Apr 232018

The key to a great job interview is preparation.

As somebody who has interviewed thousands of candidates I can tell you that it is very sad to meet a candidate who is smart and friendly — but also, sadly unprepared for the interview.

When you ask a candidate, “What do you know about our company so far?” and their answer is, “Not too much, to be honest — just what’s in the job ad!” it’s a sad moment.

How can the candidate recover from that unfortunate start? They’ve already sent the message that they don’t care very much about the opportunity.

If the job is the kind of entry-level job people often take at the very start of their career, that’s one thing. A teenager doesn’t need to know the intricacies of Target’s corporate structure in order to do a great job as a Target cart attendant.

It’s different when you’re interviewing for a so-called Staff Professional role or any Knowledge Worker job. You have to do your research before the interview.

Your research not only equips you with information that will help you create the connection you want to make at the job interview (if it turns out that you like and respect the people you meet, and the job sounds interesting to you), although that is one benefit.

The other important reason to do your research before a job interview is to help you compose questions about the job.

There are certain things the employer needs to know about before they will hire you. There are certain things you need to know about the role and your prospective next boss, too — before you’ll know whether or not you want the job.

You should plan on at least two hours of preparation time before an interview.

If that sounds like a lot, think about how many brain and heart cells you will invest in the job if you take it!

You need to know as much as possible about the people you’re thinking about working with — before the interview begins.

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Apr 172018

I was an HR leader for a long time. I hired thousands of people, and I noticed some striking things about the recruiting process.

I noticed that a small percentage of the job candidates stood out — for all the right reasons. These folks didn’t have better educational backgrounds than other candidates. They weren’t better-connected than other people, and they didn’t have fancier ex-employer brands on their resumes.

They had something else going for them. The outstanding job candidates we met were well-prepared for the interview and they knew their own abilities — and that combination got them the job!

Most job candidates, if we are honest, don’t do a great job of preparing for a job interview. They miss their golden opportunity to orient themselves to the company and the opportunity before they arrive at the employer’s facility.

Then, they tend to disappear into the chair and leave almost no impression on the interviewer. What a shame!

You can be one of those candidates who leaves interviewers thinking “Wow, how do we get this awesome person on our team?”

Here’s how!

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Apr 102018
It could raise some red flags for the recruiter.

What you say to a recruiter in an interview can determine whether or not you get hired.

Asking the right interview questions is a great way to demonstrate interest and show that you’ve done your homework on the company.

But asking about promotions the wrong way can raise a red flag and seriously hurt your chances of getting the job.

When interviewing with a recruiter, you only have one chance to make a great first impression.

Asking smart questions about the company’s goals and their expectations for the role at hand is a great way to convey your enthusiasm and sell yourself.

But it’s important to tread lightly when asking about potential promotions.

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Apr 022018

Here is a list of the top technical interview questions that are most often asked by tech employers and recruiters. Depending on the job you’re interviewing for you will be asked about the skills, experience, certifications, competencies, language, processes, systems and tools you have that are a match for the job requirements.

Be prepared to share examples of your skills, as the apply to the job for which you’re interviewing.

Taking the time to match your qualifications to the job description, will make it easier to respond.

Before you head out to a job interview, review the list and make sure that you’re prepared with answers.

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Mar 262018

Dear Liz,

I’ve been working on expanding my LinkedIn network. I have 215 first-degree connections so far, so I’m happy.

The other day I connected with a guy I met at a networking event.

As soon as he accepted my invitation, I sent him a quick thank-you message that I created to send each new person who connects with me.

In my welcome note, it talks about me and my background.

In the welcome message it also says “I write to my LinkedIn connections twice a month to keep them up to date with my projects. Please let me know if you’d rather not receive my mailings.”

I thought I was being polite, but my new connection immediately disconnected from me. We were only connected for about twenty minutes before he kicked me out of his network.

Did I do something wrong, or did he?

Thanks Liz!



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Mar 192018

My institution recently ran a comprehensive career-development program for our graduate students and postdocs. One of the workshop modules that our Ph.D.s valued most provided a general overview of communicating in the workplace. It advised them on some best practices to help smooth their transition to the next career destination.

No matter what career path you choose, communication is a skill you will need to use in every job role. The way you communicate with other people reflects your professionalism — often a vague and nebulous term, but one that generally refers to the conduct and qualities an individual exhibits at work.

It does take time to learn the nuances of behavior in any new setting, and workplaces are no exception. You will have many things to learn when you start a new job, and not everything is clear-cut, especially when you are trying to figure out what “professional” means in that particular place. For example, in every work setting, you will find both formal and tacit practices — also known as “the way we do things around here.” Those workplace practices might be official policies, like how much vacation is allowed or methods of reporting sick time. But there are also unwritten rules in every job setting that might be about expected work time or output, or a culture that affects the way emails are sent (or not), or even what’s considered acceptable casual Friday attire.

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Mar 132018

A well-prepared interview candidate knows the answer to the most common questions — things like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – like the back of their hand. But even the sharpest candidates can be stumped by an unexpected curveball question.

According to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, these questions are designed to knock you off your game in order to see how you respond to the unexpected.

Welch tells CNBC Make IT that the key to answering curveball questions like “How many tennis balls can fit into this room?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” is to understand what the interviewer is trying to learn about you.

No one, she says, expects an exact answer like, “I, Suzy Welch, could fit 3,435 tennis balls in this room deflated and 1,115 inflated.” Instead, hiring managers want to see how well you can think in unexpected circumstances and how creative you can get with your response.

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Mar 052018

What is a transferable skill?

Time management. I needed it when balancing a handful of demanding courses, a capstone paper I really wanted to hit out of the park, part time work, bills, (at times) a social life and rest. I need it just as much in my current role as Customer Support and Operations Manager at Addgene. In this role, I balance my daily tasks, meet cross-team project commitments, respond to any issues raised by team members, and plan for the future of the team. All while still paying bills and having a life outside my job.

The same can be said about teamwork, communication, writing, management, and creativity; I have developed these skills through school, jobs, and volunteer work, and I guarantee you have developed them through similar experiences in graduate school. These skills will be useful anywhere I work in the future; they are transferrable across most, if not all, industries and work environments. This is why they are called transferable skills.

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Feb 262018

Dear Career Coach,

Can you still negotiate compensation when the job posting explicitly lists a salary? If so, what’s the best way to approach this?

Nervous Negotiator

Dear Nervous Negotiator,

Negotiations are often nerve-racking for candidates because they don’t want to ask for too much and have an employer withdraw an offer.

But I want to give you reassurance that as much as you fear losing out on an opportunity, companies also fear losing great talent (like you!) by coming in below expectations. That’s why companies and candidates often have an open discussion to meet somewhere in the middle.

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Feb 192018
Networking is essential for professionals but many find it difficult. Here are our expert tips from timing contact to working the room.

Like keeping fit, we all know we should network. But – also like keeping fit – although the spirit is willing the flesh is often weak. We are squeamish about using contacts, scared of working a room and shaky about building relationships.

“Cut the small talk, get real and jump in,” says Julia Hobsbawm, founder of Editorial Intelligence and visiting professor in networking at Cass Business School. “The best tool you possess is the art of conversation.” Networking is no longer purely a transactional affair colonized by sales people.

People who network are more likely to find jobs; research shows that more than 90% of UK employers now use social media to find staff and many senior positions are more likely to be filled through word of mouth. A good network is a source of inspiration, knowledge, mentors and role models, says Hobsbawm. In fact, well-networked professionals might soon be the most valued in the job market, she says.

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