Archive for September, 2014

How Your Profile Picture is Sabotaging Your Job Search

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Something a bit on the odd side this time around, as we investigate some fine-tuning you might need for your online profile (LinkedIn or otherwise) to enhance your passive job search:

Your head shot should add value to your profile. Fix these common mistakes to get it on the right track.

In today’s marketplace, it’s not enough to have a well-written resume and a list of great referrals; it’s essential for every job seeker to develop and actively monitor their online professional brand.

While a photo on your resume is still considered taboo, recruiters have come to expect a picture to accompany your online professional profiles. In fact, your LinkedIn profile is 40 percent more likely to get clicked on if it contains an image.

However, not just any image will do. Choose your picture strategically so that it enhances, rather than damages, your professional brand.

Below are nine profile picture pitfalls to avoid:

1. Blurry or Too Small

Ideally your photo should be 200 x 200 pixels or larger. Anything smaller and you’re guaranteed to end up with a fuzzy or teeny tiny image that just screams unprofessional. I recommend choosing a square head shot, as it’s sure to work with all your professional social media accounts.

2. Too Close or Too Far Away

Stick with a standard head shot for your profile pic. Prospective employers and those in your professional network have no desire to examine your dental work, and a shot from far away won’t help them identify you at an event or interview.

3. The Group Shot

Remember, this picture is supposed to represent your professional brand – no one else’s. Don’t make recruiters guess which person you are in the photo. Use an image that shows you and only you.

4. The Crop

Cropping yourself out of the group shot doesn’t work either. While it may be your favorite picture, no one wants to see half of your loved one’s face or your best friend’s hair on your shoulder. Stick to a solo shot that doesn’t require Photoshop.

5. Bad Lighting

Not only do these pictures look creepy, but they are certainly not providing employers with a positive, professional first impression.

6. Too Serious

Opt for photos where you’re looking at the camera and smiling. You don’t necessarily need a cheesy grin on your face, but you want to appear friendly and approachable. The “glamor shots” aren’t doing you any favors.

7. Goofy Expressions

Remember, this image is supposed to represent your professional brand. When you look at your profile photo, does it send the same message as your resume?

8. Pet or Baby Pic

Yes, your puppy is adorable and your family is beautiful. However, that’s not what your professional network or a prospective employer needs to know about you. Save these cute pics for your personal social-media channels such as Facebook or Instagram. Stick to a photo of yourself for your professional profiles.

9. No Photo

As mentioned earlier, recruiters today expect to find a head shot with your professional profile. The first thing recruiters and hiring managers notice is your photo… or lack of one. If you have no photo, their initial thought might be, “What is this person trying to hide?”

If you’re concerned that including your photo could cause people to discriminate against you, I urge you to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the profile photo before making a final decision. The right image can reinforce your brand and help viewers connect more easily with your profile.

Overall Best Practices

Use a recent head shot that meets the file type and size and pixel size recommended by each site. Consider your outfit, the background of the shot, and the lighting to ensure it reflects your current professional brand and career goals.

Having no photo is better than uploading one that doesn’t project the right image, so put some thought into the picture you choose to represent your professional brand.

Original from the Ladders.

“Good Behavior” in a Job Interview

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

How to prepare your responses to behavioral questions during an interview.

Most people know how important it is to be on their best behavior during job interviews. But a behavioral interview isn’t just about a polished appearance and firm handshake. Often conducted as a follow-up to a traditional interview, a behavioral interview allows recruiters to assess your past performances and general demeanor as an indicator of your potential for success.

In most behavioral interviews, you’ll be expected to answer questions about specific events, projects, and experiences throughout your career. By digging deeper into how you’ve handled challenging situations, interviewers can better determine whether or not you have similar values and approach problems in a similar way.

Having your past performances put under a microscope can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job search process, but it’s more important than ever to display a calm and confident attitude at this point in time. After all, your behavior represents your ability to perform under pressure. Here are some tips for successfully sailing through a behavioral interview.

1. Do your background research

Review the company’s website and blog and do some digging to get a feel for the company’s culture. One of the major goals of a behavioral interview is to determine if you’ll fit in with the company, so it’s helpful to be prepared with examples that demonstrate that you’re ready to become part of its team.

2. Honesty is the best policy

You may think you’re helping your cause by telling the interviewer what they seem to want to hear. But if you’re stretching the truth, you’re rarely doing yourself any favors. Interviewers will either sense your dishonesty, or you’ll find yourself haunted by your lie down the road when you’re asked to back it up. Rather than fabricate your way into the wrong position, answer each question candidly while still maintaining an air of professionalism.

3. Be specific

The interviewer is likely to ask you to describe an occasion when you faced a challenge, overcame an obstacle or accomplished a major goal. A one-sentence answer isn’t going to cut it here. Instead, be prepared with a range of detailed anecdotes that you feel represent your biggest professional highlights thus far. It might even help to jog your memory by writing down specific details of those experiences before heading in to the interview. Don’t use them to read verbatim during the interview, but by doing this exercise, you could end up remembering some key details you had forgotten. Remember to wrap up each story by sharing what you learned from the experience.

4. Don’t limit yourself to work experiences

Even if you’re just starting out in the professional world, you can use other experiences from your life — whether from school, part-time jobs, or even everyday living — to illustrate your strengths. Consider lessons you’ve learned in classes or obstacles you’ve overcome in your home life that have made you a stronger person.

5. Be prepared for curveballs

You could spend hours crafting answers to the most commonly asked behavioral interview questions, but there’s a good chance that your interviewer will throw you at least one curveball question. For me, it was when an interviewer asked me about the craziest thing I’d ever done. Dumbfounded, I sputtered out a horrible answer and struggled to recover. Learn a lesson from my mistake — just relax and open yourself up to off-the-wall questions.

Let us know in the comment section what challenging or unusual questions you have been asked during job interviews.