The Most Powerful (Yet Hidden) Force of a Job Interview

If you’re preparing for an upcoming job interview using only a list of the top 25 most common questions, stop. Rewind. Start over.

As a career coach, I’ve seen it happen all too often. A professional in transition seeks my services after several failed attempts at landing the offer. They have trouble determining why they don’t do well and soon begin to question their abilities. After several negative experiences or their lack of solidifying an offer, their confidence buckles. They google “Career coach, Lexington, KY” and discover an entirely new paradigm of interviewing that works.

IT IS NOTHING LIKE I EXPECTED

Alone and without a career coach to help you prepare, the interview questions you rehearse may be discovered online in an article or on Glassdoor from other experienced job seekers.

And yet, your interview begins and ends with a sense of ambiguity because many of the questions you practiced were not asked.

“I practiced behavioral questions and all they did was drill me on qualifications and skills.”

“I did absolutely amazing! Their friendly and laid back approach was invigorating. I felt confident and comfortable. I walked out knowing I nailed every question. Yet, that was three weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing.”

“They asked me a bizarre question like “If you were a tree, what tree would you be?”

Sound familiar? These are examples of the force of company culture in an interview.

REWIND

The important driver of interview questions isn’t the popularity of them.

Rather, the questions you’re asked will likely originate by influences of the company culture.

Culture is the most intangible, hidden force in your interview experience. And yet today, many job-seekers don’t know how to prepare for it. They miss the markers and practice questions without knowing the culture.

Always remember: Leadership drives culture. Culture drives the interview along with the questions you will be asked.

START OVER

When working with clients, we begin with intensive research to predict the culture from the onset of preparation. Hidden clues can be extracted from the company’s website, the job description and the company’s presence on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Although company culture is invisible, it definitely influences the interview. You can prepare and experience confidence in knowing what to expect by first acknowledging the imperative force of company culture.

How have you experienced company culture in a job interview?

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The Elephant in the Workplace

softttttt

As a career coach working with multi-potential clients ranging from first time job-seekers to corporate executives, I’m astounded by the power of one person’s capacity to derail meaningful and productive work for other individuals in their workplace. So many highly productive professionals leave their employer because of the toxic environment produced when “soft”skills are missing, especially when the person is your boss.

Today, we describe the skills of respect, honesty and integrity as something, “soft”.

Really?

This adjective desperately needs re-branding.

The word “soft” contains a plethora of possible meaning but none encompass the intangible character traits of respect, honesty and integrity underpinning healthy workplace behavior.

There is one obvious skill-set employers seek in a potential hire, the employability skills or “what” a person brings to the table such as core competencies, educational achievements and proven experience.

The second set of skills carry greater weight and is the sustainability or “how” we do our work such as the core abilities of self-management and healthy interpersonal interactions.

For the vast majority of people who resign from their position, it isn’t the role they walk away from but rather the person or persons around them creating intolerable stress.

This is why you can love what you do, but hate your job.

The root of many workplace issues is the deficiency of what we’ve labeled “soft” skills and the consequences can be dire for retaining top talent and increasing the company’s bottom line.

Until we re-brand “soft”skills as “sustainable”skills our future workforce will consider the most imperative skill-set as optional.

Simply put, sustainability skills or a lack thereof have a far reaching impact on the workplace.

Why?

The ability to sustain your job while ensuring the well-being of others around you is anything but soft.

Can we please re-brand this adjective?

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Carla Hunter Bio

Carla Hunter, M.A., Board Certified Career Coach

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor and Board Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She received her undergraduate degree from Asbury University and a Master’s degree in Student Development and Counseling from Eastern Kentucky University. Carla has the highest credentials in the career development field with a successful private practice since 1999 and extensive experience as a workforce development career consultant for over a decade.
She has trained and coached workforce development specialists to exceed performance goals with a proven methodology of career advising and excellent customer service. As a workforce development consultant her expertise is building an effective quality service model for customers and clients emphasizing the imperative steps to reaching successful outcomes. She has trained over 120 career professionals to assist and empower clients in finding meaningful work through her credentialing curriculum.
She works with a broad spectrum of individual clients ranging from high school students preparing for college to working adults making career changes or experiencing job loss. Carla has developed extensive team-building curriculum and facilitation sessions for corporate and organizational clients including strategic planning, conflict resolution and becoming a highly effective performer. She has written multiple career articles for Kentucky.com and AOL and contributed to the 1st edition of Kentucky’s Office of Employment and Training’s You’re Hired! An Action Plan for Success in Today’s Labor Market.
Carla assists companies and organizations with recruiting top talent, succession planning and leadership development. Carla is qualified to interpret vocational assessments such as the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Thomas Kilman Instrument (TKI), the FIRO-B and IDEAS. She is the author, developer and researcher of two career development assessments: The Portfolio of Assets: A Skill Set Inventory (2017) and Finding Your Place in the World of Work (2016) a career interest inventory. Since 2005, Carla has been an approved instructor for the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) credential offered by the National Career Development Association. In 2008, she co-authored Intersection: Where Career Development Theories, Models and Resources Converge (updated 2016), the 12th nationally approved GCDF curriculum. In 2011, Career Span, Inc completed an extensive research study called the Workforce Opportunity Project, an employer survey of 100 companies in the Eastern Kentucky service region to determine employability and sustainability skills for the future workforce. The full report of the results can be accessed at www.workforceopportunityproject.com
Carla co-hosted Twitter’s national chat “#Schools2Life”. She blogs about career development and is the author of the career interest inventory, Finding Your Place in the World of World.

To schedule an appointment, call 859-608-9756.

 

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Carla Hunter recently named one of the top 50 career professionals to follow on Twitter in 2017!

Read the article here.

Follow Carla on Twitter.

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The Truth about College and Career Readiness in the 21st Century

high school students graduates tossing up hats over blue sky.

There are many organizations and public institutions conducting extensive research on the fundamental aspects of answering a profoundly important question:

“What is the acceptable standard of college and career readiness for a high school student upon graduation?”

The truth is, this constantly shifting standard is a moving target never again to be still enough to accurately measure.

We’re in a decade of warp speed as our world gives birth to a knowledge economy. The intense contractions started in 2001 and by 2008 the confluence of many factors ushered in a new workplace where all the rules changed and many workers were left behind.

Schools for the most part are also being left behind. Generally speaking, schools are preparing our students for the wrong economy. A new economy with a global technology is trumping industrialism requiring not only skills but a certain imperative mindset.

Think about it. We could set standards for college and career readiness today that totally shift by the time each one is implemented into a new curriculum or a standard methodology.

Yes, students must be able to read, write, appreciate the basics of math necessary to live while also developing  an excellent skill base of web proficiency. Those skills are not negotiable and are at the core of all thriving economies.

College and career readiness can’t be solely about a core set of competencies for the future. It is about a mindset, an attitude and a posture of openness to possibilities not yet created.

I’ve helped countless college graduates working minimum wage jobs. They scored above 30 on their ACT, received a bachelor’s degree and maintained a 3.9 GPA. They might have been college ready and academically successful yet were clueless about what career readiness really means.

This blog will address the five crucial mindset principles every student must have for success beyond high school in the 21st century. Post-secondary education’s myriad of options is certainly a necessary step. The issue is have we trained our students to make effective career decisions?

In the next post, we will address the first mindset principle: every person is an entrepreneur.

For now, what does career readiness mean to you? Your thoughts are welcome.

 

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The Effective Use of Aggregators in Your Job Search

frustrated with problems young business man working on laptop computer at home

Today’s job search can be dramatically impacted by the way you use the Internet.

One simple strategy can make a huge difference. First, let’s differentiate between the ineffective and effective strategies.

The Ineffective strategy

Many job seekers default to watching job boards, applying online and wait to be called for an interview. This strategy is ineffective and downright depressing for job search morale and a sense of positive momentum.  You can apply on most job boards for positions that seem similar to your skills but never receive an employer response. Job boards are a good place to camp out if you’re searching for a specific sales position with a company experiencing constant turnover. Otherwise, job boards are like trying to drive a car in neutral. You’re not going to get anywhere fast.

Why would an employer pay for a posted opening and get inundated with hundreds of resumes to spend countless hours trying to parse out the viable candidates to interview?

The effective strategy

Watch aggregators, connect to people who work for companies with the posted opportunities on the aggregator and get your resume in the right hands.

Aggregators are websites generating revenue from advertising rather than employers paying to post the opening on their site. Aggregators scan millions of pages for keywords and update a constantly changing mix of links matching their keyword search.  The aggregators may display website links of small businesses who never paid to post the opening, but was caught in the net of an aggregator’s keyword hunt. In addition to company webpages, aggregators pull from newspapers, articles, journals and a plethora of other resources.

How to use an aggregator to gain momentum

Use aggregators to learn about emerging and growing companies.

Be targeted when using the aggregator by narrowing your search with keywords of job titles or professional designations. Use a specific zip code for geographic location openings.

In the next post, I will go more in detail about how an aggregator can give you great insight to target an employer who needs your skills for their gap.

For now, the aggregators I use daily include to two most popular:

Indeed

www.indeed.com

Simply Hired

www.simplyhired.com

 

What aggregators do you use?

 

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Our New Normal: The “Gig” Economy

“Gig” is the word best describing the economy we work in now.

Gig has several definitions including:

1. something that whirls.
2. to catch or spear.
3. a single professional engagement.
4. any job, especially one of short or uncertain duration.

For workers in the “gig” economy, one must learn to whirl in drastically changing business models.

To see our professional work as a single engagement with a day to day timeline is a healthy posture in the gig economy.  Each one of us is susceptible to being let go at a moment’s notice.   If you resist seeing this reality of shifting work, your sense of identity and confidence will take a lot of unnecessary jabs.

To see work as a gig is especially important because we can’t attach our confidence to one employer or think we will work in the same position indefinitely.

Being let go, even on the best of terms is still humiliating and daunting. In the gig economy we have to stay constantly aware of possibilities and future work even as we are highly productive in our current role.

What would it look like if we all began to view future work as a short term “gig”?
In this new paradigm, there are no job hoppers.

Here are a few gig strategies for the future:
1. Be continuously ready to whirl if you have a job because change is inevitable and tomorrow you may need to look for a new gig.
2. Catch moments with your network of connections and actively search for work even if you think your current work is long term. It may not be.
3. Recognize any job is susceptible to a short duration in our current job market.  We have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable reality of moving from gig to gig without taking it personally.
The gig economy calls for tougher skin and a wider lens of possibilities.

What words would you add to describe the gig economy?

 

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Three Job Search Strategies for Soldiers in Transition

Three Job Search Strategies for Soldiers in Transition

My heart is grateful to the service men and women who’ve defended and ensured our country’s safety. As a civilian career coach on the front line of helping people in transition, I recommend three strategies to consider as you design a job search campaign.

1. Carry on with motivation and confidence to land your new position.

The military impressively trains soldiers for battle. They also prepare you with critical skills necessary for successful civilian employment.  Today’s employer needs professionals who work well under pressure, follow complex instructions, exert self-discipline, take the initiative and lead by quiet example. These core competencies are at the heart of a soldier and vital to a successful business.

The key to a successful job search campaign is the ability to exert a strong force of motivation in your daily job search activities.  If this energy equals your high mastery of skills, confidence to land the job will become stronger by the day. Searching takes time and is a full-time mission.  To discover and convince the right employer for you of the many skills you offer requires resolve and determination.  Stay focused on being the solution to the employer’s problem. Reconnaissance of labor market information where you want to work can empower every conversation and interaction as you translate combat skills into the business lexicon. Start the process with a daily action plan including small steps to accomplish. Connect to people each day to give you a continual boost of momentum to carry you. 

2. Look up when change seems overwhelming.

Change is the most consistent process of life.  The loss of military’s day to day structure and organization makes room for new ideas to be born.  Listening to a retired officer describe his anxiety of having too much time on his hands was palpable.  He wanted to work and contribute but was paralyzed by not having a routine and direction.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed by too much time to think without a clear plan to act. In the vortex of change, discouragement sets in when thoughts and feelings block action steps to move forward. Remember every closed door eventually leads to an open one contingent upon motivation remaining high.  Every civilian job-seeker receives (at minimum) ten to fifteen rejections before they hear “you’re hired.” The job search requires great mental stamina.

Look up each day with a resilience and determination to explore all possibilities until your mission is accomplished and check off every “no” you hear as one step closer to the “yes” you will be offered.

3. Reach out to civilians who are by your side.

Enlist the assistance of family, friends and colleagues to support you through the job search process. Master career counselors (MCC) certified by the National Career Development Association can help craft a targeted resume, prepare for an interview and utilize job search strategies that yield results. Your job offer is likely to come from a secondary source of contact from the primary relationships you’ve built.  This includes the friend of a family member or a brother of one of your high school classmates. Expanding your interpersonal connections will broaden the scope of available opportunities you would otherwise not know.

The process of finding civilian employment happens exponentially faster when you carry on each day with motivation and confidence, look up when discouraged and reach out to others for support.

What effective strategies would you add?  Suggestions welcomed.

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Create a Word Cloud of Your Resume

CarlaHunterWordle

Do you want to see the cornerstone words your resume is built on? Have you taken a moment to see the word cloud of your professional expertise?

Wordle is an effective and fun career tool to discover the patterns of your experience using the text of your resume as the generator for creating a word cloud of your skills.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Go to wordle.net
2. Click on the link “Create your own.”
3. Copy and paste your resume text into the box.
4. The word cloud is automatically generated. You can change the colors, font or scheme of your resume word cloud. It is a great exercise to determine patterns of the words used in your resume and skills you are building in a consistent progression.
What’s in your resume word cloud? Mine captures what I enjoy most: helping others develop a meaningful career.

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The correlation between life’s obstacles and cooked broccoli

Broccoli, is a vegetable clinically proven to keep our bodies healthy.

Rich in cholesterol-lowering vitamins, broccoli also reduces the risk of breast, lung and colon cancer.
The more you eat it, the more likely you are to enjoy a healthier life.

We can all agree, this leafy green vegetable provides amazing benefits.

But let’s face it, broccoli STINKS when you cook it.

Just the other day, my kids declared the after-dinner odor as intolerable.
To minimize the foul residue we lit candles as though the house lost electrical power.

How can something so good for you smell so bad?

Similarly, life’s obstacles are proven to keep our life priorities in order yet like cooked broccoli, it stinks to experience loss, challenges and difficulties to overcome.

The lessons of hardship provide long lasting benefits we may not always recognize including:

  • A deeper compassion for those who struggle in life and feel hopeless
  • A stronger resilience during tough times as we learn more effective ways to cope
  • A greater capacity to extend kindness during daily stresses such as traffic jams or waiting too long in a grocery line don’t seem worth the negativity they can cause
  • A far reaching appreciation for life’s simple pleasures grows in our hearts as we face difficult circumstances beyond our control

Our choice and resolve to face difficulties with a hopeful attitude can lead to wiser choices and a greater sense of what really matters.

Life’s troubles do smell like cooked broccoli, yet also bring out the best in us if we let them.

The challenges we face such as losing a job or experiencing great disappointment are rich opportunities to strengthen us.

When life presents  the “cooked broccoli” moments that stink, remember the benefits it provides if you allow it. And don’t forget to light a candle.

 

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