3 Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

You’ve answered their questions, you’ve talked about yourself and your strengths. The interview is winding down and your interviewer asks their final question: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Your answer needs to be yes. If you have no questions for your interviewer, you seem uninterested or like things are bit over your head. You have an opportunity not just to learn more about the position you’re applying for, but also to learn about the company and what it will take to succeed if you get the job. 

What do you enjoy most about working here?

Get an idea of what your interviewer likes most about the company. Not only will you learn what sets this company apart, but you’ll also get an idea of what values your interviewer and the company have. You can take their answer and see how well it aligns with what you want in your workplace. 

What are you hoping this role will accomplish moving forward?

It’s nice to know what the expectations are. When you’re new to a role, it can be difficult to know what you’re supposed to accomplish. Are you there to support others, or would it be ideal to take charge of things? Getting expectations laid out at the beginning will help you understand if the role is right for you, and if you land the job, you’ll know where to direct your efforts.

What are opportunities/challenges facing the company/department currently?

This is one of the things that will be hard to turn up in research. This question will help you understand the business, what some of their goals are and what to watch out for. As an employee, your interest in helping the company with opportunities and challenges will be valued and appreciated.

Asking your interviewer questions isn’t just about looking good during the interview. The questions you ask can help you in your role if you land the job. 

Keep Clichés Off Your Cover Letter

The cover letter is important. It’s a personal introduction about who you are and what you’ve accomplished. A good one provides more information than just a resume and should be considered an essential element to any job application. And yet, some people still think no one reads a cover letter. The truth is, the person who reads your cover letter has probably read hundreds just like it. If you’re sending out the exact same cover letter to every job you apply for, chances are it’s the same as everyone else’s. 

Cover Letter Clichés

To avoid having a cover letter that’s easily forgettable, you’ll need to keep the clichés out of your resume. The Muse has a great article about overused lines like “I’m a fast learner” and “This is exactly the job I’m looking for.” These lines, or similar ones, turn up in just about every cover letter. Imagine how tedious it is for the person reading them. Look for more creatives ways to get your point across. Add some personality to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

To Whom it may Concern

At every opportunity, find a name to address your letter to. Even if you’re applying online, finding the company, finding a phone number and calling to ask if there is a name you can address your letter to will put you ahead of everyone else. Sometimes this just isn’t possible. If you can’t find out who to address your cover letter to, don’t try and guess. It is far better to have “To whom it may concern” than to address it to the wrong person. 

I Did This and This and This

Your cover letter should be interesting. If you’re just going to use it to say what you’ve already written on your resume, there’s really no point. Use the opportunity of a cover letter to expand on what is in your resume. Talk about your accomplishments and your story. It’s cliché to think that the cover letter has to be a boring retelling of your professional life. 

Your cover letter will get read, as long as it’s not the same old, same old that recruiters and hiring managers are tired of seeing. Keeping clichés off your cover letter is one way to make sure they’ll be interested in what you have to say.

“I think ‘FEARLESS’ is having fears but jumping anyway.” – Taylor Swift

When we look up to our heroes, be they comic book heroes, celebrities, family or friends, we give them attributes like courage, valor and fearlessness. We come to expect them to take on every challenge without hesitation or fear. We idolize these people because, while we wish we could have these attributes ourselves, we doubt that we do. 

We think that because we are afraid of things, we couldn’t be called fearless. This quote from Taylor Swift gives that thought the boot. As Taylor says, being fearless isn’t never being afraid, it’s feeling that fear and going headlong into something anyway.

The truth is, your heroes are the same. They feel fear, they get nervous and they worry they aren’t good enough. The reason they were able to overcome those nerves and that fear? They jumped straight at the thing that scared them. 

So if you’re feeling afraid, don’t worry, everyone you look up to feels the same fears. The only question that remains is, will you be fearless in the way Taylor Swift points out, and face down the thing that’s making you afraid? Chances are you’ll be able to conquer your fear, and if you do, soon you may find people are looking up to you, and calling your fearless. 

How NOT to Get the Job

There’s a lot of job search advice out there. We’ve given plenty. But not all advice is good advice. Most of it comes from a good place. Anyone who is handing out advice is probably just like The Job Window, they want to help you find work. Sometimes that advice might be a little misguided.

We thought we’d put together a couple of key job search tips that you should avoid. Most of these tips sounds like a good idea, but taken in the wrong way, or taken too far, they’ll actually hurt your chances to get the job.

Take too much initiative

First on The Muse’s list of job search tips to avoid is “Take Initiative.” Taking initiative is great, to a point. Get those resumes out there, have cover letters ready to go. Try and find the name of the hiring manager so you can address your cover letter correctly. There comes a point when it can be too much. As The Muse points out, trying to schedule your own interview, or showing up unexpectedly will not help you get the job. 

Ignore the cover letter

There are still some people out there who think that no one reads a cover letter anymore, and that sending one in, especially when it’s not specifically asked for, is a waste of time. Now more than ever, having a well crafted cover letter is essential to each and every job application. A cover letter allows you to make a more personal introduction, and helps the hiring manager see how well you’d fit in.

Don’t bother with follow-up

Following up after you’ve applied for a position or after your interview is a key part of your job search. However knowing when, and how often to follow up is crucial. Depending on the job, a hiring manager might get hundreds of applications. If every single one of those applicants tried to follow up and contact the hiring manager they’d be pulling out their hair. That’s why most job postings say only those who are sought for an interview will be contacted. After an interview, if you don’t hear anything for more than a week, a polite email is a great way to keep in contact with your potential employer.

Most job search tips come from good intentions. We want you to show employers how awesome you are and help you get a job. Sometimes though, advice can be a little misleading and taken too far. Just remember to be respectful and not overly tenacious and you’ll be well on your way to landing a new gig!

You Have The Power To Influence Change at Your Workplace

The good news is that you don’t have to get bit by a radioactive spider and turn into Spider-Man to have great power. We know you may not feel like you have a lot of sway at your current job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power to influence and change things at your workplace. The question is, will you take the famous advice of Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and use your power for good, or will you just try to serve yourself?

It all starts with the right choices

From the moment you step into the workforce you’ll have a million choices to make. Everything from what your career path looks like, to how you choose to get there. Will you help others and give them credit, or will you take credit for yourself? It seems like the choice would be easy, but the options won’t always be so clear cut. 

And don’t worry, Spider-Man didn’t find the choice easy all the time either. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t obvious, and often the right thing to do is the harder of the options. Responsibility doesn’t mean always getting it right, but it does mean trying your best. 

You may feel powerless at times, but even with a small amount of control, how you hold yourself and operate when you’re at the start of your career will often carry through and be how you operate when you’re the boss. 

Using Twitter for Your Job Search

If you’re on the job search, you’ve probably already tried the usual routes. You’ve checked the job boards online and looked through specific company websites. You have checked LinkedIn as well. You’ve talked with friends and family to see if they know of any openings where they work. One place you may not have looked in your job search is Twitter

An increasing number of people are finding jobs through Twitter

Twitter is quickly becoming an important resource for your job search. According to an annual survey done by Jobvite, “last year 26% of job seekers said they were using Twitter to find work. This year, the number jumped to 34%.” As more and more job seekers move their search to Twitter, more and more companies will be looking there for great employees. 

If you want to use Twitter to help in your job search, the first thing you should do is start following people and companies that work in the field you want to work. Find people who are tweeting out jobs in your field. Don’t be afraid to interact with companies and individuals and start conversations with them on Twitter about the things they’re tweeting.

One habit to avoid is following people just to tweet at them about wanting a job. You’ll find yourself tuned out very quickly. 

Stay mindful of your profile

Another important thing to be mindful of is what your Twitter profile and timeline look like. If you’re using Twitter for your job search, you don’t want past tweets to come back and bite you. Make sure what you’re tweeting, re-tweeting and sharing is interesting and professional. Even better, are you writing blog posts or attending seminars and conventions relevant to your field? Make sure you’re tweeting about those as well. 

You’ll also want to make use of hashtags. Hashtags make your tweets more searchable, and they’ll allow you to refine your own search. If you search #jobposting, #hiring, #jobs and the name of your city, you’ll find a whole host of opportunities. You can even narrow down these details by including your industry in your search. 

You can also get involved in specific “chats”. Search for #jobhuntchat, #careerchat and #hirefriday to see when these chats happen. They’re filled with helpful advice and offer a great opportunity to ask questions. Mashable has a whole host of hashtags you can use.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Everyone knows all about IQ. Intelligence Quotient is the standard score that marks one’s intelligence. But what about EQ, Emotional Intelligence? Do you know what that’s all about? You should because EQ is equally, if not even more important than having a strong IQ. 

Recognizing emotions in yourself and others

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your own emotions, and the emotions of others. It’s the ability to recognize how others are feeling, then use that emotional information to inform your thoughts, decisions and actions. When you can tell a friend is feeling low and you ask them how they’re doing, that’s emotional intelligence guiding your actions. When you steer clear of a co-worker because you realize they’re in a terrible mood, that too is emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence is an essential skill for building relationships and networking. However it’s also an important quality for leading others. An article on Forbes states, “Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.”

You can have all the necessary skills for a job, but if you lack emotional intelligence, you may find yourself falling behind. Likewise, if you’re able to build your emotional intelligence, you’ll find yourself ahead of the competition.

EQ is a strong predictor of success

In that same Forbes article, they point out that among 33 other important workplace skills, emotional intelligence was the strongest predictor of success. This makes sense when you think about all the areas emotional intelligence affects. Communication, teamwork, trust, and more all benefit from a strong understanding of your own emotions, and the emotions of others. 

If you’re looking to test your emotional intelligence you can head here or here to see how you do. Given how important emotional intelligence is to growing your career, we recommend looking into it. 

The Rules of LinkedIn

You’ve got LinkedIn. Your profile look great and  you stand out. You’ve connected to friends, family and colleges. Now what?  To get the most out of LinkedIn there are some rules you should follow. As with all rules though, consider these more like guidelines than absolute dos and don’ts.

Join Groups and Share!

Once you’ve set up your LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to join some groups. LinkedIn has groups for everything from specific industries, to employment help and finding jobs. If you join a group, take some time to see what others are posting there. Once you’ve got a feel for the group, start sharing yourself. 

Connecting with a Personal Message

If you see someone you know on LinkedIn, go to their profile and connect with them. The default message LinkedIn gives you is impersonal, and you risk the person not accepting your request, especially if you don’t know them well. Make the invitation personal so that the person knows it’s a purposeful connection. Connect through their profile, not through the “people you may know” list. If you connect through the “People You May Know” list, it will send an impersonal invitation automatically.

Asking for an information interview

Informational interviews are a great way of  learning from people in industries you’re interested in. You can use LinkedIn to reach out to people you may not know for those interviews. The Muse offers a great example of how you can do this. 

Connecting with Recruiters

You may find that people you’ve never met try to connect with you on LinkedIn. Sometimes these are people who are just trying to expand their networks, and it might be best to ignore their requests. Sometimes these are recruiters who are searching for people who work in the industry they recruit for. Even if you’re happy with the job you have, feel free to connect with these recruiters. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Endorsements and Recommendations

Both endorsements and recommendations are key for your LinkedIn profile to stand out. Endorsements are given to you by your connections for specific skills and abilities. These endorsements will be seen on your profile under the Skills & Expertise heading.

Recommendations are write ups from people you’ve worked with. They’re like references in advance. Recommendations are specific to the jobs you’ve held in the past. Coworkers write about you and recommend your work. These recommendations will appear on your profile next to the job they relate to.

You should feel free to ask any of your LinkedIn connections for endorsements, while you should only ask people you’ve worked with for recommendations.

How to Work with a Bad Boss

How to Work with a Bad Boss

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of working for someone that makes your work day 100% worse, you know how much a bad boss can affect not only your work day, but your home life and your overall health. A sucky superior doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, but that doesn’t make working under them any easier. A miserable manager isn’t the end of everything though. There are a number of things you can do to make your relationship with your boss better, and perhaps in turn help them become a better boss.

Find Their Motivation

Tops on Forbes list of strategies for dealing with a bad boss is to find out their motivations. Ask yourself what does your boss want? What is their ultimate goal? And what are they afraid of? If you can find answers to these questions, you’ll start to see that some of your boss’ poor behavior directly relates to these issues.

Work Around Their Weaknesses

No one is perfect and bosses are no exception. For many managers, worrying about their weaknesses can make them lash out and get defensive. Identifying your boss’ weaknesses and working diligently to help them in those areas will do wonders for your relationship with your boss. If you can help compensate for one of their weaknesses, your own job situation may improve. Even though they’re your boss, they need support too.

Watch out for Triggers

Some bosses have things that just set them off. Identifying what those things are might be a bit of a trial and error process, but once you’ve done it, ensure you stay on top of them. Does your boss lose it if you Cc. them on too many emails? Do they blow up if you leave even a moment before 5pm? Make sure you are able to navigate these triggers.

Say Something

This one might be the most difficult of all. If you think that your boss isn’t great, the chances of you wanting to have a sit down with them will be pretty small. But some bosses are just used to being in charge and may not know what it is they are doing that isn’t working. It could be that single conversation with your boss will enlighten them to some of the issues they never knew were there.

When it comes to bad bosses, sometimes you can be proactive in learning what you can do help, and sometimes you have to watch where you step. Either way, do what you can to make the best of the situation.

What Will You Stop Trying to Do?

In Star Wars Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker is stuck. His ship, an X-Wing, is sunk in the mud and he’s trying to get it out. Yoda is instructing him in the ways of the Force. It’s when Luke says he’ll try to use the Force to get the X-Wing unstuck that Yoda shares this wisdom with Luke. 

The message is kind of harsh. “Give it a try” is common turn of phrase. But Yoda rebukes Luke for not having more confidence. To try is to see how it goes, to test the waters and see what’s possible. Yoda wants Luke to do away with the thought of trying, and to do something.

Trying, failing and giving up is not doing

When you think about it, there’s a deeper truth to what Yoda is saying. In all things, you either do them, or your don’t. Compare setting out to just try with setting out to do and do again until something is done.  In trying, there is a suggestion that if you don’t attain your goal, oh well, you tried. When Yoda tells Luke that this is only do, or do not, he’s telling him that you either accomplish something or you don’t. Trying, failing and giving up is not doing. Trying, failing and trying again until you succeed, that’s doing something.

Yoda’s message is don’t be satisfied with an attempt. Keep on going until you have done what to set out to do.