Tag Archives: job application

Why did you apply for this job? (II)

It might look like a simple question, but only a few of the candidates can answer it in an appropriate manner. Thus this question is not usually addressed in this form; the recruiter needs to have it answered and, needless to say, the answer has a significant impact on the final result of your interview.

Hopefully, I will not disappoint you by saying that “because I need a job” or “because I need money” is not the best answer you could give. On contrary, these may be in the top of the worst answers.

When you apply for a job we may assume that:

  1. You consider you are suitable for that job
  2. You are interested in that job

Consequently, the one question mentioned in the title can be translated in two more specific questions:

  • How would you relate your key competencies to this position?
  • What motivates you to apply for this job/company/ industry?

In order to be prepared to answer, firstly perform a self assessment. This helps you to identify your strengths and apply for jobs where those will be best valued. Read carefully the job ad and apply only when you meet the mandatory requirements and you consider your strengths relevant for that job.

Secondly, conduct a brief research on the company you are applying for and identify what motivates your interest. It could be the industry, the company’s position on the market, its values, quality of services, strategy and so on. Find out what would be that thing that could make you choose that job in that  company from another job in another company.

Relate these findings with your self assessment results and build strong arguments to support your interest. Try to avoid clichés. It’s highly probable we heard them before. All we want to know it is that you did your research and analyzed the findings from your own perspective. As I already mentioned in a previous post: if one can’t spend some time to prepare for an interview then he/she does not deserve the job.

Please note that having these questions answered not only helps you during the interview, but it also can get you the interview. How? Find the answers before applying for a job and start building your cover letter around them.

Now, get ready to apply for the next job!

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Questions You Should Ask during a Job Interview

Unfortunately, many candidates see the job interview more like an inquiry than a discussion between equals. Consequently, they don’t ask any questions, assuming that their role is to answer questions and hopefully, get the job. This being the case, how can you be sure you actually want that job?

On the other hand, If I were to rephrase it from the recruiter’s perspective, several doubts can appear concerning your situation: “How could this candidate have a genuine interest on this job if he is not interested in finding out more about it?” or “If this candidate makes a decision regarding his career based mostly on assumptions, what other decisions does he make in the same way?” and so on.

Not only are you entitled to ask questions, but you are highly expected to do so. Asking questions helps you perform a more accurate appraisal of this job opportunity.

When the recruiter asks “Do you have any questions”, it’s high time for you to address them. Nevertheless, note that not any question puts you in a good light. Asking a question such as “what exactly does your company do?” puts you on the bottom of the list instantly. Before a job interview, it is mandatory for you to prepare. If one cannot spend thirty minutes preparing for an interview, he does not deserve the job.

You should also pay attention to what the interviewer says during your meeting. It’s needles to mention that asking a question already answered labels you as “not engaged in the conversation”. Nonetheless you can ask for clarification on certain issues.

You can find bellow 15 questions suggestions for questions you could ask in order to have a clearer sense of what having that job involves. Those can help you in building your own questions list, based on what it is important for you to know about your (probably) next job.

  1. What are the company’s values? How are they translated into actions? (Translate to yourself as „are those only on paper?”)
  2. How would you define your organizational culture?
  3. Can you help me understand your performance appraisal system? (When is your performance going to be appraised? By whom? On which criteria?)
  4. What is the average time an employee spends in a certain position? What are the opportunities for development?
  5. What are the traits and the skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?
  6. What are the opportunities for training? Does the organization support ongoing training for employees to stay up to date in their fields?
  7. What are the challenges this department (the one you are interviewing for) is facing?
  8. What is the structure of the department?
  9. How is this department perceived within the organization?
  10. What are the departments I would collaborate with in that position? How would you define the collaboration between this department and others?
  11. Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
  12. How do you see the ideal candidate for this position?
  13. When top performers leave the company why do they do it?
  14. What should be the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
  15. Do you have an onboarding programme? What does it involves?

Note that the more senior the position you are seeking, the more important it is to ask specific questions regarding the business strategy, present/future challenges, plans, development and so on. Connect interviewer’s answers with your previous experience and summarize how you had successfully coped with a similar situation.

Important: Unless you understand how its answer helps you, don’t ask a question. Don’t ask questions just because you are expected to.

To make a long story short: leave the interview with a clear image of the factors impacting your potential job both on short and long term.

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You are employed, but are you employable?

Given the changes in the economy, technology, society, it is also necessary to change one’s mindset about jobs.

Mostly, but not only, because of the communism, our parents found themselves in a passive expectation of becoming an employee. They devoted a number of years to an employer, working a number of hours a day in exchange for a certain salary and a sense of security. Nevertheless, upon on ability, political views, hard work, that job could evolve through a promotion into a more financially rewarding one, but not necessarily a more enjoyable one.

Hence, this mindset prevented many to proceed to a career change after the communist regime was ended. Companies were restructured; thousands of people were laid off and found themselves in an impossibility of finding a job. One of the reasons was that they were completely unprepared for a job search, had few transferable skills, they were unaware of their strengths and weaknesses and of what a competitive workforce market needed.

Now (after almost 20 years since the revolution) we are facing again an economical crisis and many people are still unaware of what employability stands for. In those times, but mostly in this economical context, there must be much more active selling of the competencies, experiences and personal qualities one has to offer.

It’s high time for the focus to change from “job” to “career”. Jobs don’t come for granted. Therefore one should be always ready for a change and think about next steps to follow on his/her career path. To look on the bright side, we have the opportunity to take control and responsibility on our professional lives.

We live in a world where the essential qualities needed are (as characterized by William Bridges in his book Job Shift): employability (retaining your attractiveness to employers by displaying and developing those competencies valued by them), vendor mindedness (thinking at your employer as it was your client) and resiliency (finding your security from within, by knowing your strengths and weaknesses rather than being dependent to an external factor).

You may have a job now, but have you ever asked yourself what is the level of your employability skills?

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Why did you apply for this job?

As unemployment continues to grow while companies cut their costs and look for more ways to save during this time of need, the job seekers seem to be more indiscriminate when applying for a job than ever. Consequently, employers are flooded with hundreds of applications for any position available.

Facts:

  • A number of candidates apply for two different positions in the same company. (different departments, different competencies and level of experience required)
  • The number of applications received for a position is three times higher than last year (same position).
  • A requirement specified as mandatory in the job ad is met by only 25% of the applicants.
  • A significant percentage of the candidates are overqualified for the job.

Advice:

  • It is not the number of jobs you apply for that will provide results. Results don’t come proportionate to the number of applications you send in, they are much rather brought on by a careful choice, made by taking into consideration your own motivation and competence.
  • When the recruiter writes “mandatory” in a job ad, surprisingly enough, that is actually what he/she means! When a requirement is mandatory, and you don’t meet it, don’t apply for that job. It shows disrespect for the recruiter.
  • Don’t apply for two very different positions at the same company. In this case it’s easy for the recruiter to conclude that you don’t know what you want.
  • Keep in mind: Most of the times the recruiter will reject obviously overqualified candidates. (An overqualified employee doesn’t find challenge in his/her job, gets bored, or even frustrated and will go for a new and better opportunity as soon as it presents itself. If you are overqualified, but you really want that job, tell us why in your cover letter.

Remember that we want you to want this job in this company, not a job in a company.

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Job Searching through LinkedIn

It’s true that if you aren’t willing to spend a certain amount of time on social networking, LinkedIn may not prove efficient for you. It’s not a solution for finding a job tomorrow, but it is a valuable tool in building your brand as a professional.

Firstly you should clearly define what your objective is, in order to build your image accordingly.

1. Have your profile completed (if you haven’t used LinkedIn before, you can check this first):

  • Write a summary This not only provides the recruiter with an overview of your expertise and motivation, but it is also helpful for keyword searches.
  • Include all relevant experience for your area of expertise. It helps you to get connected with /recommended by your past coworkers, managers, business partners and so on. It also helps me, as a recruiter, to learn more about your career path.
  • Include a link for other sources where we can find relevant information about you (professionally speaking) e.g.: online portfolio, twitter etc.
  • If you have a professional blog, use “Blog Link” to connect it with your profile. You can also take a look at the other applications.

2. Get connected – to all the people you know in your industry. Having your profile completed helps a lot.  Useful advice can be found here.

3. Now your profile provides necessary information about you. The next step is to increase your visibility.

NB: getting noticed is not similar to spamming people

Join groups – it increases your visibility and also allows you to contact the members directly. It’s not the number of groups that makes the difference; it’s their relevance to your objective and the added value you bring in. To this effect, here are some criteria to help you in your choices:

  • What is this group based around: professional interest/former employers / alumni associations
  • members from your geographical area (or area of interest)
  • active groups

Add value to those groups. As I previously mentioned, just being there is not enough. Neither is starting discussions titled such as “I am looking for a career change”. Not only is this not enough, but it is not recommended. If you want to emphasize that you are looking for a career change, try starting a discussion on the request of workforce in your area of interest thus share your experience and expectations.

Remember that the most important thing is to get involved: answer the questions, provide consultancy/advice, argument your opinion on the different issues raised. This is the best way to prove your expertise and get noticed.

Answers: if you haven’t found it yet, LinkedIn also has a Q&A section. You can get noticed by answering questions addressed in your area of expertise. You can also ask a question and start a debate on a specific professional topic.

4. Visit the Jobs section. Job posting on LinkedIn is not frequently used by companies in Romania. Nevertheless you can keep an eye on it. There are a few multinational companies that post openings from time to time. Furthermore, the tool provides a better experience for both job seekers and recruiters than regular job boards do.

5. Be active and respond to your connections requests (introduction, reference, expertise requests etc.). Don’t be selfish. Networking is not only about you and your needs. It’s give and take, it goes both ways.

6. It’s time for you to actually start job hunting. In order to do this, you should aim for getting connected with:

  • recruiters working in consultancy companies covering your area of expertise;
  • hiring managers and recruiters working in the companies you would like to work for;
  • opinion leaders in your industry;

When you arrive at this point it is crucial to comply with the existing etiquette in asking for an introduction. For example, when someone asks me for an introduction and they fail to provide a reason for the recipient to accept it, I don’t forward it. Why? Because I respect the people I am connected with and I don’t want them to waste their time. If, however, you show respect for me and the recipient, by reasoning your request, I would gladly help you.

The main thing you should keep in mind about social networks is that you interact with people. Either online or offline it’s still about building relationships.

LE: useful advice on “6 Top LinkedIn Tools“.

LE 2: How to master the skill of networking in your job search

LE 3: Free webinar Recruiters are all over LinkedIn. How to ensure they find you first.

LE 4: How to Use Linkedin to get the Job You Want

LE 5: 6 Reasons Why LinkedIn Is So Critical In A Job Search

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The cover letter

Fact: in the last days I received over 200 applications for an entry level position. Guess what? About 90% of the candidates did not send a cover letter. The other 10% send cover letters, but none was what I call “a good cover letter”

Guys, the cover letter does make a difference!!!

Please read this and this in order to understand why and how you should write a cover letter.

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