact: Managers hire people they like.

Studies have also concluded that the decision to hire you, or not, is made in the first 5-10 minutes of the interview.

How can that be possible?

In that short period of time, you just hung up your coat and barely took your first sip of coffee. Sheesh...give me a chance!

So, your answer to this one question--Tell me about yourself--is pivotal in winning an employer's approval, and receiving an offer.

Would you also believe that your answer to this famous interview question must be no longer 30-60 seconds?

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No Feedback After Your Interview

The number ONE complaint I hear from job seekers is: no feedback from a company after a job interview.

Nothing. Just dead silence...

Don't you just hate that?

I came up with a good way to get hiring authorities to call you back without shooting yourself in the foot. And even if they don't call you back, you can close things off in your mind and move on.

I call it my 3 strikes and you're out procedure.

It works.

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OK to Post Your Resume on the Web?

True or False: Posting your resume to a major job board is one of the best ways to get noticed by employers.

FALSE

  • Employers prefer you come to them through a trusted employee or an on-line ad
  • They have enough resumes to read without having to dig through millions more
  • You run the risk of your current employer finding your resume on-line and giving you the boot
  • If you are overexposed your value to a prospective employer or executive recruiter declines

You are much better off creating and perfecting your LinkedIn profile. This is without a doubt the number one social media site to be found by employers and recruiters.

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Is Job Hunting Over the Phone Really Effective?

True or False: Calling employers on the phone, whether or not they have an opening, is a waste of time and annoying to employers.

FALSE

  • Hiring managers are often thinking about creating a position long before they do anything about it.
  • Employers dread the thought of having to go through a long search process when the person they need just called in.

Tip: Always call the department manager or the person who would be your boss. Avoid calling Human Resources.

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Is There a Glut of Job Seekers?

True or False: In today’s economy, it’s a buyer’s market and employers have plenty of good candidates to choose from.

FALSE

  • Employers want people who excel at what they do and are in the top 25% of the workforce. These folks are hard to find and companies don’t want to settle for just an average worker.
  • Most of the resumes companies get are from folks who project below average skills, a laid back attitude, or no upward mobility.
  • A-Player Candidates are always in demand...especially in engineering or high tech.

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Avoid Resume Rejection

True or False: Most employers use your resume to screen you out.

TRUE

  • Employers spend 16-20 hours a week reading resumes. This is a lot of work, so they want to eliminate as many people as possible. They skim over resumes and reject most applicants. The few resumes that survive their scan are read thoroughly.
  • Fewer than 5% of new hires come from unsolicited resumes.
  • Often a lower level HR staff person is the resume screener. If your resume lacks the right buzz words or job match, your resume ends up on the reject pile.

Your Strategy:

  1. Make sure you have a short, concise, well written resume.
  2. Make sure your resume has a good Look and Feel and is in a Word or PDF format.
  3. Important tips for victims of layoffs and downsizing.
  4. Do not shotgun your resume out to tons of companies.
  5. Avoid sending your resume to Human Resources.
  6. You are much better off making initial contact with a hiring authority in person or on the phone before you give them your resume.

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Have You Considered Temp/Contract Work?

True or False: Most employers prefer to either promote someone from within, hire a part-time employee, or hire a temp worker.

TRUE

  • Low-risk risk strategy for employers
  • Employer’s thoughts, I want to hire someone I trust and whose work I've seen.
  • During a recession, employers minimize their risks and costs if they hire a Temp...plus they can try before they buy.
  • Much less age discrimination for Temp workers and it gets your foot in the door.

Your strategy: Get hired as a temp, contract worker, consultant, or part time employee. Most large corporations hire Temps through a Temp Agency, Staffing Firm, or Contract House. Many Temps are offered a permanent position in less than 6 months.

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Bring Samples of Your Work to Your Interview

True or False: Hiring Managers like it when job seekers bring samples of their work to the job interview.

TRUE

  • It is proof you can do the job.
  • It makes you stand out from other candidates.
  • Managers like measurable results vs. talk

Your strategy: If you’re a programmer, bring in a program outline of a successful project you completed. If you’re an engineer, share some sketches, graphs, or visuals of a recent project that magnifies your skills and accomplishments. If your job doesn’t lend itself well to visuals, bring in a copy of a written performance evaluation, or a written testimonial from one of your customers or bosses.

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Telephone Follow Up on Resume You Sent

True or False: You send your resume to a company in response to their want ad. If you follow up with a phone call to the hiring manager you risk upsetting them and not being considered for the job.

FALSE

  • It shows you have initiative and drive—qualities most good companies admire and want in an employee.
  • Makes you stand out from the crowd. Most candidates are too chicken call.
  • Always call the hiring manager as Human Resources may have unjustly screened you out.

True Story: When I was a hiring authority, I was prepared to make an offer to someone. A better qualified candidate called me at the last minute. I found their resume, interviewed them, and hired them. It never hurts to follow up on your resume, but don't become a stalker candidate and repeatedly call. Call once and let the chips fall where they may.

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Getting Hired: Skills or Attitude?

True or False: Employers are far more interested in your skills, accomplishments, and credentials than they are your attitude.

FALSE

  • Your attitude is the 1st thing everyone notices about you.
  • 65% of the reason you get hired is your personality and attitude.
  • Getting results is important, but will you fit into the culture of this organization?
  • Employers want someone who is a self-starter, flexible, gets along with people, is trainable, and easy to manage.

Your strategies:

  1. If you were unjustly terminated from your last job, let go of your righteous anger before contacting employers.
  2. Practice answering interview questions in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend who will give you honest feedback.
  3. Smile when you’re talking on the phone.

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Job Interview Advice: Ask for the Job

One of the best pieces of interview advice I ever learned was...ask for the job at the end of your on site interview. Do this even if you are not entirely sure you want to work there.

You always have the option to turn down a job offer; but, if you don't get an offer, you don't have any options.

It also makes you stand out over other candidates because most people are either too chicken to ask, or think it takes away their negotiating strength if they appear too anxious.

Nonsense!

Hiring managers like it when candidates want to work for them and aren't afraid to ask for the job.

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OK to Mass Email your Resume?

True or False: Mass emailing your resume to 1,000's of employers and recruiters is an effective way to find a job quickly.

FALSE

  • 7% success rate at best. Other studies show even worst results...1 out of 1,000.
  • Most executives and managers receive an unmanageable number of daily emails. They simply can't read them all. So, it's unlikely they will act upon your unsolicited email.
  • Companies and recruiters already have thousands of resumes in their database. They don't need more.

YOUR BEST STRATEGY:

  • Simply do not mass email your resume. This also protects you from becoming overexposed and unfairly branded as a problem child.
  • Never, EVER use a resume blaster service to shotgun your resume to 1,000s of companies and recruiters.
  • Emailing or snail mailing your unsolicited resume is considered junk mail. What do you do with junk mail?
  • Selectively share your resume only through a trusted source. You need to control who sees your resume and when.

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Temp Hiring on the Rise...fast way to job?

True or False: Physically walking into every Temp Agency/Staffing Firm in town, unannounced, with your resume in hand is a good way to find a job.

TRUE

FACTS:

  • Temp/Contract hiring always leads out of a recession.
  • 75% of all US companies utilize contract workers in one fashion or another. This has been steadily increasing for several years.
  • Temp positions are also available for people earning over $50,000.
  • Temp jobs can last 6+ months and convert to perm positions.
  • In August 2010, perm jobs fell by 54,000 jobs, but temp jobs increased by 17,000 jobs.
  • Temp Agencies/Staffing Firms need an inventory of candidates to send out to their client companies when openings arise.
  • The hiring process for a temp job is twice as fast as a perm job.

YOUR BEST STRATEGY:

  • Dress for success, map out every Temp Agency/Staffing Firm in your home town, and physically walk in the door with your resume prepared for a face-to-face job interview.
  • Every Friday, call the Temp/Staffing Firms who interviewed you and let them know you are still available.
  • Don't just work with one Temp Agency. Work with as many as you can. They all have different client companies.

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