Archive for the ‘Job Search’ Category

Interview: Can You Work Overtime & Weekends?

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

ClockFoldersOf course, you can work overtime and weekends. The real question is: WILL you work overtime and weekends, WITHOUT being resentful? Will you work those nights and weekends with the same energy, diligence and good attitude that you are promising you’ll bring to the job every day?

Wow, you might think. They haven’t even hired me for this job and its regular hours. Now, they want to own my nights and weekends, too?

Actually, whether you do or don’t work overtime, many jobs depend on your so-called personal time to contribute to your productivity. When I was first hired at a mega ad agency, the CEO told me the company had a no-freelancing policy.

“Everything you think –whether it’s while you’re driving, showering, or taking a walk: all that is ours. We are paying you for your ingenuity and your creativity. Most of that activity can’t go on during the day, because you are working. Your best thoughts are going to come after hours, and we own those,” he concluded.

Ask any successful person enjoying a stratospheric career, or any entrepreneur and business owner. Their best ideas come when they are bathing their dogs, baking brownies and doing the assorted chores of life.  Or they visit a museum, shop in a well-curated store or sightsee a new place. These are springboards for their relaxed brain to imagine and problem solve, whether its ways to be more productive or ways to develop new products.

Who does own your time? And, how can you define what you will and won’t do after regular hours?

Recently one of my coaching clients who is job hunting called me with his problem about working overtime and weekends. Lynden said, “I observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday night to sundown on Saturday. How do I explain in a job interview that I can’t work overtime and weekends during this time?”

I recalled famous Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax. Koufax refused to pitch in the first game of the 1965 World Series because as Jew, that would have caused him to violate the religious practice of abstaining from work on the high holy day of Yom Kippur. Koufax went on to win the last two games of the series, including the championship-winning seventh game, pitching 2-0.

Not only did the Dodgers accommodate him and keep him on the team for as many years as he cared to play, they re-hired him this year as a special advisor.

Of course, my client Lynden had a more routine problem, since his Sabbath occurred each week.  When asked if he could work overtime and weekends, I recommended Lynden reply:

“Yes. On weekends I am able to work starting on Saturday, in the early evening. During weekdays, I can almost always work overtime, except on Tuesdays in Spring, when I coach my son’s soccer team.”

You might be taking a class, have a regular yoga session, attend a book club or have other time you need to protect.  You may even set aside certain hours to simply relax. In those cases, you may say,

“Yes, I can work overtime and weekends. I am able to work (fill in the specifics).”

This is a three-step communication. First, you say “yes.” Second, you define the terms by telling them what you can do. Third, you outline the exceptions.

Do you have a problem with job interviews or job-hunting that you need help with, so you score the perfect position? I will help you. Email me at [email protected]. Subject line: Hunt.

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Interview: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

GuyPonderingSQ2Among the silliest questions you get in a job interview, is the one that won’t die: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

If you’ve written a business plan, you know your five-year forecast is the least reliable outcome you “predict.”  Same thing when you ponder your investment portfolio, the height of your infant, or the state of your love life.

There are days when I cannot make a good guess about what’s going to happen five minutes from now. Clearly the question about where you’re going to be in five years is ridiculous. Well, sort of ridiculous.

The five year question is meant to show you have some personal insight, that you spent time reflecting on your goals, and you have a sense that the job you’re interviewing for fits into your overall life plan.  A great answer doesn’t guarantee a bus won’t hit you as you leave the interview, which of course might change everything.

However, a great answer to “where do you see yourself in five years” is a chance for you to shine, in the here and now.

This week I coached an 83-year-old woman on this question. Lauraine recently had her hours changed at the hospital where she’s worked for more than two decades, as a patient advocate. Administration moved her start time from early morning to late afternoon. So, she’s about to go on a job hunt. Her goal is to find a place where her being wide awake and cheery at 7 AM is to everyone’s advantage.

Lauraine reached out to me because this is the toughest question she fears she might encounter in a job interview. My uncle is a few years older than she is, and recently started working in the pro shop at a country club. So, like almost all tough questions: I have already helped answer this one successfully. Here’s what I recommended Lauraine say.

Thank you for asking! My plan is to continue working in a customer service position. I like listening with empathy to people, helping solve their problems and putting a smile on their faces.

If you are a bit younger, or quite a bit younger, with the desire to have greater responsibility in some capacity – then your answer will focus on a longer term career path. Show how you see the position you’re interviewing for, will enrich your future value to the organization. Your answer might be:

My plan is to continue to be in administration, enlarging my skill set so I can effectively administer increasingly complex projects. I see myself developing people and leading a strong team, and becoming a person that this organization can count on – and be proud of.

Do you have a tough question that you cannot ask anyone for help with? Is there something that is holding you back from aggressively pursuing your job hunt? Is there a question you fear being asked in a job interview? Ask me. I will help you work it out, for free. Email me [email protected] Subject line: Help.

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Job Interview: Are You Willing to Run Errands?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

InterviewErrandsCropped2You’re in a job interview for a higher-level position, and the recruiter asks you whether you’re willing to run errands, cover the phones or stock shelves. The right answer is really simple. Be truthful.

If the idea of performing menial chores outside your job description makes you sick to your stomach and tears at the very fiber of your self-esteem, then say:

Outside of work, I run errands. I answer my phone pretty much whenever it rings. I put away stuff I buy from the grocery store. But the thought of doing that at work makes me sick to my stomach and tears at the very fiber of my self-esteem. What other stupid questions do I need to answer in this job interview?

That isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds right now.

CNBC calls me, “America’s job coach.” On television, I have coached people who can’t land a position or a promotion, but are offended in a job interview when the recruiter asks if they might do something outside of the job description. They protest that these chores are “below” them.

Wow, they must have quite a staff at home!

I believe I got my first promotion in advertising because when my account executive asked me if I would swab his phone with alcohol pads whenever he was out of the office, I responded:

Do you want me to bring the swabs from home or do we have a supply here?

One week later, I was elevated from account coordinator to account executive, and doubled my salary. Was it my swabbing? Or was it that I was willing to swab?

I watched with sympathy as his next coordinator swabbed. But, I knew her future was bright.

The way to handle these work chores is to frame them as human kindness, which turns out to be good for your mental health as well as your career. Kindness is not an overflowing characteristic of most current or potential employees. Thus, communicating that you’ll always be happy to help out gives you a huge competitive edge.

Therefore, if you want a position because it largely includes the type of work you desire, when the recruiter asks the dreaded “run errands” question during the job interview, your answer will be more like:

Of course. I am always happy to pitch in.

Say this with a smile and a quick nod of your head.

And, when you do those errands, here’s a mantra from my mentor: “It’s the role, not my soul.

What’s the toughest job interview question you’ve been asked – or are afraid you’ll have to answer? Let me know, and I’ll coach you through it, for free. Email me:[email protected] Subject line: Tough.

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Why Were You Fired?

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Some of the most successful people in business were fired from a previous job. Vivian Giang does a nice rundown of the rich and once fired. Mark Cuban, Madonna, Michael Bloomberg, JK Rowling, and Walt Disney are just a sampling. So, if you’ve been “let go” for unsatisfactory performance: you’re in very good company.

Unfortunately, when a recruiter or hiring manager asks you this question – it’s not to congratulate you on joining the ranks of these business stars. It’s to uncover an issue that might affect your performance in this new position.

That’s the key issue: what did you do that might predict your future performance?

If it’s something like stealing, lying, or perpetrating a verbal or physical attack on a colleague: Ricky Ricardo would say, “you’ve got a lot of ‘splaining to do, Lucy.” But, it’s not impossible to get a job, even after such antisocial behavior, especially if you’ve paid the price.

Perhaps you served time in jail, did community service or otherwise made restitution. Penitence alone won’t be enough to clear the slate. You’ll need to prove that you’ve learned a great lesson, made major changes in your thinking and behavior, and remain accountable to someone who may be monitoring, mentoring or otherwise helping you stay on the straight and narrow.

Daniel is a client of mine who threatened his boss with a gun, after an argument about an investor. In fact, Daniel didn’t have the gun at work, but he did have a gun at home. The threat was vague: “You know, I have a gun at home,” Daniel said. That was enough – more than enough. Daniel was fired. While he didn’t go to jail, Daniel had to deal with a lawsuit. And, his reputation was severely damaged.

It was a terrible time in his life, but it gave way to a much-needed personal reckoning. Daniel went into extensive therapy, both one-on-one with a therapist and additionally in group therapy that lasted several years. Among the best outcomes was Daniel changing careers, to one with much less interpersonal stress. He removed himself from managing people. He went to work in horticulture. Being in nature, nurturing plants and slowing the pace of his life are the keys to his successful self-reinvention. He remains in a weekly support group, and he mentors people struggling with the issues he overcame.

Showing that level of self-knowledge, taking responsibility for his actions and sustaining his commitment to change got him his next job, a great one where he has responsibility for managing property.

He actually looked forward to the “why were you fired,” question from the recruiter when he interviewed for the position. He didn’t just admit what happened: he was eager to share the turning point in his life. Note: I’ve changed the client’s name and a few details to protect his privacy.

If you’ve been fired for any reason, recruiters are seeking to understand what happened, and the reasons for your action. They are equally interested in how the termination changed you: what did you do to remedy your thinking and behavior? How do you manage yourself today, that’s remarkably different than the way you were at the time you were fired?

As a career and business coach, I’ve heard just about every difficult situation human beings can find themselves in. And, I have been part of helping clients make simple changes and achieving near miraculous redemption, as these good people got themselves back on the road to success at work and life.

If you have been fired, you may need some help getting back on track, or simply with an accurate and uplifting way to tell your story. You can email me: [email protected] Subject line: Help.

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