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Express works with you to help you find that next career. We offer access to our extensive client network, third-party salary negotiation, complete confidentiality, one-on-one consultations, résumé review and assistance, as well as interview enhancement tips.

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Friday
Nov212014

DE-STRESS BEFORE YOUR JOB INTERVIEW

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Job interviews can be a little nerve racking. Will the interviewer like me? What if I say something that sounds stupid? What if I don’t know how to answer a question?

To help you gain your interview confidence, take a deep breath and follow these seven tips for conquering your fears and de-stress before your job interview.

1. Get your portfolio together.
Don’t scramble to put this together the night before. No one knows your work better than you, so be your biggest advocate on interview day and have a stellar portfolio. While getting your portfolio ready, showcase your best projects. And, be sure to include plenty of copies of your resume in case someone unexpected joins the interview. On your resume, make sure it’s easily laid out for readability, organized, shows your training/education background, and lists your job history. Also, include a list of references for extra bonus points.

2. Prepare for interview questions.
Expect to be asked questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What can you bring to the team?
  • Do you have any questions about the job?

These are typical questions interviewers use to learn more about you. A few days before your interview, practice answering these questions and watch yourself in the mirror so you can see your facial expressions or ask a friend to listen and give you feedback.

3. Do your research on the company and the position.
Not only will you need to be prepared to answer questions about yourself, but you should also be able to speak about the company and the position you’re seeking. What do you know about them? What do they do? Find out when they were founded, how many locations they have (if more than one), and some interesting facts about the organization.

Also, be able to share about the skills you can bring to the job. What are some specific duties you’re interested in? How do your skills match the job? Also, come up with questions you have about the job. How do you see this position growing with this company? What skills does the perfect candidate have? Questions like these will show that you’re taking initiative in learning all you can about the position.

4. Drive by the interview location the day before.
A big stressor for interviewees is the location of the interview. If you can, do a test run the day before. Get a feel for the traffic and identify just how much time you need to get there. And remember, you will want to arrive at your interview at least 15 minutes early, so factor that into your drive time.

5. Plan your outfit.
What are you going to wear for your interview? The key is to always wear professional in attire on your interview day. Get your outfit prepared the evening before your interview and make sure it is clean and wrinkle-free. Also, include your accessories such as shoes, a tie, or jewelry. Having your clothes ready to go will save you time on the big day.

6. Get a good night’s rest.
Go to bed early the night before your interview. Allow yourself to get enough rest so you wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to face the day. Don’t stay up late trying to prepare, and be sure to set your alarm!

7. Stay calm on interview day.
After you’ve checked in for your interview, use your last few minutes to take some deep breaths, remember what your goal is, and remind yourself that you can do this. Remember to think positive.

Do you have any additional tips for de-stressing before an interview? Share them here!

Thursday
Nov132014

HOW TO ANSWER “WHY DID YOU LEAVE YOUR LAST JOB?”

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One common interview question that tends to catch even the most prepared interviewee off guard is, “Why did you leave your last job?”

Although you may not be sure how to answer this question without hurting your chances of landing the job, it’s important to remain confident when telling interviewers what you can bring to their company. So, here are some tips on how to answer this critical question without working up a sweat.

Keep it simple.
As a general rule, interviews aren’t the place to air your dirty laundry. While honesty and open communication are necessary and respected elements of any interview, there are a number of creative responses to answering this age-old question without disclosing too much.

If the reason you left your previous job would take 30 minutes to explain, don’t go that route. Your interviewer has a busy schedule and doesn’t need a lengthy explanation. Instead of ranting, raving, or adopting a style of full disclosure, try to hone your reason down into a shorter, truthful answer.

Don’t badmouth your previous boss.
You won’t get along with every boss you’ll ever have, and interviewers know that. But, telling them how awful your boss was will only make them concerned that you’ll talk the same way about their company if you left. Instead, try something like:

“After speaking in length with my manager, we decided that my vision for my role wasn’t the same as their overall goals. I decided it was best to part ways so they could find someone better suited to their vision.”

You don’t have to say, “I was fired.”
There are a number of reasons why employees are terminated from their jobs, and if you’ve experienced one of them, you aren’t obligated to simply say so. Instead, dig deeper into why you were let go. Did you lack the skills necessary for the job? Were you desperate for work that wasn’t right for you? If so, try some of these phrases:

“I really needed to find a job, and I made the mistake of accepting one that wasn’t the right match for me. It was a mistake I’ve learned from and won’t make again.”

“Under new leadership, my company let some employees go. This cleared the way for me to have the opportunity to apply with your company.”

Or, if you weren’t a good fit for your old job, go a step further and research the company culture of the place where you’re interviewing. List some of their well-known traits, like corporate giving or community involvement, when using this response:

“I’d prefer to work in an environment whose company’s culture is more suited to my own.”

If you were let go because of downsizing, make that clear.
Interviewers understand that businesses go through ups and downs. If you were let go due to downsizing or economic turmoil, be honest about it. Try using one of the following answers:

“Unfortunately, my position was eliminated when the company decided to scale back.”

“I knew the company was downsizing, so I decided to seek another job before my position was eliminated.”

Show your strengths.
Though talking about previous jobs can be a tough subject, it can also show the interviewer the skills you can bring to their position. If your old job was wearing you down or wasn’t right for you, try some of these answers to show that you’re focused on your career:

“When I decided to take my career down a different path, my previous employer didn’t have the opportunities I needed.”

“I believed I’d learned everything I could in that position, and I wanted to find a new challenge that would help me better utilize my skills on a daily basis.”

“I was ready for a change, but it didn’t seem ethical to take company time to go on interviews. I left so they could find someone more suited for the position while I looked to better my career path.”

“I didn’t believe there was any room to grow with my former company.”

Be honest.
If your reasons for leaving your previous job were unavoidable, like moving, personal issues, or illness, explain those reasons and be honest. Your interviewer will understand, and you’ll show that you’re personally committed to your life as well as your career.

Try not to dwell on this question for long. Your interview shouldn’t be about past jobs, but rather about the job you’re trying to get. Always use any opportunity you can to remind the interviewer what a great asset you’d be to their company.

How have you answered this question during an interview? Let us know in the comments section below!

Thursday
Nov132014

Are You Your Own Worst Boss?

Late nights. Hard deadlines. Stressful weekends. Negative reinforcement. These are all red flags that toxic leadership is at play; however, in many professionals’ instances, it’s not from their direct supervisor or boss—but themselves. Even the best leaders can be the worst self-leaders. Though you may be a positive, caring boss to your employees, are you a taskmaster-type boss with yourself?

Criticism

Handling criticism is just one aspect of growing up in this world. Learning how to have thick skin and let negativity roll off is a main driver of personal satisfaction in life. But, what if the criticism is coming from within? Everyone has heard the age old statement “I’m my own worst critic.” Usually, this is spoken with tongue-in-cheek and simply means that the person is a perfectionist with what they can control. In fact, constructive criticism is one of the best ways to cultivate personal growth. But negative criticism is vastly more apparent. Criticism brings a short-term solution to an existing problem. However, negative reinforcement can lead to long-term resentment. Over criticizing leads to stressful conditions in the work place, which in turn, can produce subpar performance. This is why good leaders try to use employee mistakes and issues as learning opportunities. But when it comes to the inner monologue, negativity can still run rampant, causing unneeded stress. According to the American Psychological Association, 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. And of those who struggle with stress, they cited the number one cause as job pressure. Curb high stress and negativity by focusing on the long-term solution—positive, constructive criticism. Others are looking to you for guidance. Cut yourself some slack.

Overwork

While 76% of bosses are seen as supportive of their employees using vacation days, workers are leaving unused vacation days on the table, according to a study by Expedia and Harris Poll. Though, in the survey, employees used reasons like they had to “cancel or postpone due to work” or want to “accumulate vacation days for future use,” management understands the benefits of getting away—and they encourage it. Vacations and days off help keep your workforce from getting burned out. But are you encouraging yourself to take much-needed days off? As management, it is imperative to lead by example. And though you may feel working nights and weekends and skipping vacation days is needed and shows your dedication, overwork can discourage your team from taking leave, and in turn, cause you to become disillusioned and even disengaged in your job. Taking a break from the daily grind brings rejuvenation, inspiration, and much needed rest. Treat yourself.

Personal Development

After you overcome negativity in your inner monologue, it’s important to build toward future success. The greatest leaders understand the importance of developing their employees. In fact, it could be the difference between a disgruntled, actively disengaged worker and a highly motivated, top performing asset. But if you’re being hard on yourself, view yourself the same way you do your team—as an asset. Motivational speaker and author of How to Master the Art of Selling Tom Hopkins once said, “You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort, and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.” Just like you would your employees, focus on your strengths and how to build them up. When you delegate certain tasks to your team, but fail to get them the necessary tools, expectations, and guidance, you’re setting them up for failure. Yet, some leaders do this to themselves every day. Set yourself up for success by treating yourself like you would your hardworking team.

It may be near impossible to cut out all negativity and truly focus on positive thoughts when it comes to you and your achievements. In fact, a little bit of personal critiquing can be a healthy way to perfect and hone your skills. Next time you get on to yourself for missing a deadline or not meeting a personally set quota, cut yourself a little slack. Your employees are better off with a stress-free, understanding boss.

Are you your own worst boss? What have you done to fix this? Let us know in the comments section below!

Monday
Nov102014

THE RESULTS ARE IN: WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ROADBLOCK TO FINISHING STRONG IN 2014?

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With the new year just around the corner, we’re entering the home stretch of 2014 and many job seekers are feeling the pressure to finish 2014 on a strong note. In a recent poll, we asked Movin’ On Up readers what they anticipate being the biggest obstacle in their path to landing a job and getting a strong start in 2015.

According to the results, competition is the number one obstacle standing in the way of landing a job. The survey revealed that 37% of readers feel there is too much competition in the job search, while 12% believe there just aren’t any jobs available.

Adding to the education versus experience debate, 19% of readers revealed that a “lack of experience” is holding them back in their job search, while only 4% chose “educational roadblocks.” According to 6% of readers, “currently being in school” is the biggest obstacle for their career outlook this year.

The second highest majority of readers, 21%, selected “Other,” adding responses that included:

  • Career change
  • Funds to pay for more training
  • Overqualified
  • Lack of self-discipline to complete a strong resume
  • Not enough technical training

Of those who chose “Other,” 40% added that “age” was a current roadblock in their job search.

Whether you’re struggling with a lack of education, training, or too much competition in the job market, don’t give up on your search. Continue to enhance your resume, interview skills, and job search techniques. Though this year may be nearing its end, 2015 will offer a fresh start to your search. Treat it as a blank slate to overcome any obstacles you may feel are holding you back.

Have you overcome any of the roadblocks on this list? What advice do you have for overcoming them? Share with us in the comments section below.

Monday
Nov102014

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO YOUR BOSS

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Saying the wrong things to your boss can damage your career in ways that are hard to recover from. It’s important to think before you speak, even when you are upset or passionate about an issue. It’s the first step in keeping a positive relationship with your boss, and while it might sound easy, you’d be surprised how many struggle with this idea. Throwing away certain phrases that most bosses hate is the second step.

So to save you from sticking your foot in your mouth, here’s a quick list of five things you should never say to your boss.

1. “I can’t” or “That’s impossible.”
Never tell your boss that something cannot be done. Choose to speak about what can be done instead, and always think of how you can solve problems instead of falling victim to them.

“It can’t be done by Friday” can be turned into, “This may be difficult to complete by Friday, but I know it can be completed by Monday,” or, “We could meet this Friday deadline, but we may need to bring in extra help to do so.”

If you can create solutions for what seems like an impossible situation, your boss is more likely to help you achieve it.

2. “But, we’ve always done it this way.”
Don’t get stuck in the past. If you have a new boss who wants to do things a new way or an old boss who wants to try something different, meet the challenge straight away. If you say, ”But, we’ve always done it this way,” you run the risk of looking stale and combative.

Be a part of the brainstorming process and be open to new ways of doing things. If you are gravely concerned about a new process, present it as a challenge by saying, “In order for this to work, we may have to…”

Don’t kill your boss’ idea with a stubborn or negative attitude. Show you are open to growing as an employee and willing to work with your boss, for better or worse. Who knows? You may just learn a valuable new skill or find a better way of doing something.

3. “That’s not my job” or “That’s not my department”
If your boss comes to you with an assignment or a request, don’t shut him or her down with, “That’s not part of my job description.” Your boss needs your help and has come to you, because he or she has faith you can do that task. If you’re concerned a new assignment is out of your regular responsibilities, ask who you can turn to for help.

By taking on an outside responsibility, you have the chance to not only shine in your boss’ eyes, but also learn a new skill set. It’s the perfect opportunity to show those in charge that you are a team player and a bold employee who rises to the challenge.

4. “It’s not my fault” or “It’s so and so’s fault, not mine.”
If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you didn’t make a mistake, explain that fact without pointing fingers or sounding petulant.

Never point fingers at another coworker or someone else. This is not only in poor taste, but makes you look unprofessional. If you believe someone else could clarify the situation, refer your manager to them directly.

Bosses know that mistakes happen. The sign of a confident and professional employee is one who can honestly admit to a mistake – and offer solutions to fix it.

5. “I don’t know…”
No one expects you to know everything, but saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that can be a career-killer. If you don’t know the answer to something your boss asks, say instead, “I’m not sure, but I can find out.”

By offering to discover the answer to whatever question your leaders have, you show them you are eager, curious, a problem-solver, and committed. You’ll learn something new too, and by volunteering to find the information, you’ll end up as a vital resource to your company.

Saying the right things at the right time
No employee is perfect all the time. Everyone sticks their foot in their mouth in front of their boss now and again, but avoiding the career-killer phrases above will help minimize any damage.

Do you have phrases to add? Did we miss anything on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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