There are times when we are given the chance to do something and we don’t. Not because we aren’t capable of doing them, but because we are afraid to take that step. Or maybe we just don’t believe it’s the right opportunity. You hear about a volunteer job that could give not only experience, but give you connections, but you don’t have the time or don’t want to be bothered. You are asked to go to a mixer after work, and you’re tired, but your supervisor is there with his employer announce that a new job is opening up. They are giving away free class at a local venue, but you doubt that you can learn something new. The town is throwing a job fair, but you don’t go because you think there will be nothing fast food jobs. We need to learn to take each opportunity that comes our away, and not be afraid. Some times to get what we want we have to do things that we have never done before.
There are many steps in the process of getting a job, but the hardest part, in my opinion, would be the assessments. What are assessments, you ask? And why are they important?
An assessment is a tool that employers use to measure an applicant’s knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as personal traits and/or characteristics. It tells the employer your level of functionality, how you would handle certain situations and what type of reasoning you would utilize to make decisions. These assessments are used by the employer to screen job candidates for suitability for a particular job. The reason these assessments should be important to you is because it could “make or break” your chances of getting the job you really want.
I am 18 years old and as soon as I graduated from high school, I was on the hunt for a job. I applied at the nearby mall, fast food restaurants, clothing stores and many more. You name it, I probably applied there. None of them responded to me, except one. So I went in to meet the manager and he set me up to take an assessment. I thought, “No problem.” I felt that I was well prepared, however, the results told otherwise. I failed the assessment miserably, and I didn’t know why. I attended a Job-Readiness Class entitled “Making Healthy Choices” and the topic of assessments came up.
The most important thing about assessments is how you take it. In other words, an assessment typically has 4 or 5 choices:
As I said above, employers utilize assessments to see if you would be a good fit for their company. As you see above, the choices are: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.
The thing that most people don’t realize, including myself, is that employers want you to have a strong opinion, one way or the other. So the answers that are AUTOMATICALLY incorrect are “Agree and Disagree” as well as “Neither Agree Nor Disagree.”
While applying for my job, I had to take their assessment about four times. I’m grateful that I had a connection to the manager, because he allowed me the opportunity to re-do it. Many people aren’t that lucky. However, the more I took the assessments, the more I noticed the difficulty and types of questions they used. There were tons of trick questions, but there were even more that were basically the same questions; the words were just re-arranged or it was a different scenario.
So my advice to you when taking an employment assessment is to read the questions CAREFULLY, and then, go on your instinct. Typically, your first answer is always the correct one, so try not to think too hard about it. But remember, have a strong opinion, either it is going to be very wrong or it is going to be very right. Try to stay out of the middle. △
In the past, if you used a typical paper resume, you were seen as professional, but now, everyone has one. So what could you use to make yourself stand out from the crowd? What can you do to show off your great personality? What tool can you use to get an edge or stay ahead of other candidates? Well, we have a solution. It’s called a Video Resume.
A Video Resume is the latest tool of technology available to job seekers. You simply record yourself talking about what makes you the perfect candidate for that particular job you are applying for. As we mentioned above, it gives the employer a chance to see what your personality is really like, something they wouldn’t be able to get from a piece of paper. But one question that some of you may be asking is, “Will the employer even open my video?” Well, in a recent internet article, entitled Do Employers Want Video Resumes? statistics show that “although most employers have not yet used this new technology as an evaluative tool, 89% of employers revealed that they would watch a video resume, should it be submitted to them.”
Another question that may have you nervous for submitting a video resume is if they even like the idea of a video resume. According to the same article, employers do like videos because it gives them “the ability to assess a candidate’s professional presentation and demeanor.” So it really is looking like video resumes are getting some pretty positive reviews.
There is one huge drawback to the video resume and that one thing is: unprofessionalism. And that goes from how you talk and present yourself in the video, to the way that you dress and conduct yourself. Many of the employers are receiving fairly unprofessional videos which turns them off to a potential candidate. This is where the lesson on interviews comes in handy. You have to imagine that while making the video, you are actually speaking to the employer, because the employer IS going to see it. If you wouldn’t wear something to an actual interview, then don’t wear it in the video.
You also need to speak clearly and take the video seriously, but don’t feel afraid to let your personality come out, because that is one of the main reasons for this video. As another matter of concern, “the other current employer complaint is the length of the video.” That is why we stress that your video should be 1 minute or less, you want it to be short and sweet. You don’t want to bore the employer, you’re not making a full length documentary, just a super short film discussing your qualifications.
For those applicants from out-of-town or out-of-state who are applying for a job, a video resume comes in very handy. This would eliminate travel and time lost as well as allow the employer to screen many more applicants.
With this knowledge at hand and all these tips available, you should make one smashing video. Have a great time with it and “Good luck!” △
Resources: About.com Human Resources, Video Resumes, Do Employers Want Video Resumes? by Susan M. Heathfield
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On GPAs and Brainteasers: New Insights From Google On Recruiting and Hiring
June 20, 2013
“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”
That was just one of the many fascinating revelations that Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations, shared with me in an interview that was part of the New York Times’ special section on Big Data published Thursday.
Bock’s insights are particularly valuable because Google focuses its data-centric approach internally, not just on the outside world. It collects and analyzes a tremendous amount of information from employees (people generally participate anonymously or confidentially), and often tackles big questions such as, “What are the qualities of an effective manager?” That was question at the core of its Project Oxygen, which I wrote about for the Times in 2011.
I asked Bock in our recent conversation about other revelations about leadership and management that had emerged from its research.
The full interview is definitely worth your time, but here are some of the highlights:
The ability to hire well is random. “Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring,” Bock said. “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess, except for one guy who was highly predictive because he only interviewed people for a very specialized area, where he happened to be the world’s leading expert.”
Forget brain-teasers. Focus on behavioral questions in interviews, rather than hypotheticals. Bock said it’s better to use questions like, “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.” He added: “The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information. One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”
Consistency matters for leaders. “It’s important that people know you are consistent and fair in how you think about making decisions and that there’s an element of predictability. If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom, because then they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want. If your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive.
GPAs don’t predict anything about who is going to be a successful employee. “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything. What’s interesting is the proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time as well. So we have teams where you have 14 percent of the team made up of people who’ve never gone to college.”
That was a pretty remarkable insight, and I asked Bock to elaborate.
“After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different,” he said. “You’re also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently. Another reason is that I think academic environments are artificial environments. People who succeed there are sort of finely trained, they’re conditioned to succeed in that environment. One of my own frustrations when I was in college and grad school is that you knew the professor was looking for a specific answer. You could figure that out, but it’s much more interesting to solve problems where there isn’t an obvious answer. You want people who like figuring out stuff where there is no obvious answer.” △
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Adam Bryant has interviewed more than 200 leaders for his “Corner Office” feature that runs every Friday and Sunday in The New York Times. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed.” His second book,“Quick and Nimble: Creating a Corporate Culture of Innovation,” will be published in January.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
- Featured on:Recruiting & Hiring
Courtesy of Commpro.biz
Happy 2013! At the beginning of this new year, I compiled some of the most frequently asked resume writing and building tips. The goal here is to help you on the road toward developing an awesome 2013 resume.
Applicant Tracking Systems
- All applicant tracking systems work basically the same. They use a ‘parser’ to read the information in your resume.
- The parser will read your information vs. the information it has been given by the company. In most cases, keywords pulled from the job description will be used. Unfortunately you don’t know the keywords or the parameters they have been given. What this means is that your resume submission must use the exact terminology or you risk the parser not forwarding your resume.
- Yes, you read that correctly. Just because you submitted your resume and received notification that it was accepted, it doesn’t mean it will reach the hiring manager or HR. Unfortunately, unqualified candidates answer job ads so the applicant tracking system helps to sort resumes.
- It is important that you customize your resume to each job description.
- Your resume is scored for relevancy. Relevancy is based on the correlating matches between your resume and the job description’s keyword.
- You must also read the disclaimers/information on the web site. You need to know how long a company keeps your resume, can you update it and can you apply for different positions or does one resume submission cover other jobs as they become available. This is important because one general resume for a media relations position may not fit the qualifications for a corporate communications position, etc. Some companies post a new position and look at the resumes they receive for that position. They don’t go through the database to search for other candidates. You need to know how long it will be on file so you know when to re-submit it.
- If you have submitted a resume online, a recruiter cannot resubmit it.
Online Resume Submission
- Think keywords. Computer software programs make matches by keywords. Read the ad, job description and any other materials so you can use the company’s words as your keywords. You probably need 25-30 keywords in your resume.
- Position yourself. If you are going to post your resume online, find the right ones. If you are a senior-level professional, look for sites that only handle your level or area of expertise.
- Profile yourself. Your statement is important on your resume but is extremely important on your web site and social media pages. You can expand your statement online sites but make sure you fill it with Google optimized words.
- It’s an advertisement for you, not your autobiography. You want a particular job; your resume is your chance to call attention to you and what you’ve done. Some people believe resumes should be one page because they want to see a quick glimpse of you. While we don’t believe in one-page resumes, you must be careful to be specific, concise and to the point. You want the hiring manager to want to learn more about you.
- No gimmicks please. Gimmicks may get attention, but they won’t make up for a sub-par resume.
- Formatting is important. It makes your resume easier to read/scan and it provides the reader with a road map to follow – all your titles, dates etc. will be in the same place. If you are submitting a resume online, be careful of your margins. You don’t know how a computer scanner is set so leave at least a 1” margin all around. Since you don’t know the age or eyesight of the reader, use an easy type to typeface.
- Objectives are out, summaries are in. Unless you have a specific objective and will only consider that type of job, use a career summary – a short concise pitch about you and what you have to offer.
- Interviews. You should be getting 5 or 6 first interviews for every 100 targeted resumes you send out. If you are not, you might be sending out resumes to every ad you see, whether the job fits or not. Also, have someone review your resume to make sure it’s clear as to what you are looking for and that it doesn’t contain a typo.
- You should be getting one second interview for every 8 first interviews. If not, ask yourself whether you need to polish your interviewing skills. Are you coming across as desperate or unsure?
- Have you ever been a finalist for more than 8 or 9 positions and not landed a job? If so, try to review what happened. If the companies hired from within, there isn’t anything you could have done. If the company decided not to hire anyone, there isn’t anything you could have done. But to get this far this many times and not have closed the deal suggests that something is wrong. For starters, you might want to review your references. Are you giving them enough information so that they can be helpful? Consider adding new ones to the list. Sometimes, the personality of the reference makes a big difference, too!
- Update, Update, Update. Each job is a little different. Before you send out a resume, update or tweak it for each job position.
- Resumes are written in the third person and they are written in past tense. You may opt to put your current job in present tense but the rest is in past tense.
- A resume is a marketing tool. Use it that way. It’s the paper that shows what you have achieved to take you to the next step in your career.
- Don’t lie. Titles, dates, compensation, education are all very east to check.
- Computers are often the first readers of resumes. They will scan for keywords. It is important that you use the keywords from an ad or job description in your resume. Otherwise, a human may never see your resume.
- References on request. This is a given. Don’t waste a line on your resume with it.
- Your resume is yours. It represents you and it is how you sell yourself. You can’t please all the people all the time. △
By ALISON GREEN
While you can never predict with certainty exactly what questions you’ll be asked in a job interview, some questions get asked so frequently that you’d be foolish not to prepare answers for them in advance. Here are five of the questions that you’ll most likely be asked.
(And even if these don’t come up, you’ll be better prepared by having rehearsed your answers to them, because you can easily weave them into the conversation to engage and impress your interviewer.)
What interests you about this job? It sounds obvious, but a surprising number of candidates don’t have a thoughtful answer prepared for this. Interviewers want to hire people who have carefully thought through whether this is a job they want and have concluded that yes, they’d be excited to do the work. If you flounder when asked about your interest and can’t explain why you’re enthused at the prospect of this particular work, you’re likely to get struck from the hiring manager’s list.
Why do you think you would do well at this job? The best answers to this question point to past experiences and skills that position you to excel at the work. You want to know your answer to this question backward and forward before walking into your interview … because if you can’t make a compelling case for why you’d be fantastic in the role you’re applying for, it’s unlikely that the interviewer is going to take the time to piece one together on her own.
What has been one of your biggest achievements? Savvy interviewers ask this question because they want to hear what you can achieve when you’re at the top of your game—and whether you’ve had many achievements at all. And moreover, even if your interviewer doesn’t ask this particular question, preparing an answer is still helpful, because you may work it into your responses to other questions. Being able to talk fluently about your achievements is a key way to show that you’re someone who produces outstanding results, rather than someone who simply does the bare minimum.
Tell me about a time when __________. Fill in the blank with situations relevant to the position. For instance: Tell me about a time when you had to take initiative … you had to deal with a difficult customer … you had to respond to a crisis … you had to give difficult feedback to an employee … You get the idea.
These types of questions—known as behavioral interview questions—probe into what you’ve done in the past, not what you say you’d do in the future. It’s key to prepare in advance for these questions, so that you’re not struggling to come up with examples off the cuff. That means that ahead of your interview, you should brainstorm about what skills you’re likely to need in the job and what challenges you’re likely to face. Then, think about what examples from your past you can point to as evidence that you can meet those needs. Talk yourself through how you’d present them in answer to these questions, making sure that you cover what challenge you faced, how you responded, and the outcome you achieved.
What salary are you looking for? If you don’t prepare for this question, you risk low-balling yourself or saying something that will harm you in salary negotiations later. Don’t let this question catch you off-guard; prepare for it ahead of time so that your answer works to your advantage. △
Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She’s also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.