7 Stress-Relieving Interview Tips

Whether it’s your first interview or your tenth, there are always ways you can improve your interview skills. Interviews can be intimidating, and a lot of pressure may hang on them. However, with some preparation and forethought, you can take the stress out of your interviews and perhaps even have some fun. Here are seven stress-relieving interview tips.

Understand What You’re Communicating

A lot is said about verbal communication, but equally important is what you’re communicating with your body. Crossing your arms shows a defensive and disinterested posture. Even if this is normal for you, avoid it so that you aren’t giving the interviewer the wrong impression. Leaning in or sitting up straight shows interest in what the other person is saying. Practicing good posture is also a good idea. Not only does slouching look sloppy, if you allow your shoulders to slump it appears like you don’t have much confidence. If you don’t know what nonverbal habits you’ve fallen into, ask a friend to observe you and give feedback.

Don’t Dodge the Questions

Whether you mean to or not, not answering the interviewer’s questions completely or at all will seem like you’re trying to avoid the answer. Which maybe you are. Be familiar with the type of questions that come up during an interview. Practice what you might say to them. If you’re asked an uncomfortable question, like why you got fired from your last job, be direct in answering that. Avoiding it will make it seem like you have something to hide. With this type of question, if you phrase it positively and emphasize what you’ve learned and how you’ve changed, you can actually create a better impression.

Carefully Consider What You Want to Ask

In the same token, when you have the opportunity to ask questions, do so! Come with a few questions prepared. Just make sure they’re not easy, basic questions you could have found with a quick Google search. As the interview progresses, if you think of a question, keep that in mind. Asking questions in return shows that you’re engaged in the interview and are interested in the job.

Practice Active Listening

This is an important skill, but so many people miss the mark with it. You can show that you’re really interested in what the other person is saying by asking clarifying questions or nodding every now and then. Maintaining eye contact and considering your facial expression are also good ways of communicating this.

Watch Your Language

This isn’t your home and this person isn’t your friend. They may be eventually, but now is not the time to be overly familiar. Be careful how you talk and what words or phrases you use. Don’t reference outdated technology or overused buzzwords that will make you seem fake. Also, cursing should not show up at this interview. Your interview is about business, keep it that way.

Know the Company

You probably have sent in applications for several jobs and may have more than one interview. With that in mind, do some research on the company and the interviewer you’re meeting with. Brush up on that, so that you can tailor your responses to the job. You also want to make sure you don’t mix up this company with another one and offend your interviewer.

Give Thanks

Finally, finish off your interview by thanking the other person. End on a high note in this way. Additionally, send a thank-you email or card to continue showing your interest in the job. This is good manners and is also a good way to follow up with the interviewer and keep yourself at the top of their mind.

Interviews don’t have to be high-stress and anxiety-inducing moments. By applying these tips, you’ll find yourself prepared and more relaxed for your interview.

Leveraging Numbers On Your Resume

Much advice is given about resumes. What to include, what not to, say one thing one way and not the other. A popular piece of wisdom is to list achievements and not just what you did. If you want to make an even bigger impact and go deeper than just your achievement you can add the use of numbers. Numbers can quantify what you did and what sort of value you brought to your company and what you could bring into a new job. Here are some ways you can use numbers to catch a potential employer’s attention.

Follow the Money

It’s all about the bottom line. Companies are always trying to do things less expensively for greater profit. If you can describe with numbers how you saved your company money in a certain way, you’ll be one step closer to that job offer. List your achievements, but with each one get more specific. Explain how you led a team of a certain number of individuals to greater productivity in their sales and marketing which resulted in a certain number of increased profit. The key is to be specific.

Another important factor whenever you use numbers, not just with money, is to have other quantifying numbers. Maybe you helped your company increase sales but over what length of time? This creates a fuller picture so that the person looking over your resume has more background.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Wasted time is wasted money, so use numbers to explain how you saved time or managed time well. Maybe you cut down on production time by implementing a more efficient process. Be able to explain that with numbers. Other than money, time is one of the things companies are always trying to use better. If you can share how you saved your company time in your specific area, you’ll grab their attention.

Other Areas

Maybe it’s not time or money for you. How you help your company may be a bit more nebulous. You can still use numbers even if that’s the case. Did you help to grow a team or complete a certain number of projects? Those are numbers that you can use to your advantage still.

You may not know exactly what that number may be. That’s not a problem. If you can estimate or give a range, that will help. If you write, “Fielded 10-15 calls from XYZ company a week,” that’s still better than not having a number at all. Make sure you’re not giving an unrealistic picture with your numbers, though. Also, consider what your numbers are conveying to the person reading your resume. Will they expect you to work in that same way and accomplish those same results? If that’s not what you want, then be careful what numbers you put down. You want to make sure you can deliver what you are inadvertently promising.

Numbers grab the attention of the person looking over your resume. Leverage those to the best of your ability to stand out from the stack even more.

Have Some Fun! Round-Out Your Resume

Usually, the words “fun” and “resume” would never be combined unless you were a down-and-out clown looking to do some birthday parties. You don’t have to be in the entertainment industry to enjoy bulking up your resume while between jobs or with an eye towards a job switch.

You’ve probably heard the advice that you should be doing something while you’re out of work or between jobs. But what, exactly, is this something that would be so profitable? Here are some ideas to utilize that will not only look good on your resume but will also help you grow as a person and enjoy your life.

What’s more, many of these ideas are cheap or free and put you in the path of potential networking opportunities.

Learn a Language

Our world is becoming smaller and smaller, and many businesses are expanding to encompass global markets. Learning a language can be fun, but it can also be very valuable in business relations. Understanding a foreign culture or being able to communicate without an interpreter would be invaluable to a boss.

This also shows a commitment to a challenging task. It shows initiative on your part, but only if you stick with it.

Just be sure to communicate your level of fluency, you don’t want to find yourself over your head because your boss mistakenly believed you could speak Swahili without a hitch.

Participate in a Public Speaking or Acting Class

Both help to provide a certain level of comfortability when in front of groups. Being able to stand in front of a group and express your vision or your company’s goals in a clear, commanding way, is incredibly valuable. Take the opportunity to continue to build on your public speaking skills.

Try Something New

Consider the different fields or abilities that are in high-demand right now. If one of those interests you, think about taking a class on it. You never know when it may be beneficial to your employer. Or, try something seemingly fun or frivolous that doesn’t necessarily apply to your profession. Who knows, later on down the road you may find that exact skill coming in handy, and you’ll get to be the one to save the day.

Pursue What You Love

Do you have a hobby you enjoy? See if you can turn that into a business opportunity and make some money in the process. The initiative to take what you love and develop it into a profitable opportunity will stand out on your resume, even if it doesn’t pan out like you thought it might. Plus, in the process, you’ll probably find that you really enjoy spending more time pursuing that thing.

Volunteer

What do you know? Are you a marketing guru? Take that knowledge and help your favorite charity get their name out there in a better, more visible way. Whatever it is that you’re good at or have spent time doing, see if you can’t use it to help others out. Volunteering is good at any point in your career and benefits all involved. It’s especially good when you’re between jobs. It gives you something to do and it shows your future employer that you’re interested in the long-term.

You don’t have to use all of these ideas to see your resume grow. Pick a few and see where it goes. You’ll definitely have some fun and your future employer will appreciate the well-rounded employee you are and the unique skills you bring to their business.

Send Thanks and Stand Out From the Crowd

It used to be standard to send a thank-you after an interview. While the practice has fallen out of vogue, it is still polite to do so. When you do, it also distinguishes you from the many people who don’t. Industry experts disagree on whether their decision to hire a candidate would change based on getting a thank-you or not. That being said, it’s best to play it safe and actually rise above the many interviewees by sending in a thank-you.

Why is it important?

Really, why does it matter? Sending a thank-you is another way for your interviewer to learn more about you. Are you thoughtful or do you just send a form thank-you? (Don’t do that, by the way.) If you incorporate personal and specific elements, which you should, it will show that you were truly listening during the interview. It’s also just one more way to show your interest and enthusiasm for the job. Sending a thank-you is just good manners.

When should you send one?

Though exact timing varies, most people you would ask would say either the same day or within twenty-four hours. You want the interviewer to be thinking about you and your suitability for the job. Becoming forgettable is never a good thing. This is generally a good time because the interview is still fresh in your mind so you can remember specific things to draw attention to in the thank-you and they still remember who you are.

What format?

Handwritten notes are becoming less and less common, so if you really want to stand out, send one by snail mail. However, if you know that the decision is going to be made quickly, send an email. If you really want to send a handwritten note, you can do both. Send an email and a handwritten note so they have double the reminder of you. Just make sure your handwriting looks nice and is legible on the handwritten note.

Other things to keep in mind:

This is business correspondence, so make sure that you read your message. You don’t want to make a fatal error and misspell the company’s name or find it littered with incorrect grammar. If you’re writing a handwritten note, take the time to write it out on a separate piece of paper first so you can edit it as needed before writing it down on the card. To ensure you’re sending the email/note to the right person and right address, make sure to exchange business cards with those you talk with/interview you. Then you’ll know for sure that you’ve got the right information.

Sending a thank-you note after a poor interview probably won’t snag you the job. However, if you did well at the interview, a thank you might just give you that little nudge that will set you above the rest of the crowd. Sweating the small stuff, like thank-yous, is often what sets you apart from the masses.

How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

The time has come. Maybe it’s because of a health reason, a better opportunity, or a lack of growth, but the job you’re at is no longer the one for you. How you quit a job is almost as important as how you enter a new one. Though you may want to go out in a dramatic way, resist the urge and choose a better tactic. Here’s how to quit with dignity.

Be Absolutely Sure

Before you officially quit, make sure that’s what you want to do. Consider the pros and cons of both your job and the one you’re applying for. You don’t want to quit your present job in haste and find yourself regretting it. Avoid that awkward phone call asking for your job back by making absolutely sure that you want to quit in the first place

Get Ready

If you work with a company computer or use a company email, make sure to clear out any personal items. Don’t leave personal emails or documents behind. The same with your desk. Get it somewhat cleared out before you resign. Sometimes your boss will ask you to leave that day rather than taking the two weeks’ notice. If you think that might be the case for you, take the precaution of being ready for that. If you are required to stay for two more weeks, you’ll need to do this anyway.

Write a Resignation Letter

This is the formal and polite way of letting your boss know that you’re leaving. It also provides a record for how you left. It’s very important that you write a polite letter—even if you’ve had it with your job—because that’s something a potential boss can look back on. You don’t want a poor resignation letter following you around for the rest of your career. There are plenty of sample letters out there to look at, so take advantage of the knowledge of those who’ve gone before you.

Be Considerate

Make sure to give an appropriate amount of head’s up. The requirement is generally two weeks. Another good way to promote good will and show consideration is by offering to train your replacement. This will help your boss and will add to your experience. Do your best to make the transition process as painless as possible for both you and your employer.

Don’t Forget the Details

If you have company property of any kind, make a mental note of that so that you can return it. You don’t want to be accused of theft because it slipped your mind as you were leaving. Additionally, be aware that you may have to participate in an exit interview. This gives the company feedback as to how they can improve. Take advantage of this as another opportunity to leave on a good note. Also be aware of any package or paperwork that is involved in your leaving.

Be Thankful

No matter how much you didn’t like your job, there is something you can express your gratitude over. Don’t lie or make something up, but be willing to give credit where credit is due. Don’t miss this last opportunity to keep good relations with your company. You never know when you may need a reference further down the road, or when an interested employer may get in contact with your former boss.

Though it may be difficult, resist the temptation to leave your job in (a briefly) emotionally satisfying way. Just being in a new workplace will have to be enough, because you’ll never know what bridges you may need in the future.

Enrich Your Resume with Your Experience

Being employed for an extended period of time is a good thing. However, you want to avoid appearing out-of-touch or old on your resume. Instead, learn how to phrase your experience as a huge benefit to the company you’re applying at now.

Don’t Stop Learning

A concern that employers have about employees who have worked at the same company for many years is that they don’t continue to learn. Avoid becoming stagnate at all costs. Hopefully, that’s been your goal. List a continued learning or continued education section on your resume. If you were able to go back to school or continue taking classes and earned another degree or certificate, highlight that. Take advantage of your employer’s offer of continuous learning. If that’s not provided, then go with the added expense and pay for added learning yourself.

Highlight Your Positions

Though you’ve been with the same company for some time, you probably haven’t been in the same position for the duration of your stay. Don’t make the mistake of squeezing all your positions into one on your resume. List promotions and extended responsibilities. Show how your company trusted you by promotion or added tasks. This can show how your company valued you, and also any ways you may have worked in a diversified manner.

List Your Accomplishments

Don’t just stop at describing what your positions were like. Did you help your company pull through a dry spell? Be able to describe that, preferably with solid numbers to back up your claim. If you received special recognition or a reward this would be a good place to mention that too. Don’t just say what you did at your job. Describe what you were able to achieve and how that was beneficial to your former employer.

Eliminate Irrelevant Information

Industries are constantly changing, which is good. That’s probably why you’re looking for a new job. Remember that the skills you started off with are probably different from what you have now. Don’t get stuck in the past with irrelevant skills. Instead, check out job postings and see what skills are listed there. If one of yours isn’t, then that ability is probably no longer needed. Draw attention to your other pertinent abilities instead.

Play to Your Strengths

You’ve been in the workforce for a long time at one specific job. That shows commitment and loyalty. Be willing to display that in your resume. Finding new employees, training them, and dealing with the constant flux that is employment these days is costly to a company. Show that you’re a long-haul employee who knows what it means to stick with it through both the lean and good years.

Don’t let your long job history be a drawback. When you update your resume, draw attention to all the benefits that you bring to a company. Experience is an advantage. Play to that as you submit your resume and attend interviews.

6 Tips for a Great Phone Interview

With so many people applying for the same job, phone interviews are still something that employers use to narrow the field a bit more. Understanding how to stand out, even in a phone interview, will greatly help in taking that next step towards the job. Take your phone interview seriously by implementing these six tips.

  1. Prepare

A phone interview is still that: an interview. You need to prepare and think through your responses like you would if you were going to an in-person interview. Make sure to have your resume or CV out and handy. Do some research and refresh yourself on the company that’s calling and who the person is that will be interviewing you. Along with that, just like for an in-person interview, study up on what questions commonly come up in a phone interview and prepare for those. Tailor your answers for that specific job. Think through ahead of time your strengths and weaknesses, so that you have a quick, easy answer for that specific question. Then make sure, just like with a normal interview, that you have questions ready to ask them.

Finally, get dressed and ready like you would for a regular interview. You may think now is the time to skip out on that step and relax, but getting ready like you normally would is a great way to get yourself into the right mindset. It’s also a good idea to have pen and paper nearby for taking notes.

2. Take your time

When you’re on the phone, it can be difficult to know when the other person is done speaking. Make sure to listen and wait so that you know that they’re done and don’t have more to add to their statement or question. Then take time in answering, don’t rush it. Try to tailor your response to their specific needs. Make sure you speak slowly and enunciate clearly.

3. Get rid of distractions

If you’re at home, don’t sit out in the living room with your kids and dog running around. Think ahead and eliminate any distractions. This includes browsing the internet or flicking through the channels of the T.V. Your interviewer will know you’re distracted, guaranteed. So don’t let other things steal your focus.

4. Practice

Just like you would practice your response to an in-person interview, practice for your phone interview. Record yourself so that you can see what speech habits you need to eliminate. You can also see if you speak too fast or aren’t enunciating well.

5. Smile

Yes, they can’t see your smile. However, when you smile, it brightens the tone of your voice. Your tone is all the other person has to go on, but they can tell when you’re smiling. So do your best! Turn up the watts and have your smile on full-blast during your interview.

6. Send a thank-you

Don’t forget this important step. Again, this is a real interview. Make sure you follow up with a thank-you. Sending one by email is sufficient, but you’ll certainly stand out if you send one the old fashioned way. Either way, make sure to thank the interviewer at the end of the call, and then send some sort of thank-you.

Don’t be forgettable by providing a colorless, generic phone interview. Stand out by using these six tips.

Avoid These 4 Things When Using Friends as Networking Connections

Creating a quality network can be a difficult thing. It’s not easy to keep up with your many contacts, offering them help, and hopefully getting helped out once in a while in return. Some of the easiest people to network with are those who you’re closer to: namely, your friends. Don’t upset the delicate balance between friendship and professionals by making mistakes that leave you both burned. Here are things to avoid when asking your friends for networking favors.

Going overboard

Sure, that one friend might have a lot of knowledge. Or they know a lot of people that you would LOVE to know. That doesn’t mean that you can or should constantly ask them to give that knowledge and connections to you. Continuously asking for help will quickly dry up your friendship, especially if you’re not going out of your way to help them in return.

If you’ve asked your friend for a favor within the last few weeks, then try and hold off. Damaging your relationship with them is probably worse than delaying whatever you need the knowledge or connection for. Be considerate of them and their time. They have their own lives, their own careers. Practice consideration by keeping those in mind.

All work, no play

When you do connect up with your friend, don’t charge right into what you want or need. It feels incredibly rude and demeaning to be asked to go out for coffee, and then find out that all the other person wants is what they can get. Spend some time reconnecting with your friend and enjoying being with them. You can and will ask that burning question eventually. Don’t sabotage your efforts—and potentially your friendship—by doing so too early.

Stupid questions

There’s a saying that there are no stupid questions. However, there are some that definitely show some ignorance. If you haven’t worked with your friend in a professional way or had professional connections, then don’t ask them to be a reference. They don’t know if you really are a good employee, if you deliver on time, or if you would do well in a particular job. This puts them in a difficult place—having to say no to you. Don’t ask them to provide an irrelevant reference. Instead, ask for their help in other ways. They can look over your resume, let you bounce ideas off of them, and much more.

Being oblivious

If your friend feels uncomfortable about introducing you to a connection or—ahem—providing a reference, be sensitive to that. You don’t want them to do something they would feel uncomfortable doing, for whatever reason. It’s probably not personal. You don’t want to pressure them into compromising their career by helping you get ahead in yours. Be aware of subtle body language that can give you a hint, and be willing to give them an easy out so that they don’t feel like they’re offending you.

Your friends can be a great connection in your job hunt or even if you’re settled in your career. Treat that friendship right, as the valuable connection that it is, and you’ll never go wrong. Always practice reciprocity, and your friends will be thankful to have your friendship.

4 Critical Interview Mistakes

At last! You’ve finally scored an interview with that company that is a perfect fit and has the job you love. Don’t detract from that victory by making mistakes that could cost you the job. Avoid these four things at all costs.

Arriving late

You should build time into your travel to account for this. You never know when you might encounter unforeseen road construction, a train crossing your path or an accident. Building in a good time-cushion will be helpful if something comes up. If everything goes well and you arrive twenty minutes ahead of schedule, you have extra time to prepare before you go in and knock that interview out of the park.

Dress malfunctions/wrong kind of dress

It’s always wise to call the office ahead of time and ask what kind of dress is expected. Don’t show laziness or a misunderstanding of the company and its culture by coming in your sweatpants and comfy T-shirt. An interview is all about evaluating whether you’ll be the right fit for the company, and part of that is how you dress because you are a reflection of your workplace. If you spill coffee on yourself or have some other wardrobe malfunction, you’re in luck! You’ve already built in time for unforeseeable events and can take the necessary measures to fix the situation. If you have the misfortune to have this happen during the interview, address it casually, don’t let it drag the whole appointment down.

Checking your phone

A good rule of thumb for an interview is to turn off or silence your phone before you go into the building. Leaving it on vibrate is not acceptable because it can still be heard. If you have trouble remembering this, don’t bring your phone in with you. Being distracted by your phone communicates to the interviewer that this job really isn’t that important to you.

Bashing previous employer

This doesn’t endear you to your interviewer at all. In fact, they may have a connection to your former boss or may contact them as a reference. If you had issues with your former boss, acknowledge them in a more generic way. Don’t give in to bad-mouthing your former employer, colleagues, or work place. It won’t get you anywhere but on your way to your next interview.

An interview is a great opportunity to communicate how you are the best fit for the job you’re applying for. Avoid these mistakes to keep your interview on track. Be considerate of your interviewer, your previous employer, and yourself, and you’ll find yourself breezing through a great interview.

Eliminating the Age-Factor on Your Resume

If you’ve been out of the job hunt mindset for a while, you might be a bit rusty when it comes to resumes. However, it may be time for you to look for a new job. And for whatever reason, and you’re back at it again. Things have changed since you were last sending out resumes and job applications. Here are some common things to avoid that have become outdated and obsolete, and are easy ways to reveal your age.

Extensive work history

If you’ve been working for 20 or 30 years, chances are you’ve got quite the line-up of jobs to describe. Rather than get into the extensive list, narrow it down to the jobs that affect the one you’re applying for. Leave out your college years foray into waitressing if it doesn’t have application to the job you’re hoping to get. What most companies are looking for is what you’ve been doing for the last ten years, and if you have any pertinent job experience before that.

Mentioning old technology

Technology changes and fluxes incredibly quickly, so mentioning old technology used in your job will date you. Leave those out, and instead use the opportunity to describe current technology you’ve worked with. The stereotype is that older people aren’t tech-savvy and don’t care to be. If you describe the current technology you’ve used (pertinent to the job, of course), you’ll definitely be getting a leg-up.

Old-styles of email addresses

Listing your email as an AOL address or whatever email was provided by your internet provider instantly dates you. Those hearken back to the days when email was just gaining momentum among the general populace. Instead, set up a Gmail account for interaction with potential employers. It’s easy to do so, and it’s free. Take this extra measure so you don’t immediately get placed in the “dated” resume pile.

Listing your home phone number

The days when landlines were found in every home are gone. Though some people still have them, you don’t want to list that as a number your potential employer can reach you by. Instant availability goes with the territory now, so put your cell phone number down instead.

Not using social media

This goes back to the technology stereotype. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy or understand the hype of social media. Employers are actively using it to learn about applicants. If you can’t be found, or worse, if they think they’ve found you but found someone else, it’s very likely you’ll be passed over for someone more visible. LinkedIn is the major website for workers these days, so having a presence there is essential. Being visible and your potential employer being able to find you is very important.

Don’t let age be a factor keeping you from getting the job. And don’t let your resume reveal your age to your potential employer. Get updated and show that you and your resume are current and ready enter the workforce.