Ask questions

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If you’re being interviewed for a job, who should be doing most of the talking? Hint: it’s not you.

People wonder what I mean; after all, an interview is meant to find out what candidate will best fit a company or organization. Neither shoes nor the person will look good if someone wears one high heel and one sneaker. They need to complement each other. As the interviewee, it’s vital to have a clue what you’d be getting involved with. You will invest more into your employer than visa versa. A full-time employee physically gives 40 plus hours weekly to a job, there’s a big learning curve, refiguring your schedule, and developing new relationships with many people. You’ll often spend numerous hours thinking of them outside of work and represent them 24/7. On the flip side, most companies with more than a few people can function with or without even the best employee. If someone is hired and doesn’t fit well, their employer can fire them or they can quit. It’s normally a hiccup to an organization, but a life changer to an employee.

In a job interview, the hiring entity should be doing about 80% of the talking, via questions and explanations of duties, benefits, atmosphere, values, and needs. When you leave an interview, ensure you have a feel for both the job and organization.

In a typical interview, the candidate normally responds to interview questions. At the end of the interview, after being asked the inevitable, “do you have any questions for us?” they often say “no.” It may sound weird, but this tells interviewers the candidate doesn’t care about them—just getting a job.

A better way—ask questions throughout; don’t interrogate them but use their questions to ask your own, and find out their employee expectations, work environment, products, company challenges, missions, values, and what they are looking at for the future.

Look for future blog posts on an expansion of this topic. For now, if you are going into an interview, keep the following percentage in your brain—80% them, 20% me. If you’re thinking this and realize you’re talking a lot more than that, take time to ask a question.

Good luck job searching.

Beth Husom, GCDF

Interview prep #1

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Job interviews vary from fun (to a small group) to a cause for complete terror. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Job seekers tend to think a lot of the interview itself, and don’t pay a ton of attention to prep work. But just like anything, prep work must go on, and the better prepared, the more likely to get a job.

I spoke with an employer many years ago. Their office was on the second floor of a cool, renovated Minneapolis office building that once served as a flour mill. Their office had large windows and overlooked the parking lot. The company hired a lot of outside sales reps; before sales rep job interviews, someone would watch the parking lot, see the candidate as s/he drove in, parked, got out of their vehicle, and came inside. They were looking for professionalism and respect from first point of visibility. Because these people would serve on site at current and potential customers’ places of business, it was imperative the job candidate didn’t smoke as they drove in, and then threw the cigarette on the ground, their vehicles were appropriate, they drove at proper speeds and parked well, music wasn’t blaring, when the door opened, garbage didn’t fall out and/or they didn’t litter a coffee cup, they weren’t on their cell phones when driving and/or didn’t seem to be in a big phone fight with someone when they parked, and they didn’t see the candidate do things like pick their nose, scratch their privates, take a quick sip of a small vodka bottle, throw on a tie or nylons at the last second, had a pet in the vehicle (especially on extremely hot or cold days), and didn’t appear disheveled, unsettled or cranky upon parking or walking in to the office and then walked in with a big smile (all of this happened, by the way). The employer was ensuring these people seemed confident, respectful and professional from the get-go—they wanted to see what their potential clients would see as they waited for the sales appointment.

These potential employers didn’t mind if a vehicle was 20 years old or had rust but were looking for cleanliness and bumper stickers. They were fine if a person changed their shoes, put on lipstick or did a quick adjustment to their hair (but not if they started a 20-minute makeup or other beauty regiment). They didn’t care about a person’s age, weight, body type, style, ethnicity, gender, etc., as long as the person could drive, carry all needed materials.

Some people find this inappropriate or spying. They think if a person is ready and prepared when they walk through a company’s door, all should be well. But employees represent their companies 24/7. The company wouldn’t be with their sales reps when they worked. So company heads know the importance that all parts of the sales experience be positive. Driving up isn’t the only way potential employees should prep for an interview. We will discuss several of these in upcoming blogs.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

“What is your greatest weakness?

images (1)“I tend to work too hard.” “I often take on a lot of extra work.” “I am a perfectionist and hard on myself if I am not the best at something.”

What are these? The normal, rehearsed answers to the dreaded “What is your greatest weakness?” interview question. People want to seem that no one will be as amazing as they are. Instead, be you. No one is perfect. Employers hire people who are imperfect but honest, know themselves, recognize their imperfections, try to better themselves, and whose imperfections won’t hinder their performance.

Think of these.  “Looking at instructions, it’s always been hard figuring out how to put products together. For example, my neighbor just saw me with all the pieces for a new bike in the yard, was reading a diagram and looked perplexed. He put it together. I had a great ride that afternoon. On a good note, it brings humor to holiday functions. My family wonders how I can read ingredients and make yummy food when I can’t assemble most toys Santa brings!”

Or, “In the last few years, I’ve found it easier to text, email, and take care of everything possible online. Last year, I looked around a room. Everyone was on their phones. I thought; ‘no more.’ People are more valuable than technology. My phone stays in my purse on public, I call more than text or email, took a recent customer service course in person and even started mailing my electric bills. The Internet is convenient, so I still use it. But I work to maintain a healthy balance and be a good example for those around me.”  

These are real. Of course a construction worker wouldn’t tell interviewers they couldn’t read blueprints. If assembly isn’t needed, interviewers may like to hear a person is neighborly, tested highly in areas, accepts help, is active, and likes their family. Many relate to the overuse of technology. So they may like to know someone recognizes the problem, is working on it, took a recent customer service course, and wants to be a good example.

I just used two examples of my weaknesses. Show interviewers you know where you don’t shine. Recognize it, overcome through yourself or by asking for help, and care for others. These sound more real and ARE more real. Interviewers are hiring a person—not an actor with rehearsed lines.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Career success=tolerance needed

images (1)images (2) images (1)I watched a Packers/Cowboys game. President Bush sitting next to Ellen DeGeneres. They seemed to be enjoying each other. I thought, “Awesome. It’s a perfect example of how people with different beliefs can get along. I bet her fans will be excited.”

I was part right. Her fans did go crazy, but in a completely opposite way. Some said hateful, nasty comments, called her names, a traitor, indicated she was selling her soul to the devil, blah, blah, blah. Ellen addressed this. I saw a subsequent video. She is friends with President Bush. She said we need to be kind to others, even with people with whom we have differences, and should make friendships with them. Thank you Ellen!

Somewhere along the line, Tolerance, which is defined as “The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with,” lost its meaning. It was replaced with the belief that differences must divide. However, this doesn’t work, especially in one’s career. In a person’s profession, most regularly interact, consult, and depend on people of all different backgrounds.

To experience career success, you need to embrace and follow Ellen’s words. It’s why my son Andrew has a great time playing with both his conservative homeschooled neighbors, as well as the ones with a Pride sign in their yard (and we fittingly live in the middle). They’re all awesome high-class people. So if you find yourself looking at people with differences with disdain, I recommend you do some soul searching. Maybe even see a counselor. Because until you change your beliefs to the core, your career will stall, and you won’t be happy. The good news? Change is possible. The great news? You may be able to fly further than you’ve ever dreamed. The awesomely-wonderful news? Maybe one day, you’ll sit in the middle of a former president and a liberal talk show host at a football game, enjoying everyone’s company.

Good luck job searching,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Forgiveness leads to career joy

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People don’t normally job hunt because all is perfect. Something went south. I promise: forgiveness will be key to moving on and soaring in a new career.

You may have had bad bosses, coworkers, been falsely blamed for events, not given a fair shake, etc. Maybe a family situation forced you to quit something you love. Perhaps you failed to perform. Without forgiveness, you search with a troubled heart. You miss opportunities. Potential employers see this.

The dictionary defines Forgiveness as “To cease to feel resentment against (an offender): Pardon.” It’s a conscious choice, has nothing to do with the other party, doesn’t mean what happened was right, and is for our growth. Holding on to hurt, pain, and anger harms us far more than the offender. It frees us to move on without the urge for revenge. Forgiving means we can speak of past jobs without grinding our teeth, don’t mention unfair situations, and speak in love. We look for new jobs with fresh eyes and excitement. We open our minds and broaden our horizons.

A person who lied about us isn’t happy. Sure, they could have taken our jobs and be drawing a great salary. Your car is repossessed; they drive to work in a new BMW, honking and swearing at someone that cuts them off. Their heart is sad. Revenge may be “fair” but is empty and fleeting. Meanwhile, we bike to an interview with inner joy and peace, (and get much needed exercise).

images (1)We all need forgiveness; look to God. When we repent, God forgives and remembers sins no more. No actions are beyond forgiving. It may take hard work, researching, therapy and more. It’s discussed in depth in the Bible. I suggest you read the passages and spend time working to forgive. Move on–you’ll reach new levels of happiness and success, serve as a terrific example, and the love you ooze is contagious.

Good luck job hunting,

Beth Husom, GCDF

Branding yourself

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Before I moved into career management, my school and work experience rested largely around Business Communications, Marketing, and PR, largely as a writer and Brand Specialist. “Branding” is defined as “Creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” Almost 15 years ago, a corporate client asked me to brand her husband. He needed a new job and needed to stand out. I helped him—and my new career was born as well.

Branding yourself is a great idea, even if you have a job. In this way, you direct people how to be remembered. As people, we tend to categorize and label others, associating them with a personality trait, strength, association, memory, belief, etc. Often we don’t verbalize these brands and many even happen in our subconscious or unconscious. I look to one of my favorite shows, Friends, for examples. Think of Joey and his famous “How you doin’?” By repeating it in scene after scene, along with actions, Joey Tribiani is a total ladies’ man.

Think—what do you want people to know about you, and what do you want to highlight? Find a phrase and keep voicing it. Consider the following: a woman wanted a job in a field that will require a lot of detailed organization. She started telling friends, family and coworkers how she loves categorizing her grocery lists. She planted the seed and repeated it often to many folks in many environments. Later, when a company had an opening, HR folks asked their employees: “We have an open position, totally don’t want to advertise for it (80% of open jobs aren’t published). Does anyone know a person who is (blah, blah, blah….and is majorly organized?)” The light clicked on. One had a friend who “even loves to categorize her grocery lists.” Low and behold, Ms. Detail got an exciting phone call, and it led to an exciting new job.

More about branding and ideas to come soon.

Good luck job hunting,

Beth Husom, GCDF

From independent contractor to corporate employee

photo-1542865763-0339b28c4a34I haven’t checked 2019 records, but in recent years’ past, more people worked as Independent Contractors or sole proprietors (professions like IT professionals, electricians, graphic designers, daycare providers, etc.), in Minnesota than worked for other companies. Some combine this with a part- or full-time outside job. My guess is we’re not the only state in this situation. Many people in the USA own their own businesses. Working for yourself can be great—flexibility, your own rules, branding niche, level of integrity, some decision on money and more. However, it’s not easy. You are responsible for 100% of the operations, and money isn’t guaranteed.

Due to circumstances, there often comes a time to get an outside job. But how do they get one? Some express difficulty, especially if they’ve been self employed a long time. I could detail reasons, but blogs aren’t books. In a nutshell, employers may wonder if a person could handle a boss, team, and rules well, and/or would go back to self-employment when possible. Some self-employed job seekers aren’t searching well/in the right places.

If you are self-employed and job seeking, understand relationships are key. You’ll often be hired by someone you know who respects you as a person and sees you are responsible and effective. You’ve been EVERYTHING at your own company, so realize you can do a lot. Expand your horizons. Volunteer for nonprofits, especially where there are timelines and events. Employers can see you have served on teams and followed timelines and rules. Have clients write letters of recommendation. Maybe consider smaller businesses where employees tend to have more duties. Closely monitor social media so nothing negative is associated with your name. Be honest about why you are looking to move into a stable environment, but don’t go into major details. Employers understand needed and desired changes. We all go through them. If your business isn’t doing well, it usually isn’t due to your ability to effectively perform your job duties, so try not to get hung up on negatives.

You have a TON to offer and WILL succeed. Show potential employers your excitement for working with them, excitement at making this change, and willingness for flexibility.

Good luck job seeking,

Beth Husom, GCDF