Important Information

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Signs you may be on the next RIF List ...

Are you wondering if your name is on your companies next Reduction In Force (RIF) list?

I have talked to hundreds of people who have been notified that their jobs were going away and discovered many common tell-tale signs that should have warned them of the upcoming notification.
How many of these signs do you relate to? If the answer is 5 or more, you may be on the next RIF list!

Your company is being acquired: Being acquired might be good for the health of your employer, but there will be a lot of overlap in job descriptions and a lot of layoffs that have nothing to do with how well you do your job.

You are finding it almost impossible to get approval or ‘buy in’ on projects: The boss is suddenly silent when it comes to approval. You’re being passed around from middle-manager to middle-manager. You get voicemail 98% of the time you call someone for their opinion, and the other 2% it’s their secretary…who then puts you through to voicemail. No-one is going to green-light a project from someone whose time is up at that company. They don’t want to associate themselves with the kiss of death that is your idea. If it happens to be a great idea, no worries, they’ll take credit for it once you’re gone.

Your boss is attending mandatory training or off site meetings that he/she can not discuss with you: Chances are he/she is attending RIF training, the sessions are delivered by Human Resources and Legal Counsel and includes training people managers how to avoid wrongful dismissal or age discrimination lawsuits.

You are given an impossible jobs with no chance of success: - This one is underhanded, which is why it’s so popular. The company may need a big reason to give you the boot, especially if you’ve done everything right and are the life and soul of your department.

You have less responsibilities: - Being stripped of your responsibilities is a sure-fire sign that there’s something unpleasant on the horizon. After all, you don’t RIF someone who’s got a ton of important work to do, with loads of people underneath him/her.

You are no longer "In the Loop": Suddenly you’re finding out about company news from your neighbor. If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from “the company’s doing what??” - The writing is probably on the wall.

People are avoiding you: Eye-contact is difficult to make with someone if you know he or she is on the RIF list. Small talk is just as tough. It’s best just to avoid that person altogether.

You have recently been asked or assigned to work on a “special project”: This could have many other names. “New company initiative” or “Confidential research assignment” are other known terms for this. But it basically comes down to one role…the project takes you away from real work and puts you on something that’s either mildly important, not important at all, or is going away.

Your successes and accomplishments are being glossed over: Did your boss used to praise you up to management? Were you a golden boy or girl? If you’re not getting kudos, you may be getting RIF'd.

Your immediate boss or mentor is gone: If someone you trusted and respected, like a boss or mentor, is no longer around for whatever reason (promotion, fired, RIF'd, quit) this could spell trouble.

You see management paralysis: When you start to see memos with elaborate descriptions of the thought process explaining why they're just going to stay the course because they don't know what else to do and don't want to make things worse.

You see analysis paralysis: Watch for analysis paralysis, when there's less activity from sales but senior managers spend more time analyzing the same data. "That's a clear sign there's something wrong."

You recently receive a pay freeze or a pay cut: There are a few reasons this could happen, none of them are good. Either the company is in trouble and they need to cut costs, or you’re in trouble.

You have seen a job posting for your company that matches or consolidates your job description with another: Human resources and management can be crafty. They don’t want to RIF you without having someone waiting in the wings to immediately fill your shoes. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see your job or a consolidated job out on the Internet months before you eventually get RIF'd. Worse still they hire your replacement before you’re RIF'd and you get to teach the newbie how to do your job.

You are currently being ‘retrained’ or are taking coaching sessions? Retraining or coaching is often a way to try and save an employee who has lost his or her way. But its also another one of those ‘cover the company’s butt’ scenarios, in which HR demonstrates they did everything they possibly could to save your job.

Your company is adopting an offshoring policy: "Another sign is offshoring and outsourcing; if you see the kind of work you do being shipped overseas that's a very bad sign."

Of course this is not a scientific study. Many of these things happen as part of a normal work environment and if only few relate to you, then don't worry about it.

But if you do relate to five or more, don't stick your head in the sand, read Joe's next blog with recommendations on what actions you should take now if you think you are on the next RIF list. Click here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Interview Questions & Answears

Josh Tickell answers questions in media interviewImage by Josh Tickell via Flickr

Some good answers to common interview questions that I found on various sites - hope they work for you! - Joe

Q#1 – How long have you been looking for a job? (Concern – is there something wrong with you that other employers have picked up?)

A#1 – “After I was laid off from my last job, I took the opportunity to take some time out to examine my career goals and where I was going with my life. I have just begun my search in the last few weeks. I have a definite goal in mind and have been selective about the positions I consider. Your company and this position are of great interest to me.”

Q#2 – How did you prepare for this interview? (Concern – are you interested enough to do some research, or are you going to “wing it”?)

A#2 – “When I found this position posted on the internet ( I was immediately interested. I checked out the company website and mission statement, looked at the bios of company founders and executives, and was impressed. Once I had the interview appointment, I talked with friends and acquaintances in the industry. And, I’m sure I’ll find out a lot more in today’s meetings.”

Q#3 – What is your salary expectation for this job? (Concern – Can we afford you? Can we get you for less than budgeted?)

A#3 - “I’ll need more information about the job and the responsibilities involved before we can begin to discuss salary. Can you give me an idea of the range budgeted for this position?”

Q#4 - How do you keep current and informed about your job and the industries that you have worked in? (Concern – Once you get the job do you continue to learn and grow – stay challenged and motivated?)

A#4 - “I pride myself on my ability to stay on top of what is happening in my industry. I do a lot of reading – the business section of the newspapers and magazines. I belong to a couple of professional organizations and network with colleagues at the meetings. I take classes and seminars whenever they are of interest, or offer new information or technology.”

Q#5 - Tell me about a time when you had to plan and coordinate a project from start to finish. (Concern – behavioral questions – seeking an example of specific past behavior)

A#5 - ” I headed up a project which involved customer service personnel and technicians. I organized a meeting to get everyone together to brainstorm and get his or her input. From this meeting I drew up a plan, taking the best of the ideas. I organized teams, balancing the mixture of technical and non-technical people. We had a deadline to meet, so I did periodic checks with the teams. After three weeks, we were exceeding expectations, and were able to begin implementation of the plan. It was a great team effort, and a big success. I was commended by management for my leadership, but I was most proud of the team spirit and cooperation which it took to pull it off.”

Q#6 - What kinds of people do you have difficulties working with? (Concern – ability to be flexible and work in a diverse environment?)

A#6 - “In my last three jobs I have worked with men and women from very diverse backgrounds and cultures. The only time I had difficulty was with people who were dishonest about work issues. I worked with one woman who was taking credit for work that her team accomplished. I had an opportunity to talk with her one day and explained how she was affecting the morale. She became very upset that others saw her that way, and said she was unaware of her behavior or the reactions of others. Her behavior changed after our talk. What I learned from that experience is that sometimes what we perceive about others is not always the case if we check it out.”

Q#7 - We expect managers to work more than 8 hours a day. Do you have a problem with that? (Concern – are you a work-aholic or a person who requires balance?)

A#7 - “I have no problem working long hours. I have worked 12 or 14 hour days. What I have found works for me is to work smarter, not necessarily longer. My goal is to get the job done, whatever that takes, in the most efficient manner.”

Q#8 - When have you been most satisfied in your career? (Concern – what motivates you? Or demotivates you?)

A#8 - “The job before the one I am currently at, was my most rewarding experience for me. I worked in a wonderful team environment. There was a lot of camaraderie. I worked with a team of four people and we did some really original thinking. It is that kind of environment I want to be involved in again.”

Q#9 - Why do you want this job? (Concern – are you using the shot-gun approach to job search or do you really know what you want?)

A#9 – “I’ve been very careful about the companies where I have applied. When I saw the ad for this position, I knew I found what I was looking for. What I can bring to this job is my seven years of experience, and knowledge of the industry, plus my ability to communicate and build customer relationships. That, along with my flexibility and organizational skills, makes me a perfect match for this position. I see some challenges ahead of me here, and that’s what I thrive on. I have what you need, and you have what I want.”

Q#10 - We are ready to make an offer. Are you ready to accept today? (Concern – we don’t want you to go away and think about it and change your mind – we want you.)

A#10 - “Based on my research and the information I have gathered during the interview process, I feel I am in a position to consider an offer. I do, however, have a personal policy that I give myself at least 24 hours to make major life decisions. I could let you know by tomorrow.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Job Boards

Monday, November 23, 2009

LinkedIn Tips for Job Interviewers

If you are in the market for a job, especially if you have at least several years of work experience, you should be taking advantage of the significant benefits LinkedIn can bring to your job search, including warm leads into companies or to people you are targeting, the possibility of creating new job leads through recruiters who frequently use the site or people who are impressed with comments you post on the site, and access to posted and unposted job openings. So how do you take advantage of LinkedIn if you’re a job seeker?

1. Create a Thoughtful Profile. According to LinkedIn, you are 40X more likely to receive opportunities if your profile is complete. A complete profile includes your current job and 2 previous jobs, your educational background, a profile summary, profile picture, your specialties and at least 3 recommendations. Your profile summary should highlight your passions, interests AND your personality. Your work experience should highlight the specific actions taken and the impact achieved. Many people make the mistake of writing their experience as a recitation of tasks; e.g. built models, created presentations. If you’ve created presentations, projects or have other work that showcases your talents, use an app like Slideshare or to include your work in your profile. Thoughtful (vs boilerplate) recommendations from colleagues who can speak to specific skills or your impact can help. LinkedIn has a simple tool that lets you solicit them for people you know. Once and only when your profile is complete, include a link to it in your email signature, on your resume, and even on your business card.

2. Build your network. Focus on friends and colleagues who know you well. There’s no prize for accumulating the most connections. Your connections should be people who’d be willing to credibly and enthusiastically introduce you to people in their network. To do that, they must know you well enough. Here’s another reason to be careful about who you invite into your network. Your connections may also ask you for introductions to other people in your network. Do you want to jeopardize your reputation with your friends or former boss by encouraging them to talk to some random person in your network that you don’t know? If you’re a college student, consider adding some older people such as professors, close family friends, and supervisors. Continue to work on strengthening your ties -- thought you might find this article interesting, ran into someone who knows you, etc. The optimal time to build your network is when you don`t desperately need help.

3. Join Targeted Industry & Professional Groups. Why? There will be people there who are doing what you want to do. Join in on discussions. Create discussions on topics you’re interested in. Ask interesting questions. Doing these things will enable you to meet people who can increase your job or industry understanding, give you feedback on your job search, or even approach you about potential jobs. The key to GETTING a lot from these groups is GIVING to them. For someone to want to help you, they need to feel that it’s worth their while, either because they genuinely like you, and/or they believe that helping you benefits them in some way. If you are only there to take from the group, you won’t find many willing to help you.

4. Join Your School Group on LinkedIn. The content in these groups is fairly limited now, but being a member is valuable because you can send connection invitations or messages to other members of the group that you otherwise couldn’t engage. I can search my Stanford group for my hypothetical target company, Google for example, and find 81 group members, only 2 of whom I’m directly connected to, with current or past work experience at Google.

5. Search LinkedIn Jobs. When you search Jobs by company or job title, you can see which of your connections are at that company or know the person who posted the job. Leverage these connections to help you get a warm introduction.

6. Search for Connections at Targeted Companies. You will dramatically increase your chances of an interview or favorable initial impression if you get an introduction to a recruiter or hiring manager from someone they trust. Do a search for people who can make that introduction by inputting the company name. Let’s say I’m interested in working for Apple. My search on Apple will generate people in my network who work or worked at Apple. You may in fact be able to ask a 1st degree contact (someone I am connected to on LinkedIn) for a personal introduction or recommendation to the hiring manager. Alternatively this person may be a great source of information about the company or industry, which will help me distinguish myself in the interview. For a 2nd degree connection (a connection of one of my connections), check out their profile and if it looks relevant, ask your contact for an introduction. Read The Email Introductions Most Likely to Open Doors to see who the wide range of people who can effectively open doors for you with a simple email.

7. Let People Know You’re Looking. Everyone is a potential job lead, but they can’t help if they don’t know you’re looking. Use the update field to indicate that you are looking for a job.

8. Showcase your Expertise through LinkedIn Answers. In LinkedIn Answers you can ask and answer questions on specific business topics. Others who view your answers and are impressed with your insight can reach out to you directly. You can also receive recognition for strong answers, which adds to your credibility and visibility.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Answer the ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Interview Question

Job interviewImage by hartboy via Flickr

Don’t be afraid of this question; instead use it as an opportunity to position yourself for success.

When I was a human-resources executive doing hiring interviews, I almost always began my interviews with candidates by requesting, “Tell me about yourself.” I did that for a number of reasons, the most important of which was to see how the candidates handled themselves in an unstructured situation.

I wanted to see how articulate they were, how confident they were and generally what type of impression they would make on the people with whom they came into contact on the job.

I also wanted to get a sense of what they thought was important.

Most candidates find this question to be a particularly difficult question to answer. That is a misplaced view. This question offers an opportunity to describe yourself positively and focus the interview on your strengths. Be prepared to deal with it. These days, it’s unavoidable. Like me, most interviewers start off their interviews with this question. A lot of interviewers open with it as an icebreaker or because they're still getting organized, but they all use it to get a sense of whom you are.

The wrong response

There are many ways to respond to this question correctly and just one wrong way: by asking, “What do you want to know?” That tells me you have not prepared properly for the interview and are likely to be equally unprepared on the job. You need to develop a good answer to this question, practice it and be able to deliver it with poise and confidence.

The right response

To help you prepare, I spoke to a number of career coaches on how best to respond when faced with this question. Heed the career advice that follows to ace this opener:

The consensus of the coaches with whom I spoke :

  • Focus on what most interests the interviewer
  • Highlight your most important accomplishments

Focus on what interests the interviewer

According to Jane Cranston, a career coach from New York , “The biggest mistake people being interviewed make, is thinking the interviewer really wants to know about them as a person.

They start saying things like 'Well, I was born in Hoboken, and when I was three we moved …’ Wrong. The interviewer wants to know that you can do the job, that you fit into the team, what you have accomplished in your prior positions and how can you help the organization.”

Nancy Fox, of Fox Coaching Associates, agrees. She notes that “many candidates, unprepared for the question, skewer themselves by rambling, recapping their life story, delving into ancient work history or personal matters.” She recommends starting with your most recent employment and explaining why you are well qualified for the position. According to Fox, the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. “In other words, you want to be selling what the buyer is buying.”

Think of your response as a movie preview, says Melanie Szlucha, a coach with Red Inc. “The movie preview always relates to the movie you're about to see. You never see a movie preview for an animated flick when you're there to see a slasher movie. So the ‘tell me about yourself” answer needs to directly fit the concerns of your prospective employer.”

Previews are also short but show clips of the movie that people would want to see more of later. They provide enough information about the movie so that you could ask intelligent questions about what the movie is about. Hiring managers don't want to look unprepared by reading your resume in front of you, so Szlucha advises “to provide them some topics to ask you more questions about.”

Highlight your most important accomplishments

Greg Maka, managing director at 24/7 Marketing, advises job seekers to "tell a memorable story about your attributes.” For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as tenacious, provide a brief story that shows how you have been tenacious in achieving your goals. “Stories are powerful and are what people remember most ,” he said.

One great example is that of Fran Capo, a comedienne who bills herself as “the world’s fastest-talking female.” She offers the following advice: “Whenever I go on auditions or interviews. I have a "set" opening I use. ... I tell the interviewer what I do in one sentence and then say, ‘A nd I also happen to be the Guinness Book of World Records’ fastest- talking female.’ Then I elaborate.” According to Capo, the main thing in anything you do is to be memorable, in a good way. Your goal when you answer the ‘tell me about yourself’ question is to find a way stand out from everyone else.

And, be brief

Maureen Anderson, host of The Career Clinic radio show, stresses the importance of keeping your answer short: “The employer wants to know a little bit about you to begin with — not your life story. Just offer up two or three things that are interesting — and useful. You should take about a minute to answer this question.”

To make sure it is succinct and covers what you want it to cover, she suggests that you “write your answer out before the interview, practice it, time it and rehearse it until it sounds natural. Then practice it some more. The goal is to tell the employer enough to pique their interest, not so much that they wonder if they’d ever be able to shut you up during a coffee break at the office.”

Rather than dread this question, a well -prepared candidate should welcome this inquiry. Properly answered, this question puts the candidate in the driver's seat. It gives candidates an opportunity to sell themselves. It allows them to set the tone and direction for the rest of the interview, setting them up to answer the questions they most want to answer.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]