Career Links: August 2016

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

This past month, many people around the world enjoyed watching the Olympics, surely a display of talent, focus, discipline and practice if there ever were one. But don’t kid yourself - looking for and successfully landing a job is every bit as demanding and stressful as Olympian competition.

The thing to remember about watching high performance in any field is that very few of those people were there by accident or chance. They trained for years to earn a spot on their country’s team. You, too, can practice and improve you performance as a job candidate, and find a spot on the “dream team” of your choice.

This month’s links focus on ways to improve your job search performance, especially the most stressful of all the steps in the process: the job interview. We hope you find the links helpful in your quest for vocational gold!

5 Job Search Warning Signs
This post, provided by Flexjobs career writer Jennifer Parris, is a great gut-check if things aren’t going the way you expected in the hiring process, or something just seems off. I especially like what she has to say about what to do when you feel the the job you’re interviewing for is really unclear.

Many of today’s jobs are not just one set thing but often have a few responsibilities from various departments wrapped up into one job. But if your prospective boss…
    •    can’t clearly define the duties of your job
    •    defines the duties of the job so broadly that it sounds like two or three jobs in one
    •    or if you feel that they’re a little vague on important details regarding the real scope of the job as it relates to the rest of the company

…you might want to lace up your sneakers and run for the hills.

Since a lot of bad job decisions are made in the heat of the moment when an applicant is suppressing important thoughts and impressions, this post is a great antidote to prevent that.

How Older Job Seekers Beat These 15 Awful Stereotypes
Once you pass the age of 40, the job hunt comes loaded with a number of additional hurdles (visualize the kind in the Olympic steeplechase race!). Mostly, all the things you thought were strengths at age 39 become liabilities, including experience (set in your ways, cost too much too hire),  focus (not up-to-date in latest technology areas), and confidence (can be perceived as conflictual with younger bosses).

This helpful post, provided by the team at Job Mob, takes on 15 pernicious myths about older employees and helps show the way to counter these impressions with hiring interviewers or new bosses and co-workers. It offers counter-evidence and strategies for dealing with assumptions that older people are set in their ways, inflexible, unable to adapt to new technology or trends, less productive, or unwilling to share knowledge or mentor younger people. I especially like the advice they give related to the idea that older adults don’t multi-task as well as younger people.

Are you terrible at multi-tasking? If so, then this is good news. According to a study conducted in Stanford University, workers who considered themselves successful multi-tackers actually perform worse than people who do one thing at a time, because frequent task switching disrupts your work flow, and makes it harder to organize your thoughts while filtering out noise.But it gets even worse - researchers also found that multi-tasking can temporarily lower your IQ similar to smoking marijuana and possibly even damage your brain. Yikes.Your best work is always achieved in a state of focus and doing one thing to completion, and you should explain that for your interviewers.

101 Most Common Interview Questions - With Pass or Fail Answers
Throughout this post, we’ve emphasized the practice aspect of job hunting, and how it impacts your performance in an interview. Well, this link is a veritable workout gym unto itself! If you feel like you could interview better, dig into this post (which is a bit long) and start honing your answers to these questions.
The first section - which focuses on 10 of the most common interview questions, ones the site claims “everyone should know” - also offers its assessment of good and bad (“red flag”) answers. You can rehearse your answers to questions such as …What are your strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why do you want to leave your current company?
  • What can you offer us that someone else cannot?

Other sections discuss brain-teaser questions, emotional intelligence questions, questions to verify credentials, and questions that test communication skills. All of the questions are worth taking time to review and think through an answer. After you’ve gone through enough of them, you’ll start forming a sense of who you are in an interview, and how you come across to others. (See our next link for what that matters.)

The Fatal Job Interview Mistake You Won’t Realize You’re Making
The wise and insightful author Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, provides a story that illustrates why playing it safe and not bringing your authentic personality to an interview can relegate you to a fate worse than antagonizing an interviewer: being forgotten altogether.
Ryan tells the story of Melissa, who gives a great first interview with an HR staff member. However, when this staff member asks the hiring manager how she did in the second interview, at first he doesn’t even remember her! And then he says she was nervous and gave three-word answers.

Ryan concludes that:

Not everybody will resonate with your personality, but so what? You wouldn't want to work for someone who doesn't get you, anyway. Bring your full personality, your humor, your amazing story and your mojo to a job interview, every time!

~ Liz Massey, Managing Editor, ASU Alumni Association