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Mind the Gap: Explain Breaks In Your Resume Timeline
Hiring managers and their assistants scan many resumes looking for that elusive candidate that checks off their hiring criteria boxes.
An unexplained and extended gap in your work history, or neglecting to note a contract position, runs the risk of your resume not reaching the ‘A’ folder for closer review.
You don’t want the hiring manager uncertain about what you were doing in the time that is unaccounted for in your resume.
There are many reasons other than contractual work why people have gaps in their work history:
• Parental leave due to a new birth
• Staying at home to raise children
• Falling ill and having to resign your position
• Terminated unexpectedly with or without cause
• Downsized/restructured due to an acquisition or merger
• Attending to a sick parent, child or spouse for extended health care
• Finalizing estate issues overseas for deceased parents
• Travel due to taking an extended sabbatical period
• Returning to school to obtain advanced academic training
• Moving to a new city/country because of a spouse’s promotion
When an employer sees missing months—-or years—with no explanation, doubt and hesitation to pursue the candidate influences his/her thinking.
Briefly describe the circumstances that required the gap in employment and you will eliminate the employer wondering why there is a break in your work history.
In an interview, reinforce that sense of transparency by being honest and forthright about specific circumstances, and your integrity will speak for itself.
To read all of our original content, see:
Buckley Search Inc. has over 25 years of recruitment experience in Freight Forwarding, Customs Brokerage, Logistics, and Supply Chain in Canada and the USA. Visit our website for useful career resources: http://buckleysearch.com.
How To Check For A Criminal Record in Canada
It’s competitive enough out there for good positions, without finding yourself blindsided by
an incident from your younger or not-so-younger years, focusing an employer’s attention
in the wrong areas.
It happens. A youthful indiscretion from long ago can sit on your record for decades until
it is picked up in a criminal background check by a potential employer.
You may have forgotten all about it, and reasonably think what could it matter, it was so long ago.
Yet, we have seen hiring situations delayed and in some cases derailed when these matters
come under closer scrutiny. The CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre) retains items for
decades if steps aren’t taken to remove them through applying for a pardon.
See this non-profit site for answers relating to obtaining pardons:
With stricter security measures associated with Canada Customs bonded warehouses, among other security
concerns, it is well worth the effort to see what’s on your file.
It’s a lot easier to do this beforehand, online for an economical cost and fast turnaround time. You can also apply
for a copy of your record at your local police station, although it can take up to one week to get results back.
Many employers have you sign a consent form to permit them to use an established background checking firm for
criminal and other records, depending on the scope of the job responsibilities.
Offers made are then conditional on successfully passing a criminal background check.
Here’s what you can do to find out where you stand online:
Backgroundcheck.com has a self serve option as does Triton. Both indicate about a 24 hour turnaround time, and charge a similar fee.
These are two RCMP accredited firms. Accreditation is important as the checks are run by actual police departments.
One advantage Backcheck offers is ID verification both online or at Canada Post.
See their respective sites for details.
Please note that we do not receive any fee for suggesting these firms. There are other companies, but these are two that
we have used and they do what they claim to.
Take the few minutes to get your ducks in a row and save yourself the negative surprise factor when it comes to pursuing the job you want.
You want to protect your interests in leaving a toxic workplace.
It is stressful enough to have to work there, you don’t need the additional
discomfort of negativity focused at you because you choose to leave
Most employers are fair and supportive of their people. Some employers
use different, manipulative tactics to manage their staff. Their management
style is confrontative and intimidating.
Some employers take it personally when you resign, and if your work life
wasn’t difficult enough, they then decide to make your time remaining less than
pleasant to ‘reward’ you for your disloyalty. This can take the form of subtle
or pointed remarks, meetings to pressure you into telling them where you
are going to work next, and having colleagues do the same.
Here’s where the need for patience and perseverance comes in.
You don’t want to give any reason to your soon-to-be ex-employer to mishandle
an employment reference, final paycheque or vacation pay, or any other process
required to separate cleanly from the company.
You return all company property, surrender all papers of strategic importance, and
bring your files up to date, helping your colleagues, eliminating any justification for
meetings where your integrity, competence, or honesty are called into question.
Your departure does create a problem that your boss has to solve however in finding your replacement.
That frustration may surface in these types of meetings.
If you get an exit interview with HR, restrain the urge to lay blame and point fingers.
Instead, describe in neutral, constructive terms what steps the company can take to improve
how it serves its customers and supports its employees.
Pleasant manners succeed even with difficult people.
Your peace of mind is more important, so disengaging emotionally from whatever
is being said, keeping your eye on the goal of the better life that awaits you at your
new employer, and letting go of your grievances is in your best interests.
“Endurance is patience concentrated”
Meeting With Your Boss? Have A Plan.
You’ve asked to meet with your boss to clarify expectations and goals, and you are feeling a little stressed
with the additional projects that you have been asked to take on. Show your resilience and creative
thinking under pressure. That all-important can-do attitude paves the way to a productive discussion.
They believe you can solve problems, now is the time to discuss how.
This is a great opportunity to suggest changes because your boss wants to listen to what you have to say.
Your views are important. He/she granting you the time to discuss your concerns and ideas is proof of this.
A little preparation, with points on paper to serve as a context will impress him/her with your sense of organization,
analytical thinking, and creative input.
Develop clear talking points to explore the issues and options.
Decide what your objectives are going into the discussion:
- Being able to fulfill the company’s performance expectations
- Managing the demands made on your time in different areas of responsibility
- Ensuring that your work is completed on time
- Deciding what the company wants to prioritize and in what order
- Discussing the resources available to use or needed to complete objectives
Your boss is going to expect you to:
- Outline the problems concisely and with clarity
- Show a willingness to work through them
- Propose a plan of action and bring forward ideas and options
- Be receptive to constructive criticism if it is forthcoming
- Suggest a follow up to provide feedback on changes that are mutually agreed on
You want to be solution focused in your approach. It is important that your boss sees your confidence in tackling the problems
because every business has these challenges in one form or another.
Your intention is key to a successful meeting.
You want to come away from the meeting with a shared understanding of the company’s expectations and goals,
and the part you play in making those objectives happen.
"Determine the thing that can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."
- Abraham Lincoln
Keeping Good People - Part 3: Mentors
Relationships, plus clearly defined goals, and a sense of shared vision and commitment are the bonds that keep a team pulling in the same direction. The best managers are inclusive, and create a stimulating and positive working environment.
Internal mentors are a powerful resource for developing staff, for their personal growth and the company's future development.
7 Traits Of A Good Mentor:
• Cares about colleagues having the tools and knowledge to be successful
• Leads through hands-on examples and real time problem solving
• Encourages feedback and the input of employee ideas to solve problems
• Shares experience and knowledge, and builds the competence and confidence of coworkers
• Follows up on employee progress, offering positive and constructive observations
• Respects colleagues and is in turn respected throughout the company
• Values continuous improvement and learning and promotes industry education
The best mentors take an interest in other people and seldom have hidden agendas, giving freely of their time and attention, guiding, counselling, and discussing decisions and scenarios that arise in the course of daily business.
They awaken the desire to grow by challenging the people that they mentor to stretch themselves, and move beyond their comfort zones. They ask the right questions and practice active instead of passive listening. They are able distill complex subjects and communicate with confidence and authority.
They not only impart knowledge, they inspire and lead the mentee towards discovering their inner potential. They see the talent and ability in others and encourage the fullest expression of it.
Mentors follow the career progress of those employees that they were involved with as these people set out on career paths outside the company. They are consulted for feedback and advice.
Mentors are missed when they leave their employer and their shoes are not easily filled.
Employers who give respect and recognition to the mentors in their midst gain their loyalty in return.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Quitting Without Notice: Taking A Stand, Or Rolling The Dice?
Quitting without notice is an impulsive decision that happens in the heat of the moment,
and affects your career progress.
This may seem like an exercise in common sense and obvious advice, but people incur
unforeseen problems when they take that stand. Quitting without giving notice is an avoidable mistake.
You are taking a gamble with your security and reputation.
You realize that due to poor communication or treatment, there is no light at the end of this particular tunnel.
Promises have been broken, and you see no path forward with your present employer.
Frustration builds until one day you say to yourself that you’re done, get up, march out of the office and vow not to return.
You figure that you’ll just get another job.
You rationalize to yourself that you won’t give notice, you’ll just up and quit and they can send the separation papers in the mail.
Stop. Reconsider what you are doing. This isn’t serving your best interests.
It isn’t a good idea to make any decision based on emotions. In a cooler frame of mind you’ll see
that there are certain disadvantages to leaving without notice that outweigh whatever degree of satisfaction
or relief that you feel about just getting out of there.
Why you shouldn’t leave your job suddenly without a backup plan in place:
A long term employee leaving suddenly creates significant impact.
As tough as your current situation is, you owe it to yourself to find and secure a good employer before you leave your present one.
There are greener pastures to consider.
It may take a little time but the effort is worth it when you make a smooth transition to a better future.
You could see yourself working there; the people were friendly, the company is going places, and the job suited your experience and expectations. Then, you were informed that the job was offered to someone else. This wasn’t what you were expecting. Disappointment and wondering start to dominate your thinking.
Where did you go wrong?
Rejection is tough to take for even the most resilient people. You begin second-guessing yourself.
Was it something I said, or something I did or didn’t do?
Reflecting on your personal presentation, you come to the conclusion that there was nothing that you said or did that would disqualify you, and you did your best.
Let it go. Don’t dwell on what might have been. As in sports, focus on the next shot, the next serve.
There are any number of reasons that you didn’t get the job. Many of them have nothing to do with you.
Some of the more common reasons that the job goes to someone else:
• Someone was more qualified or experienced
• Another person had stronger personal chemistry with the hiring manager
• A last minute candidate was introduced externally by a third party, or by an internal employee
• After several meetings, it was decided to raise or lower the bar of experience or qualifications
• The hiring manager’s boss decided on modifying the duties or qualifications
• The salary range offered was adjusted for economic reasons or a corporate change in plans
When you are between jobs, every interview and job opportunity that comes your way is not necessarily the right one for you. Several doors may close before the right one opens.
Remind yourself that you have the strengths, skills, and experience that are a good fit in the right company. Just because XYZ company wasn’t the right opportunity doesn’t mean that the pathway to your own progress is blocked.
You have a lot to offer, persevere in your efforts and they are bound to be successful.
Thomas Edison said when inventing the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Continue believing in yourself and your worth because you know you have a lot to contribute to your next employer. The right employer is bound to recognize that, sooner or later.
Keeping Good People - Part 2 - Provide Challenge and Growth Opportunities
Challenge--or the lack of it--is a powerful motivator to stay or to leave. Employees who find their jobs becoming routine tend to lose interest in their work.
The desire to learn and grow, to push into uncharted waters, and be excited about one's work again is a positive force for an employer to harness.
When people feel that they have reached the limits of career growth, and there is no more challenge where they are, it is natural to seek change,
and the stimulation of new experiences.
The most successful companies identify the potential of their people, and develop that potential, to achieve corporate goals. Employers often leave
good people in static positions because they have shown themselves to be highly effective in those roles. Meanwhile, other talents and skills are untapped,
so these people seek to stretch themselves and their abilities, to see what they can handle.
On countless occasions I have good people registering because they feel they’ve reached the end of the road where they are. Much time and expense is
invested by their companies, only to see them strike out for those greener pastures. When employees begin to feel that their job is routine, boredom sets in,
then they are ripe for making career changes.
Employees who want more challenges:
- Seek out unusual assignments, volunteering for riskier projects
- Are self-motivated and high energy individuals
- Don't see themselves going backwards, or staying put; they need to be moving forward and growing, to feel successful
- Want to improve themselves and are rarely satisfied with their performance
- Establish new benchmarks and raise the bar on their efforts, striving to exceed personal and corporate expectations
- View problems through a different paradigm, looking for the solution and opportunity for change
Good people want promotion; to aim higher and advance in life. They are noted for their obvious energy, commitment, focus, and devotion.
Companies benefit greatly from having them on board. Through their need to aim higher and advance in their careers,
these employees contribute significantly to whichever employer they decide to join forces with.
Astute companies provide them with challenge and growth opportunities, channelling their energies to serving their customers, and strengthening their operations.
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning."
- Benjamin Franklin
Keeping Good People: Part 1 - Recognize an employee's contributions and success.
The competition for experienced, qualified, and well connected people is intense.
How do you improve the odds of keeping good people and why do they leave?
This series of blog posts explores some of the main issues that prompt people to seek greener pastures, and what companies can do to prevent this exodus of talented and experienced people.
Employer time and money is invested in the training and development of staff, the development of managers, and the hiring of qualified people.
One of the major frustrations of any hiring manager is finding that a good employee is leaving. There are ways to stop the departure of good people from your organization. We often see the results of frustration with the status quo, boredom, broken relationships, misplaced trust, and the realization that conditions aren't going to improve. The areas of concern to the majority of employees fall into one of four main categories:
The lack of recognition from superiors for a job well done is one of the most avoidable reasons to lose a good employee. The desire to contribute and to create value is a basic human motivation at any level of responsibility. To feel that your efforts are recognized and appreciated strengthens the bond of loyalty to the employer.
Regular performance reviews are an inexpensive opportunity to provide that recognition. When people feel as though their contribution is meaningless or being taken for granted, they begin to consider their options. People want to think that their work makes a difference. A simple gesture such as taking staff out for a friendly lunch occasionally, or having coffee together to acknowledge a person's contribution, can do much to build trust and loyalty.
Employees want the recognition of people they look up to. Stop and acknowledge a job well done with authentic praise and you help validate an employee’s efforts. When people feel they are on the right track, they want to achieve more.
Ultimately, the company’s customers benefit by having engaged and dedicated people solving problems and going that extra mile to ensure their satisfaction. This helps forge bonds of trust between the company and its customers—a win-win situation.
What are some of the ways that you have found work well to provide recognition for quality results?
“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”― Sir Richard Branson
Recognize manipulators in the workplace.
Manipulators know that many people are susceptible to flattery.
They understand that there's a universal human need for acceptance and approval.
They actively offer flattery and acceptance to people whom they perceive as being needy or unsure of themselves.
They do the same thing with people who are outwardly strong and capable, but in a different way.
With people who are needy and unsure of themselves, they offer moral encouragement and support, to gain trust.
With people who are strong and capable, they express their admiration, and how impressed they are with the target's
accomplishments. They will tell you what they think you want to hear, or need to hear.
They want something from you, and they go to great lengths to obtain what they want.
They work at creating wedges between people to further their objectives.
They will practice subtle forms of character assassination or gossip, to plant seeds of doubt.
They will often drop casual hints or remarks about people that they're trying to supplant in your life.
This causes you to question your established relationships and their foundations.
The difference between an honest approach to understanding another person and a dishonest approach
is the motive behind it.
An honest person seeks to understand you because they value you as a person.
A manipulative person seeks to understand you to determine your weaknesses.
When they find that chink in your armour, then they work themselves into your confidence and trust.
Once a manipulator has gained your confidence and trust, they begin to put into motion their agenda.
You're used as a tool to further their interests, sometimes as an accomplice.
Courses of action are suggested to you, which seem to hold a benefit for you, but in reality only serve to
advance the manipulator's objectives.
You're asked to perform a task, or say something to somebody, acting as a mouthpiece for the user,
who stays safely in the background, manipulating the action behind the scenes.
Even the most honest and upstanding people can be fooled.
Trust your intuition; if it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.
"One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived." - Machiavelli
There is no substitute for character.
We have conducted thousands of interviews. Over time, we have learned that highly accomplished professionals,
and beginners alike, may share a similar feeling of nervousness, going in to an interview.
It isn't something you do every day.
There are various skills of active listening, practicing empathy, and using open-ended questions as techniques
to conduct a successful interview.
Beyond these learned abilities, there is something more important: the character of the person being interviewed.
A person's genuine character needs to shine through the haze of questions and answers; when it does,
there is a different kind of communication happening between the interviewer and the person being interviewed.
Character is a fundamental building block of career progress; it is difficult to counterfeit, and someone looking for
evidence of it will readily recognize it in another person.
Key to any successful interview is to be who you are, make the human connection through being friendly, smiling,
and engaged, listening actively, being positive, and asking good questions.
Character communicates to others through poise, confidence, empathy,
and expressed values and principles.
It is evident in both a candidate’s track record and career accomplishments.
As with leadership, you know it when you see it."Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion." - Aristotle
It’s the little things that can trip you up in your job application.
Candidates are derailed in the hiring process due to simple errors that raise concern or suspicion
in the employer’s mind.
A case in point is where an employer receives a resume with certain employment dates, then, after
doing a casual LinkedIn profile review or Indeed resume search, discovers that the dates on the resume
don’t match the timeframes on the profile.
For some sticklers for total accuracy, this is enough to halt the review process. Other employers prefer to
give the benefit of the doubt. They may check their internal resume bank to see if the candidate has applied before,
and then compare notes, to see if any other discrepancies exist.
Accuracy in these resume details is of vital interest to you. You don’t want your application rejected for innocent errors.
It takes just a few minutes to check and ensure that any online resume information you have is consistent.
It’s another matter altogether if your resume has different dates or different companies in different versions posted online.
In this instance, employers are less likely to give benefit of the doubt and will simply move on.
The other area of a resume is the Education section. Here, you want to avoid any confusion about whether or not you
graduated from a program, and if the year noted of graduation agrees with other online profiles.
It’s competitive for all positions that you apply for. Give your resume a fighting chance to be seen and considered.
Do you have accurate and consistent information posted on all of your online resumes?
Customer service professionals know that how to project sincerity and interest to the caller creates trust and confidence in the listener.
Value judgments are made within the first 15 to 30 seconds of speaking to someone on the telephone based on attitude, style of the speaker and visualizing the person on the other end.
People have an inner radar which picks up on a person’s sincerity, genuine interest, and spontaneity. Your desire to communicate positively about your experience, skills and abilities projects on the phone.
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, or how little, making the human connection is a process of the interviewer identifying with the person they are speaking to on a basic level.
The hiring manager pictures how you will sound to their customers, colleagues, and other team members, and your ability to project warmth and what’s referred to as a ‘smile in your voice’ often decides the next step in the hiring process.
Many companies train their front line customer service employees on effective telephone techniques. Rather than talking at the telephone, they are trained to visualize the caller, and create a sense of empathy and willingness to listen and serve.
To see how you sound to others, record yourself and playback, noting your attitude, tone, and the overall quality of your presentation. This is a very helpful exercise to identify where to improve your speaking style, while retaining the essence of who you are.
One of the main reasons that people don’t survive to the next level is that they don’t ask the right questions when given the opportunity to do so. This isn’t the time to ask about compensation and benefits. This is the time to ask about the employer’s expectations and needs.
Show the interviewer that you’ve researched them on the Internet and that you’ve taken the interest to learn about their products, plans, services, and corporate values.
Questions to display interest
• How will your performance be measured?
• What skills and abilities are required to succeed in this position?
• What are the key problems that this position will address?
• What does the employer want to achieve in the first six months and within the first year?
• What tools will you have to work with?
• How will this position impact on the growth of the department?
• What is the training program, and what does it entail?
• What other departments will you work with inside the company?
• What qualities do you look for in the people that you hire?
These and similar questions show an analytical and focused mind looking for common ground and mutual benefit, and aware of the employer’s concerns and needs. Stay focused at the end of the meeting. If you have interest in this position, express it, and leave the interviewer with either selected employer reference letters from direct superiors, client letters of appreciation, a performance appraisal, or a business card—something given to the interviewer that reinforces your name in their mind.
Don’t let yourself be rushed into a hiring agreement.
The most important time to exercise patience in the hiring process is in the final stages when an offer of
employment has been extended to you. It is easy to rush the process in order to close the deal.
When you receive the offer and hiring agreement, take your time to go through your offer and hiring
agreement (they are often two different documents), and consider what you are committing to.
Sometimes pressure is put on you either by a recruiter who is representing the position, the employer who
is eager for you to sign off so they can turn their attention to other priorities, or even a family member who wants
the security that comes with a signed offer and hiring agreement.
If you receive pressure from the recruiter it is usually because recruiters want to close the deal and move on to
the next priority. Some recruiters who are less than concerned with their client's welfare may try bullying tactics,
essentially brushing off your concerns and strongly suggesting that you overlook points that you would like to question
or discuss. This can happen if you are between jobs and have expressed a degree of anxiety about being gainfully
employed again. Stand your ground and send a message, documenting your way along, explaining what you would like to review.
Verbal agreements cannot be verified in the future because they are words and they are not recorded.
Discuss the situation with the recruiter or human resources representative but follow through to
clarify your understanding by email.
The hiring process is often affected by factors beyond your (and our) control.
A first interview turned out to be very positive, you are looking forward to the second meeting, then everything stops.
Hiring situations have their own individual dynamics. One situation may be resolved in a matter of days, with everything
falling into place, effortlessly. People make a connection, meetings are held and a hiring agreement is reached easily.
Other scenarios may involve a longer cycle, with vacations, business trips, other executive involvement and other
unforeseen changes in hiring criteria and salary ranges.
It isn’t always easy to understand why some promising opportunities seem to fade after an initial meeting,
while others change at the last minute. There are many factors that affect the process. Some are hidden
What are some of these factors that can derail or delay the hiring process?
These are obviously beyond anyone’s control. If a hiring manager is leaving the country
hiring decisions are often put on hold until his/her return.
A previously approved plan to hire may be reconsidered, and the option of moving someone
into the position from within the department initiated.
If a hiring manager has two people with almost equal strengths, they may require more time
to think about their decision, consult with colleagues and weigh the pros and cons of choosing one
candidate over another.
Internal candidates can pop up at the last minute and be given serious consideration, or even
offered the position, while external candidates are put on hold. Sometimes this is communicated,
The hiring manager’s superior may venture their opinions about the wisdom of hiring
one candidate over another after they have reviewed the file. The senior manager may not agree
with the hiring manager’s selection, and an internal conference may delay or change the decision.
The priority may shift suddenly to needing to replace someone who resigns in another function,
and who may represent a significant loss to the department. This development may slow down
or stop a hiring situation in its tracks. Candidates aren’t often made aware of this new and unexpected need
to switch focus.
Some companies make counter offers, and others don’t. It can take time for the counter offer
to the made or be accepted by the person resigning. We often see these counter offers happening
at the last minute. Naturally, this closes the search abruptly.
An internal employee may introduce or recommend someone that they vouch for at the last minute
as well. If the person introduced is a good fit, the search may be terminated.
Whether you are looking for a job or leaving one, it is frustrating to encounter unexplained or unexpected delays.
The above information might be helpful to remember that things happen that are beyond your control and are not
a reflection of your value, experience, and abilities.
Changing Jobs? Look Before You Leap.
It’s tempting to jump to a new opportunity, just make sure you are landing in the right place.
What are some issues to explore when deciding on moving from one job to another?
A lot of your research can be done through various trade publications that you can
find through our 2015 Resources page: http://buckleysearch.com/2015resources.htm
Attitudes in an interview influence a hiring decision.
Hiring managers are alert to signs that a potential employee may harbour inappropriate attitudes.
They look for signals indicating a temperament, personality or expectations that are misaligned with the position’s challenges.
What are some of the attitudes that raise red flags in an interview?
Entitled candidates project the expectation that employers will accede to their demands and that they
can check off a wish list of employment conditions that they have. The reality is that most hiring
situations involve negotiating in a spirit of goodwill and compromise.
Making quantum leaps in salary from job to job is perceived by most employers as unrealistic. When
they see candidates asking for significantly higher than average salary increases, they begin
reconsidering. This impression is reinforced if the candidate’s overall experience and knowledge base
is out of line with their expectations.
Employers want to hire motivated people and they stay away from candidates who don’t display
interest in the opportunity under discussion. People who show interest, ask relevant questions, show
willingness to take on more responsibility, and who have a team player’s mentality will move forward.
Inflexibility is broadcast when candidates balk at considering overtime, or extending themselves beyond the
core job description. An expressed willingness to do whatever is required to benefit the team or the department is
always a positive point to bring up in an interview.
Speaking negatively about past employers always raises red flags. The interview starts wondering about the candidate’s
manageability, and whether they will create dissension in the department. If you have negative feelings, make a decision
to let go of them, even if they are justified. This is in your best interests.
Positive attitudes make the human connection stronger.
The importance of being focused—sharpening the tools.
In an interview, your focus or lack of it is picked up very quickly by the interviewer.
Many a career opportunity is lost through lapses of attention, or assuming that the
interviewer understands what you are saying.
This is a problem for people who are unaccustomed to interviews. Without practice and mindfulness,
which means a heightened degree of awareness of your surroundings, you may miss a question
or misunderstand it, and give a response which isn’t well received.
The best way to avoid this situation is to practice being interviewed with a trusted friend who plays
the role of the hiring manager. Ask him/her to interject when they feel you are wandering off topic.
Some questions and topics you can expect will be explored are:
▪ So, tell us about yourself.
▪ Describe what you did in your daily duties.
▪ Give us examples of how you met challenges in your previous jobs.
▪ Why are you looking?
▪ Why do you want to work for us?
▪ Why should we hire you?
▪ How would you handle the challenges of this job?
▪ What strengths do you bring?
▪ What are your weaknesses?
▪ What are your salary expectations?
▪ Where do you see yourself in a few years?
▪ How long do you think it will take to get up to speed?
▪ Why did you leave your last employer?
Each one of these questions is a standard open-ended probe to gather information. You cannot answer them
with a ‘yes’ or no’; more details must be provided.
Practice these answers until you are comfortable with them and their variations. You don’t want to sound
robotic in your responses, you want your presentation to flow smoothly from one topic to another, and
repeatedly answering these questions in a practice session helps you accomplish this.
"Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." - Abraham Lincoln
Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?
This is just one optimist's views. We all see life differently.
See this site for some humor on the subject:
What floats your boat?
Optimists experience the same disappointments and setbacks that pessimists do, but they view
the events themselves with a fundamental difference: they believe that regardless of appearances,
circumstances and conditions happen to learn and grow stronger from.
An optimist inspires you to hope, dream, and to plan for your goals; the pessimist speaks in terms of
fear, doubt, and obstructions.
An optimist strives for achievement; a pessimist hopes to avoid disappointment and failure.
An optimist knows that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way towards achieving their goals,
and accepts the sacrifices necessary to achieve them, willingly; the pessimist is angry at obstacles, fears obstructions,
and prefers to conserve energy.
Trust opens more doors of experience, creativity, and growth, whereas fear limits, restricts, and obstructs free progress.
Trust opens you up to the world and its wonders; fear isolates and defines rigid boundaries of experience.
Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?
Inertia is a state of mind that's the equivalent to having a mental flat tire. You're stuck in your situation if you allow
yourself to give up and avoid the work needed to pull yourself up onto your feet, and begin moving however hesitantly forward again.
Sometimes you need to kick-start yourself to regain a sense of forward momentum. There are various ways to do this.
Questions to determine if inertia is holding you back:
▪ Are you flying in a holding pattern, neither advancing nor regressing, treading water and feeling stagnated?
▪ Have your plans and forward movement come to an impasse, and you see no way forward?
▪ Have you lost sight of your previous goals and objectives?
▪ Does everything seem to be at a standstill, and do you have a listless feeling of apathy?
▪ Do you greet the day with the feeling that it isn't worth the effort to put in efforts towards your goals?
▪ Do you find it difficult to sit down and plan out your daily tasks?
That feeling of standstill, if left to solidify eventually transforms into a complete stoppage of worthwhile efforts.
It's imperative to recognize these warning signs and take concrete steps toward reinvigorating your efforts and your attitudes.
Some ways to get yourself moving forward again:
▪ Realize that this state of standstill does not need to continue indefinitely; it only takes some honest
effort and choosing to initiate positive action to start moving again.
▪ Forgive yourself for letting yourself down, and forgive others for letting you down; we're all human, and we all make mistakes.
▪ It isn't the falling down that counts; it's how many times you can get back up, smiling.
▪ Develop the idea of wanting to appreciate the many benefits you have in life, and desire to share your good fortune with others.
▪ Accept the fact that your world does not change unless you're willing to commit to the process of change,
however discomfited that makes you feel.
▪ Accept the challenge to create something new and positive; life affirming and uplifting that moves you to achieve.
Be open to change because it's the only true constant in life.
In a life well lived, there's little room for complaints, boredom and apathy.
Every moment that we are alive is a gift, and we honour that gift by making
best use of the time that we have while we're here.
"Nothing happens until something moves." - Albert Einstein
Increase your visibility when applying by email
With hundreds of resumes that we receive every week from all over North America, it is surprising to see
how many submissions can be improved by following a few easy steps to improve visibility.
It is vital to your interests to get noticed quickly among the many applications pouring in to most job postings.
Many resume readers aren’t the final hiring manager. Assistants are used to pre-screen submissions.
These assistants won’t spend any more time than is necessary on your document. Give the reader your
name to refer to without them having to change the file name to save and find you on their desktop.
Multiple attachments take time to save and process. Combining two or more documents into one streamlines
both the review and the processing of the email. You run the risk of your cover letter, which may include important
information being separated from your resume when emails are processed and passed on. Eliminate that risk.
I’ve seen message that had nine attachments.
Sending a resume saved in an exotic file format or as a .jpg that the reader can’t scan and/or open to read guarantees
that the message will not progress further.
Some email systems or email preferences may be set to automatically delete large files.
Reduce the file size to avoid this problem.
Many virus messages have no text in them. Combine this with an anonymous resume file, and you are
asking to be overlooked. Confirm to the reader that a live human being sent the message by adding
Blank subject lines convey the impression of a lack of preparation or interest. The subject line is your first
opportunity to command attention. Use the subject line to identify why you’re writing in a few, short words,
identifying the position title.
Be visible to the reader, and easy to find. Instantly connect with the reader by pasting your resume text in the
message, in addition to attaching your resume. A decision to move forward may be made in the few seconds
that you have the reader’s eyeballs. Make it easy for that decision to happen.
Stand out from the crowd and get noticed when applying for jobs
Hundreds of people may apply for the same position, how do you stand out from the crowd and ensure that your application gets noticed?
▪ Create a separate email account on Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail. Have this account for job search activities;
gather all of your related correspondence for easy access and follow-up. Use your first and last name in the email
address that you choose. Avoid using odd, cryptic and un-businesslike email addresses.
▪ Note your telephone number somewhere at the top of your message for easy access.
The recipient appreciates this because you make it easier for him/her to contact you for further consideration.
When emails move from one department to another, information from the text is often lost, especially if you’ve a
large amount of introductory text in the message.
▪ Tell the reader when you can be reached by telephone. Note a timeframe that is easiest to reach you:
“cell # (000)123-1234 after 3:30 p.m.” –or– “(000)123-1234 after 5:00 p.m.; leave message, anytime.”
People involved in the hiring process have busy schedules.
▪ Indicate that you can be reached by text message, anytime. The ability to instantly communicate with you is both
a convenience for the resume reader/hiring manager, and can give you a jump on the competition that may not
check their email once a day or every day.
▪ Identify the position that you’re applying for in the subject line of your email. If it’s a position number you
are applying to, also include the title. You set yourself apart from those applicants who don’t take the extra time to
ensure that their communications are clear and focused.
▪ Edit and re-edit the text of your cover letter. Long, meandering cover letters or messages decrease the chance
to move forward in the review and pre-selection process. Every sentence must create buyer interest.
▪ Manually check both your resume and cover message for errors. Spellcheck features are not totally reliable.
They can’t tell if you mean: ‘they’re, their and there’, for example.
▪ Ensure that all online resumes match in dates of employment and jobs held. There is nothing that creates more
confusion in a resume reader’s mind than finding that they have two different sets of dates of employment in a resume
and a candidate’s online profile on LinkedIn or Indeed to compare with. Create consistency in your public information.
These simple steps taken increase the odds of being noticed when hundreds of applicants are vying for the same position.
Building trust as a new supervisor
When people work with each other, you sometimes get a clash of agendas and different motivations which
affect the team’s synergy and output. If not handled with tact and diplomacy, positions and points of view
become entrenched and people construct walls and defenses.
An inexperienced supervisor in this situation often overreacts and tries to force change and this can backfire.
Trying to influence someone who doesn't see your point and refuses to accept your reasoning is like trying to
make a stream flow uphill. The stronger their defensive posture is, and resistance to change becomes, the more
you exhaust yourself through frustration and resentment when repeated attempts to push change fail.
This has the effect of draining your energy, narrowing your range of tolerance, and prompting emotional reactions to
every wrong move that the person makes.
Some points to consider when you are faced with this scenario:
Remove your emotions from the equation and look at the problem strategically by looking
beyond surface appearances.
With a new supervisor, established employees may feel the need to test their boundaries, to see how strong or weak
their new leader is. More experienced staff members who have seen supervisors come and go may test, probe or
challenge to see if the new supervisor deserves their respect.
Finding common ground
Engaging these employees and showing that you value their experience, input and ideas is one way to gain willing cooperation.
People have opinions and frequently have great ideas to contribute. Their former supervisor may have had a more autocratic
leadership style, and as a consequence, they learned to avoid the risk of saying what they thought.
A significant part of the learning curve of new supervisors and managers is practicing the skills of active listening, soliciting feedback and seeking first to understand, then to be understood. This builds trust, and with trust more open communication becomes possible.
"I don't like that man, I must get to know him better." - Abraham Lincoln
You Know You Are Self-motivated When...
• You avoid taking the easy way out and apply yourself consistently to whatever it is you need to do.
• You get up early in the morning fresh with energy to achieve the goals you have set out for that day.
• You're constantly thinking of ways to improve what you do and how you do it.
• You don't procrastinate; you attend to every task, no matter how small, building momentum.
• You concentrate on creating order in your life, not cutting corners, or trying to evade responsibility.
• You're eager to make your contribution at home, in school, or at work, and people know that you give it 100% of your effort.
• You don't make excuses for why things aren't done, or done poorly; you take responsibility and accountability, and resolve to improve
• You look at every task as a learning opportunity, applying your talents and skills, to achieving present and future goals.
• You keep in mind the idea of first things first; using your time and your energy for whatever will advance your interests, and create progress.
• You refuse to allow yourself to achieve at a lower standard than you're capable of.
" Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." - Benjamin Franklin
Weathering a career crisis and emerging stronger from it
Unexpected events like downsizing and being restructured happen to the best of people, and this type of shock can
temporarily affect your career progress.
The setback and challenges involved can seem daunting. Don’t be discouraged. No one can take away from you your
These situations often serve as a catalyst for change that might otherwise not have happened, and in the end they often
serve to increase your strength and purpose.
As recruiters, we see countless scenarios where one door closes and one door opens for people who keep their
cool and decide to see the opportunity represented of being forced by circumstance to choose a new direction.
Those who choose not to allow a feeling of victimization to colour their interactions with others, and who decide instead to
spur themselves forward with positive determination invariably end up finding the opportunity that is right for them.
If you remain calm and persevering, you will find the right doors opening for you.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” - Henry Ford
Make your Skills Summary statement golden
Most hiring managers and recruiters are sold on selecting a resume for active consideration in the first 10 seconds or so spent reviewing it.
That’s not a lot of time to grab their attention! Make the time count by putting what you can do up front.
The generic Job Objective on a resume doesn’t accomplish this and may limit your options in some cases.
A Skills Summary that sizzles hits the hot buttons of the reader and makes them put down their coffee and read on.
You are providing information on your skills and experience in a tightly worded introduction.
It is a sales presentation that paves the way to a follow up call or interview.
A Job Objective might say: Sales Executive in a global freight forwarder.
A Skills Summary identifies what you bring to the table: Ten years sales development experience in international air and ocean freight. successful in identifying, pursuing and closing new business. Known for persistence and the ability to develop and retain profitable accounts.
The simple truth is that you need to use those precious few seconds when you have the reader’s eyeballs to make them sort you into the follow up folder. Remember that sorting through hundreds of resumes may well be the least favourite activity of the reader.
Call it a Skills Summary, Key Qualifications, Key Assets Statement, whatever term you use, make it serve your interests. Define in a few short sentences the essence of who you are, what you’ve done and what you can do.
The rest of the resume supports your opening statement. The Applicant Tracking software that companies use will scan your keywords for relevancy. Put this section in early in your resume.
Get noticed for the right reasons and you're more likely to advance in the selection process.
The quiet mind gets things done
Your goals are more easily achieved when you act from a quiet center, rather than allowing yourself to be governed by fear, doubt and anxiety. Restlessness as an enduring condition often leads to making impulsive decisions which aren’t in your best interest.
This is especially noticeable when you are making a career decision. When you wrestle with making this type of decision in an emotional state, you are less likely to make the decision that’s right for you. All sorts of considerations, second-guessing and indecision can paralyze the will to act.
There are many ways to arrive at a calmer state of mind to allow your perceptions and impressions to achieve that state of simple clarity, where options, risks and rewards become clearer.
Some things that help achieve a state of calm:
▪ Many find listening to calming music assists their thought processes
▪ Taking a walk in the park, in a forest or anywhere in nature helps release anxious thoughts
▪ Consciously choosing to let go of the problem, trusting that a solution will be found helps to disengage from circular thinking
▪ Playing with children or a pet breaks your mind’s focus and allows thoughts to settle
▪ Reading inspirational quotations or stories of people whom you admire helps balance your thinking
The answers often come when you stop focusing on not having them.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine — and shadows will fall behind you” - Walt Whitman
Define your worth to the employer. Convince employers that they should invest in you.
Progressive employers view talented graduates as a valuable resource for future growth.
Employers hire people who have demonstrated that they want the opportunity to grow.
Many employers have said to us that without an established track record, they will tend to hire someone
because of what attitudes, energy, and character strengths they see that can be a foundation for training and future development.
Think about your skills, your strengths, and your experiences in school.
How have you applied yourself to your studies? What strengths and skills helped you succeed? If you have had the opportunity to work in an industry related co-op placement, then there is some assessment that the employer may obtain, based on your employment reference.
The skills you learned in part-time jobs are transferable to other employment. Employers look for evidence of the ability to learn quickly, get along with coworkers, and work in an organized, self-motivated manner. Extracurricular activities are taken into account, as is volunteer work. List your accomplishments and talk about them.
As an entry-level employee with no co-op history, the employer doesn’t have a track record to measure your performance. Instead, they look at grades, honours awarded, scholarships received, and Dean’s list citations. Tell them what you have done and how you did it.
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes, and understand the employer's point of view, concerns, and needs:
• Is this person someone we can invest time in to train them?
• Will this person be staying with us long enough for us to benefit from having trained them?
• Does this person have a willingness to cooperate and be a good team player?
• Is this person someone who communicates effectively?
• Does this person have realistic salary expectations?
Hiring managers hire people that show confidence, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and work hard, and flexibility in an interview.
These attitudes make a positive impression which lead to job offers.
Why do I want this career opportunity?
A balanced sense of ambition and realism helps you achieve the goals you set out for yourself.
Those who allow ambition to be their master rather than mastering their ambition often make short-sighted
decisions where desire gets in the way of objectivity. Cutting corners to experience rapid career progress
exposes you to demands and expectations from others where you need to have the grounding, skills and experience
to be successful and meet established performance standards.
Some questions to ask yourself:
▪ Is it recognition, respect, increased prestige, greater challenge, more money?
▪ Have I carefully assessed what demands will be placed on me and do I possess the skills
and traits that will make me successful?
▪ Am I moving because I am frustrated and want to challenge myself, or do I feel that I am not
acknowledged and my contribution has not been recognized?
▪ Do I have the experience and knowledge required for this job?
▪ How objective am I in evaluating my strengths and weaknesses?
▪ Am I being impatient and have I learned all I can in my present situation?
▪ Am I moving because others - family members or peers have said that I should and I feel the pressure from them?
Pride, ego and the perception that others are getting ahead faster than you can influence your decision making.
Take the time to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses and review the pros and cons of accepting a given opportunity.
Objectively take inventory of your knowledge, skills and experience, and make the effort to determine from the employer what will be expected of you.
The decision you make will have far-reaching consequences and you owe it to yourself to decide wisely based on facts and a full assessment of the risks and rewards.
Seven warning signs to recruiters that limit your prospects for referral to clients
Recruiters are alert to signals that indicate to them that a candidate may not be suitable to refer.
Your recruiter is constantly putting you in front of his/her client, mentally, imagining how you will present yourself, and
whether you meet the criteria for hiring established by the client.
These warning signs factor into a decision to refer or not:
▪ Negative attitudes such as victimization, resentment, grievances with employers and arrogance give
pause to recruiters because they want their client to identify with and not be turned off with the people they refer.
▪ Rambling, unfocused responses cause hesitation because clients like clear and focused answers to their questions,
and they don't want you to annoy their client.
▪ Unrealistic salary demands relative to the position under consideration often prevent your referral for review to the client.
▪ Lack of flexibility to accommodate an appointment time for a client's busy hiring schedule.
▪ Low buyer interest due to a poorly constructed resume, poor grammar and typos, and/or the inability to clearly express
what you have accomplished, learned and want to achieve is a major stumbling block to referring you.
▪ Many moves from company to company that aren't contractual ones, and/or backward moves in title and responsibility
are a concern to recruiters because their clients expect evidence of stability and forward progress in a candidate's work history.
▪ Long, unexplained periods of unemployment raise red flags because this issue raises other questions about employability,
self-motivation, and work performance competence.
A golden dozen attributes that recruiters and employers look for in candidates
In no particular order, here are the qualities that create buyer interest in employers and recruiters.
These skills and values identify key strengths that companies seek in the people that they hire.
▪ Communications - you communicate effectively and are able to connect with others through listening,
and creating relationships founded on trust.
▪ Honesty - you are sincere, genuine and straightforward and this impression is confirmed with past
employers and colleagues.
▪ Initiative - you did your research on the company and you come prepared with good questions.
▪ Self-confidence - you impress with genuine confidence, poise, and enthusiasm.
▪ Self-discipline - you show that you are organized and that you manage your time well.
▪ Hard worker - your track record and personal values reflect the mindset of an achiever.
▪ Team player - you show the willingness and the ability to work with other people, and be
part of a cooperative effort.
▪ Self motivated - you are driven to succeed, and are prepared to put in the energy to be successful,
finding satisfaction in a job well done.
▪ Goal directed - your choices---academic and work-related--- paint the picture of someone who is
always taking on new challenges.
▪ Organized - you're able to manage and retain vital information, juggling multiple demands on your time.
▪ Adaptability - you're able to adapt to new people and changing situations, adjusting to priorities and
sudden shifts in direction.
▪ Reliability - you keep your commitments, and former employers speak of you as someone who can always
be counted on to give your best effort.
Be clear about your salary expectations with the recruiter
Clarity is essential. Ensure that your recruiter knows what your expectations are. Many people assume that
there's salary flexibility with an employer based on their having the experience and skills required for the job.
Some companies have flexibility for the ideal candidate, others don't. Some recruiters are vague about
compensation levels---especially if they don't have clear guidelines from the employer. Some employers
like to avoid giving anything other than a ballpark range.
Establish the playing field:
▪ What is the mid-range and maximum salary level available?
▪ Has this range been established by the employer (not the recruiter’s guess) ?
▪ What bonus or incentives does the employer offer, and how is this paid?
▪ What criteria do you have to meet to receive incentive income?
▪ When is the first salary review date?
▪ Instead of an annual review, what flexibility exists for a six-month salary review?
▪ What percentage of the company benefits premium is paid by the employer and the employee?
Some recruiters send you in to establish their credibility with a potential employer, convincing you to
explore the opportunity---even though you're earning more than the maximum salary that they know the employer won't exceed.
This is done for their benefit, and it's a waste of your time and the client’s. You serve as a useful way to
enhance their prestige, as they show their client that they can present quality candidates...
Communicate your expectations clearly to avoid misunderstandings.
Tips for avoiding office politics in a new company culture
As recruiters, we often witness the damage that occurs when office politics creates problems for
individuals, departments and companies.
Political activities encourage hypocrisy, secrecy, deal making, rumors, power brokers, self-interests,
image-building, self-promotion, and cliques -- not a recipe for effective team work.
For people starting in a new position, unfamiliar with the corporate culture and wanting to blend in with
the new team, it can be helpful to remember the following points:
· Concentrate on building relationships, not on taking sides
· Avoid participating in gossip
· Find common ground with others, offering assistance
· Don't discuss personal problems
· Selectively self-disclose
· Stay professional at all times
· Create win/win solutions.
· Keep the employer's perspective in mind
· Be pleasant, laugh and smile
· Be natural
Purpose-driven people seek out companies that reflect their aspirations
In recent years, many companies have become more community-minded, concerned with
preserving the environment through reducing their carbon footprint, serving higher goals
beyond the main one of profitability.
People who want to work in companies where they feel their contributions are meaningful are
attracted to firms that have corporate missions focused on giving back to their community
and society. Idealistic attitudes are a driving force, with the newer generation considering
socially responsible employers as attractive places to work and see their careers progress.
"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he
imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau
Who is the hiring power in the company you want to join?
In looking to connect with a potential employer, think about who has the power to hire you.
If you work in operations for example, then the management levels of Operations include Operations
Manager, Regional Manager, Operations, Director and VP, Operations. The logical hiring power is the
person who has the line authority to hire you.
Direct approaches to these individuals through telephone contacts obtained via Google
and other online research helps to target the manager who best understands the value of
your experience, knowledge and skills.
It is both courteous and in your interests to send your resume to the line manager and the
company's human resources manager. The HR department is aware of other potential
hiring opportunities within the organization.
Resilience: Grace under Pressure
It's easy to react in anger to frustrations and disappointments.
Things will not always go the way you want them to in your working life. Disappointments will happen.
They are part of life. The key is how you choose to react to those disappointments and frustrations.
If you take everything personally, if you see the world as being against you or others as being against you,
then you will feel angry a lot. If you choose to indulge in anger you'll soon find it's spilling out into other areas
of your life and affecting the quality of your life, as well as the quality of the lives of people around you.
Over time, when you choose anger as an automatic reaction to the events of daily living, it becomes a habit like
any other. Habits take hold through constant practice. To change any habit that you don't want requires a choice to
choose a different reaction. The more you choose a different reaction, the more you train yourself and develop new
and more positive habits for coping with petty annoyances.
When something happens that would ordinarily upset you, make an agreement with yourself to stop for a few seconds
and consider what your response will be. It’s a conscious choice to become aware of what you are thinking and how you
will choose to react to the event that has drawn your attention. In practicing doing this, you decondition yourself from
reacting automatically in anger, and provide a pause for consideration, then you can choose what your response will be.
Grace under pressure is one of the hallmarks of leadership.
What is important to you?
- I want more personal recognition for the contributions I make.
- I want to work with people who identify with a shared goal or cause.
- I want the opportunity to stretch myself with new challenges.
- I want work that allows me more time with my family.
- I want to earn a higher income doing more interesting work.
- I want to work for someone that I can respect and look up to.
What does your intuition tell you about what you need to be happy?
Does the opportunity exist to express your values, principles and aspirations in your work?
One of the key indicators for feeling successful is believing that your work is meaningful.
Joining with other like-minded people raises the synergy of the group.
What sort of corporate culture is a natural fit for you?
Negotiating more vacation time - options to consider
It’s important to remember this in negotiating vacation with a potential employer for jobs requiring
less experience : Employers sometimes have standard paid-vacation corporate policies applicable
to all employees of a certain pay level.
If you have specific vacation plans, bring this to the attention of a potential employer before you get to an offer being made.
Otherwise, your assumption that an employer will agree to your request can lead to wasting your time and
effort in pursuing the opportunity if their policy doesn't accommodate your vacation schedule.
One option is to negotiate an agreement whereby you take time off before you start with the new employer.
In other words, you provide two weeks notice, and join the new employer one or two weeks following your
Another option is to seek a compromise with the employer; ask about unpaid time off that you need for your
confirmed travel plans. More often than not, employers are willing to provide a measure of flexibility in giving
this type of unpaid leave. You then combine your paid vacation with the unpaid time off.
A third option is to suggest that you receive additional paid vacation in lieu of a higher salary increase as part of
your hiring agreement.
Moving up through the ranks in management
The best managers combine education, experience and the ability to enthuse and motivate other people
to achieve goals. Degrees in business and continuing industry education are helpful. Management courses
taken at your own expense are another step forward—in dedicating the time required to take them, you show
uncommon initiative, and self-motivation. Night courses in community college offer numerous options for this
type of training. Ultimately, to be promoted, you need to have a track record of accomplishment, the drive to
work harder than the people that you’re managing and, possibly most important, people must respect and like
you enough in higher management to see you moving upwards.
Ask them their opinion about a process or procedure. Giving them the respect that they feel that they deserve is one way of
disarming prickly people. Acknowledge their experience and skills when seeking assistance from them; most people want to
be recognized for what they know and what they’ve contributed.
Ask people with more seniority in the company and who are friendly and approachable in nature their advice on how best to
approach the person. Ask your new boss how you can work successfully with this person so that the company benefits.
Putting first things first to meet and master new challenges
To meet any challenge, major or minor, put first things first.
You need to ask yourself: What is truly important in what I plan to do?
Are you bogged down with a lot of detail? Simplify your approach, and stick to the essentials.
A plan that has too much detail doesn't allow for flexibility to accommodate changes in direction
or events that are beyond your control.
10 Steps To Take To Meet Your Challenges
When you are undecided about your next move
We all experience times when we don't know what to do. We find ourselves comparing one set of
pros against one set of cons, sometimes confusing ourselves with the options, and ending up mixed up and indecisive.
When you arrive at that state of mind, put aside the decision that has to be made. Sleep on it.
Then, turn your attention and your energy toward something entirely different, implicitly trusting that the answer
will come to you, or that the insight you need will be received exactly when you need it.
Doing this, you frequently find that the answer comes to you quietly after a good night's sleep, or perhaps pops into your
mind when you're doing something other than thinking about the problem.
Waiting for hiring decisions to be made
There's a world of difference between an attitude of positive and patient perseverance, versus an attitude
of grudging acceptance, or enforced restraint.
When you want something to happen, an inner agitation can build. This is especially noticeable when you're
waiting for other people to make up their minds about a hiring decision, and you have no control over their decision-making.
Your ego may suggest ways and means or shortcuts to influence the situation. Be careful when you find yourself trying
to influence someone else's decision.
People make up their minds in their own time, and for reasons that may have nothing to do with what you want to have happen.
Vacation schedules, changes in corporate direction, or other unknown internal shifts in policy can all affect the process.
It helps to philosophically accept that if this is the right opportunity for you, that will become evident in the fullness of time.
- How was your performance measured?
- What did you achieve in new sales development?
- What percentage of growth of revenues was achieved?
- How did you win or keep those customers?
- What steps did you take to identify and solve key problems?
- What procedures did you need to create to achieve the goals?
- How did you create value for your past employer?
- What problems are you able to solve for this employer?
- How will you make thispotential employer’s company/department better?
- What examples of leadership can you provide?
- How did you assist other colleagues in reaching their objectives?
- What recommendations that you made were adopted by the company?
- How did your efforts improve bottom-line profitability?
Create a compelling narrative that tells the story of your work history, focused on
what you have done to create, improve, increase, resolve and enhance the company's
business and its standing in the eyes of its customers.
These key points create buyer interest and help you move forward in the selection process.
Have your voicemail work effectively for you when job hunting
Voice mail is very often overlooked as a useful tool. We have all experienced situations where you call somebody
and there is a disorganized or unintelligible voice prompt, or kids screaming in the background, or dogs barking on the voicemail.
This leaves a negative impression on a potential employer.
Ensure that your voicemail is clear, brief, and conveys the image that you want to have the potential employer receive:
"Thank you for calling, I am out at the moment, or away from the phone. I will be checking my voice mails shortly,
please leave your name, telephone number, and the reason you called, and I will return your call at the earliest opportunity.”
You can include a specific time that you will be checking your messages, this indicates to the caller the general time frame that
they might expect a return call from you. The key is to be clear and professional, and to eliminate background noise distractions,
which only detract from the image that you want to project.
How do I get hired with minimal experience?
The biggest assets you can bring to any job interview when you have little or no practical experience are your
communications skills, your listening skills, your flexibility and your enthusiasm. The ability to communicate
effectively, maintaining good eye-contact and asking questions concisely and in a focused manner, listening
actively instead of passively, thinking ahead to what you are going to say next, and the personality and attitudes
that you project to the interviewer are as important---if not more so---than a good academic resume.
At the entry-level, you are hired more on your ability to communicate effectively and the willingness to learn and
accept direction with enthusiasm and flexibility.
You know what you can do; you have a storehouse of knowledge, the accumulated experience
built over years in the industry, and if a potential customer asks you questions about how
you do what you do, you have ready answers based on that foundation.
Imagine that you are going in to sell a potential, important customer on the benefits and advantages
of using you, as if this is a company that you have identified as having great prospects for revenue
for your current employer. You will be on your toes, ready to give it your best shot.
Sell the benefits of you: project the strength of your knowledge and abilities through your voice
and body language. Employers respond to self-confidence and belief in what you can do.
The best salesmen believe in the products and services that they represent.
Engage the interviewer’s imagination through holding their attention with a smoothly flowing
narrative, focused on your proven track record: tell them what you have done with time-frames,
results achieved and growth realized.
Facing the interviewer squarely, leaning toward the interviewer, holding their gaze, and using your hands to reinforce a point that
you are making are simple techniques to put more power behind your words and the ideas you express.
If you project that confidence in who you are, why you are successful and give concrete
examples of your progress and achievements, you will go a long way toward convincing the interviewer that you
are the one to hire.
Your ability to nurture strong relationships with other people up and down the reporting structure, as well as with outside parties is a key factor in your career progress. It is just as important to develop relationships, as it is to cultivate knowledge and produce results.
With mentors, someone has taken a liking to an aspiring individual, identified with them, and is motivated to see that the person succeeds in their chosen field. The best mentors challenge you to be more than what you are; to reach for new experiences, to improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities; stretching yourself to ensure that your potential is fully defined and developed.
Emotional intelligence involves the ability to empathize, discipline your emotions, and create bonds of trust with people who help you progress along your chosen career path.
It isn’t always the best educated, most experienced or most intelligent person who is chosen for promotion. The people who are promoted most often have learned the art of developing strong relationships with other people. The attitudes they display are positive, collaborative, and they attract support from people in positions of authority. Senior managers are human and are inclined to favour those with whom they’ve created a positive working relationship.
Self-possession and quiet integrity are valuable assets
An interview is like traveling through a strange new land. You do not know the topography nor whom you can trust. What you can rely upon is simply being who you are, and expressing your values and principles. Your self-possession, sincerity and integrity will then shine through to whomever you encounter.
Your dignity and sincerity then colour your answers and questions and the interviewer will know that they are meeting someone with genuine self-confidence and be able to assess the fit without wondering if they are hearing the truth or not.
Share the value of your experience and knowledge with junior colleagues
Mentoring and teaching others your accumulated technical expertise and business values increases your worth and positions
you for future promotion.
Your ability to develop your subordinates so that they reach their maximum potential is one of the keys to career progress.
There are people in every company that others gravitate to because they give freely of their time, assisting their colleagues
and less experienced people in solving problems, finding resources, or approaching situations from a new perspective based
on practical experience and wise choices.
Superiors recognize these abilities and know that these key people whom others rally around and go to for advice and guidance
represent future leaders who can be groomed for higher responsibilities.
Leading others forward often involves being of service to them.
Creating buyer interest in the employer's mind
Sports people, high achieving sales people and actors frequently use visualization to enhance their performance and presentations.
For an employer to make a hiring decision in your favour, they need to see you working there, and to do that they must identify with what
you are saying about yourself, your abilities, and your track record.
Being genuine, projecting your strengths of character, personality, and making the human connection with the employer helps create this
Mentally rehearse how the interview will unfold, what you will say and how you will feel in speaking about who you are and what you can
bring in the way of experience, knowledge and achievement to the employer. The more vividly you can see yourself connecting with
the interviewer, the more confidence you will project. Sincere confidence founded on being who you are generates a sense of trust.
Many accomplished speakers practice their speeches in front of a mirror, or will work with a colleague, practicing and polishing
their delivery. When salespeople know the features of their product or service and believe in the benefits, they are able to communicate
those ideas successfully to the prospective buyer.
The same holds true in interview situations. If you know yourself and what you can do, you can create that buyer interest by being
yourself, and presenting your unique features and benefits that the employer can see will bring value to their company.
How closely aligned are your goals and the employer's?
What motivates you to join the new employer may not reflect what their motivation is to hire you.
Many times, I hear from people who are disappointed with their career progress; what they hoped for in joining a new employer did not come to pass.
You may choose to accept an offer of employment because the future seems brighter there and with more chances for advancement.
They, on the other hand may be hiring someone to remain static in the position to provide longer-term stability to a department.
Clarify your career prospects to make an informed decision.
Ask questions to establish what the future holds:
You owe it to yourself to make sure that your career expectations are in line with the goals of the company insofar as you can.
The interviewing process is like a courtship and the good feelings generated need to be balanced with an objective assessment
of the company's culture, reputation and objectives.
Active vs passive listening
Active listening is focusing your attention on what the speaker is saying, visualizing the person behind the voice, and thinking of good follow-up questions to ask . Customer service people in many industries are trained to picture the customer on the other end of the line, to put a 'smile' in their voice to establish good rapport. Create the human connection through practicing active listening, and displaying interest and attention throughout your discussion.
Passive listening often involves missing key points that the speaker is trying to make, as you wait for your turn to speak. Interrupting the speaker, not allowing them to finish a sentence or asking for a question to be repeated more than once in a discussion signals a lack of attention.
Offering information that is unrelated to the question they are asking you transmits nervousness to the interviewer. Before you initiate a callback, take a few deep breaths; this creates a calmer inner state, and allows you to speak at a more moderate pace. There is no need to hurry your responses. You make a positive impression if the listener has time to absorb what you are saying.
When you are called by a potential employer
You will quickly know if the interviewer is organized or disorganized in their approach. The better interviewers will explain why they are calling and what they want to accomplish. Disorganized interviewers dive right in without asking if you have time to speak, and sometimes they don't have your resume. Better interviewers will want to know if you have some time to talk to them.
If you are in a noisy room, it is best to ask for the caller's number and offer to call right back. This way, you can go to a quiet room, compose yourself, have your resume and references handy, and be better prepared to have a positive discussion.
Setting the tone when you call back
By choosing to call back, you show that you want to handle the call professionally. Display an attitude of willing cooperation to provide information for the employer to assess you. After you introduce yourself, ask an open-ended question to determine what the employer wants to accomplish.
"How would you like to proceed?"
"What would you like to know first about me?"
"How can I help you?"
These types of questions signal to the interviewer that you are both ready to give information, and that you want to make the best use of their time. Small courtesies help establish rapport with a stranger on the telephone. A little deference goes a long way to making a positive impression.
Determine what the right fit is for you
Why is one person chosen over another when both may have almost equal qualifications and experience?
Very often, a hiring decision is influenced by how the interviewer/s feel about the person that they select. After all of the testing, panel interviewing, assessment and evaluation, it can simply boil down to the decision-maker's gut feeling. What influences that gut feeling invariably goes back to the attitudes and values that were expressed in the first and subsequent meetings - first impressions count.
Employers not only want to believe that you can do the job and have the knowledge and experience to handle the challenges that may arise; they want to believe that you will fit the team. They also want to see reflected in you those attitudes and values that they feel comfortable with. An employer wants to reduce the chance of friction between team members, and will look for people who harmonize with the work group's ethics and team spirit. In addition, there may be a broader corporate personality or image by which a firm is perceived in the marketplace, and the hiring manager may look for attitudes and values that mirror that image in the marketplace.
How do you determine whether your own attitudes and values are in harmony with those of the potential employer? Ask what attitudes and values the interviewer feels are necessary to do the job and fit the team. If they have different expectations than what you have to offer in attitudes and values, it is best to know this at the beginning. You won't help yourself in the long-term by pretending to be what they want, just to get the job.
5 ways to determine the right fit:
At the end of the day, it is people working in cooperation with each other that determines the team's cohesiveness and strengths.
Take your time to explore this vital area. The synergy created when different people who respect each other join forces to work
together produces impressive results.
Communicating clearly is a key hiring issue
When job duties involve any degree of interaction with customers, internally or externally, the ability to write and speak effectively is essential to your career progress. Employers have these skills in mind when they are interviewing for customer contact positions. Poor communications skills mean fewer opportunities for advancement. Higher positions require more developed communications skills. With the competitive nature of the marketplace, misunderstanding a customer's needs or technical information often spells the difference between a satisfied customer and lost business.
Some employers are willing to hire someone with less experience but a clearer style of communication. If this is an area of technical weakness, it is very helpful to take additional courses or have plans to upgrade these skills. Take the time to learn the language well because you are in competition with people who have those skills already. Communicate clearly and confidently how you see your experience, skills, and abilities serving the needs of the employer. Focus on how you can solve problems, work with minimal supervision, learn new information quickly, and adapt to new challenges.
Companies want to hire the best communicators to effectively represent their products and services.
"What are the key issues facing our industry and company in this market?"
Stay aware of factors that affect the business climate; the challenges of new technology, regulations, inventions, trade agreements,
labour issues and shortages---anything which presents a new trend or direction that involves change.
News articles that describe these issues are found in leading publications, and sometimes highlighted on the company's
website in their News Feed. A page in our own site: http://buckleysearch.com/2015resources.htm links you to many trade journals where
these topics receive daily and weekly exposure. Your market awareness and observations highlight your interest in the company
and the factors that could impact on their business.
Your preparation, research and awareness of what is important to the company strengthens your appeal as a candidate, when
they compare candidates with similar strengths and experience and have to make a tough decision on which one to hire.
Examples of open-ended questions:
- How do you see my experience and what you are looking for in the person you're hiring?
- What do you think is the most important requirement for this job?
- What are you looking for in the person you hire?
- What qualities does the company look for in the people they hire?
- How would you describe the company's work culture?
- What is going to be the most challenging aspect of the job on a daily basis?
- How will a typical day unfold in this position?
- What types of problems will I be involved in solving?
- Who will I work with inside and outside of the company?
- Why do people like working here?
Ending with an open-ended question allows you to gather information about their expectations, needs and business priorities.
"Why do you want to work for us?"
This is another tricky question which probes for what is motivating you to interview for the job, and tells the
interviewer if you have at all researched the company and understand who they are and what they do.
A few minutes spent reviewing their website, press releases, mission statement, community involvement
and present progress helps you determine why you want to work for them, and gives you a rich resource
of information on which to base your questions.
If it is because of their market position, the way they serve their customers, or the esteem in which they are
held in the community, tell them that you identify with their style and methods of doing business. Point out
the new projects they have, the causes they support that you identify with, the interest you have in joining
forces and how your career path is inline with their corporate growth goals.
Invest time in learning about them and then ask questions to develop a deeper understanding about the company.
This step puts you in a different light to applicants who do not see the advantages of exploring the company's strengths
and progress with the interviewer. It is an excellent way to create buyer interest in the employer because many people
do not ask these types of questions.
How do you handle the question, "So, tell us about yourself?"
This question invites you to summarize your strengths, weaknesses, experience, skills and knowledge.
It isn't a casual question. It can trip you up if you decide to tell the interviewer your life history, and lose focus.
Keep it brief, concise and finish with an open-ended question.
If you are asked this type of question, you can qualify it by asking, "What would you like to know first?"
The interviewer's response gives you clues to what they want to talk about. You can then tailor your reply
to the areas of interest indicated.
Briefly, tell them how your industry experience, credentials, knowledge and track record represent the value you
bring as your unique contribution to the employer. Highlight the personal values/standards that you work from in your
business life. Tell them what you believe is the foundation for your success Describe your professionalism, flexibility,
and why people like working with you.
1. Summarize your industry experience and credentials - this serves as the basis for why you are applying for the job.
2. Link that experience to what the job requirements and duties are - create the basis for mutual interest.
3. Explain how you conduct yourself in business terms - what is important to you in working with people; your business personality.
4. Transition to a personal interests statement:, "On the personal side, I am / I believe __________".
Here's an example of a brief introduction:
"I've been in the ___ industry for the past 10 years, starting in the ____ department , then worked my way up
through the ranks to the position I have now where I'm responsible for ____, _____,____ and _____. Along the
way I learned the importance of continuous learning and always being open to new challenges. That's why I'm here
today to see if there is a good fit between my experience and what you're looking for. I've read the job description
carefully and I think I can bring value to the organization. On the personal side, I believe in going that extra mile
for the customer to solve their problems. Joining a company that shares that approach is the kind of opportunity
that I'm looking for."
Follow up your 60 second introduction with an open-ended question to gather information about how your thumbnail
sketch compares to the background, experience and business values the employer is looking for:
"What would you like to know about my job at _________?"
"What do you think of my experience and how it fits your needs?"
Your passion, enthusiasm, confidence and focus create a positive initial impression to build on with the interviewer.
The courage to tell the truth
If you were terminated for cause from your previous position for any reason, be upfront about it.
Admittedly, this is hard to do and it requires moral strength.
Honesty and integrity are character strengths that are valued by all fair-minded employers, and
your courage to tell the truth without spinning the facts will gain the respect of the interviewer.
If they see self-awareness and accountability in your attitude toward mistakes made, they may choose
to give you the opportunity to prove yourself once again. Sincerity can overcome many obstacles.
If you were terminated for circumstances beyond your control, such as global restructuring or downsizing,
ensure that you have your termination letter with you. If your ex-employer didn't provide one, obtain it from
the human resources department of the company, or your ex-manager if company policy permits this.
If you left due to a "mutual parting of ways", clarify what led to your departure. If it was a lack of chemistry
with a new manager, differences in opinion of business procedure, their expectations of performance
not realized, describe the situation objectively, in few words. Simple honesty communicates clearly to other
people, and your sincerity will be transmitted to the interviewer.
Keeping the conversation flowing
Even the most confident people may experience a moment of awkward silence in an interview
when the conversation stops. To avoid this, use open-ended questions (usually beginning with who, what,
where, when, why, how, etc.) to encourage a flow of information and a method of transitioning smoothly from one topic to the next.
Closed questions are answered with a simple "yes" or "no"; they confirm or establish facts. You gather more valuable
information asking, "How will my training unfold?" instead of “Will there be training?” Open-ended questions
allow you to gather details and impressions and subtly guide the discussion into areas of interest.
Establish rapport and interest
Astute sales professionals quickly scan the contents of a decision-maker’s office,
looking for items that provide clues to the occupant’s interests, hobbies, causes they support, or unusual sculptures,
artwork, and so on.
They will casually draw attention to these items as a way to break the ice and establish the human connection
because people like to talk about what interests them. This helps to establish personal chemistry as they
then gradually, comfortably shift the focus back to the main purpose of their meeting. Establishing rapport
paves the way for a productive interview.
Education - a key building block to a solid career in the industry
Review your options through linking to leading industry education providers.
Here are some useful resources:
http://buckleysearch.com/education.htm - Our page of links to Education Programs & Resources
http://www.careersinsupplychain.ca/education-training/education-and-training-resources/ - CSCSC’s Education & Training Resources section.
http://www.supplychaincanada.org/en/accreditations - CSCSC’s National Accreditation Program - A listing of 43 programs that have received accreditation from the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council.
After 25 years of recruitment experience, we see the value of industry education has been proven to be influential in hiring decisions
in the vast majority of the key positions we have placed.
Some notable industry education providers: CIFFA l CSCB l CITT l Logistics Institute l SCMA l APICS l MHMS l IATA l FITT l NCBFAA
Locate the company's press releases and newsletters
Look for a Press Releases or Newsletter section of the employer’s website and see what announcements there are concerning financial results, new services/product lines being launched, new branches opening, and so on. When asked if you have any questions about the company, bring up these topics for discussion. The interest you display will make a positive impression on the interviewer and contrast with other candidates who haven’t taken this step.
The Interview Handout - influencing a hiring decision
If you want to really separate yourself from the competition in interviewing, create a one-page interview handout that summarizes your accomplishments, skills and knowledge, and what you bring to the company. Leave this with the interviewer, noting your contact info. It doesn't replace your resume, it enhances your presentation. Very few people do this.