Monday, October 29, 2012

Interviewing the Interviewer

Katharine Hepburn once said, “Death will be a great relief. No more interviews.” As an actress Hepburn was probably referring to interviews about her work and life but, for many, this quote fits for the dreaded job interview.

Any Internet search will result in millions of hits offering advice on how to be successful in job interviews, explaining the types of interviews, and even the meaning of some of the strange questions interviewees may encounter such as “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?” asked by Horizon Group Properties or “If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?” asked by Rain and Hail Insurance.

In any interview it is important to be yourself; there’s a saying in HR – “hire for skill and fire for fit.” Regardless of the question or the format, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of whether or not you’ll “fit” with the organization as well as whether or not you have the skills/expertise to do the job. However, job interviews are also a perfect time for you to interview the employer. It’s your chance to determine whether the job and organization is a good fit for you.

Do your research to learn as much about the organization and its culture before sending your resume. As you arrive to the interview, continue your research paying attention to the environment and the people. As your interview begins, strive to make it a two-way conversation. Be prepared for when it is your turn to ask questions. Strive to ask questions that will help you assess whether or not the job is a good fit for you. This is your chance to learn whether it is really the job you want.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snapshot Of Diversity In The Workplace [Infographic]

The folks at Career Builder have put together this snapshot of diversity in the workforce.  Find the full infographic by clicking on the picture below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Targeting Your Resume to Stand Out

To make your resume stand out from the crowd, don’t waste your time on fancy paper or fonts. Instead, take the time to target your resume to the specific job and organization you’re applying to. With only 20-30 seconds to impress the employer, you’ve got to demonstrate your fit fast. A targeted resume presents employers with content that clearly showcases your skills, knowledge, and experience in relation to the position; employers aren’t left “guessing.”

To target your resume, first carefully review the job ad for clues as to what knowledge, skills, and abilities the organization is looking for. Identify any key words and, whenever possible, use those same terms in your resume. Keywords play an important role in the pre-screening process. Often only those resumes that successfully get past pre-screeners are reviewed by the HR department and/or managers. If you have some gaps in qualifications, don’t panic; gaps can be addressed in your targeted cover letter. Carefully consider how you’ll overcome these gaps and highlight what other value you bring to the position.

Don’t stop with qualifications. Investigate corporate culture and target your resume here as well. A company’s website can give your clues on the corporate culture. Take a look for a corporate mission statement or articles on the organization’s charitable endeavours. If you can make a link between your own values and the organization’s, you’ll be able to demonstrate a good corporate fit.
Ultimately, you want to make it as easy as possible for the organization to see your relevant qualifications and fit within the organization. And always remember, a clean, concise, and error-free resume is a must. For more tips on resume writing, see 10 Tips for Crafting a Compelling Resume.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Logistics Of e-Coaching

Mention you're thinking about e-counselling or coaching, whether as a client or as a professional, and you'll almost certainly get mixed reactions. Some people embrace the idea; others will tell you it can’t be done. Most fall somewhere between those extremes. We've chosen to co-author this article from a middle ground perspective; having experienced e-counselling/coaching as clients, professionals, students, and instructors, we see this in multiple shades of grey.

Naysayers express concerns that effective counselling/coaching requires access to body language and tone of voice; however, working online doesn't preclude that. Effective e-counselling/coaching can happen via email, phone, Skype, e-chat, and even texting. Contextual cues can be provided through emoticons (e.g., “smileys”) or bracketed statements (e.g., [huge sigh . . . wow, that's so hard to think about]); this, of course, requires effective modelling and teaching/coaching your clients how to communicate in this medium. Professionals can explore missing details through questioning (e.g., “You’re writing hints that this may be a difficult subject to discuss; what are you feeling when you write about this?”)

Even easier and more natural is to use technologies that effectively transmit video and voice (e.g., Skype with webcams). For example, once Roberta was using Skype to counsel a Canadian client working abroad in a remote community. At one point in their conversation, Roberta noticed her client reach for a Kleenex and wipe her eyes. Although Roberta had missed the emotion in her voice - she didn't sound particularly upset at that point - because of the webcam, she was able to observe and comment on the client’s body language, resulting in a very powerful counselling moment that helped the client turn a significant corner.

Identifying the most appropriate technology for each client, and equipping the client to use it effectively, is another logistical challenge; in our experience, employing a mix of platforms works best. Being comfortable with the technology you choose is essential; you’ll need to troubleshoot when problems arise. For example, Miranda was working through Skype with someone overseas but the connection continually dropped the calls. They then moved to a Skype text chat to continue the momentum of the session. After a few calls they realized that the call connection was stronger at certain times of day and adjusted their schedules accordingly. Technology is simply the channel to reaching goals; if it isn’t working, try another channel.

To become a competent e-counsellor or coach, we encourage you to access relevant professional development. When Roberta first began teaching online, she chose to take one online course to experience it from the students' perspective – she went on to complete three full certificate programs in e-teaching, e-course development, and e-coaching. When Miranda began to teach e-coaching, she volunteered as a client for several coaches - learning much in the process.

Working online can expand your practice, offer a convenient alternative to some of your current clients, and help you and your clients balance complex life roles and demands. We encourage you to explore the potential for e-counselling and e-coaching and, if you decide to proceed, to engage in the research, professional development, and technologies that will ensure your new services are effective.

Also visit our article about e-Coaching Ethics on the Contact Point wesite:

Roberta Neault, president of Life Strategies Ltd., is an award-winning career counsellor, published author, and international speaker, serving as consulting editor of the Journal of Employment Counseling and past president of CCPA's Career Counsellors Chapter.

Miranda Vande Kuyt is an associate with Life Strategies and an experienced e-coach and consultant.  You can join Miranda in an upcoming e-coaching course