Posted by: marketinggoddess | April 15, 2008

7 Steps to Surviving and Thriving through Phone Interviews

Whenever you go to a job interview, you have a list of to-dos as well as don’t do tips for interviewing.  However, often, because an interviewee is not dressed up and sitting in front of a potential employer, they forget to maintain the basics of the interviewing procedure.  Sitting in a comfy pair of jeans with your feet up on desk or the distractions of children running through the room chasing the family dog, interviewing etiquette can slip easily into the background.

In addition to the normal interviewing tips for good interviewing etiquette, there are some specific phone interview tips such as:

  • Resume vision:  Keep a clean copy of your resume on your desk or somewhere close where you can review it.  Take a few minutes before you interview to make some notes around each accomplishment that you would like to point out to the person interviewing you.  Go through the job description and mark qualities in your resume that address the needs of the employer.  Using a highlighter to note key points can save you stumbling time during the interview and give you a checklist for selling yourself in the best possible light. 
  • Stay Clear:  If you usually chew gum, gnaw on the end of a pen while you talk, or smoke to keep from being nervous, skip it while you are on the phone interview.  Move your hands away from your mouth (if you usually lean on your hand while talking) and sit up straight.  When you project your voice and speak clearly into the phone, the interviewer perceives confidence and strong leadership.
  • Clean the Room:  When interviewing for a job on the phone, find a peaceful, relaxing place to proceed with the interview.  Phone ringing, kids running through the house, the television playing, and the dog barking all give a very unprofessional impression to the interviewer.  By stepping away from your everyday life and immersing yourself in a life clutter free environment, you are able to focus on getting the job.
  • Write it Down:  At all points in the conversation, be prepared to jot notes as the interviewer speaks.  If you are asked a question, then a few quick notes on the highpoints of the question to keep you on track when you answer and makes sure that the interviewer receives accurate information.  Plus, a great interview trick is to repeat their question so they know you were listening.
  • Don’t go Cellular:  Resist the urge to do a phone interview on your cell phone.  Sometimes, if you are interviewing while traveling or at a current job, then you think that you can easily talk on your cell for a few minutes.  But, don’t consider it a few minutes of chatting with a friend.  This should be just like a formal interview.  Cell phones service can be very spotty and we usually multi-task while using a cell phone. 
  • Stay Wet and Calm:  Keep a bottle of water close to you so you wet your lips while you speak.  When your throat gets dry, you tend to talk faster and clear your throat more often.  Keeping a bottle of water close will help you maintain calm and level conversation with your interviewer.
  • Pleasantries Please:  Always use a title (Mr., Ms) until you are told by the interviewer to call them by their first name.  Even afterward, remember that this is not your friend.  This person is looking for indications that you meet the qualifications of the job and will be a good employee.  Shoe respect at all times.

There is a certain formality in the interviewing process even over the phone.  A good trick is to dress the part.  Although it may seem silly to dress up for a phone interview as you would dress for a regular interview, it keeps your mind on track and keeps you focused on the goal of professional presentation of yourself to the interviewer!

Posted by: jobseeker411 | February 15, 2008

Mind your Manners

Miss Manners (Judith Martin) says ” Manners are important in life.  Good ones that is.  You can get attention if you use proper etiquette.  Politeness is what most guests look for.  If your parents raise you correctly, you will probably have fair manners.”

Law of etiquette says that thanks should be given swiftly.  The more time passes, the more diluted the “Thank You” is received.  I rarely receive timely thank you notes from applicants thanking me for taking the time to interview them.  But when I do!!  This quick meeting ( one of 50-60/week) is a little more permanently secured in my memory.  Does it give these interviewees an edge over others?  Not always.  But when I am trying to decide who to send on a job interview or assignment and have 2 candidates with otherwise equal education & skill qualifications, this one small gesture will almost always trump the non-thanker.

Why?  Saying “Thank you” is not just good manners.  It’s good follow up…and good follow up is essential to ANY job.  Office urban legend says good follow up is only essential to sales or customer service.  Not true.  Any job in any industry no matter what the function, requires interaction with people.  To be successful at working with people, you must have at least moderately decent follow up.  It doesn’t matter how talented you are, what a savant you think you are with marketing, accounting, engineering, IT or anything else.  What matters is that you are able to perform your job duties AND interact positively with your boss, supervisor, internal & external customers, coworkers and vendors.

When interviewing to fill an open position, “hard” skills are just as important as “soft” or people skills.  Increasingly, we see companies who now test people on this and put as equal a weight into how they are expected to work with others as they do with the amount and quality of work expected to be produced.  Playing well with others is an absolute when contributing to and/or leading a team. 

Thank you.  It’s just a simple two word phrase, but when used sincerely there is no substitute.  I hate hate hate folks with poor manners!  By failing to utter a simple “Thank you”, these mannerless vagabonds are really saying “You’re not important”.  Even worse though is spitting out a rote “thank you” response to any kindness shown.  This parroting is insincere and is the far greater blunder of the two mistakes.  If you’re not truly thankful, keep it to yourself.  If you are, then show your appreciation….just like your mama (or Miss Manners) taught you!   

Posted by: jobseeker411 | January 31, 2008

Interviewing and Sociology

You can’t teach anyone how satisfying it is to come home exhausted and tired, with a fistful of cash, earned at a J-O-B. It has to be experienced firsthand. With an uncountable number of interviews conducted over the last 10 years as a recruiter, I’ve heard many stories of first jobs and the successes and failures that accompany them. Recently though, I’m seeing many candidates who have never known the fulfillment of working. Not in high school, not in college, not ever!

Entering the Workforce…….

As a teen, I picked up all kinds of side jobs & projects to earn money. It was just what you did. No question. My first job was to detassel corn. It was grueling. The day started early, about 6 am. You stand in a bucket attached to a tractor….all……..long. The day is spent pulling tassels out of corn stalks as you go by in a kind of reverse assembly line riddled with bugs. The corn stained your hands and arms green for days! You’d think wearing this green armor in public would be embarrassing enough to a “tween” to put them in therapy for two decades. But it wasn’t. Anyone who saw you with that lovely lizard like glow knew you had money!

Staying in the Workforce…..

I know that my early work experiences taught me about punctuality, consistency, and teamwork with people who weren’t my friends (all still a constant work in progress). I also learned that a boss is different than a teacher. Without a doubt these early experiences shaped who I am as both an employee and as a supervisor. Are recent graduates with zero work experience learning these lessons? Where? Is this contributing to newbies’ difficulty transitioning from student to employee? I wonder how this trend will affect our future work force? Perhaps these folks don’t need to learn things the hard way and have audited a course on workplace behavior (smirk).

Is this a phenomenon only affecting the southside of Atlanta? If there’s a sociologist in the house, speak up!

Posted by: jobseeker411 | January 15, 2008

Resume Bling….Say What?

Human Resources , Recruiters, Headhunters, Managers….we’ve all seen what I like to call “Resume Bling.”  It’s a distraction.   It’s annoying.  It’s entertaining.  I’d estimate that 50% of the resumes I see are at least guilty of some overzealous thesaurus use.  Not all job seekers go overboard with this, but I have seen both “gargantuan” and “brobdignagian” used to describe an applicant’s past accomplishments on a resume.  The use of fifty cent words is only the surface of “resume bling”.  Here’s the list of bling mistakes I love to hate and the personalities I imagine behind these elaborations. (Yes, this is what recruiters do in their spare time.)

Offense #1…..Swirly Elaborate Font used on Resume:  Requires a very fancy office with loads of matching accessories.  Being forced to use generic brand office supplies constitutes a hostile workplace.  Cannot work in an ugly or plain environment as it stifles their creativity and will most likely cause enough stress to trigger a migraine. 

Offense #2……Resume printed with Colored Ink/Colored Paper:  Sells Mary Kay or Avon on the side and will drive everyone in the office crazy with offers of free consultations and solicitations for party bookings.  In every other way this is a great employee who would never be seen in public without a smile.  You will never see this employee looking any less than perfect, making an ideal candidate for outside sales positions. 

Offense #3…..Scented Resumes:  Go ahead and program the fire department onto your speed dial.  The office will be filled with incense, candles, oils and various other aromatherapy solutions for de-stressing.  This employee often takes on the role of unofficial office counselor and can get bogged down by others’ problems (usually initiated after reading a troubled coworkers’ aura). 

Offense #4…..Photos on Resume:  Currently pursuing a career in modeling or acting.  Has settled for hourly work juuust until they land their first movie part.  Not wanting you to be unprepared when they quit showing up for work to take their breakthrough role, this considerate employee will spend the entire interview giving you every detail about their anticipated big break.  “The Mother” is likely his or her agent and biggest advocate.  Expect to hear from her anytime your employee has a sniffle or gets their feelings hurt. 

Offense #5…..Graphics on Resume:  Serious “crafter” who would do jail time for an internship with Martha Stewart.  While at work will spend all down time recreating the company logo with ClipArt, cutting & pasting enhancements to memos, and planning office parties(complete with invitations & announcements).   This is a generous employee who will be the first to volunteer her talents.  She feels an obligation to share her gift with the world and also owns a BeDazzler. 

Posted by: jobseeker411 | December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas Atlanta from FutureStaff!

We wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with peace and success.  Look forward to returning in 2008!

Posted by: jobseeker411 | December 15, 2007

Is Santa an Equal Opportunity Employer?

It is a well known fact that Santa’s North Pole is one of the best known & longest lasting employers in the world. The North Pole has experienced some timeless achievements since the start of the operation in 1350. One of the best known practices Santa is responsible for is the “All or Nothing” policy (eliminating all customer complaints since its’ institution. You’re either Naughty or Nice. There’s no in between). St. Nick also has a No Returns policy….unheard of in any industry!!!

It’s common to see companies credit their employees for business successes. It seems fair to think the North Pole is no different. Who does Santa employ? Elves. Lots & lots of them! Who are they? Most sources report the elven workforce to be comprised of males only, at least 300 years old, vertically challenged, pointy eared, North Pole natives, who worship candy, presents, cheerful music, and children. So is Santa an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE)?

Businesses often place “EOE” at the end of a classified ad seeking applicants for open job positions. Yes, it’s the law, but businesses, HR Managers & staffing agencies want everyone to know that they follow the rules. Here are several of the discriminatory categories the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects:

  • Age: The EEOC protects older workers, so if Santa’s workers are over 300 years old, any claim in this category would likely be dismissed after investigation & review.
  • Disability: Santa provides reasonable accommodation to the elves physical impairments. Work benches, furniture and tools are all custom made and are also ergonomically correct.
  • Equal Pay: All employees are paid equally in candy, room and board so it is unlikely that there are problems here. (Though Santa could be in trouble with other government regulatory agencies for failing to comply with minimum wage laws. And for evading payroll taxes!)
  • National Origin: Because all elves are North Pole natives it would first appear that Santa does indeed discriminate in this category. However, research shows that no candidates from any other country have ever applied there for work.

So to answer the question, “Is Santa’s workshop an Equal Opportunity Employer?”, the answer is probably so. It would truly be a disappointment for many if not.  I will keep believing that Santa hires only with best practices!

Posted by: jobseeker411 | December 1, 2007

Atlanta Job Seekers…..How not to get a job!

With the holiday season fast approaching, I’m sure anyone out of work will appreciate the extra time they’ll get to spend with family & friends just by following these simple steps on how not to get a job!
Before the interview……

  • Absolutely reschedule at the last minute because of a routine dentist appointment you forgot about when you set up the interview.   If you didn’t plan well enough to do this, then by all means make one up or feign important “errands” that cannot be done anytime outside the hour in question.  Even better, just don’t show up!  Then call to reschedule 2 weeks later, and be sure to blame it on the receptionist.   

An acceptable alternative is to call the morning of the interview and get the Hiring Manager on the phone.  Let him/her know that you are calling from bed and are not sure whether it is worth your time to come in.   Ask them for a guarantee that you’ll get the job before expending effort into getting up.

  • You’ll hear people telling you to prepare for an interview.  Baloney!    You’re not getting paid for it!  Don’t waste your time researching the company; it’s their job to educate you.  Don’t bring your resume; if Human Resources are doing their job, they’ll have it out, waiting on you to get there.   Don’t waste your time by writing down directions either, you can always call on the way and have the manager talk you through traffic. 

Once you’re there……

  • Arrive late, huff down a minimum of two cigarettes on your way into the building, then spray on 7 or 8 squirts of perfume or cologne (it doesn’t matter what brand).  The two scents mingle quite well.  The only way to further enhance this odiferous duo is by making it a trio!  Add a little punch with:  body odor, pet odor or garlic breath.
  • Bring your support system.  Friends, Mom, Dad, and most importantly your children.  Show them that your family is involved in ALL decisions.  It’s a great deal for them, like getting 4 or 5 opinions for the price of 1!! When interviewing with a “family-oriented” company, they will appreciate the initiative you took in translating their values.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of every day, but especially on an important day like this one!  Swing through a drive through and pick up something (preferably) fried.  DO NOT eat it yet!! Wait until you are at least 5 minutes into the meeting.  Then pull it out of your purse or pocket and enjoy!  If the interviewer gives you a strange look, offer a bite!  He’s obviously hungry.  And don’t forget to chew with your mouth open! 

Our employees are important to us.  That’s why it’s sooo important for honest feedback.  Was this post helpful in “Not” getting you the job?  Sign in and post your success story!

More from Job Seeker 411 on December 15th….Does Santa adhere to EEOC Policies?

Posted by: marketinggoddess | November 15, 2007

7 Steps for Job Seekers to Getting the Job

Ever wonder what advice the staffing experts would give job seekers to help them get the job?  After all, this is just the type of insider information that every job seeker needs for their next job interview.  In a discussion with FutureStaff Direct Placement Recruiter, Becky Cochran revealed these “7 Steps to Getting the Job.”

  1. Research:  Take the time to research the company.  Using the internet, friends, and present employees, you should be able to find out information about employment practices and company culture.  Take the extra step of downloading materials from their website and read about what they do.  Impress a potential employer by showing an understanding of the products and services offered by the company.  When they ask if you have any questions, take the opportunity to ask a very specific question or two about their services.
  2. Review:  Look over your resume the day before you go to the job interview.  Even though you may have seen your resume dozens of times, an employer will take many of their questions from your resume.  See if you can anticipate where those questions will come from and formulate answers.  Know how you will answer the introductory question:  “Tell me about yourself.”
  3. Plan:  Proper planning includes gathering directions and estimating travel times with traffic.  Always take the contact information of the person you will meet with you in case of an emergency.  If possible, actually drive to the company so you will comfortable and confident about your directions, schedule, and route.
  4. Compare:  After reading the job description, think about how your qualifications match the company job listing.  If the job posting asked about specific experience, then be prepared to discuss your background in those areas. 
  5. Dress:  A professional appearance is the first impression that a job seeker makes on a potential employer.  Even before shaking hands or introductions, how job seekers dress will leave a lasting impression in an employers mind.  If clothes are wrinkled or sloppy, then an employer might think that a job seeker does not pay attention to details.  Whereas, when a job seeker shows up for an interview in pressed clothes in proper attire with clean fingernails and trimmed facial hair (men), the message conveyed to potential employers is that this opportunity is important to the job seeker.
  6. Practice:  Get ready for the job interview by interviewing yourself!  Plan some of your answer to the questions your experiences, qualifications, and background.  Expect questions about your expectations for this job (“why do you want to work here?”) and why you left your last job.  If you are employed at another job, then have an answer ready for the question “why are you seeking another job?”  Ask yourself the tough questions such as “tell me about a time when you had a negative experience with a co-worker” or “explain to me how you would handle delivering bad news to your boss about a team effort.”  Listen to your own responses (or ask a friend / family member to listen to you) and adjust yourself to promote a positive outcome.
  7. Present:  Go through the courtesy steps of a job interview.  Sometimes, when nervous, it is easy to forget to stand for introductions and make strong eye contact with the interviewer during discussions.  Show your interviewer the courtesy extended in professional meetings.

With a little extra effort, job seekers stand a better chance of getting the job after the interview.  Showing advanced knowledge of the company, knowing your own qualifications, and presenting a professional image, job candidates are closer to their goal of getting hired!

Posted by: marketinggoddess | October 17, 2007

FutureStaff Working for you…24/7/365!

In the past months, the FutureStaff website has undergone major reconstruction with the hopes of better serving the Employers and Job Seekers in the Atlanta area. Our goal was to make sure that our changes are more than just cosmetic by adding increased functionality and enhanced usability to our customers.  After all, any company can make a “pretty” website.  FutureStaff wanted to make a website packed with tools to help match our partner Employers with the most qualified Job Seekers.

With this in mind, FutureStaff is releasing the first of two very powerful tools.  Through out our website, Job Seekers can easily submit their application online by clicking on the ONLINE APPLICATION form.  This gives FutureStaff the enhanced ability to gather information quickly and verify credentials through our website so we can give our partner Employers access to the talent and capabilities they need to fulfill each position.  Now, from any computer, FutureStaff can accept applications online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  FutureStaff will be looking for the individuals you need in your company every minute of every day!

This is only the first step in our commitment to employ the power of the internet to your best advantage to find quality job applicants for your open positions. 

Coming soon, FutureStaff will further commit to your success with another spectacular tool to help our partner Employers meet their ideal Job Candidates.

Posted by: marketinggoddess | August 31, 2007

Dress to Impress

As a job seeker, separation of who you are as a person versus who you are as an employee is vital to success.  When you meet with an Atlanta area employer for the first time, you want to use all the tools at your disposal to impress a potential employer.   One of the foremost issues cited by employers as an issue when they conduct a job interview for a position within a company is inappropriate dress.  Although this would seem like common sense, many job seekers have trouble realizing the importance of a professional first impression to potential employers

The Four Cs for Job Seekers:

  • Clean overall appearance—Men should be clean shaven or have neatly trimmed facial hair and tidy fingernails.  Women should be sure that their products do not overwhelm their appearance by using nail color, perfume, and make up to enhance their appearance in a professional, minimalist manner.
  • Clothing Choices—Remember, job seekers want their resume and interview to reach a potential employer.  Not their clothing choices.  A job seeker should be conservative until they get the job.  Then, they will get the opportunity to look around at other employees and see what they wear to work.  For women, a tidy pair of pants or skirt below knee length with a basic blouse is appropriate.  For men, a pair of slacks paired with a suitable collared shirt free of logos or slogans is important. There will always be a common theme of the types of clothes employees wear.  If in doubt, look about!
  • Correct Shoes—It is never a good idea for a job seeker to meet a potential employer in casual shoes like flip flops.  Moreover, it is worse to pick shoes that are inappropriate or uncomfortable.  The smartest choice is a pair of shoes that you can walk and stand comfortably (in case there is a tour or you need to meet several employees).  Shoes that might be worn out to a club in Atlanta or to a sporting event are not advised.
  • Clever AccessoriesJob seekers often pay little attention to what message their accessories are sending to potential employers.  However, excessive jewelry and / or piercing invite distraction.  The goal of any job interview should be to use your qualification to make an impression on the interviewer.  Anything that detracts from a clean, professional image lowers your chances of getting a job offer.

When you dress to impress, a potential employer sees a job seeker that can make sound decisions with good professional judgment.  Many outfits are acceptable for leisure wear or nights out with family and friends in Atlanta, but a potential employer is looking for an employee in every job seeker that will reflect positively on their company.  Job seekers want to present themselves to potential employers in a manner that says that are competent to fill the position.  The right first impression will give job seekers the opportunity to meet with employers with their full attention on their skills and talents instead of your appearance.  Further, job seekers who dress for success have the advantage of putting the interviewer at ease with their appearance increasing their chances of being offered employment.
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