Personalize Your Thank-You Note

A student recently asked about sending a thank-you note after an informational interview and if it was okay to have one ready to hand them immediately after.

My response “no”

Why?

Informational interviews are  networking opportunities and networking is about building relationships.
Relationships aren’t generic, they are personalized interactions. Don’t hand them a generic thank-you note. Personalize the thank-you note by reiterating something you talked about.

Perhaps they mentioned they recently got a dog from the local shelter, or you realized your kids attend the same school, or you are fans of the same sports team.Whatever topic you talked about that provided commonality, mention that in the note.

Send the thank-you note within 24-48 hours of your meeting.

Now enter their contact information into a spreadsheet or the tracking system you use for your network. Add the extra piece of information about the dog, kid’s school, or sports team in the notes section. 

When you interact with them in the future ask about those things. They will be impressed you remember! 

Adaptability Interview Questions

Adaptability – an essential skill we are honing this year as we navigate the covid crisis. 

Change is inevitable and being able to adapt to change is essential in a company’s success. 

Here are a few interview questions employers may ask to determine your adaptability skills:

How have you adapted to work-life balance during this pandemic?

Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. What did you do? What did you learn? 

Technology is always changing. What initiatives have you taken to educate yourself on new technology? 

Use the CAR Method in responding:

C = Challenge you faced – the context of the situation 

A = Action you took in addressing the challenge

R = Result achieved by your actions  

Recommendations on LinkedIn

IMG_1292.jpg

Have you written a recommendation for someone on LinkedIn? 

People tend to wait until they are actively seeking a job to utilize LinkedIn as part of their targeted approach. Why wait? 

LinkedIn is a community of support. Whether you are a job seeker, networker, or promoting your business – you are the “product” – you are showcasing yourself in some way on this platform. The recommend feature is a great way to show support by sharing the impact someone had on you and the value they bring to a company or organization. 

Have you worked with someone who is actively seeking a job and is new to LinkedIn? Write a recommendation!

Have you purchased a product or service from someone on LinkedIn? Write a recommendation!  

Don’t use a generic script. Personalize it!

3 Clicks:

  1. Click on your contacts profile
  2. Click ‘more’ 
  3. Click ‘recommend’ 

Write:

  • Provide context of the relationship
  • Indicate the impact the person had on you
  • Share the value they bring to a company or organization 
  • Keep it professional 

If people are returning the favor and writing a recommendation about you, go to your LI settings and make sure your recommendations are set to public view so recruiters see them when they click on your profile. 

Research Your Targeted Companies

Research is an important part of a Strategic Job Search to learn more about companies you want to work for. It also helps you be prepared for an interview. 

What to research

  • Mission, vision, values, culture (are they aligned with yours?)
  • Current events, trends, and industry news
  • Products/Services/Clients 
  • Their needs
  • Their competitors
  • Key players – what is their level of experience, where did they go to school, what roles have they held
  • Work-life balance
  • Involvement in local and global communities
  • How are they supporting their team during COVID?

Places to gather information:

  • Company website and blog
  • Social media accounts including LinkedIn
  • Industry publications 
  • Google News (news.google.com)
  • Crunchbase platform for finding private and public company information (crunchbase.com)

Qualities Employers Look For In An Interview

Are you displaying these qualities in an interview?

⭐️ Confidence 
⭐️ Enthusiasm 
⭐️ Ability to influence 
⭐️ Analytical skills
⭐️ Problem-solving skills
⭐️ Championing the company 
⭐️ Likeability (I added this one)

Judith Humphrey, of The Humphrey Group, shares data about these qualities that employers look for in an interview💡 

2-minute read at this link: https://www.fastcompany.com/90523307/if-you-really-want-the-job-show-you-have-these-6-qualities

Wait to hit send…

Have you ever sent an email or text message to a colleague, or more importantly, a potential employer, and immediately wanted to retract it because of a grammatical error, typo, or you realized it may not be received in the manner you’d hoped? 

We are sometimes quick to respond to emails and text messages; not giving them our full attention so that our response is conveyed in the manner we want. 

Try this:

  • Check it once
  • Check it twice
  • If it’s REALLY important, print it and read
  • Look away
  • Check it again
  • Then hit send

Know Your Strengths and Abilities

Have you ever asked “Do I really know myself?”

Part of a strategic job search is to know your Strengths and Abilities and be confident articulating them in an interview. 

Write down your top 6 strengths and develop stories about them using the CAR method (Challenge / Action / Result); quantifying where you can. These are your accomplishment statements and listed as bullet-points in the experience section of your resume and your LinkedIn profile. 

Challenges can be problems you solved, initiatives you developed, deadlines you met, goals you achieved, etc. 

Employers want to know the value you bring to their team to help with the challenges they face. During the interview you get talk about those Challenges and what You have done. 

The more you know yourself and your strengths and abilities, the more confident and effective you’ll be in an interview. 

Interview Question #1

Often, the first job interview question is “Tell me about yourself”, but what if the first question is “Tell me what you know about our company.” If you haven’t done your research and you’re unable to answer this question, the interview could end quickly. 

Rather than waiting to do research before an interview, do it early as part of your targeted job search so you’re learning as much as you can about the company before applying, then you’re ahead of the game when asked about the company during the interview. Most information can be obtained from company websites, social media accounts, YouTube, Google News, and of course, LinkedIn.

Things to research so you’re armed with the right information:

Mission, vision, culture and values: This part of your research helps you determine if the company will be a good fit for you. 

Products, Services, Clients: What products does the company offer and what clients do they serve? If you’re going to be working there you want to understand what they do and how you will be part of that. 

Competitors: Who are their competitors and what is the current data on their competitors? Knowing who they compete against helps you have a broader understanding of the industry. 

Financials: Find out what you can about where the company currently stands financially and their financial history. Employees help companies make money, save money and solve their problems, so regardless of your role in the company, you will have an impact. 

Who’s Who: Identify key players in the company – leadership / organizational structure. Find out who the key players are on the team you will be part of, and who will be interviewing you. Learn about their experience, education, interests, and your commonalities and mutual connections.

Office Locations: Where are they headquartered and do they have offices in various cities in the country and/or abroad? 

Community Involvement: How are they involved in their local community, what causes do they support, and are those causes aligned with your values?

Current Events: Get up to date on the current the buzz about the company on a local and national level. What articles can you find in industry publications about the company and the current market? 

Part of a targeted job search is doing a ton of research. Being armed with as much information as possible is key in helping you determine which companies you want to target and preparing you for the interview so you can confidently answer, “Tell me what you know about our company.” 

Betsy Sheets is a Career Coach in Southern California where she has a private practice. She helps people gain clarity with what career they want to pursue and gain confidence in their job search. She is also a co-founder of a non-profit veteran service organization where she and other career coaches and human resources professionals volunteer helping senior level service members and spouses transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce. 

Parents and Students Visit College Campuses Virtually




Are you the parent of a high school student who missed visiting college campuses this spring because of Covid-19 closures? Were you planning to visit this fall, but you’ve learned that some colleges have announced they will remain closed?

Students and families are visiting campuses virtually. While this type of visit doesn’t provide the vibe you experience in-person, with the right research it can still help you learn which college might be the right fit.

Seven tips when researching prospective colleges online:

1. Visit the college’s website. Most are highlighting steps they are taking during Covid-19 and how they are communicating with prospective students. Look specifically at the Office of Admissions page.

2. Take a virtual tour. Some colleges are offering live-hosted tours and/or virtual information sessions.

3. Reach out to an admissions counselor and schedule a phone call so you get answers to specific questions. Building rapport with an admissions counselor can be beneficial so they learn more about you.

4. Research the academic degree program you are interested in. Learn about the credentials of the faculty teaching in the program. Seek available data regarding graduation rates and graduate employment.

5. In addition to the Office of Admissions, check out pages for other services and resources available to students:
• Academic Support / Tutoring
• Career Services
• Jobs for students
• Residence Life / Housing
• Accessibility Services
• Dining Services
• Counseling Services
• Wellness Center
• Campus Safety
• Diversity & Multicultural Office
• Financial Aid Office

6. Follow the college on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. They typically keep these channels updated with what is happening. If they have a Facebook group ask questions to current students who are interactive in that group.

7. Research the local community – entertainment, shopping, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, etc. Can you see yourself living there?

By taking time to do necessary research you’ll be better prepared in making an informed decision.

Betsy Sheets is a Career Coach in Southern California where she has a private practice. She helps people gain clarity with what career they want to pursue and gain confidence in their job search. Betsy has advised hundreds of students with academic planning. She is also a co-founder of a non-profit veteran service organization where she and other career coaches and human resources professionals volunteer helping senior level service members and spouses transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce.

Preparedness During an Uncertain Job Market

In times of uncertainty we always prepare. Our medical professionals have been preparing to care for people stricken with the virus. Our schools have prepared to move classes online so students can continue to learn. At home we’ve prepared by stocking up on food and essentials (although many still need TP!) and making adjustments while children are at home and parents are juggling their jobs remotely.

With this uncertainty comes our jobs. Are our jobs safe? Have we experienced permanent or temporary job loss? The stress of uncertainty is unavoidable. And while we haven’t experienced this type of crisis during our lifetime, most of us have experienced job transition. Here are a few tips of how we can prepare for job transition in these uncertain times:

1. Update Your Resume with your most recent accomplishments. What projects have you worked on? What problems have you solved? It can be helpful to write out your accomplishments using the CAR, STAR, or SOAR Method. Then condense into short concise statements beginning with an action verb and quantifying the results you achieved.

CAR = Context, Action, Result

STAR = Situation, Task, Action, Result

SOAR = Situation, Obstacle, Action, Result

Add Skills you’ve developed since the last time you revised your resume. Have you learned how to utilize technology that aids in working remotely? What skills are you implementing to support your team as you all manage this new normal of working from home?

Now that you’ve written your accomplishment statements and identified new skills, you can prepare for interviews, which leads me to Tip #2

 

2. Practice Interviewing by relaying your accomplishments through a story. Psychological data shows that past behavior predicts future behavior. Employers often ask behavioral-style interview questions to gauge how you will perform on the job. When responding to behavioral-style interview questions, provide a story by breaking down your answer in actionable steps using the CAR, STAR or SOAR method listed above in #1. The goal is identifying things you’ve achieved, indicating steps taken and quantifying the outcome.

You want to help the employer seeing you doing the job; solving the problem, decreasing costs and increasing revenue. Through your story you will be showing them the value you bring based on your experience.

Many companies already perform virtual interviews via phone, Skype, Zoom or another online platform. We will now see more companies shifting to this format. Practice by performing a virtual mock interview with a family member or friend. Use both phone and video so you can practice your voice impression over the phone and practice your personal impression through video.

3. Networking is the ‘hidden job market’. Each job I’ve had has come through networking. Again, data shows that networking is a proven return on investment in gaining employment. Just ask people you know how they got their job and chances are most will tell you through their network. Reach out to former colleagues, friends and family members. Be authentic in your conversations sharing your concerns during this time of uncertainty. By sharing your concerns, the person you’re networking with will most likely share theirs. Support each other through dialogue. Networking is reciprocal. Ask your network how you can support them. Perhaps you can do a virtual mock interview together, review each other’s resume, share resources, or teach each other a new technological skill.

4. Follow up with a ‘Thank You’ to those you’re networking with. Send an email, text or hand-written note, but be sure to thank people who have taken time to talk with you, share with you, and provide support.

Yes, these are uncertain times and we don’t know what the job market will be in the weeks and months ahead, but we can prepare now. If you’ve experienced permanent or temporary job loss, I encourage you to gain resources from your employer for assistance with your job search. Reach out to the career services department at your alma mater. Attend online networking events based on your industry.

Remember, you are not alone. We are all in this together.