The dreaded statement at the end of an interview: "Do you have any questions for me?" We all know we are supposed to ask questions, but what?
Most job seekers know that questions about pay and benefits aren't appropriate at this stage, but what else should you ask?
Now is a great opportunity to dig into the specifics of the job. My favorite question - that is appropriate for just about any interview - is "Why did this position open up?". If there has been high turnover, why? Have the last few people been promoted? That means there is good opportunity for advancement. Is it a new position? The company appears to be growing. While there is no right answer to this question, it can tell you something about the culture.
Can you describe the company culture to me? Or, What is a typical day like here? Or, If you were to hire me, what would be my top priority for the first 90 days? Take the opportunity to dig deeper into the position and the organization. The hiring decision is a two way street and you should have as much information as you need to determine if this is an organization you want to work for.
And finally, always ask what the next steps are so you will know if and when to follow up.
This is one of the most commonly asked - and hardest to answer - interview questions there is. We all know we are going to be asked, we just don't generally know what to say.
As with any interview question, the first thing to do is to ask yourself "What are they trying to learn by asking this question?". In the case of Tell me about yourself, that could mean several difference things.
They may want to get to know you personally, they may want to hear about your job history, they may want to know about your education, or they may just be making small talk as you both get settled. How do you figure that out? Ask them what they would like to know, then answer accordingly.
The challenge with that solution is that most job seekers would not be comfortable asking. If that is the case, then you want to try to touch on as much high level information as you can which allows the interviewer to dig down on what interests them.
The best formula I've heard includes:
So, tell me about yourself.
Q: When I gave notice at my current organization, they made me a counter offer. Should I accept it or move on?
A: Before answering, you have to ask yourself why it took an offer from another company to get an offer worth keeping from your current employers. Counter offers always make me nervous. Did you ask for raise and show them you were worth it before job hunting? If so, that means the company failed to accept your worth until you threatened to leave. That isn’t a very good company / manager. If you didn’t give them the opportunity, then you failed.
The loyalty has been weakened on both ends of the spectrum now and many companies who make counter offers do it only until a replacement can be found for your position. Obviously, that is not always the case - there are plenty of cases of great outcomes from accepting counter offers - but I believe those are the exception that proves the rule. Consider counter offers from every angle and with eyes wide open.
I've got my job offer from the new employer, now what?
Many people dread resigning, even when they can't wait to leave their job because they don't know the best way to resign. In most cases we don't want to burn a bridge, so what do we do?
In most cases, you don't want to resign in writing. The most professional way to handle a resignation is face to face with your direct manager. You simply tell them your last day of employment and ask what they would like you to prioritize in the time you have left. A thank you - if sincere - is also a nice touch.
In some cases you will be asked for the resignation in writing. This is when you write the letter. You are not required to include anything except your last day of employment. So quit stressing and start looking forward to your new position.
Many of my clients are hesitant to update their LinkedIn profile because they don't want their current employer to know they are looking for a new position. While this is certainly understandable, it can also be detrimental to their job search in this digital age. So how do we get around it?
Keep LinkedIn up to date all the time. If you use LinkedIn on a regular basis when you are not looking for a new job then nobody will question you when you make changes. A good rule of thumb is to review your profile about once a quarter. But what if you haven't kept up with it?
Check your privacy settings. You don't want LinkedIn to announce every change you make to your profile to your network, yet many professionals do just that. So how do you make sure that doesn't happen? Click on "me" across the top menu bar > choose Settings & Privacy > Choose Privacy > Click on Edit Your Public Profile > then Customize Your Public Profile on the right hand side. You can decide from there at a very detailed level what you will show to non contacts. When you make changes in your profile it will ask you if you want to share profile changes. In most cases, you should select "No".
Stay active on LinkedIn. Again, when you use LinkedIn regularly, periodic changes to your profile won't raise any red flags while massive changes all at one time generally will. Join groups; share articles; if you are a writer, this is a great place to self publish; reach out to old colleagues and ask them how they are doing. LinkedIn is your online network. Make good use of it. One caveat - keep it professional. Religion, politics and family have no place on LinkedIn. Keep those on your personal social media platforms.
So how do you find a job on LinkedIn? Many recruiters will post positions in the news feed so keep an eye out there. LinkedIn also has a great new Jobs app for your phone you can download, and if you are applying on the computer it is even easier. Click on Jobs across the top menu, and start searching. Don't forget to update your settings on the job search page - click "update career interests" and follow the instructions.
Need more help with LinkedIn? We are here to help.
I recently read a Forbes article 5 Things To Do Before Quitting Your Job. Incidentally, Forbes also posted this great quote by Tanya Tarr "If you don't know what truly motivates you, you really don't know what will satisfy you." Generally, by the time I've started working with somebody they have already made the decision to leave their current position. The question we must often tackle is this; where do you want to land? If you can't pinpoint why you want to leave you are likely to find yourself back in the same situation.
The advice in the article referenced above is very similar to the advice I give my job seekers. And that is to figure out why you aren't happy at your current job so you don't repeat the same mistakes. Is it the company culture? The job itself? The industry? The answer is different for everybody.
BREAK IT DOWN
So how do you figure out the right position? Break it down. I suggest starting a "wish list". This list should contain things you would like to see in your next position as well as things you would like to avoid. What tasks do you really enjoy? What tasks do you hope to never do again? What kind of culture makes you happy? How about location? Company size? Travel? Nothing is too silly or too petty to add to this list. Eventually you will see a pattern that will help direct you to the right position in the right organization.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
When you start the search for your next position, step outside of your comfort zone. Traditional job seeking means finding job postings, applying, then waiting to hear back and hoping for the best. The internet has made finding open positions easier, increasing the number of ads we come across each day. Rather than blindly applying for all that seem relevant, spend a few minutes researching the company before applying. Do they appear to be the type of company you want to work for? You won't always find everything you need to know, but it is a good first step.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Focus your time and energy on positions that are a good fit. This applies to the company culture as well as the position itself. It is ok to apply to something if you don't meet 100% of the requested skills (80% is a good rule of thumb), but don't apply for positions you know you wouldn't be happy in.
NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK
Finally, spend some time networking. Most higher level positions are never posted online. So how do you find out about them? Ask around. Talk to others in your industry. Attend industry events. Research companies that might be a good fit for you and reach out to them.
Take control of your job search and you will find yourself in a better place.