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Via Forbes : Ten Questions Employers Have About Your Employment Gap

How do employers react to that employment gap on your resume? Is it always a negative reaction? Will employers give you a chance to explain what happened and move forward, or will they just assume the worst and pass on you?

As a career coach, I have worked with job seekers coming back after time off. As a recruiter, I have reviewed candidates with employment gaps on their resumes. Yes, you can get hired after a gap in employment, even a gap of several years.

Employers do question your employment gap. However, they don’t always ask everything they’re thinking outright. You need to anticipate these questions and assuage their concerns even if they’re unspoken. Here are ten questions employers have about your employment gap:

Why has no one hired you?

When a candidate is selected for interviews despite an apparent employment gap, it’s because there are other factors that positively outweigh the gap. However, this doesn’t mean that the employment gap no longer matters. Employers still need to be reassured that they made the right decision in deciding to interview you. You need to have a strong interview to immediately put the employer at ease and make them think they’d be lucky to have you. Don’t give a weak interview that leaves the employer to think, “Oh, that’s why no one else has hired you.”

What really happened at your last job?

Employers will ask about the job right before your gap, and they will look for reasons to probe further – a story that doesn’t make sense or lingering resentment on your part. The best way to move on from your last job is to really have moved on. If you were let go, give a brief outline of what happened (e.g., your entire department was eliminated, the project you were hired for was cancelled) and then turn the focus back on the interview. Don’t give the employer any reason to suspect there is anything more to worry about.

How sound is your professional judgment?

If you left your job on your own accord and you’re now still unemployed, then something didn’t work out for you – e.g., a business venture didn’t work out or it’s taking longer than expected to get back. A business failure or a protracted job search aren’t deal-breakers in and of themselves unless they are just part of a pattern of bad decisions. Make sure the rest of your career story shows smart, empowered decisions so there is no lingering doubt about your professional judgment.

Do you have commitment issues?

If you left your last job on your own accord, is it because you weren’t committed to your last job, and could this lack of commitment extend to your next jobs? It’s widely accepted that it’s better to look for a job when you have one. If you were that willing to leave your last job that you would take the risk of unemployment over staying put, some employers will view this as a lack of commitment. Make sure you show commitment and follow-through in other areas of your professional background.

Do you get along with your colleagues?

A common back story to being let go is poor teamwork and relationships with colleagues, including direct reports and management. Maybe you weren’t the only one to be let go, but if the company is still standing that means others were spared instead of you. Is there a reason you did not have enough people to advocate for you? Prioritize building rapport during your hiring process so that questions about your interpersonal skills don’t arise.

Will your references tell a different story?

Regardless of what you say and how well you interview, the reference checking process will be weighed heavily when there is an employment gap. Don’t scramble at the last-minute to collect your references. Make sure to include references from your most recent job before the gap. Ask your references to specifically comment on your relationship skills, commitment and follow-through, and professional judgment – those areas where employers may have unvoiced concerns.

What have you been doing all this time?

While there will be digging into what happened in the past, employers are hiring for a future need. They want to know that the person you are now is a solution to the problem they’re hiring for. Therefore, what have you been doing with yourself that makes you relevant to the job at hand? Your time off can’t be just about your job search – that’s focused on you. The employer wants someone focused on them – their industry, their business concerns. What you should have been doing (and what you need to highlight during the interview process) are activities, research and learning related to the employer and job at hand.

Have your skills atrophied?

Since employers are fixated on how you can help them, this means your skills need to be sharp enough that you are productive from day one. This includes computer and other job-specific skills – make sure your employment gap includes projects that show your skills are current. This also includes personal attributes, such as showing up ready to work and having the stamina for full, hectic work days – make sure your employment gap shows structure and substantive activities.

Is your expertise out of date?

In addition to current skills, you want to demonstrate current expertise, especially if your employment gap is over a year. Continued membership in professional associations, awareness of recent trends and developments in your specific area, and ability to engage in discussions about what competitors are doing are all examples of how you can demonstrate up-to-date expertise in an area. These are also things you can accomplish even outside professional employment. Make sure you research your field –by reading up on it, by attendings events and conferences, and by networking with professionals and experts.

Will I regret hiring you?

When an employer decides to hire, this is not an impersonal decision made by an entity. This is a choice made by a person, or typically a handful of people, who are saying, “This is the person we want to bring into the company.” They also are effectively saying, “This is where thousands of budget dollars will be spent. This is where we are giving up one of our headcount spaces. This is the person that we are going to work side-by-side with for an unforeseen amount of time.” A bad hiring decision causes a lot of regret. An employment gap is like a warning sign, and if an employer proceeds anyway, they want to know they won’t regret it. Be confident, energetic and upbeat throughout your hiring process so the employer never second-guesses their decision to pick you.

Because an employment gap raises so many questions, many of which aren’t raised explicitly, the employment gap is a resume killer. Employers are likely to skip over resumes with gaps because there are enough out there without one. This means that you need to get in front of employers aside from submitting a resume. Directly contacting employers, networking through friends and colleagues, and making connections at professional association meetings or conferences are all ways to circumvent the faceless resume submission process and tell your story so that your employment gap isn’t the first or only thing they know about you.

Via Video Conferencing Daily : These Video Conferencing Job Interview Tips Will Get You Ready for Digital Recruitment

The Indiana State Government recently learned the hard way that you’ve got to go online to make an impact in the digital age.

The Department of Workforce Development staged a traditional, tents-and-handouts job fair, convinced 32 companies to trot out their marketing and recruitment staff…only to have just 15 job seekers attend the fair. Those are great odds if you’re one of the career-seeking 15, but a slim talent pool to draw from if you’re one of the (presumably) bored 32.

It seems today’s state governments are quick to learn their lessons, however. The same department turned things around this November by staging several digital job fairs over a public live video stream instead. This time they attracted the interest of more than 100 people, with hundreds more able to watch the day’s digital events at their leisure on a recorded video.

What’s the lesson? Everything is digital today. Even employment. If you want to make the most of what digital recruitment can offer job hunters, take a look through these video conferencing job interview tips–and make sure you’re not the last person carrying home bundles of leaflets from a 20th-century job fair.

A Digital Job Fair

Digital job fairs, like the ones staged in Indiana, are more or less giant video conferences. The attending employers each get time at the podium to present their case as the greatest place to work, and to outline career opportunities for young recruits. Each of these spiels is broadcast over an interactive video conference link which also enables remote job seekers to ask questions in real-time, in front of a live audience.

Digital space for such events is limited, so audience members have to sign up and download the appropriate video calling app ahead of time. You’ll find these fairs easily enough through a Google search–here’s one, and here’s one and here’s a list of fairs coming up in Canada–and you’ll need just a quality webcam to participate. Each virtual job fair you attend will likely look a little different, based on the platform being used, but here is one example of what you might expect:

The point of these fairs is to research and impress your future employer. But how do you prepare and present as if you were shaking hands with these company folks in person if you’re actually sitting in your kitchen, having just wiped the last breakfast crumbs from your face?

Here’s how.

Video Conferencing Job Interview Tips

Unlike a real-world job interview, an online meeting demands you take into account not only your personal appearance but every aspect of the image captured by your webcam. Great hair, great suit, Motley Crue poster in the background won’t cut it. The first and most important thing you can do is invest in a quality webcam. HD models cost less than $100, and will make a world of difference in how you come across via video conference. Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to:

Own your webcam space

Set yourself up in front of clean, neutral-colored wall or curtain. Something “academic” like a bookcase or a home office can look busy and distract from what you’re saying. If you need to, use a background-altering app or hardware to fill out the world behind you.

Fit your screen

As a rule, you want to position your webcam so that you’re visible from about the top of your hairline to the top of your chest is visible. You want to be close enough to convey facial emotions, but distant enough to be able to gesture with your hands.

Calm your wardrobe

Video conferencing is a complex exchange of digital information, and wearing bold geometric patterns or wavy lines will perform all manner of bad 80s music video effects on your body. Like having clutter in your background, patterns and loud clothing are also distracting. Stick to simple clothing in solid colors.

Get the lighting right

You don’t need a prison searchlight shining on your face to be visible online, but, depending on your webcam quality, you may need to perform a test video call to get the lighting right. The soft light from a couple of household lamps should do the trick, and you should be lit from the front at all times.

These tips, together with a decent sense of style, should get you through the visual elements of an online interview. However, there’s more to digital meetings than just appearances.

Presenting Your Virtual CV

If you’re visiting a whole line of potential employers at a digital job fair you’ll want to leave behind something more tangible than just a good impression. Create a digital resume of all your achievements and attributes and give your future colleagues something they can pin next to your name.

Most of the leading video conferencing platforms, including Skype, Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and Zoom, have screen sharing functions that let you share your desktop with your interviewers. Use it to play multimedia slideshows, videos, and recorded testimonials, as well as display any works of art or completed projects that are relevant. You can also post media and other materials to your website and share the link with recruiters, or make a short video and send the file using your video conference service.

The great advantage of attending a digital job fair is that you can meet face-to-face with employers from across the state, country, or globe, and unlock potential careers you’d never encounter at a real-world event. Embrace the digital nature of the new virtual career fair and video conferencing interview, and you’re ready to project your best self across the internet and land the perfect job–even if it’s in another city, state, or country–without leaving your home.

Via Business Insider : How to spot 4 common lies employers tell job applicants

By now, we should all know that it’s dangerous to lie on a resume. But you know what? In the job search conversation between employers and candidates, a bit of fibbing sometimes happens on the employer side, too.

Often, there’s no ill will intended. While there are a few bad apples in the bunch (as with the rest of humanity), most recruiters and HR folks are motivated by the desire to put the right people into the jobs they have to fill. The trouble is that overwork and overly large candidate pools can thwart good intentions—so those little white lies meant to spare a job seeker’s feelings end up not doing the candidate any favors.

We asked some recruiting experts to name the biggest lies recruiters tell, so you can spot the untruths and be ready to deal with them

1. ‘We’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.’
Recruiters meet a lot of people. And most of them have huge candidate databases. Often when they speak this untruth, they mean it: They are keeping your resume on file. Just know that they’re doing so in a gigantic filing cabinet, and that out of sight often means out of mind.

How to handle: Don’t assume that “no” means “never.” Once you’ve started a conversation with a recruiter, don’t let the conversation end just because you’re not offered one job. Stay in touch via professional networking sites, and stay abreast of goings-on at the company so you can be aware of opportunities before they’re posted.

Just remember that there’s a fine line between “staying in touch” and “stalking.” So contact the recruiter only when you have a genuine reason to do so. And as with all professional contacts, don’t just look for favors to ask—also look for ways to be of service.

2. ‘Salary depends on experience.’
Usually, the company has a ballpark figure in mind. If a recruiter asks for your salary requirements or expectations, he’s trying to see whether you’re in that ballpark.

How to handle: In general, it’s better to wait until a job offer is on the table before moving onto salary negotiations—but recruiters sometimes use salary requirements as a way to thin out the candidate pool.

In this case, your best defense is having done thorough research. Make sure you know what’s competitive for the position, the industry and the region, combined with what’s appropriate for someone with your background. That way, you can answer the question in terms of what your research has uncovered (not in terms of what your specific needs are), and then you can add something like, “But of course a conversation about salary makes more sense when we’re discussing a job offer.” Don’t lowball your number, but perhaps let the recruiter know that you’ll weigh nonsalary compensation (vacation days and other perks, for example) with the actual salary offer.

3. ‘You’ll hear from us either way.’
The truth is that you might never hear — or you might not hear when you expect to. The reasons vary, but a lack of communication after an interview can indicate indecisiveness on the part of the hiring team.

How to handle: Tackle this lie preemptively. Always leave a job interview knowing when you can expect to hear from the hirers. That way, you won’t torture yourself wondering whether it’s too soon to call them back. If they say they’ll get back to you by next Friday and they don’t, send a friendly email to check in. You can even use this check-in email as a chance to continue selling yourself as a candidate. If you’ve had any further thoughts about issues raised in the interview, now is a great time to touch on them again. If they need more time, give it to them—but be firm and friendly about following up.

As for a company that never follows up with you after an interview—even to say “no thank you”—that could be a sign that something is wrong at the company. Smart employers know that treating candidates as well as customers is the right way to do business.

4. ‘We aren’t finished interviewing yet.’
Sometimes this is true. Sometimes this means you’re the company’s “Plan B” candidate. But this statement makes it sound as if the company has at least settled on a solid group of contenders, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes recruiters use this line as a stalling tactic when they’re still looking for someone more perfect than anyone in their current candidate pool.

How to handle: Look at this statement as an opportunity to prove yourself. If your post-interview wait time is being extended because the hiring team is “reviewing other candidates,” ask questions like, “Do you have any specific questions or concerns about my ability to handle any aspect of the job? I’d love to address them and demonstrate that I’m the perfect candidate.”

Every interaction with a recruiter or hiring manager is an opportunity to persuade them that you’re the right person for the job. If you’re getting mixed messages, asking direct questions and staying focused will help you understand what’s really going on.

Via Fortune : How to Make Your Next Job Interview Count

As Fortune reports in a new feature story this week, employers are increasingly looking beyond traditional credentials to find job candidates whose life experiences show their “grit,” the persistence, resilience and creativity under pressure that can be a better proxy for success than any posh internship or Ivy League degree.

The growing importance of grit is changing the dynamics of the typical job interview. If you’re a job candidate, every conversation you have with a recruiter, a sponsor, or an interviewer is an opportunity to frame your story and telegraph your strengths through this new lens. And if you are the interviewer, you face the challenge of looking past preconceptions and connecting with unconventional candidates in order to find the talent your company needs.

Here are tips for navigating the interview, for people on either side of the desk.

3 Tips for Job Candidates

➜ Let your own light shine. Potential employers may not feel comfortable asking or talking about family struggles or difficult experiences like foster care. But if such experiences helped you develop and display strength, resilience, or ingenuity, bring them up. “We encourage young men to look at their story through the asset prism, not the deficit prism,” says Blair Taylor, former CEO of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an organization dedicated to improving the odds for men of color. (It’s now being folded into the Obama Foundation.)

Ask for help. When preparing for a hiring or advancement conversation, find a mentor to help you craft your talking points. “I’m always amazed at how few young employees of color seek out mentors or advice,” says Zackarie Lemelle, former CIO of Johnson & Johnson and current executive coach. The same can be said of folks of all ages and backgrounds who haven’t spent time at the most sought-after schools and workplaces. Many people in positions of authority “would gladly take the time to give you this type of feedback,” says Lemelle. “And they know how things work.”

Craft a story that people can share. It helps to shape your talking points into a narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end that an interviewer can remember and repeat. “Some of the most important conversations happen when the candidate is not in the room,” says Kailei Carr, director of the Emerge Academy, a women’s leadership-development program. “It’s critical that people with political clout and influence understand you well enough to be able to advocate on your behalf.”

3 Tips for Interviewers

➜ Stay open and curious. Hiring managers and interviewers can be prone to fixating on familiar keywords (schools, job titles, references) on résumés, overreacting to their presence or absence. “Remember that the person sitting in front of you is a stranger, no matter what their résumé does or doesn’t say,” says Carla J. Ogunrinde, chair of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum, an organization dedicated to advancing black professionals in tech. “You don’t know them. If you begin at that entry point, then curiosity is the only natural next step.”

➜ Let them try you on for size. Many companies give life-complexity candidates room to prove themselves by letting them audition for jobs, rather than just applying. “We let people come and sit side by side with us while we work on a real challenge,” says Briana van Strijp, head of people and culture for Anthemis, an investment and advisory fund focusing on digital financial services. Since collaboration is a key value, “it leads to richer interactions and actual conversations.”

➜ Share your own story. For applicants without elite educational backgrounds, interviews can be daunting. Opening up about your own life story can put an interviewee at ease, establishing rapport and trust. “Everyone has a story, everyone has stumbled, and everyone has succeeded,” says Salesforce’s Tony Prophet. Strategic disclosure can be disarming and lead to better conversations—giving the candidates a chance to describe the strengths they’re bringing to you. “It’s part of being an authentic leader,” he notes.

Interview tips for graduates

Posted by | January 25, 2018 | Interviews, Tips

Via Showhouse : Interview tips for graduates

Even with a great degree to your name, the search for the job and career path you really want can still be tough, with lots of competition for the very best roles out there.

Here, we take you through some of the best preparation and interview techniques to apply in order to maximise your chances of ‘sealing the deal’ and getting that job.

Talk about the company

There’s a high chance that an early question will be along the lines of “What do you know about us?”, so it’s worth doing some research before your interview to demonstrate your interest in your potential future employer. Take in a little of their history and an overview of their current projects. Tell them what aspects of what they have achieved and are currently doing appeals to you and where appropriate, how the strengths you have fit in with their ethos.

Their own website is a good first stop, but try to find them in news stories and industry organisations, too, and get a broad sense of what they do and how they do it.

Talk about the job

If you don’t already have a good idea about the role itself and what it entails, try to find out more about day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Go into the interview with a good idea about how it fits in with your own career ambitions and also what the company may offer in career progression, eg related projects and roles as well as further training and qualifications. While you may be familiar with the duties, this might be an opportunity to get the interviewer to talk about a typical day and how particular tasks are organised at this company.

Talk about your experiences

You’re bound to be asked to “Tell us something about yourself”, so it’s worth thinking beforehand how you’d go about it. Try to keep it focused on your academic and work experience and achievements. Make sure what you say fits in with what you’ve put on your CV! Remember the details about dates and duties for relevant work placements. This is also a good opportunity to talk about what you’re looking for in a job and how this company is the best one to help you achieve that.

Talk about your abilities

If you’ve already gained good experience that is relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s important to communicate your competency. This doesn’t have to be 100% focused on industry work experience – you might have occasions when part-time jobs or leisure activities gave you a chance to shine. Think of some examples of the ways you approached your duties and resolved any problems you faced so that you can clearly demonstrate that you understood what was needed and had the abilities to achieve it. If you have more than those you may have written about in your job application, even better.

You may also be given a work-related scenario and asked how you would react in that situation, in order to show you have the abilities and attitude that the company is looking for, for example, calmness, adaptability, confidence and application, to name just a few. You’ll be very fortunate to have experienced the exact circumstances described to you, but you could try to apply it to other situations you’ve been through where you’ve shown the values they are looking for.

Talk about your potential

You may be asked about what you think you could bring to the role. Answering well shouldn’t involve being arrogant, but there’s no advantage to being too modest either. The best solution here for a response is to combine your ability to do the job with personal qualities that will help you achieve this. So your answer might include technical know-how and proven achievements alongside how the way you think and behave will be a benefit to the team you work with and the company as a whole.

Ask your own questions

You should be given an opportunity to ask your interviewer about anything that may not have been raised in the rest of the interview. Asking the right questions can help in giving a very positive view that you’re the right person for the job. Your previous research into the company might be useful here, as there may be details on certain projects or company policies that you’d really like to know. It can also be a chance to find out what the company’s ambitions are in the medium term. Asking the interviewer about what they enjoy about working for this company is also a good idea.

Expect the unexpected

Some job interviews – particularly at graduate level – can take an unexpected angle from time to time. Many interviewers feel they can learn a great deal about a candidate very quickly by getting their reaction to an unusual question!

Your answers to these ‘curve balls’ might be an important element in differentiating you from the competition, so be sure to keep your composure with your response. There’s often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer – the test is probably to see how you think through it and your creativity. Try to be confident about it and talk thorough how you come about your answer.

Here are just some of those many off-beat things that you might be asked:

  • Can you describe yourself in three words?
  • If you could spend a day on a desert island with one person, who would it be and why?
  • What kind or car would you liken yourself to?
  • In a film about your life, who should play the role of you?
  • How many footballs would fill this room?
  • How do you rate me as an interviewer?