Posts Tagged ‘research’

Simple Interview Tips That Work

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Job interviewing never seems to get any easier – even when you have gone on more interviews than you can count. You are always meeting new people, having to sell yourself and your skills, and often getting the third degree about what you know or don’t know. And, you have to stay upbeat and enthusiastic throughout each interview.

That said, there are ways to make a job interview much less stressful.

Invest a little time prior to the interview getting ready, and it will be much easier to handle. The key to effective interviewing is to project confidence, stay positive, and be able to share examples of your workplace skills and your qualifications for the job.

Brush up your communication skills, so you can speak clearly and concisely about the assets you have to offer the employer. Take the time to work on your interview skills – effective interviewing will help you get hired.

Here are a few simple job interview tips to help prepare you to interview effectively:

Practice and Prepare

Practice your responses to the typical job interview questions and answers most employers ask. Think of concrete examples you can use to highlight your skills. The easiest way to do this is to make a list of the job requirements, and match them to your experience. Providing evidence of your successes is a great way to promote your candidacy.

Also, have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready.

Research the Company
Do your homework about the employer and the industry, so you are ready for the interview question “What do you know about this company?” Try to relate what you have learned about the company when answering questions. Know the interviewer’s name, and use it during the job interview. If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. Building rapport and making a personal connection with your interviewer can up your chances of getting hired. People tend to hire candidates they like, and who seem to be a good fit for the company culture.

Get Ready Ahead of Time

Don’t wait until the last minute to pick out an interview outfit, print extra copies of your resume, or find a notepad and pen. Have one good interview outfit ready, so you can interview on short notice without having to worry about what to wear. When you have an interview lined up, get everything ready the night before. Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with extra copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note-taking.

Be On Time (That Means Early)

Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Give yourself a few extra minutes to visit the rest room, check your outfit, and calm your nerves.

Try to Stay Calm

During the job interview, try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Remember that your body language says as much about you as your answers to the questions. Proper preparation will allow you to exude confidence. Take a moment to regroup if you need it. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question (active listening) before you answer, and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question.

Show What You Know

Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments, match them to what the company is looking for. Use examples from your research when answering questions, “I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.” Take the time to make a match between your expertise and the company’s requirements, and to sell yourself to the interviewer.

Follow Up

Always follow-up with a thank you note reiterating your interest in the position. You can also include any details you may have forgotten to mention during your interview. If you interview with multiple people send each one a personal note. Send your thank you note (email is fine) within 24 hours of your interview.

So with some advance preparation, you’ll be able to nail the interview and showcase the experience that makes you the ideal candidate for the company’s next new employee.

Good luck!

7 Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job | by Alison Doyle via the Balance.

What to Research Before a Job Interview

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

You know that weird feeling between excitement and dread that accompanies an invitation to interview? It’s especially strong when you know next to nothing about your potential workplace.

However, even if the first time you’ve ever heard of the company you’re interviewing with was the day you sent in your application, you can still walk in like you’ve known about the place for years. The key is to do some pre-interview research to make sure you can handle anything specific to the company that might come up (and offer suggestions to address the company’s particular situation if afforded the opportunity). Below are some topics and strategies you might consider.

Keep in mind, of course, that they will likely be researching you as well, going beyond just your resume and cover letter. So make sure you research yourself as well and clean up your online presence as much as possible!

1. The skills and experience the company values.

First and foremost, you should know what the company looks for in a qualified candidate. This enables you to position yourself as the best candidate for the position.

To discover the skills and experience the employer values, read between the lines of their job postings. You can also find out information on the employer’s career page to get an idea of the type of employees their desire. In addition, reach out to current employees who work there and ask them about what their employer values most in the workplace.

2. Key players of the organization.

The key players within an organization are those employees who hold important positions in the company. These individuals can be managers, department directors, and especially the CEO/president of the company.

You can find out who the key players of the organization by reading the employer’s “About” page and employee bios. It’s also a good idea to check out what these individuals say on Twitter and LinkedIn to learn what employees say about the company online.

3. News and recent events about the employer.

When you go into a job interview, it’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable about the company’s latest news and updates.

Most companies have a page on their website dedicated to press releases and events. This is a great source for you to find out information regarding the company’s latest news and updates.

4. The company’s culture, mission, and values.

Job seekers should be able to confidently say they’re good fit for the company’s culture during any job interview. In fact, a Millennial Branding study says 43 percent of HR professionals believe cultural fit is the most important quality job seekers can have during the hiring process.

As you research the employer, pay attention to what’s written on their website regarding the company’s values and mission. You can also learn more about the company culture by following the organization on its social media networks.

5. Clients, products, and services.

As a potential employee, you need to have an idea of the type of work you’d be doing once hired. By having a general idea of who the company’s clients are and the types of products and services are offered, you’ll be more prepared for the interview, too.

To find out the company’s offerings, you can usually find them on the company’s website. You can also read through the company’s blog, case studies, and white papers to give you a better idea of their accomplishments.

6. The inside scoop.

To ensure you’re fully prepared for the job interview, websites such as Glassdoor help job seekers discover the inside details of a company that can’t be found on the employer’s website.

With these sites, you can typically find information such as salary figures, employee functions and duties, company reviews, details about the hiring process, and more.

7. The person interviewing you.

Finally, you should find out who the interviewer will be. This will give you an advantage during the interview because you’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and sparking a meaningful conversation.

Now it might be a little tricky trying to find out who the interviewer is, but you should be able to locate the person’s name with a little investigation. First, try locating the person’s name from email you received regarding the interview. If you can’t find any information, reply to the email politely requesting the name of the person who’ll interview you.

Once you acquire the interviewer’s name, do some research on LinkedIn and Twitter. This will help you learn about the interviewer’s background, their position with the company, and even some common interests you both share.

Good luck!

7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview | Heather Huhman via Glassdoor.

What Nonprofit Employers Are Looking for in Resumes Today

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Just as there’s no one right way to develop a resume for the for-profit sector, resumes for nonprofit jobs are also dependent on the target job and organization. With more than 1 million nonprofits in the US, nonprofit jobs are as varied as those in the corporate sector. The best approach is to first understand what the organization is looking for in an ideal candidate, then develop a resume that highlights your relevant experience and training.

General Concepts:

Research Before You Write

Review the job posting, check out the organization’s Web site, read press releases and watch for newspaper and television clips. Learn as much as you can about the organization’s core values and mission. Once you have a good idea of how you would benefit the employer if hired, you can reinforce your key qualifications and show that you would be an excellent team member in your resume.

If you’re interested in a particular nonprofit, consider volunteering to learn more about the culture, show your commitment and expand your network. You might even secure a job interview from an insider’s recommendation.

Demonstrate Your Accomplishments

It’s easy to say you have certain skills, but a strong resume proves you have the stated skills by providing examples of related accomplishments. Pepper your resume with evidence that you’ve contributed to your past employers, went above and beyond your job responsibilities, and worked hard to make a difference.

Quantify your accomplishments so the impact of your work is understandable to outsiders. It’s a misconception that workers from the nonprofit sector can’t provide measurable accomplishments because of the lack of “for profit” financial results. Every job in every field has its measure of success.

Emphasize Your Volunteer Experience

Nonprofit hiring managers usually like to see job seekers who are dedicated to serving the community. Include your volunteer work in a Volunteer Experience section. Mention leadership roles, participation in special initiatives, event planning or orchestration, and assistance with fund-raising drives.

Advice for Transitions:

If you have experience primarily in business but are seeking a position in the nonprofit sector, you’ll want to take a hard look at your resume and consider adapting it for a nonprofit job search. It is to your advantage to make your resume clear, easy to follow, and relevant to the nonprofit sector and the function(s) on which you are focusing your search. Here are a few tips:

  1. When doing your research, you will find you have transferable skills that would be valuable to a nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits are run in an entrepreneurial style, so your corporate accomplishments would probably be of interest. Do emphasize volunteer work and clearly state why you are making this change. Your resume’s Career Summary can contain your passion for a career with a nonprofit and your interest in making a difference.

  2. Nonprofit hiring managers might discard your application if they think you’re too expensive (most nonprofit jobs pay less than their for-profit counterparts). Use your cover letter to explain why you are pursuing this career path so that employers see your enthusiasm for this career. If your reasons for pursuing a nonprofit are personal — say your baby was born with a birth defect and you’re targeting The March of Dimes — mentioning the reason for your career shift will show you’re committed to the cause and may help you secure an interview.

  3. You certainly want to highlight any nonprofit board experience you have, making clear if it was volunteer experience. If you’ve been on a fundraising committee of a board, that would be important to highlight. Executive directors and CEOs are thinking about their cash flow and their revenue projections. Demonstrating that you have capability around fundraising will get you noticed.

3 Reasons You Get Interviews, But No Offers

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

What hurts more than rejection?

Multiple rejections.

Being told over and over again that you’re not right or not good enough for whatever reason is painful—and at some point, you have to begin wondering where the problem lies.

One angle that needs to be explored, despite the discomfort, is whether you’re the one doing something wrong. The good news is warning signs are pretty clear. Here are three red flags—and more importantly, what to do about them.

1. You Never Make It Past The Final Round Interview

This can be an incredibly demoralizing situation to be in. It’s also a huge red flag that I doubt you’ll miss. You’re clearly doing something right to get all the way to the final round interview. So, what’s preventing you from sealing the deal?

Frequently, when you get this far along in the process, you’re only competing with one or two other people. Plus, it’s likely already been established that you have the right experience or qualifications for the role. The last thing, then, is how well you understand the position, the company, and the team. If you’re not getting past the final round, you’re probably not getting across what you know about at least one of these.

This means you need to dial up your company research. Do your homework on the company by reading everything you can get your hands on about it, ask thoughtful questions about the role throughout the process, and make an effort to really connect with the team and show them just how well you’ll fit in. Finally, don’t forget that all this only matters if you actually show off what you know during the interview.

2. You Only Get To The Phone Screen

You definitely have a polished resume, because you’re landing plenty of first round interviews and phone screens, but strangely, you’re not progressing beyond that. What gives?

Your skills and experiences are obviously eye-catching and relevant enough to get someone’s attention, so it’s not that you don’t have anything to talk about. Instead, you’re probably not conveying your stories well. Sometimes it’s all about the delivery.

In the end, the only way to address this is through practice. You have the raw goods. Now, polish them up by going back to the basics and answering practice interview questions aloud with a friend.

3. You’re Not Getting Calls Period

Assuming you’re applying for jobs you are qualified for, not getting any callbacks after numerous applications is disheartening. Something is up, but with so little information to work off of, it’s hard to say what.

Of course, your first step is to check your materials. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the position, then put your editor cap on and follow these tips to make sure what you’re sharing will impress your audience. If you’re doing that already and the problem doesn’t lie with your documents, you’re probably not networking enough.

Networking turns people off for lots of different reasons. It’s uncomfortable. It’s nerve-racking. It’s not meritocratic. It also works. And, right now, that’s what you need to focus on. Conduct informational interviews with people at your target companies, and put your immediate network to work by letting them know what you’re looking for.

It takes perseverance to get through a long job search without going out of your mind. The key is to constantly be focusing on and reevaluating how you can better tackle the problem in front of you—even if the problem is, well, you.

Original from The Daily Muse

How to Interview for a Role You’re Underqualified For

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

So, you applied for a job even though you didn’t quite meet the requirements, and your fabulous cover letter and resume landed you an interview. Nice job!

At first, you feel pretty awesome—it’s nice to know that someone recognizes your potential! And then it dawns on you: There will be an interview. Meaning, you’ll also need to interview for a role that’s slightly out of reach.

Thankfully, just like there are tricks for phone interviews and panel interviews, there are ways to prepare for—and shine in—a reach interview. Here’s your two-step plan.

Step 1: Know (and Nail) The Basics
Secret Weapon: Find an Inside Source

Even if you’re a little light on experience, your application can squeak by to the interview round if it has “something special.” But the interview is the time to “put up or shut up.” Yes, there was something in your letter that told the hiring manager not to rule you out, but in order to be ruled in, you’ll need to demonstrate that you could perform the tasks required of someone in this role.

How can you prove you’re up to the challenge?

Well, you’ll need the scoop on what anyone in the position would know—and you’ll need it from an insider. So, you’ll want to find someone who’s established in the field who is willing to answer three to four questions over email or hop on the phone for 15 minutes. Don’t look for just any acquaintance: If you can’t find a close confidant, search LinkedIn for second-degree connections of your most trusted contacts and inquire about an introduction.

As with any informational interview, you’ll want to do prep work in advance to narrow in on the gaps in your knowledge. Is there industry jargon you don’t quite understand? Perhaps a landmark study quoted in every article you read, but you’re not sure why it’s so important? And then, your third question should always be something along the lines of: “What would anyone interviewing for this role need to know?”; “Are there any givens that everyone should know?”; or “What am I missing?”

Worst-case scenario, if you don’t know (or can’t find) anyone, try industry message boards or even Googling the answers to your questions. (But still make it a priority to build your network ASAP.)

In a reach interview, you can compensate for being lighter on skills or experience by seeming totally immersed in the company and industry. For example, even if you’ve never used the exact software the company uses to track its emails, you’ll seem capable if you’ve heard of it, and—if along with discussing a recent newsletter (which any candidate could do)—you also discuss how it reflects the shifts in communication recently advocated by a major thought leader in the sector. A little extra research can make all the difference in looking clued in and ready to go, rather than out of your league.

Step 2: Make the Leap From Transferable to Additive Skills
Secret Weapon: Come With Actionable Out-of-the-Box Ideas

Transferable skills are a critical discussion point in reach interviews. They’re the backbone of how you’ll frame your experience for the interviewer. Transferable skills turn “zero years of formal marketing experience” into “three years in sales and two more in client relations, which inform a unique perspective on marketing.”

But sometimes—especially in reach interviews—transferable skills are not enough. Even if you can discuss them in a way that sufficiently compensates for the experience you’re lacking, that only gets you into the “could do the job” category. To advance to the “would be incredible in the role” category, you need to make the leap from transferable skills to additive skills.

An additive skill is something unique that you bring to the table—in addition to everything that’s expected. Think about it: If you’re slightly underqualified, there’s a reason why. If you spent the first two years of your career in a different sector, you bring experience from that industry. If you’re younger than everyone else applying for the role, odds are you submitted an extraordinary cover letter or have impressive networking contacts.

You have something that evens out your lack of experience or technical skills, and the interview is your chance to demonstrate how significant it would be. For example, I once interviewed for a position that would require building a program, and without prompting, I discussed impressive, relevant personal contacts I could tap. I emphasized something extra and individual to me. The other candidates — the ones with more classic experience — might not have thought to do this.

Yes, interviewing for a role that’s a bit out of reach is daunting. But we use the terms “stretch” and “reach” for a reason, because if you extend yourself and put in a little extra effort, you just may find the opportunity in your grasp.

Original from the Muse

10 Surprising Job Interview Tips

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

You’re almost there. Your resume landed you an interview and now it’s time to seal the deal. So what’s the best way to prepare?

Below you’ll find the 10 best tips to help before, during, and after your interview.


1. Research Earnings Calls, Quarterly Reports & Blog Posts

In today’s world, content is king. Goldman Sachs publishes quarterly reports, Microsoft records its earning calls, and every startup has a blog.

Example: If you’re interviewing with Google, here’s two ways to answer: “What’s Google’s biggest opportunity in the next 5 years?”

  • Weak: “I think wearable technology will be big because Google Glass and Apple Watch represent a new trend that shows…”
  • Strong: “Call me geeky, but I was listening to Google’s quarterly earnings call and was blown away by the fact that display advertising hit over $5 billion in the past few years. Therefore, I think that…”

Neither answer is wrong, but the latter says much more. It shows you’ve done your homework and give answers rooted in data.

2. Use Google Alerts

Keeping up with company news is hard, especially if you’re interviewing with multiple places at once. That’s why Google Alerts is a savior; it’s a tool that emails you anytime a new story appears for a specific term. That way, you learn about current events without searching for them.

Example: If you’re applying to Creative Artists Agency, follow these steps:

  • Go to
  • Type in “Creative Artists Agency”
  • Put in your email address if you’re not already logged in to Gmail

Soon enough, you’ll get updates on CAA and have more ammo for your interview.

3. Use Social Sweepster To Clean Your Facebook & Twitter

Nowadays, 91% of employers search your social media for any red flags. While most people tell you to watch every single thing you upload, there’s a much easier solution. Use Social Sweepster, an app that detects pictures of red solo cups, beer bottles, and other “suspicious” objects. It even detects profanity from your past posts!

4. Schedule For Tuesday at 10:30 AM

According to Glassdoor, the best time to interview is 10:30 AM on Tuesday. Remember, your interviewer has a world of responsibilities beyond hiring. They’re responding to emails, balancing projects, and meeting tons of other candidates so it’s crucial to consider when they’ll be in the best mental state to meet you.

10:30 AM Tuesday is the sweet spot because you:

  • Avoid the bookends. On Mondays and Fridays, employees gear up for the week or wind down. By the same token, avoid the first or last slots of any workday.
  • Avoid lunchtime. Immediately before noon, your interviewer may be too hungry to concentrate; immediately after, they may be in a food coma.

But there’s a caveat. Research shows it’s best to take the earliest interview slot “in circumstances under which decisions must be made quickly or without much deliberation because preferences are unconsciously and immediately guided to those options presented first.”

Bottom line: if the firm is hiring for a job starting in a few months, try to interview late morning between Tuesday through Thursday. If the firm is hiring immediately, grab the earliest slot.

5. Craft Your “Story Statement”

Though most interviews start with the same prompt (“tell me about yourself” or “walk me through your resume”), we blow it off with boring answers like:

  • I studied [major X] because I really care about making a difference in [industry Y] as you can see through my last job at [company Z]

This answer is like tearing out the first 200 pages of your autobiography. You leave out everything that gives meaning to why you want this job in the first place. What was your moment of epiphany? How did your childhood influence you? Why does this job move you? Most people don’t answer these questions. They start and end with their professional experience, leaving little to inspire the interviewer.

Next time, use what I call a “Story Statement,” which is a Cliff Notes of your autobiography and shows that you’re a person, not just a professional. It also makes it easy for your interviewer to predict the next chapter of your story.

Chances are, we’ve all had experiences we can connect to where we’re trying to go. It’s just a matter of selecting the right ones to tell our story. That said, if you struggle to craft your Story Statement for a particular interview, you might be applying for the wrong job.

6. Prepare for The “What’s Your Weakness?” Question

Most people overthink this question and give a canned answer like “I’m too much of a perfectionist!” Others give a genuine answer but still fall short of what this question is really asking. It’s not about admitting your weaknesses. It’s about showing how you overcome them. What systems have you put in place? What progress have you made? Include those thoughts to strengthen your answer.


  • Weak: “My weakness is that I struggle to run efficient meetings…”
  • Strong: “I sometimes struggle to run efficient meetings. But I’ve worked to improve by drafting an agenda before every meeting, sending it to all participants, and then following up with a recap and clear action items so everyone knows what to do moving forward.”

7. Brainstorm 3 “PAR” Anecdotes

Your interview is as memorable as the stories you share. Many people have fascinating experiences but forget them when they’re on the spot. To remedy this, have three anecdotes ready to plug into your interview. Your anecdotes should follow a simple format:

  • Problem – what was the situation?
  • Action – what did you do to solve it?
  • Result – what changed afterwards?

With this format, you can adapt your PAR anecdotes to fit a variety of questions such as “tell me about a time you worked with a team” or “when have you struggled most?”


8. Think Aloud on Analytical Questions

Some interviews include tough analytical questions. Whether you’re solving for an exact number (“what’s the EBITDA of Company X?”) or rough estimate (“how many ping pong balls can fit in a Boeing 777?”), it’s important to talk through your thinking. Don’t just give an answer; show how you got there.

Example: Consider these two answers to “How many lawn mowers are there today in the United States?”

  • Weak: After 45 seconds of silence, you blurt out “75 million!”
  • Strong: You’re talking the entire way through, sharing your calculations and assumptions.

“Let’s start from the top down. Assuming the US population is 300 million and each household averages 3 people, then we have 100 million families in the US. Let’s assume urban households don’t have lawns to mow and therefore only suburban and rural families buy lawnmowers. If roughly 25% of America is urban and 75% is suburban and rural then we have 75 million households that own a lawnmower.”

This is a great way to show your communication skills alongside your analytical ones. Plus, if you make an error, it’s easier to know where you went wrong and fix it.

9. Ask Questions That Kill Two Birds With One Stone

At the end of your interview, it’ll be your turn to ask a few questions. This is a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – that is, asking a genuine question while conveying something new about you. Most people just do the first part and forgo a final chance to impress the interviewer.


  • Weak: Will this role provide opportunities to work in emerging markets?
  • Strong: I’m passionate about languages and minored in Arabic in college. Will this role provide opportunities to work in emerging markets in the Middle East?

  • Weak: What’s [Company X]’s fastest growing division?
  • Strong: According to your quarterly report, your revenues grew by 17%. Is that because of a particular division within the company?

This works beautifully if you haven’t found a natural way to bring up an accomplishment or cite a publication beforehand.


10. Email a Personalized Thank You Note

Thank your interviewer within 24 hours of finishing. It not only shows your gratitude, it also combats recency bias if you interviewed early. Not to mention, it opens the door for dialogue even if you don’t get the job. Sometimes, recruiters reach back out on the same email thread months later, mentioning new job opportunities.

“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.

Safe Transition: The Path to Your New Career

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

In the midst of an unstable, ever changing economy and job market, many professionals are looking to transition to new industries, fields, and disciplines to take advantage of where the growth is.

Of course, a career change can have a major impact on your overall well-being and happiness so it’s not just about the money or the opportunities. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work; it’s crucial to find something that challenges and inspires you on a daily basis. If you’re doing something right now that you wouldn’t necessarily classify as your “dream job”, don’t worry. With a little bit of hard work and planning, you can position yourself to transition into a new career that makes you excited to get up and go to work.

Career-changers need to take a slightly different approach to their job search, as there are a unique set of challenges and obstacles that must be overcome. You need to understand how you can most successfully position yourself to reflect your new career goals. It’s important to determine whether or not your “old” skills apply to your new career target and if you’ll be able to convince people that you are the person for the job even when you’re competing against candidates that may have more relevant experience.

And, of course, you need to plan and determine the proper course of action well in advance to ensure the transition runs smoothly. Here are a few tips on how you can make a successful career transition:

1. Decide what you want.

“Know thyself” may sound like a cliché, but it’s crucial if you want to make sure you find a role where you’ll be happy. Avoid moving from one job or career to another before you narrow down how you want to spend your working hours. For example, ask yourself if autonomy is crucial, or if using your creativity is most important.

When you make a change, take the opportunity to focus on yourself and your needs. Don’t skip this step; take the time to identify and evaluate what you want to do next.

2. Find Your Measure of Success

Money. Fame. Power. These are the traditional measures of success in the world of work. While there’s nothing wrong with any of those metrics, they don’t capture the whole picture. Figure out your personal definition of success and then go after a career—and a lifestyle—that lets you get what you want.

3. Start with a Fresh Mind

If you are bitter about your current job or you’ve had some failures in the past when trying to transition to a new career, it’s time to start over fresh.

It’s easy to beat yourself up and use your failures as an excuse for not picking yourself up and moving on. But as long as you live in the past, you’re denying yourself the future that could be yours. If you can stop lingering over mistakes and could-have-beens, you’ll find a new reservoir of energy that can help make your career transition a faster—and happier—project.

4. Budget for Good and Bad Days

Debt is a dream killer. So before you begin a major transition, figure out if you can afford it. Start by calculating how much money you’ll need to survive time off for retraining and job hunting. If you can’t afford a career change right now, determine if you can reroute or expand your current income to save up 6-12 months of living expenses. Remember, a few hours spent doing the math right now will save you loads of time and stress later on.

5. Do Your Homework

Focus on identifying an industry that is strong or emerging in your targeted area and has similarities to your current industry experience.

If you’re unsure which industries are easiest to transition to, look for former colleagues who held a similar role to you and have moved on to other companies – what industries are they working in? What companies have accepted their previous experience? This is a good place to start.

Once you’ve identified what industry you want to target, begin immersing yourself in their terminology. Subscribe to industry-specific online newsletters and blogs, join professional groups online and attend networking events or trade shows where you’ll learn more about the industry and meet new people. Identify connections in your current network that work in your targeted industry, and take them out for a cup of coffee to pick their brain. This is a great way to gain valuable insight into the market and uncover unpublished opportunities.

Instead of assuming anything, make sure to use actual research and data to make your decisions and choices about your future. Use all of the resources available to learn about companies and positions, including online and social media tools. Use sites such as to find reviews of organizations written by people who work there, and comb through company websites and social media streams to get a sense of company culture.

6. Get Your Hands Dirty

Hands-on experience is a quick teacher. Although you might have a dream career you’ve always thought of pursuing, you will never actually know of it’s the right path for you until you are in the thick of it. Even if you’re crunched for time, there are still ways to test the waters of a new career before you take the leap: find someone you admire and ask to shadow them for a day, do a short-term volunteer stint, or schedule a half-hour informational interview.

7. Build a network

The single most effective way to uncover new opportunities within your chosen field is to start connecting with people who are already doing what you want to do. Be creative in your approach to contacting with people who may be influential within your targeted industry or who may be able to point you in the right direction. Do your homework before you reach out to people so that you can speak intelligently about the job and inspire confidence that you are worth investing their time in.

Network strategically. You must connect with people who can introduce you to decision makers. When you meet new contacts, make sure they understand why you’re a good fit for the type of job you want. Use social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find and target individuals who can be your allies and develop relationships with them. When you target your networking, you will find people willing to advocate for you, which makes all the difference for job seekers.

Also, learn to ask for help. It’s tough (maybe impossible) to head into new territory and to succeed without help. Set aside your pride in order to reach for something new. Career change is hard at first; but it gets easier.

8. Look Beyond the Traditional Job Search Documents

While your resume and cover letter will certainly play a role in your job search, don’t stop there. Because employers will be looking at your resume to find how your past experience matches their current needs, you need to find other avenues to convince hiring managers that you’re the right fit. Write an article. Start a blog. Build a dynamic LinkedIn profile. Social media and Web 2.0 sites give job seekers an incredible opportunity to cultivate a personal brand that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Those who take advantage of those opportunities will be rewarded while those who don’t will have a much more difficult time.

Making a career change can be both challenging and exciting. The largest obstacle you will face is the resistance of others who doubt your qualifications in your new field. The key is to stop looking for your dream job and start doing it.

An Effective Legal Resume

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Though sharing much in common with other professional resumes, a legal resume presents some unique challenges. It must cover essential cases and rulings from a lawyer’s career without violating the privacy and confidentiality of clients.

And as lawyers are generally specialists, their resumes must reflect their areas of specialization. The title itself is not nearly specific enough, as there are criminal lawyers, entertainment lawyers, civil lawyers, employment lawyers, tax lawyers, etc., all with unique qualifications and practices. When someone uses the term “lawyer,” a variety of images come to mind, not all of them positive.

In order to communicate your brand to HR as well as other attorneys, it is important that you craft your resume differently from the way you craft your legal briefs, while at the same time maintaining the flavor of your litigating style. Just as you may argue a point in court by offering examples and defenses, in a similar way, your resume is a sort of opening argument in the job process.

Here are a few of the essential features that must be included on a lawyer’s resume:

Summary: The opening of a legal resume isn’t much different from other professional resumes and should present a quick synopsis of your qualifications, experience, fields of study, and practice.
Recent Graduates: Competition among recent graduates for the best jobs is intense. To stand out, focus on academic results, internships, research work and simulation exercises, and seminars, webinars, and other special training attended.

Areas of Specialization: The professional experience section of the resume is similar to other resumes but more important for a lawyer, as you must clearly spell out your skills in a particular specialty (e.g., Mergers and Acquisitions or Project Finance or Industrial Amalgamations or Arbitrations, etc.).

Your profile should include a brief snapshot of your portfolio, research papers, and actual case summaries (while maintaining client confidentiality). Particularly significant results that have since become case law should be emphasized and details provided. Senior lawyers should keep in mind that academic qualifications matter but generally only during the first few years of employment.

Articles, Publications, and Awards: It is appropriate for senior lawyers to incorporate details of their citations and research work. Areas of research, contributions to public interest litigation, pleas, special citations and commendations, certifications, and special areas of study should all be included.

General Skills and Personal Strengths: The legal profession requires a number of intangible skills and these should be highlighted in the resume, including analytical, communication, and negotiation. As with other professional resumes, broad and vague statements should be avoided. Instead, provide examples and weave these intangibles into the wider scope of your accomplishments where applicable.

Additional Details: Lawyers can mention their number of billable hours and any honorary assignments that they have undertaken for community and social benefit.