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Some Things Your Job Interviewer Isn’t Telling You

Face it or not we all know that certain discretion are illegal when hiring someone; religion, sex, age, etc. However we also know that there’s a real world and there’s a “perfect world” and in the real world those who interview you can often turn you down for a job based on things that aren’t legal to turn you down for.

Interviewers aren’t always on the up and up and have tricks they use to find out more information on you that could make or break the hiring deal. Here are just a few tricks of the trade.

When you step into an office you may see pictures all around; especially of what appears to be spouses and children. What you may not know is that those pictures of kids may not even be your interviewer’s children and in fact, may be a ploy to get him/her a little more personal information about your own personal life. For instance if you see a photo of children you may say something like “Oh, are those your kids? They’re so sweet” and this will open up a personal conversation for you to start talking about your kids. This instantly gives them the ability to find out if you have young kids, older kids, no kids, etc. How can this play badly for you? Simple, many interviewers do not want a parent, especially a mother, with young children. Why? Because you will undoubtedly be called in to school or daycare for sickness; therefore missing work. You’re going to be asking for an extra few hours here or there or a day off for when your kids have things like field trips or the Halloween parade, an early soccer games, etc.; to them that is a definite negative attribute on your list. Is that legal? No. Does it happen? You better believe it happens. So don’t fall into that trap and start talking family. They know they cannot ask if you have children right out and how old they are. It is discrimination.

Wearing that ring on your finger can be a negative attribute to an interviewer also. Women who enter the room with an engagement ring and not a wedding band instantly tell the interviewer that they will be, at some point in time, working on a wedding. An upcoming wedding means many things to an interviewer; you’re going to be preoccupied with this exciting moment in your life while preparing for it, you’re going to undoubtedly require time off for the wedding and honeymoon and you’re going to most probably be making personal calls throughout the day for things like catering questions, returning calls to the preacher, or checking on the cake. If your interviewer mentions your beautiful ring your best bet is to play it off as something very miniscule and say something like “Why thank you. We’re not rushing anything and don’t even have a date planned” or even “Thank you it’s been in my family for ages and I’ve worn it for years.” Better yet, don’t wear your engagement ring and the question won’t come up. They don’t need to know about your personal life and the less they know the better you are. Basically don’t give any information away about a wedding, engagement, or any type of action that will involve you needing time off.

Wedding bands on a young person who is applying for a job can also be a red flag to an interviewer. Generally speaking, if the person that’s being interviewed is just out of college and already married it means that family is probably a big thing to them. Chances are pretty good that they will be ready to start a family soon and that means maternity leave. Knowing that soon after hiring you there is a good chance you’re going to be entering your boss’ office to let him/her know that you’re going to need time off for maternity leave. Is this legal for them to do? Of course not, but they do it. Answer, take off the ring and enter the interview without them. Again, it’s none of their business what your personal status is and there are no laws stating you must tell them.

Age discrimination is illegal and surprisingly the majority of people hired in 2011 were over the age of 55. So the good news is that while being biased about older age when interviewing a potential employee has diminished, it also still happens. The funny part is that ageism actually happens on both ends of the spectrum. Older people are often viewed as not being as up on technology, not being as easy to retrain and stuck in their old ways; while younger people are also often viewed as having to take a lot of time, money and effort to train well only for them to obviously leave to move up in the world. How can you avoid this on both ends?

If you are an older person use phrases like “I’ve been gaining a lot of proficiency in the newest version of Microsoft Office (if this is something you use in your field) or I’ve spent my free time learning some new skills and show that you are not only willing to keep up with the times but you are proactive and already keeping up with the newest technologies of your field.

If you are a younger person try to use your sense of interest and willingness to not only learn but bring to the table information that you’ve recently learned. Make it a point to let them know you’re looking for someplace to fit in well and hopefully make a lifetime career out of it. This gives them the sense that you’re looking to stay in one place. Make them feel as though you’re looking for your sweet spot to grow with and grow the company with you.

What it comes down to is knowing that while discrimination is illegal it still happens and we all know it. Be one step ahead of the rest of the crowd and know some of these inside tricks that interviewers use. Go into the interview with confidence, don’t give up too much personal information, and beware of things you wear in to the interview (including your everyday jewelry like wedding bands and engagement rings).

Book Review: The Power of Habit

When people talk about habit, they typically talk about something that is extremely familiar such as brushing their teeth a certain way, waking up at a certain time, or performing certain tasks at the same time each and every day. There are good habits, and there are bad habits. But have you ever thought about a habit in terms of why you have it, how it works in your life, the effects it has whether good or bad, and how to go about changing it? The author of “The Power of Habit” Charles Duhigg, talks about these very concepts in his new book, and what you are about to read is a review on what he has to say.

The problem with a habit is that they can be extremely powerful. In fact, some habits are so powerful they can actually do us harm. However, before moving forward in this respect, it’s important to understand that there are good habits and bad habits. Some examples of good habits are:

  • Waking up each morning on time
  • Paying your bills on time
  • Completing your work on time
  • Taking care of yourself the proper ways each and every day

Although these are only a few examples of good habits, they give you an idea of what good habits look like. Now let’s take a look at some of the bad habits that people struggle with and those are:

  • Eating certain foods that you know aren’t good for you
  • Not getting to work on time
  • Not paying your bills
  • Procrastinating

So, now that you have a better idea of what good and bad habits are, it’s important to talk about how the book “The Power of Habit” can help you make changes to these habits either way. Duhigg talks about how powerful habits can be. He also talks about why it’s so important to understand how habits work. In his book, he goes on to say that most habits function in the same way. Each habit has a set of properties which will include:

  • A cue or trigger
  • A routine
  • A reward

A cue or trigger, in many cases, will allow the habit behavior to unfold without the person even knowing what has developed. This can include but isn’t limited to other people, a certain situation, the time of day, or a location. The routine is what happens during the habitual behavior, and the reward is the anticipated result. Duhigg says that all habits whether good or bad will all have the same underlying properties. He also says that by understanding these traits, this will be the very key to changing these habits.

In order to change a habit, Duhigg refers to engaging in an experiment. However, before you can try any type of experiment, you will have to spend a little time identifying all the different aspects of the habit itself. The book “The Power of Habit” talks about how to do this in a few short and easy steps. Once identified, you can choose your own experiment which includes doing something different during the routine and reward phases of your particular habit.

All in all, the approach Charles Duhigg uses in the book is pretty amazing because he talks about identifying and diagnosing your habit, changing your routine, introducing a different reward and as a result, breaking or changing a habit that may have held you in psychological and physical bondage. The book is roughly 400 pages and offers a really good read. This one deserves a thumbs up for sure because everyone has a habit but, some habits are not worth keeping.

7 Tips to Take Charge of Your Career

Don’t get caught in a rut with your career. Be ready to move ahead and better yourself at any given moment by following these seven tips on taking charge of your career. You never know when opportunity will knock, be prepared to answer the door with your best foot forward! Whether you want to stay where you are or move on to bigger and better opportunities, you need to be the one in charge of your career and the direction you take it.

1. Network – It is very important to find and build up a network with others in your profession or in the profession you may be trying to get into. Cultivating contacts that you can talk to, both online, such as LinkedIn, and in person is important. You never know when you will be thrown into a position of needing some help in finding a job or even finding someone who can advise you in your current position. Sharing ideas and keeping in contact with others who are in your field helps you have a way to get the word out for help you may need; whether it’s in your current position or in a sudden need to move elsewhere. Sharing ideas with like-minded people can help you see answers to problems you face in a whole different light; giving you perspectives that you may not have on your own. It also helps to keep your name and status out there; letting you take charge of your own career path.

2. Goals – Something you often hear from interviewers are the words “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and while most people hate this question, the fact of the matter is that it’s important for you to have direction. You can’t have direction without some specific goals of where you want to be in the future. Whether you’re looking to move on to another job or stay where you are because you are happy; knowing your direction will help you pave the path ahead. Your goal should be to make changes, job moves, or position moves to get you to where you want to be in the future and better yourself. Thinking ahead and understanding where you want to be will help you decide how you are going to get there.

3. Resume – Keep your resume updated at all times. If you have a new project you finished that will be a shining star on your current resume, add it immediately. Not keeping your resume updated puts you in the position of possibly forgetting certain achievements and may present you with a time when you’re not ready to simply hand over a copy of your resume to a perspective employer that shows an interest in you. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to present your resume for an amazing job. Having it ready and waiting is simply a matter of being prepared and will assure that you don’t forget particular projects or achievements you’ve made in your career that you may not think about 3 months from now should you suddenly need to update your resume.

4. Numbers–Being able to show measurable achievements and prove yourself with numbers to back up your skills is always a good thing. Keep information up to date as far as your statistics go; add such achievements as “Increased ROI by 8% with a project implementation that I was in charge of” or “Increased repeat customers by 25% by introducing a customer loyalty program within our sales and marketing division.” These numbers speak loudly; especially if they see you have incentive and take pride in increasing revenue for the company you work for. Showing them that you know how to save money or make money is always going to be a feather in your cap.

5. Direction – Know where you are and where you are going when it comes to your career. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant with your skills. If you have direction, which should always be to better yourself, your skills, and your position career wise, you will demonstrate to both your current employer and any future employer you apply with that you are willing and able to better yourself. Know what you need to make your current job easier, more productive, and show that you have the incentive to continue implementing new ideas and skills to better yourself and your company.

6. Know Your Company – Knowing the company you work for as well as you possibly can, will always keep you a step ahead. Certain red flags can alert you to the fact that it may be time to start revving up your search for a new job.  Understanding how the company you work for operates, how they promote within, and certain organizational decisions they make will alert you to the realistic ability for you to be able to move ahead in this company. Is the company you currently work for one that will leave you stagnant and pass you by for promotions or will you be justly rewarded for your skills and hard work? Will you have the ability to achieve your career goals here or is this a place that is a “rest stop” on the road of your future? Is this company going to be around in 15 years or are they teetering on the edge of disaster? Knowing your company, inside and out, will keep you in charge of where your career is headed.

7. Know What Jobs Are Out There – Even if you are happy in your current position and company, it is always good to know what’s out there. Keep your eye on positions that open within your company; always looking for a way to improve your current position and get you moving in the direction of your career goals. Network with others or search online to see what jobs are available out there. This can also keep you informed with particular skills that are being sought after in your area; giving you the opportunity to re-think your future and perhaps changing direction by taking courses for a much needed skill that seems to be open often and you would enjoy. It’s never too late to learn a skill or build on to the skills you have.

How to Get Promoted

There are very few people that accept an entry-level position without any desire to move up the organization. The whole point of starting at the bottom is to gain the experience that will one day take you all the way to the top. The premise sounds simple, yet many people become mired in the lower levels, only to find themselves passed by others on the way up. If you are tired of being passed over or have just taken that first step, then here are some things you can do to make promotion much more likely in your future.

It all starts with you making sure that you are following the very basic demands of the job. By that, we don’t just mean following the job description to the letter, but also showing up on time every day, adhering to deadlines, and displaying a positive attitude at all times. These are things that get noticed more than you might think and they will definitely help your promotion chances.

While it’s smart to have a basic understanding of what your job requirements are, it really helps to dig a little deeper for some finer points that will help your performance. This can include having a clear understanding of exactly what your boss expects from each of her employees. Her focus may be on one or two things in particular which, if you can take the time to excel at, will make you look very good in her eyes. In short, know exactly what is expected of you and then do all that you can to over deliver on those expectations.

For many, the next step in their career evolution is often a management position. Employers are always on the lookout for employees who display natural leadership qualities, as they are usually chosen for that next step. You have to be able to adopt those leadership roles, but in such a way that you don’t just come across as being bossy and headstrong. Volunteer for the role of team leader when you are asked, always keeping in mind that it’s a great way to get noticed and perhaps even gain the respect of your co-workers. You will be required to do more than the rest of the group in these situations, but doing a good job in that role will truly get you noticed by the people upstairs.

We spoke earlier about displaying a positive attitude at work. The reason that you want to do so is because it will often show a level of maturity that far exceeds your years. You have probably already worked with people who are constantly negative or who display a level of childishness and petulance that is very unbecoming. Think about how many of those people you have seen move up the ranks and I guarantee you will be unable to think of even one. Getting the nod for promotion is as much to do with the way you carry yourself on the job as it does your level of competence.

Top 3 Things Every Employer Wants to Know

If you’re in the market for a new job here’s something to keep in mind for when you go on job interviews; employers are only looking for 3 specific qualities that you have, nothing more.

That’s right, only 3. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?  Here you were thinking that they want to know every single thing about you that’s ever happened in your life and the fact is they only have 3 things on that list of interview questions. They are as follows.

  • Are you capable of doing the job they are offering?
  • Will this be a job that you love?
  • Will the rest of the staff be able to tolerate working with you?

No matter what they ask, no matter what you think they’re trying to find out, every single interview question really boils down to those 3 qualities.  Either you have them or you don’t, and that will actually change with every interview that you go to. Let’s break them down then to see what you need to do to meet these 3 criteria, shall we?

1) Are you capable of doing the job they are offering? This is straight forward but also tricky. Technically you may have all the qualifications but they also want to know if you will you be the guy (or gal) that can make the right decisions and show leadership too. Hard to tell from just a piece of paper so you best have some way of demonstrating your knowledge and leadership skills.

2) Will this be a job that you love?  Today it’s not enough to just show up, punch a time-clock and do the ‘required’ work (while sneaking in coffee breaks, water cooler chat and D&D sessions of course).  Employers are looking for people who ‘love’ the job and show enthusiasm for it, and they are looking for this in the interview too.  Even if you’re not particular jazzed about widgets you’d best do a little cheerleading during your interview if you want to impress the boss.

3) Will the rest of the staff be able to tolerate working with you?  This is the trickiest.  If you stick out like a sore thumb because you’re a laid back guy and the rest of the team are all Type A go-getters you may have a hard time ‘fitting in’ and the boss won’t like that.  Best to do a little research ahead of time to be sure what the inside dope is on your soon to be new colleagues.

And there they are.  Boil all those questions down and these three are left.  Answer them correctly and you will find yourself newly employed. Fail to do so and you’ll be on your way to the next interview, wondering which of the 3 got you thrown to the dogs.

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