Searching Out of State

It is hard enough to find a job within the city where you live. Try finding a job in a different state. Where do you begin your search? How can you come in for an interview if you live over 500 miles away? Let me help you out a bit.

Your first step is to ask for a job transfer. This is the easiest way to secure a job in another state if your company has offices throughout the United States. Talk to someone in Human Resources about your options and see what they can recommend. If your company is exclusive to your current hometown, see if Human Resources can still help you set up interviews at similar companies in your new state.

If you can’t transfer then the next step is to look online for job postings. Go to job boards to look within you new city and post your resume online. Contact employers over the Internet and explain that you are relocating and would like the chance to discuss opportunities. Using the Internet is the fastest and most productive way to job search out of state.

Finally remember to talk to friends, family, and co-workers about your job search. Word of mouth is the best way to hear about positions and companies you have never heard of before and would have never considered.

If you are able to utilize one of these tactics to land an interview make sure you don’t have any scheduling conflicts. Interviewing out of state takes some consideration into what you are missing at your current job back home and how many trips you have to make for interviews. Be efficient and try to schedule numerous interviews in one trip. This way it is cost effective and saves time spent on traveling. If a hiring manager invites you back for a second interview tell him or her that you are only in town for a few days and it would be helpful to schedule the next interview while you are still in the area. Finding a new job out of state can be easy if you network and make the most of your time, energy and money that is put into job searching and interviewing.


Musical Chairs

When preparing for an interview; you practice what you’re going to say, you carefully choose a sharp outfit – but the real question is where are you going to sit?

Believe it or not, there’s a psychology some HR people use when seating you for an interview. It’s simple really. All they do is find some way to place them in a seat of power over you. To tell you the truth, I don’t know why they do it. I don’t know if by doing this they get some keen insight into the inner workings of your work ethic. Part of me thinks they do it because of tradition. Another part of me thinks they do it because it’s fun. Whatever the case may be, it’s something you have to look out for when choosing your seat for an interview.

The most common arrangement you’ll run into is the big desk. The person interviewing you sits behind a big desk and offers you the small, uncomfortable chair on the other side. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a choice of two, but sometimes you’re limited to just one. In either case, you have to concede this layout to the interviewer. If given the choice of two chairs, choose the one that will provide the most comfortable viewing angle for the person interviewing. Sure, they get the upper hand, but you also don’t want to give them a stiff neck.

On some occasions, especially if it’s a larger office, the interviewer may lead you over to a lounge area with a couch and some chairs. Your impulse is to take the couch. It’s more comfortable and you think you’ll seem more relaxed during the interview. You’d be wrong. Couches promote slouching. Your eye level will be lower, your posture will be loose and you’ll generally seem less positive because of it. Always choose the chairs. They promote better posture and you’ll project much better because of it.

Other instances may see the interviewer leading you to a table. This can be in a conference room, which means a long table, or a smaller table the office typically uses for impromptu meetings with a small group. The temptation here is to sit across from the interviewer. This actually creates negative space between you, almost setting you up as combatants as opposed to willing participants in an exchange of ideas. You’ll want to sit next to the interviewer, but keep a comfortable distance to achieve this effect.

It’s difficult to not think of an interview as some sort of combat, especially in the business world where executives read The Art of War slavishly. But, you need to try and imagine that the interviewer isn’t your enemy but rather a collaborator. You’re going to share ideas and both decide if this career move is the best for you and the company.

How to Shine in Your Phone Interview

You apparently did a great job in impressing the hiring manager with your resume. Now you need to prepare yourself for the imperative phone interview. Successfully answering the posed questions is key to securing a face-to-face interview or landing the job altogether. How can you blow away the employer over the phone and make yourself pop off of that resume they are holding in front of them?

First you need to set yourself apart from other candidates. Brand yourself and sell your unique aspects to the employer. Make sure that he or she knows your specific talents and why you are so valuable. This will help hiring managers remember you when it comes time to separating applicants from the pack. On the phone it is also important to have a positive attitude and show enthusiasm. Because you aren’t face-to-face you need to use the inflection in your voice to show interest in the job. Next, make sure you are listening and answering carefully. Answer appropriately to the question you were asked and don’t ramble off topic. It is important that you stay alert to the questions and stay on topic because you can’t see an employer’s body language if he or she is getting bored with you. The next step is probably the most important; research the company! Be prepared to talk about why you are interested in the company. If you do your research you are able to flatter the employer by talking about specific campaigns and how you are impressed with the goals and projects of the company.

At the end of your phone interview you need to make sure that you know your next step with the company. Make sure you write down the name of the person you were speaking to and get the information for your follow up interview. Be positive, polite and show interest in the company. You can land that job with this little push in the right direction.

Highlighting Your Work Experience

Chances are, every job you’ve had over the years hasn’t fit into a neat and perfectly descriptive slot. You might’ve held a job for positions like “Keyholder” or “Key Holder.” These are very different positions, but how will anyone who’s never held that exact job know the difference? Sometimes a resume just doesn’t have enough space. Sometimes certain things could be taken out of context.

I’ve held both positions during my working years. When I was a Keyholder, I worked at a bookstore in the mall. This position was one step below an assistant manager. Basically, I was an assistant manager who didn’t work 40 hours a week (because of school). A friend suggested I write “Shift Lead” on my resume instead to explain what the heck I did there. Even that doesn’t cover everything, though, and you can’t write an essay about each place you’ve worked. No one will read that!

Someone who’s been (or may have known) a Keyholder might assume that a Key Holder is the same thing. It’s totally not. A Key Holder is the position at a large home improvement store that refers to the person in charge of the key making service they offer. I didn’t oversee any other employees. I didn’t actually have my own set of keys to the store. What I did do, though, was a huge array of various duties in addition to making keys. People don’t line up in front of the key counter at all hours of the day and night. There’s downtime. Lots of it. So I would help out in any section that needed me for the sake of keeping myself sane. Can I list every little thing I did on my resume? No. That’s not what it’s for.

This is where you come in. As the only person in the interview room who was actually at all of these workplaces, doing these varied jobs and duties, it’s up to you to convey their importance and relevance to your prospective employer. You shouldn’t act as if your résumé is the end all, be all of who you are as an employee. There’s a lot more story to tell than the few little blurbs under each job heading on that one sheet of paper.

Think of your résumé as the outline you’d use to write a history paper in high school. Your outline just has bullet points for you to expand on in your paper. Your résumé serves the exact same purpose. The hiring manager you’re interviewing with has seen the résumé, and now it’s time for you to flesh it out, to give it life and description. Paint them a picture of who you are as an employee. Review your résumé and have notes in front of you with things you’d like to make sure they know more about from it.

For example, your résumé might say something like, “Assisted with departmental development statistics.”

That phrase doesn’t mean much to people who did not work with you, though it looks good on your résumé, it could still use some explanation.

Be sure to emphasize the specific parts of your old jobs that will help you do this one (creative tasks if your new position will deal with creating things, organizational tasks if the new job will include being in charge of others, etc.).

This is a simple step that can really make you a memorable candidate who knows what his strengths, and therefore his limitations, are in the workplace.

Tips for making a great first impression in the workplace

My husband and I ate lunch last Sunday with a small group of people we haven’t spent much time with. The setting was nice: an outdoor Chinese restaurant with delicious rice concoctions and fortune cookies for dessert. There was a slight breeze and the weather was in the 70s; life was good. However, there was one woman present who monopolized the entire conversation, and I found myself more and more eager for our outing to end. This particular incident helps highlight one of the key lessons in the art of first impressions: self-absorption is not an attractive quality.

Sure, we all enjoy talking about our life, our dreams, and our desires with someone. That’s a necessary part of life. We need to feel that someone gets us and cares about us, and we do that through communication. But the first time you meet someone is not the time to debrief them about your life—past, present and future.

First impressions happen everywhere, but one place where they are particularly important is the office. Let’s say you just landed your dream job and this morning is your first day. You’re probably nervous, maybe you didn’t sleep well last night, but take a deep breath and look at today as an opportunity—you get to start from fresh with your coworkers and boss. Here are three tips for making your debut in any office a hit.

1). As highlighted by my Chinese restaurant example, it’s not all about you. Of course, your coworkers are going to be curious about you. They’re going to ask questions, and you certainly don’t want to be evasive, but make it clear you are just as interested in getting to know them. When people learn you aren’t self-absorbed, they’re much more likely to view you positively and seek you out in the future.

2). Dress professionally. This shows your coworkers and boss that you care about your job, the company, and that you respect them enough to display a high level of professionalism.

3). Stay off your cell phone and no text messaging unless on lunch or break. Even if other coworkers are on their personal phones, it’s best to avoid such practices, especially in the beginning when you are still unsure of company policies.

So, savor the opportunity to create great first impressions: they are a powerful tool that will help you both professionally and personally.