Posts Tagged ‘career’

Interviewers still occasionally try to see how creative they and you can be with  “Think on Your Feet” (and sometimes on your head) interviews. What is a “Think on Your Feet” interview, you ask? Well, remember the movie “The Running Man” (yes, with your good buddy and mine, Ahhhhnold), which depicted a sadistic game show in which criminals were hunted down by professional stalkers? Well, it’s not like that.

Here are a few wacky “Think on Your Feet” interview questions:

  • If you were a hamburger, what topping would be on your bun?
    Not sure it really matters how you answer this one, as long as you don’t say, “You.”
  • If I were to look in your kitchen cabinets, what would I see?
    If you don’t care about burning your bridges, you can say, “One hundred cans of corned beef hash in case of the apocalypse, and a package of moldy Cheez-its.”
  • If Hollywood made a film about you, what actor – alive or dead – would play you?
    Probably not, “Bela Lugosi, since my former colleagues found me kinda creepy.”
  • If you were a salad, what flavor would your croutons be?
    Bad answer: “Onion and garlic, ‘cuz that’s how I always smell.”
  • If I were to ask your seventh-grade teacher about you, what would he say?
    Really bad answer: “Who? Oh, the pot-head.”
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Here’s an excerpt from “What Color is Your Straitjacket? – A Pocket Guide to Getting and Keeping a Job Without Going Wacko” available as an ebook, http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/what-color-is-your-straitjacket-a-pocket-guide-to-getting-and-keeping-a-job-without-going-wacko/14601180

GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY WANT – MAKE YOURSELF LESS LAYOFFABLE

In general, your employer will want to keep you around and you’ll be much less layoffable not just because you smell good, but because:

  • you have a positive attitude – no one wants to work with Whiny Guy
  • you’re flexible – not flexible like you can wrap both legs around your neck, but rather like you’re willing to go with the flow and do things outside your job description, like clean the john when the company can no longer afford a maintenance person
  • you’re dependable – you’re there, you’re ready to go, you’re the go-to guy; the one everyone automatically turns to with really dumb questions that have nothing whatsoever to do with your job
  • you give a crap about the company and your co-workers
  • you’re easy to get along with – you aren’t more than mildly irritating, you treat everyone with respect, and you don’t bitch-slap your boss when he annoys you
  • you’re honest – you don’t steal your co-worker’s lunch from the fridge when you think no one is looking
  • you’re presentable – you don’t embarrass your boss in a meeting with clients by telling jokes about whores
  • you refrain from getting involved in office gossip – don’t spread those rumors about the director hitting on an employee in a trannie bar
  • you have unique skills the company needs – you’re the only one in the company who can figure out how the old toaster oven works
  • you take initiative – don’t wait to be asked; think up stuff that’ll not only keep the company from flushing itself down the sewer but even help them make lottsa money
  • you keep your skills and attitude current – if you’re still referring to your PC as “that confounded machine” you may be gone a helluva lot faster than it will
  • you’re eager to learn new skills – eager in a professional way, of course – not eager like a cocker spaniel puppy panting to go take a whiz in the yard

A career portfolio is always a good idea as part of your job search package, to trot out at interviews to showcase your accomplishments. A job search show-and-tell, as it were.  And no, it’s not just for artists, writers and celebrity bachelor party cake decorators.

Samples of your professional accomplishments, skills, problems you’ve solved, and dragons you’ve beheaded can illustrate what you’re talking about in an interview in a powerful way. Being able to say, “…and I have an example of that if you’d like to see it,” can win you big fat brownie points in a job interview.

Of course, the interviewer may say, “no thanks, I don’t need to see your headless dragon,” but even if they don’t end up seeing anything you’ve got in there, the process of putting your portfolio together is still really helpful.  Going through your materials and work samples can help you a. prepare for the interview,  b. figure out where the hell your career is going,  c. figure out where you want it to go,  and  d. make you feel really good about yourself, because your accomplishments are all laid out in front of you and scattered all over the kitchen floor.

There are many materials you want to include in your career portfolio (more about that in a later post); here are some things you’ll want to leave out:

  • Your dating site photo; the one with the boob shirt. Really, for that matter, any photo unless you’re a model or actor. In addition to being inappropriate, it’s redundant – you’re sitting right in front of them.
  • Different versions of your resume. What is the interviewer supposed to do, pick the one that best matches the color of their walls? Choose the version that’s most relevant to that position/the same one you sent them (ahem – they should be one and the same), and include that one in your portfolio.
  • Stuff in general not relevant to the position for which you’re interviewing. You don’t want the interviewer to say, “Wait a minute. Which position are you interviewing for again?”
  • Reference letters old enough to be on yellowed paper. I don’t really have to spell out the reasons for that one, do I?
  • Confidential or proprietary information, without permission from the company or clients involved. Again, don’t really need to spell that one out.
  • Personal information that a prospective employer doesn’t need to know about. Even if you think the fundamentalist revival you helped coordinate and the tongues you spoke in while there might somehow be relevant to that office manager position, leave the leaflets you passed out at the mall out of your portfolio.
  • Anything that doesn’t demonstrate a success. If you designed marketing collateral for a huge fund raising event, you’re asked about the results, and only 3 people showed up, that’s not going to look too good for you. Showcase successes, not disasters.

straitjacket guyA comedic look at job search and success – “What Color is Your Parachute” meets “This Is Spinal Tap,” if you will. This combination of comedy and advice gives helpful tips to anyone who is searching for a job, or hoping to hold on to the one they have. Topics include contemplating your navel to find your life’s work, idiot-proofing your job search, online disasters, strategic schmoozing, resume do’s and don’ts, interviewing horrors and how to handle them, how to hold on to your job, reflections on bizarre jobs, and weird work stories.

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/what-color-is-your-straitjacket-a-pocket-guide-to-getting-and-keeping-a-job-without-going-wacko/14265245

Here is a guest post from Lindsey Donner, Lifestyle Editor for http://igrad.com, “the College Student to College Graduate Resource.” She also blogs regularly on writing as a career at http://lindseydonner.com.

Few things in life are more mind-numbing than an extended job hunt. Even if your downtime between jobs peaks at just a few weeks of unemployment, you’re liable to feel quickly diminished, dehumanized, and exhausted within the first week.

There is also the added insult of the career blogs’ intimation that your failure is due, at least in part, to your inability to leave the house and network, network, network. But who wants to network when you could be in your bed, face ablaze with the glare from your laptop, eating cereal with your hands? Exactly: the kind of people who are already employed.

But it’s possible to improve your odds of joining that exclusive club while also rebuilding your dangerously low levels of self-esteem, even when you’re in a slump and seemingly prospect-less. In fact, the worst thing you can do is remain completely disengaged; everything’s harder when you’re rusty and out of the loop.

If you’re reading this in bed right now, I suggest you get up, brush your teeth, and start tackling this list. At best, it’ll help you get a job. At worst, it’ll make you feel better about yourself. What’s to lose?

  • Create a job portfolio. If you’re a designer, you have already done this. But writers, marketers, programmers, and others can benefit from an on- or offline collection of their biggest professional hits. Hints: marketers will want to include numbers and case studies; programmers, a code repository.
  • Find a volunteer gig that matches your skills (or improves them). Volunteering: it makes you feel good. It makes other people feel good. It gets you out of the house. But for the unemployed, it can be a life raft: you might meet your next boss, or find your true calling, or decide to switch career paths, or learn a new skill (like software that the local arts council asks you, their office volunteer, to work with). You will almost certainly have a new resume bullet and renewed confidence.
  • Clean your (virtual) house. You “never” use LinkedIn. (Really? It’s a great tool for targeted job searching.) Or maybe you “never” update your blog, or your Twitter account. And you definitely “never” thought of revamping your resume. Do me a favor: make a list of all of your online accounts, and then work down the list, with the most professional profiles at the top. Then, go through and improve each and every one. Update your resume on LinkedIn. Recommend a colleague.
  • Go back to school, this time for free. Or almost free. There are several obvious, awesome, FREE or low-cost ways for the jobless to acquire new skills. Let me name a few: (1) internships; (2) industry blogs; (3) online skill-building webinars; (4) community colleges; (5) other local venues, like libraries and community centers, churches, etc. Pick up a local newspaper and get involved. If you can’t part with your laptop, find out what other people know that you don’t: how to use InDesign? How to write a press release? What? There’s a blog, course, or webinar with your name on it.

The bottom line, folks? Do something, and do it well, focusing not on your current situation but where you want to be in the next year—when the search finally ends and you climb out of bed.


 

So you have a job — woo-hoo! You want to do your best to keep it. Here are some things not to do if you don’t want to skate too close to the edge of the unemployment line:

  • Wear clothing in the office that suggests you’re going straight from work to an audition for Sex and the City 3. While you don’t have to dress like a refugee from a convent, if you want to be taken seriously at work, keep the girls tucked in and save the nip action for a hot date. Not to mention the Sharon Stone-in-Basic-Instinct thigh cleavage.
  • Spread nasty gossip about your co-workers. It’ll come back to you, and not in a good way.
  • Be a clock-watcher. “Is it five o’clock yet?” Even if you stand all day on an assembly line with a hairnet on your head putting the caps on beer bottles, it’s not a good idea to imply that you think of your job as a prison that you can’t wait to be released from. If you do, I’m sure your boss will be happy to release you. Besides, if you feel that way, why the hell are you still there?
  • Scoff at the recordkeeping stuff. Hey, so you’re the creative type. We know you don’t care about all that boring data entry. Regrettably for you, though, that stuff almost always determines whether the organization makes or loses money, or keeps its funding if it’s a nonprofit. So if you screw that up, you not only screw yourself, you could screw the entire organization, which isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
  • Make racist, sexist or ageist comments. I’m going to assume you don’t work in an environment where ignorance is actively encouraged. Assuming it isn’t, any of the above could get you tossed out so fast your head would spin around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.”
  • Spend a lot of time texting your friends or shmoozing on Facebook. At this point in human evolution, employers don’t reasonably expect their employees not to touch their iPhones or look at non-work-related sites during work hours at all, but if you’re spending more time during the workday getting your friends’ opinions on your match.com photo than actually working, don’t expect to be promoted any time soon.
  • Blatantly flirting with your boss, your staff, your co-workers, or your customers. Most of us flirt a little bit, without even realizing it. And co-workers do often date, even though a lot of companies frown on it, and it can certainly complicate your work life, especially if you break up and at least one of you doesn’t act like a grown-up (of course, if one of you turns out to be a psycho-stalker, that makes it even more difficult, but let’s leave potential restraining orders out of it for now). The thing is, if you sidle up to a colleague and whisper in her ear or grab your boss’s crotch under the table at a meeting, you can get yourself in pretty big trouble. Not only that, but you’d be perceived as ridiculously ignorant, since all you need to do these days to hear about sexual harassment is turn on Lifetime TV.

Job search can be scary. Especially when your last unemployment extension is running out, you just used your last bit of savings to buy underwear because you don’t want to be picking your jockey shorts up off the floor when the elastic breaks in the middle of a job interview, and your Plan B has been blown to hell.

But no matter what your situation, it doesn’t work to operate from a place of fear, and let it make your decisions. The only time fear-based decision-making is a good idea is if a psycho starts shooting in the food court in the mall, and you make the decision to dive under the table instead of continuing to sit there and eat your mushroom omelette. Otherwise, letting fear rule your job search isn’t going to help you. Here are a few ways to avoid it:

  • Focus on the goals you’re shooting for. When you focus on your anxieties, they’re going to loom bigger and bigger until they crush you like a Brazil nut. Instead, dwell on what you want, where you want your career to go, and what you want to accomplish along the way, and allow yourself to believe it’s all attainable — because it is. Well, unless you want to be a Victoria’s Secret model and you look like Danny DeVito.
  • Brainstorm alternatives. If Plan B is dead in the water, then get creative. Without allowing yourself to analyze or censor your ideas, jot down a slew of options. I bet you’ll surprise yourself.
  • Be aware of when you’re scaring yourself. You know, all that negative stuff you say in your head that keeps the fear alive, like “No one is hiring now,” “If I don’t take just any crappy job, I’ll be unemployed forever,” “If I try to get what I want, I’ll end up homeless,” etc. Instead of collecting shopping carts and picking out your street corner …
  • … Replace your fear-based thoughts with power-based ones. Like, “I am in charge of my career,” “I have a lot of skills and experience that the right employer (for me) will value,” “I have the tools to succeed, and I will.” Come on, you can think of some more.
  • Practice visualization. Visualization is very powerful. As often as possible without crashing your car, picture yourself moving through your day in the job you want, doing the stuff you want to spend your time doing, interacting with terrific people, etc. Fill in as many details as you can — what specific projects you’d be working on, what your office or cube would look like, what you’d be wearing, the smell of fish on your co-worker’s breath after lunch — wait, maybe that’s a little too much detail. But you know what I’m saying. Allow yourself to feel the excitement and satisfaction you’ll feel when you’re in that job, and you’ll get there.

The first interview
arriving in his jockstrap
Whew! only a dream.

Don’t try to impress
give and take works best
kind of like good sex.

Job search is stressful
make sure you take time to chill
or you’ll pop your cork.

When you’re looking for a job, you long to make employers salivate over you. So what the hell do they want from you? Here are some qualities employers look for, besides of course specific job skills that will help them solve their problems:

  • Good hygiene. That may seem like a no-brainer, and if it does then you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, there are some of you perched at a table at the corner Starbuck’s reading this post while your co-caffeinates are edging away from you in disgust at this very moment. If so, I can only hope someone somewhere will be bold enough to tell you who you are.
  • Intelligence and ability to problem-solve. Needless to say,  employers like to hire smart people who can figure out how to slay dragons without creating a mess. Unless the hiring manager himself is an idiot. If, however, he is a self-aware idiot, he will still want to hire people who are intelligent enough to offset his idiocy. If he’s not a self-aware idiot, though, you may be out of luck. But then, would you really want to work for an idiot anyway?
  • Dependability. Employers want to know they can rely on you to show up and do a good job. Of course, stuff happens. But if you have a track record of not meeting expectations and/or causing your colleagues to wonder if you keeled over in your apartment the night before and are lying on the floor with a head injury, you’re not doing so well.
  • Initiative and independence. Employers usually appreciate the ability to generate ideas and work on your own, without always having to be told what to do or having your boss’s hot breath on your neck (not particularly fun for you either, especially if she had garlic at lunch).
  • Ability to be a team player. If you can work independently while simultaneously playing nice with the other kids, you’ve got it made.
  • Ability to multi-task. Can you listen to your messages, compose an email, and compliment the co-worker standing behind you on his tie? If so, you probably have A.D.D., along with eyes in the back of your head. But you get the idea.
  • Flexibility. No, you don’t have to be a contortionist who can wrap your legs around your neck, although that would interesting. Employers do value the ability and willingness to cheerily adapt to unanticipated situations and new challenges, though.
  • Tech-savvy-ness. If you’ve never heard the term “social media” you’re in trouble. It would be kinda like not knowing how to use a phone at this point in our evolution. You want to keep yourself up-to-date not only on technology, but whatever other skills are particular to your field as well.
  • Sense of humor and pleasantness to work with. Most people don’t want to work with dour assholes. Not much more to say about that.
  • Giving a crap. Employers want to hire people who care about what they do and the quality of their work, care about the companies they work for, and care about their co-workers. Or at least are really really good at faking it.

Staying positive and motivated can be tough when you’re counting the days ’til your next unemployment check. It’s scary and stressful, and generally sucks. Here are some suggestions to make it suck less:

  • Hang around people who have jobs. This may sound easier than it is in the current job market, since everyone and their Great-Grandma Mabel has been laid off, but contrary to popular belief there are actually still people who are working. You may wonder why the hell this will help you. There are 2 reasons. First, someone who is working is more likely to be around other people who are also working, and possibly have job leads. Second, though it’s not a bad thing to occasionally vent your frustration, you don’t want to wallow in it for too long, which is easy to do with your fellow unemployees (yes, I know it’s not a word. So sue me.). That doesn’t mean you should just diss your unemployed friends, or that job search groups aren’t helpful. They are, as long as they don’t become bitch-and-snivel sessions. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Banish people from your life who make you feel like crap. This is a good rule of thumb in general, but we’ll focus on how it relates to your job search. Assholes who bring you down, tell you you’ll never get a job, you can’t do this or that, discourage you, generally concentrate on the negative and tell you the roof will cave in are not people to hang with. Unless they’re roofers who actually know that, in fact, your roof will cave in, in which case you probably want to get the hell out of the house.
  • Do stuff. Volunteer, take a part-time job, join groups that relate to something you’re interested in. You’ll be less likely to lie around depressed, watching One Life to Live and Andy Griffith reruns. You’ll also get your social fix, have the chance to network and possibly find job leads, have something constructive to put on your resume for your unemployed time besides fixing the leaky faucet in the bathroom, keep your skills up, and maybe gain new skills that’ll help you get a job.
  • Do good stuff for yourself. Exercise. Gets those endorphins going, helps you be healthy and feel good. Take a bath (no, not because you stink. Well, maybe you do, but how would I know that?). It’s a free way to relax and pamper yourself. You can even indulge in scents and bubbles — even if you’re a guy (of course if you are, I’d keep it to myself if I were you). Eat healthy, but give yourself a treat once in awhile. Do deep breathing or meditation or whatever you’re into to relax.
  • Do whatever’s worked in the past that makes you feel better and stay motivated. You would know that better than me. Refrain from doing the stuff that hasn’t worked or made you feel worse, since that would be stupid.