Alan Carniol is the Founder of InterviewSuccessFormula.com, an online training program that helps job seekers deliver powerful answers that prove why they are the right person for the job. Follow Alan and Interview Success Formula on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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Imagine sitting in a job interview. You’re already nervous. You know you have something to contribute. You really admire the company. However, when the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, you buckle. You realize telling your story in person is quite difficult. You stumble or forget the most important pieces of your personal story, potentially damaging your interview experience. Now what?
We create stories about ourselves in mere minutes online in social profiles or blog “about” pages. Why is it so hard to tell the same story in person? Perhaps the solution is to merge your two stories, your online self and offline self, together in order to optimize your image. The following are a few tips that can help you to craft a compelling personal story for job interviews.
Your Two Stories
According to Rafe Gomez, author of What’s In It For Me: A Powerful New Interview Strategy to Get Hired In Today’s Challenging Economy, the trick is to create validations.
“The online story — blog posts, articles, etc. — should validate the assertions and promises made in the offline story — resume — if you’re seeking to leave a positive and memorable impression in a job interview. For instance, if you’re presenting yourself in interviews as being an experienced sales executive who has delivered results for your employers, your online story should support this assertion,â€ Gomez says.
Further, blending the two stories will back up any career history claims you’ve made during the interview. “Online mentions of, references about, or discussion of your accomplishments will serve to legitimize your offline claims, and make it indisputable that you could be an invaluable addition to your interviewer’s organization.â€
According to TheLadders job search expert Amanda Augustine, making the two as similar as possible can make telling your story more interesting.
“Your online presence and interview responses give you a chance to provide more color to your career history. You can go into more detail and really show your passion for a particular industry or company in ways that aren’t possible in a resume. However, the bottom line is that both stories should be similarly positioned,â€ Augustine says.
Look at your interview story as a way to “sell” your accomplishments, strengths and motivations to the interviewer. By doing so, you clearly show why you’re worthy of the position.
“Remember that as a job seeker, you must develop a personal advertising campaign to tell prospective employers and recruiters what you’re great at and passionate about, and how that’s of value to an organization. Your online presence, resume, and how you pitch yourself during networking events and interviews are all components of this campaign. Each of these components needs to tell one consistent story to build a strong personal brand,â€ Augustine explains.
Be Sure Your Story Checks Out
A recent JobVite survey indicated nearly four out of five hiring managers and recruiters check candidates’ social profiles. It’s possible you will be researched online before your interview. If your offline story does not match your online one, the interviewer may challenge you.
“Before an interview, make sure you Google your name so you know what any recruiter or hiring manager will see when they search for you (and trust me, they will). If any damaging results show up, now you have a chance to try and remove them or at least prepare a response for the interview. The worst thing you can do is look surprised or taken off guard when an interviewer challenges your story based on something they found online,” says Augustine.
It’s also important to spin the conversation back to your accomplishments if things start to go sour. According to George Dutch of JobJoy, flush out concern by asking what caught their attention and if they have any specific concerns about your capabilities.
“Understanding the interview as a risk assessment exercise helps you respond appropriately to these kinds of challenges. It’s not personal — they don’t know you — it’s them doing their due diligence,” Dutch says.
Creating your interview story in a digital era means more than telling the interviewer about yourself. Merge your online and offline stories to create a more cohesive story. Doing so helps the interviewer understand why you’re right for the job.
What do you think? What are some other ways to create your interview story in a digital era?
Scott Rothrock is the co-founder and CTO of RemarkableHire, a talent-sourcing platform that uses social evidence to help recruiters and hiring managers find and evaluate the best job candidates. Connect with him and the RemarkableHire team on Facebook and Twitter.
Finding top-notch technical talent can be hard. But are we experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates, or are brilliant minds simply being overlooked? Traditional recruiting methods just don’t cut it in terms of finding highly skilled candidates anymore, and companies may be to blame for their less-than-brazen use of these hiring techniques.
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Top tech candidates are out there. So, how do you find and hire top talent?
Get serious about seeking talent. While companies say they are looking for the next “game-changing” employee, they certainly aren’t updating their selection processes to do so. Journalist George Anders, author of The Rare Find: How Great Talent Stands Out, observes the incredible shortcomings of companies who rely on conservative selection processes — and end up narrowing their criteria to such a degree that they often miss candidates with unusual potential.
Anders explains that wise leaders shouldn’t expect exceptional talent to come in a neat package. Companies should be scouring the market for candidates with resilience and creativity, while keeping traditional skills, such as work ethic and reliability, in view.
Employers should consider finding talent through methods that are as unique as the candidates they’re seeking. Facebook’s strategy of using online programming puzzles to test and attract new talent stands out as a great example. These forms of tests offer an alternative route for those who might initially be overlooked during an application process.
There’s no doubt that hiring managers and recruiters are serious about the hiring process. But their hiring methods sometimes take too few creative liberties, and therefore pass up serious talent. While the resume was once the mainstay of the HR industry, for instance, you’re likely to miss candidates with serious potential if your hiring process relies solely on resumes. In this day and age, many of the top tech candidates spend much more of their time honing their craft than they do honing their resume.
Recruit to train. Let’s face it: Not all employers are blameless for the talent recruitment struggles they’re facing. Peter Cappelli, a professor and author who recently wrote,Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, presents a possible solution for this issue. Cappelli argues that companies need to return to the ancient way of doing things — focus on recruiting talented people, and train them to be the skilled employees you wanted all along.
With the unemployment rate at 7.9%, business leaders are still complaining about the shortage of qualified candidates. These same leaders’ companies offer job descriptions with an impossible number of requirements, and then use software to filter through thousands of applications. The talent search is doomed from the start when there are precise words needed to alert the applicant-tracking software that a candidate should get through the gates and into an interview.
The tech industry should not be forcing applicants to apply through automated resume screening tools. Put more emphasis on a candidate’s core abilities to learn and adapt rather than being overly precise on a given skill set. If you focus on foundational competencies and professional athleticism, you’ll be able to look at a broader pool of qualified candidates and maybe even find the talent that your competitors might have overlooked.
Go niche. Social communities revolving around specific areas of interest — such as GitHub, Dribbble and StackOverflow, for example — exist for every nook and cranny of the tech industry. Use these to attract talent looking for specific jobs rather than post on a generic job board, where your listing can easily be lost or overlooked. Not only can you assess candidates’ qualities even before the first interview and find out if their area of expertise is consistent with yours, but you can also create and build a network of potential candidates to look at when you have other openings.
As more and more tech candidates contribute to these online, peer-reviewed communities, recruiters can get deeper, more objective appreciations for the candidates’ core competencies. By using this information, you can rank candidates based on how well they’ve demonstrated the core set skills you’re looking for, and save time that would otherwise have been spent in screening interviews. Because of the way many of these niche communities are designed, you’ll be able to see actual examples of candidates’ expertise rather than bullet point descriptions of their skills.
Don’t stand in your own way of finding the tech talent you need; take advantage of these tips to set your organization apart, and find a perfect match.
What is your company doing to find and attract top tech talent? Tell us in the comments.
Last week we showed you some of the startup world’s most creative office spaces. These colorful environments with airy floor plans and comfortable conference rooms put the cubicle to shame — but before you start shelling out for employee skate parks and rock climbing walls, consider that not all office luxuries will serve your workspace equally well.
Mashable spoke with several startup employees to find out what they loved about their unconventional office spaces, and the results were fairly unanimous: An open floor plan and quirky extras encourage communication, collaboration and general satisfaction far more than cramped cubicles.
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“The more comfortable our employees feel in the office environment, the more comfortable they are to speak up and share their opinions and insights with the team,” ZocDoc CFO Netta Samroengraja says in an e-mail.
Most startups have certain crucial design elements in common. These include employee lounge areas with cozy seating and colorful accents, snack-filled kitchens where employees can chat as they refuel and TV monitors used for everything from video-conferencing to gaming.
Startups with enough square footage also tend to shell out for recreational spaces — ZocDoc has a game room outfitted with beanbag chairs, a ping-pong table and an acoustic guitar — that contribute to a playful work environment that’s not just about punching the clock.
Some office add-ons will make sense for only a small segment of businesses; TastingTable, for instance, rents a test kitchen and dining room staffed with two full-time chefs near its SoHo offices. The extra kitchen space is a boon for the food-and-drink newsletter, but is probably a less prudent investment for a software firm.
At Zazzle’s sprawling Redwood City headquarters, everything from the communal desks to the wallpaper was custom-made to reflect the company’s design-it-yourself ethic, according to co-founder and CTO Bobby Beaver. Likewise, Etsy takes a DIY approach to office design with colorful knickknacks, quilts and plushies, all made by Etsy sellers. “My apartment is so boring compared to the office,” says Sarah Starpoli, Etsy’s Employment Experience Manager.
Quirky office additions such as HowAboutWe’s popcorn machine — which one employee assures us is regularly put to good use — or Zazzle’s ping-pong table may not rank as “strictly necessary” for your startup, but they undoubtedly contribute to a more welcoming work environment. “Go to your local IRS office to get a taste of the dark side of an office landscape,”Squarespace’s director of interface, Michael Heilemann, suggests.
There is, however, a fine line between a morale-boosting office perk and a misallocation of your startup’s precious funds. So, when you’re decorating that new exposed-brick loft space, go the more sensible route and avoid the 10 extravagant accessories in the gallery below — ball pits, bike repair shops and Bengal tigers are on the list — that only Google and Facebook can really afford, at least until you’ve made your first million.
Are kids these days really as hopeless and self-absorbed as we claim? Perhaps not.
The next wave of tech extraordinaires seem to get younger and younger, and the app-creating students mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg.
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Check out the apps below from impressive, pint-sized developers, who’ve accomplished much more before high school than most people more than twice their age.
New Hampshire’s Hampstead Academy is a strictly peanut-free zone due to the relatively high number of students with nut allergies.
This inspired the school’s eighth graders to create the cleverly named Chow Checker app, which identifies food allergens to determine if certain foods, from grocery stores or restaurants, are safe to eat.
You can create a profile and select up to 12 allergens, and then search for a product name or scan a barcode. Either option pulls up a list of ingredients in that food, as well as nutritional content.
The app taps into the daily updated Nutritionix food database, which includes more than 300,000 food items. You can add notes about the food for future reference.
Hampstead students worked with the MIT Media Lab to write the app, which was a Verizon Innovative App Challenge winner in 2013.
Available for free on Android.
When he was 14 years old, Robert Nay’s physics-based puzzle game, Bubble Ball, unseated the seemingly indomitable Angry Birds for the iTunes App Store’s top spot in January 2011. Not bad for someone who created his first website in third grade and already owns his own company, Nay Games LLC.
Nay wrote Bubble Ball with Corona tools from Ansca Mobile. It took him roughly 4,000 lines of code.
The app capitalizes on players’ creativity, prompting you to set up lengths of wood and metal, and activate various power-ups to manipulate your bubble for the sake of reaching the goal.
There are 144 official levels, and because anyone can create a new level, the game is constantly evolving. There are already more than 200 community-created levels to explore.
David Singer’s app, Backdoor, removes a key component of communication — identity.
Backdoor, which launched in July 2013, is an anonymous messaging app that lets you reach your friends by signing in through either Facebook or Google+. The app gives you clues to learn more about the sender’s identity. In-app purchases provide additional clues, such as gender, likes, interests and more.
Cashing in on people’s desperation and curiosity? Color us impressed.
Singer, who considers himself primarily a UI designer, was 13 years old when he wrote the app. He’s the same kid behind YouTell, the popular website that allows you to post questions and solicit anonymous feedback.
Available for free on iOS.
Second through fifth graders from Jackson County, Mich., worked with two high schoolers in the same district to create iPad app Things to Think About.
Its premise is to jumpstart and foster children’s interest in writing and critical thinking, as well as encourage dialogue about challenging ideas and issues.
The app asks kids to dream big, think through “what would you do” scenarios and expands horizons past kids’ environments.
The students brainstormed 100 writing prompts in 12 categories, including Friends, Family, School, Fun and Feelings. A student’s original hand-drawn illustration and the option of a child’s short voice narration accompanies each prompt.
Available for free on iOS. An Android version is under process.
Welcome to this morning’s edition of “First To Know,” a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world.
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Today, we’re looking at three particularly interesting stories. Google is fighting the good fight against diabetes in true Google style. The company announced a smart contact lens project on its official blog, and even included a photo of the prototype device. According to a report onRe/code, Twitter could be launching an attack on e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay. And, according to 9to5Mac, Apple is making it easier and less expensive for users to have their broken iPhone screens repaired.
Check out the video above for more on these stories.
Last year was a great year in the web analytics world. We saw awesome advancements from just about every vendor in the web analytics industry.
Some of my favorite achievements of the past 12 months were:
- Google rolled out the Google Tag Manager to the masses and launched very cool functions such as auto event tracking.
- The addition of demographic data in Google Analytics has led to amazing insights.
- Adobe launched a new (much improved) interface to Adobe Analytics which showed how useful a web analytics solution can be when owned by a company that made its name with UI design tools.
- Tag management companies such as TagMan and Tealium landed many great new customers as well as big rounds of funding.
With the start of 2014, we have more experienced web analysts out in the field than ever before and organizations are now relying (rather than hoping) upon analytics for improvements in their bottom line.
In the year ahead, I am optimistic that we will see the pace of advancement in the web analytics world accelerate. Below is my top 10 list of trends that I would love to see over the next 12 months.
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Better Content Analysis Tools,
When it comes to engagement with content (text, graphics, video, etc) most web analytics platforms show the same data – views, landing page visits, next page views, exits, goal contribution, etc. To get reporting on actual engagement with the content, analysts need to implement other tools to track engagement such as scrolling, mouse movement, zooming, and highlighting. This divide in reporting is a major challenge for content producers.
Better Tools for Integration with Third Party Data,
If 2013 was the year for “Big Data” then 2014 should be the year for data integration with web analytics. While platforms like Adobe Analytics and IBM CoreMetrics did a decent job at enabling analyst to integrate data from multiple sources (i.e. CRM, Call Center, Lead Nurturing) with web analytics data, most platforms are lagging in this area. This year we want to see web analytics platforms help site owners to have a more 360⁰ view of their prospects and customers by providing excellent tools for integrating data from other platforms into the web analytics environment.
Multi-visit Click Paths,
Unless you’re selling competitively priced pencils at auction, odds are that your visitors are looking at your site multiple times before (and after) converting. But today almost all web analytics platforms focus on reporting for a single visit. There are persistent tracking variables that can be used to show multi-visit attributes. But site owners need to see how visitors’ behaviors change as they learn more about products/services and as they start to interact with the organization offline (i.e. sales calls).
Physical Interaction Tracking,
Better Video Tracking,
Many corporations big and small have multiple sites across multiple domains. Their prospects, customers, partners, employees, etc likely traverse across domains in multiple visits or possibly single visits. But today, most (not all) of the web analytics platforms don’t do a thorough job of enabling site owners to track visitors across domains. While this is not a problem for most site owners, for companies with diverse initiatives in marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing, and customer support this can cause a major gap in tracking the customer journey. In 2014, we want all major web analytics vendors to solve this tracking problem with easy to use configurations.
Compensate for “Not Provided”,
As Google continues to encrypt more and more user search submissions we have seen the percentage of users with Not-Provided search phrases grow by over 100% across sites that we monitor in the last year. This makes measuring SEO performance and optimization very difficult. Analysts need Google to provide some sort of help with this. If not showing the exact search phrase, perhaps they can expose search phrase categories or better integration with Web Master Tools. It would be easy for tools like Google Analytics to create reports that show which search phrases generated traffic without associating the phrases with individual users. This would help site owners with SEO reporting without risking user privacy or website security.
CMS integration with Web Analytics,
The most commonly used administrative tool on most sites is the content management system. This is the area where people making site updates need information on how pages and pieces of content are performing and how visitors are interacting with the site. We are hopeful that some CMS vendors will make big improvements in 2014 by enabling plug and play integration with web analytics tools to empower their internal site owners.
Better Data Exports,
Google made some great strides in 2013 to share Google Analytics data with other platforms and a large number of dash-boarding companies built/updated plugins for Google Analytics. But almost every other vendor in the web analytics space does an insufficient job at sharing data which makes dash-boarding and analyzing closed loop sales cycles unnecessarily difficult. We are hopeful that the other web analytics vendors will follow Googles lead this year.
Data Manipulation within Web Analytics,
Platforms such as Google Analytics, Webtrends, and Adobe Analytics are great at tracking visitors and then presenting the data. But the platforms do no provide much functionality in terms of manipulating the data once it has been brought into the platform. Providing tools for editing fields and values would provide web analysts with powerful Business Intelligence capabilities to fit the tracking to the organization.
This year has barely started, but I am very hopeful that it is a defining year for how organizations worldwide gain and utilize customer intelligence in the digital channel. While few organizations fully utilize the web analytics tools they have in place today, there are progressive teams pushing the limits of what website tracking can do to improve digital experiences and I am optimistic that in 2014 the industry tools are going to evolve even farther to drive the entire web industry to new heights.