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.
From Berlin to Tel Aviv to San Francisco, it’s no secret that tech startups represent one of the few bright spots in the global and American job markets. For those already on the inside, finding your next stop is more or less straightforward.
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But if you’ve been working at a bank or for a boutique hotel, it’s far more complicated to break in. Tech startups speak a different language (What’s a GitHub? Who’s Ruby?), the culture’s distinct, and it’s even hard to find the jobs. There’s also a perception that you have to know programming to work for a startup (of course, the reality is that startups hire marketers, accountants, and all sorts of others).
We run one of the largest tech startup hiring events in the U.S., called Uncubed (we’re entering Germany for the first time today), and it draws both insiders and those looking to get their first startup job. Here are 10 tips from our community for those on the move:
Start within arm’s reach,
Products and services that you already use and know are great places to begin your search.
Take the companies behind the apps in your phone. Some are one or two people; others have teams of hundreds with many open jobs. If you come from banking, start with the payments and finance startups. The ability to have a knowledgeable conversation about a company’s offerings is a surefire attention-grabber.
Skip the blind dates,
Really, really do your homework on each company before meeting or applying for a job with them. Scour their websites, blogs, social media presences, and articles written about them (or by their team members). This is much more important at startups than at large companies.
Don’t forget to tip,
Now that you’re well-versed on both the company and its offerings, come up with one great suggestion for how they can improve or one new feature you would add. Even if it’s not a world-changing idea, startups love this.
Link outside the box,
Building your digital presence through Twitter, blogging, Instagram, Quora, and skill-specific centers like GitHub (in addition to LinkedIn and Facebook) are mandatory at this point.
Blogging offers an outlet for your interests, thoughts, and writing; Quora exhibits your knowledge by allowing you to answer others’ questions (or ask your own); and GitHub connects developers around coding projects.
Start now. Even a little will make you far more desirable than someone who isn’t active at all.
Talk to strangers,
Involve yourself in local, professional communities through Meetups for entrepreneurs, startup enthusiasts, coders, designers, and others in your field of interest. Reach out to companies and professionals directly for coffee meetings and informational interviews. In no time, you’ll have a budding network in the startup space.
Take one a day,
Make it a goal and personal challenge to reach out to at least one new person or company each day. Through friends, professional connections, and referrals, your network will grow exponentially, opening doors to new professional opportunities.
Stack the deck,
You don’t need a job to have business cards. Here are some thoughts on how to stand out amid all the card swapping.
Do it yourself,
Bulk up your résumé, skills, network, and confidence in the off hours. Freelance work, passion projects, volunteering, competitions, and classes are all great ways.
Bookmark these pages!
The search continues for the holy grail of an updated and highly curated startup job board for all fields. In the meantime, you can bet that every city of scale has a great local resource and then most skillsets have their own board, such as Careers 2.0 for programmers and Behance.net for designers.
Ditch the tie; perfect your Ping-Pong serve,
The clichés of startup life are clichés for a reason. Scrap the corporate culture and dress code, and understand that even though they can .seem frivolous, startup trappings like the ping pong table serve a purpose.
When should you start a company? It’s an ongoing debate with two pretty clear sides: the wisdom of age versus the prime of our lives.
In a recent thread on Quora, the question attracted a lot of attention, thanks to some big names who jumped to respond. It all started late in August when an anonymous user asked:
What do people in Silicon Valley plan to do once they hit 35 and are officially over the hill? Since life in Silicon Valley ends at 35 unless you hit it big or move up in management (and simple logic tells you that most won’t), I’m curious what people younger than this think they’ll be doing at that age.
Since then, the thread has only grown, mainly with comments from programmers over 35 who found success. Among them were Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Craigslist’s Craig Newmark, and Zipcar’s Robin Chase.
Those entrepreneurs were 35, 35, 37, 42, and 42, respectively, when they founded those companies, not surprising since the Kaufman Foundation found the “average and median age of U.S.-born tech founders was 39,” and “twice as many were older than 50 as were younger than 25.”
Meanwhile, 24- to 35-year-olds have only become more risk-adverse with time, according to an American Express survey, which found 16 percent started businesses right out of school, a 12 percent drop from 2007.
Perhaps that’s why a suggestion from Wales, now 47, seemed so on point. “A better question might be,” he wrote on Quora, “How can we in the tech community make sure that unusual success at a very early age is not mistakenly thought to be the norm?”
And Finally Now , age is only a number.
There are so many reasons why you may need to reinvent your career. Maybe you’re looking to reenter the workforce after staying home raising your kids. Or you might have lost your job after twenty years with the same company. Or perhaps the thought of going into your job just one more day makes you want to do a Jerry Maguire. No matter what your age or motivation, it’s not as impossible as it may seem to reinvent your career. Here’s how.
Decide what you want to do. Now more than ever is the time to really, truly figure out what you’d like to do in your professional life. Just because you’ve toiled away as an ad exec doesn’t mean that you’ll continue on that career path until retirement. If you’re clueless as to what the next phase in your career will be, simply look to your hobbies. Discover what gives you joy in life, then determine a way to find work in that field.
Establish a timeframe. Once you decide which direction you want to take your career in, you’ll want to get there — now. But you’ll need to take the time as you carefully lay down the foundation for your career. Do some research to learn of potential jobs in your area of interest and to also get an idea of how long it might take before you can start working in your new profession. Depending on where you are in life, you may need to find a remote job or one that offers flex. So be sure to look for these job characteristics when job hunting.
Get guidance. If you’re lucky, you’ll already know people who can help you as you begin your new career. If all of your contacts are from your former industry, you’ll need to find a potential mentor for your new career. A great way to gain new connections is to request informational interviews with companies that align with your new career goals. Not only will you get an in-depth look into this potential job field, but you’ll also get to meet industry heavy-hitters who, if you form a connection with, can possibly mentor you along the way.
Build new skills. It may seem impossible to marry your old professional life with your new one, but there’s a great chance that you already possess some of the skills you’ll need in order to make your new career a smashing success. So take a look at your previous work experience and write down all of the skills you’ve utilized in those jobs. Then assess the skills you’ll need in order to get work in your new career. Redesign your resume to highlight those skills, and see if you can take a class or attend webinars in order to build skills that can help you moving forward.
Be flexible. Starting out in a new field may mean that you’ll start out in a lower position than you’ve previously held. It may also equal taking a financial hit by earning a lower salary than you’re used to. Just keep in mind that these are all just mere milestones as you work towards gaining footing in your new career — and a happier, healthier work life balance.
Reinvention at any age can be scary but it can also be an exciting time as you challenge yourself to find a position — and a career — that you truly love.