7 Ways Candidates Blow A Phone Interview

I’m consistently amazed by how unaware the average job seeker is of how to establish a positive first impression on a phone interview. I hear the same frustrated complaints from employers of all industries and sizes – that candidates who voluntarily submitted their resumes in hopes of discussing a position they’re supposedly interested in just can’t seem to get it together. Remember when all you needed was a solid resume to be guaranteed a face-to-face interview? For the sake of saving time, resources, and money, recruiters have become much more selective on who they decide to meet in person. In an effort to weed out time-wasters and soft-skill-deficient candidates, recruiters are conducting phone screens to find out who’s off their game.

1. They’re unprepared to take the call.
If you’re 4 beers deep at a Yankees game or trying to wrestle a dirty diaper off a screaming baby, you probably shouldn’t answer a call you don’t recognize. Yet, most of the candidates my recruiting team speaks with are under the impression that it’s better to answer a call you’re not completely prepared for than to miss the call altogether. It’s not. If you find yourself in a situation that isn’t suitable for a professional conversation, don’t pick up. Instead, call back within 24 hours, after you’ve collected your thoughts, can speak confidently, and have locked down a quiet location.

Not to mention, they start timing you from the second they leave a voicemail, which brings me to my next point. If you’re actively looking, you should have a professional voicemail with specific instructions to avoid an unwanted game of phone tag. For example, “Hi, you’ve reached Mark Smith. If you’re calling in regards to my resume, please leave your name and number as well as the best times for me to reach you.”

2. They expect the recruiter to fill in the blanks.
“Hi, what job did I apply for again? What company are you calling on behalf of?” It pains me to admit this, but these responses are the norm when an employer reaches out to a candidate, even for high-level positions. You’re a job seeker, which means you probably apply to several jobs each week. We understand that it’s tough to keep track, but it’s essential – if only for the sake of a recruiter’s sanity – that you start taking notes. Just by picking up the phone and saying, “Hi Wendy, you must be calling in regards to the Customer Service position I applied for last week.” Mind blown.

3. They conduct an unorganized job search.
This goes hand in hand with my last point. Today, it’s not enough to print out a handful of resumes and call it a day. We always recommend that our candidates keep a spreadsheet of every job application they submitted with corresponding dates, company names, and relevant contacts. Or, if you’re a tech wiz, try these awesome job search apps. That way, when the phone rings, you’ll have a handy guide that’ll save you from playing guessing games. Also, it’s important to keep your background information and portfolios within arms reach to provide some quick material for preliminary questions. It says a great deal about your personal brand if you’re prepared to answer a challenging question, and even have some on-hand stats to back up your argument. And for bonus points, don’t forget to browse company websites and connect with HR personnel on LinkedIn. Taking that extra step makes a huge impression.

4. They don’t understand why recruiters really call.
More often than not, recruiters aren’t calling to simply schedule a personal interview; they’re calling to conduct a prescreen. In other words, to decide whether they want to move you forward. Remember all that research you were supposed to do when you applied for the gig? Use it to show recruiters you know something about how their company culture works and that you’re serious about the job.

5. They have a bad “radio personality.”
Phones are tough – all you have to make an impression is your voice. Candidates, especially introverts, often fail to heighten their energy over the phone. Nobody’s expecting you to sound like Ron Burgundy, but you should at the very least sound excited, confident, and prepared. Excessive “umms,” stammering, or sounding like you’re dead inside are huge turnoffs to recruiters. The only way to overcome this obstacle is through practice. Record yourself on any device you have handy, and ask yourself this difficult question: “Would you hire you?” Getting your career narrative down in a way that engages and connects with an employer is essential to winning that face-to-face meeting.

6. They have a weak or unprofessional online presence.
Chances are, if recruiters are interested in what you have to say, they’ll be googling you before then end of your conversation. A half-complete LinkedIn profile or a racy Facebook picture is all it takes to eliminate you from the game. Just last week, one of my recruiters found a candidate with a stellar background and scheduled her for an interview right away. But just minutes before their call, she discovered an R-rated photo online that involved a stripper pole. Needless to say, the recruiter’s mind was made up before the conversation started.

7. They fail to treat a phone interview with the same decorum as they would a personal one.
Just because you didn’t put on a suit or block out time in your day doesn’t mean it counts any less towards your chances of securing the job. Request follow up procedures, send personalized thank you notes, and be sure to highlight any takeaways to reinforce your sincerity. Take it from me, the small things really do matter.

photo credit: Phone Talkin via photopin (license)

4 Myths That Can Make Or Ruin A Career Choice

Many of you would have recently graduated from your studies and have started looking for a job. You have been told from some sources that there is an increase demand of MBAs in the market as compared to your degree in hand. You get upset, but then decide to go for MBA.

While you were half way through the MBA degree, one of the prestigious organizations calls you for an interview and selects you on the basis of your acquired degree. What will you do? Will you leave MBA incomplete? What about the rumor of increased demand of MBAs? May be you could had seen the market with your own eyes rather relying on the rumors.

Most of us have had the same story soon after graduation. There are number of myths, rumors circulating in the job market and invade fresh graduates as soon as they move out of their school. Organizations looking for experienced workforce should focus on the fact that unless fresh graduates are given a chance to work, they can’t gain the required experience.

There are few myths which can either help you in getting a job fit, and can even ruin your career choice:-

Job Fairs

Only Job fairs can determine your careers hunt; No- Count on your own abilities as well:-

Many schools organize job fairs for graduates to look for the dream place to work. It is also beneficial for organizations to search for competent applicant from a single pool.  However job fairs are not the sole place to look for a job, fresh graduates need to meet up different people, walk in to organizations, market and present them. There is a need to opt for as many options as possible.

Still don’t take Job Fairs Casual; Prepare yourself and market better:-

Keeping the first point in mind, candidates are required to market them at the best during job fairs. Make it clear that companies don’t make offers during job fairs; rather they create a database for competent applicants so they could be hired when required.

Just drop your Resume in the organization:

Yes, definitely dropping your resume is the key, but if you take a step forward and meet people within the organization, it will definitely have more impact. Sometime face to face interaction leads to better opportunities.

There is no use of keeping a track of your Resume: Wrong assumption!

If you drop your resume, keep a track of all happenings within the organization. Chances are your resume may be lost in the databank and any new entrant may get a chance to be exposed. So stay alert.

Not only the graduates need to get into job market, organizations also need fresh blood in their system. It is for the mutual benefits of both job seekers and job holder that they join hands and get positive results.

 Image: bigstock

Smart Career Moves By Smart Women

With the conversation about equal pay for equal work reignited, it’s never been more important for women in the workplace to be smart, speak up, and reach for the next rung on the career ladder. But the landscape of career growth can be tricky to navigate. Thankfully, many powerful women have gone successfully before – blazing the trail and leaving women with a treasure trove of insights and advice to help us grab our own slice of the pie.

Whether you’re looking for a promotion, raise, or the courage to venture out on your own, there’s a strong woman you can look to for advice or inspiration. Stop just thinking about making your next career move and start doing something to make that move. To help you get inspired, here’s some timeless career advice.

Speak Up

There’s some kind of Victorian hang-up about women being seen and not heard that still haunts women in today’s workplace. Typically, women ask for raises less often than their male counterparts and when they do, they ask for less money. It’s time to speak up and start asking for what you want.

“Ask for a raise. Every year,” successful writer/blogger Joanna Goddard said. “Make a list of your accomplishments over the past year. Phrase it by saying you’ve “earned” a raise (not that you “deserve” one)…And don’t just ask for raises, ask for everything: promotions, bigger assignments, more responsibility. If you’re enthusiastic and hardworking, you will be amazed by how often you hear ‘yes.’”

If you want the chance to show everyone what you can do – ask for it. If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will. You are your greatest advocate, so speak up and be heard.

Take Criticism on the Chin

We all want to hear how awesome we are, but it can be difficult to listen to criticism – yet there is no growth without it. Take “American Idol” for example. There was definitely a sick fascination with Simon Cowell’s acerbic denigration of lackluster performances, but his comments were usually the only ones that could actually turn a shy Kelly Clarkson into a powerhouse superstar.

“You are going to face many Simons,” career counselor Heather Hay said in a “LiveCareer” article. “And being able to smile in the face of adversity while maintaining your composure is essential.”

Look at criticism as a gift, and take it with grace and an eye to how it can help you improve. You may even want to seek out a Simon-like mentor who isn’t afraid to tell you the hard truth if it’s in your best interest.

Embrace Risky Business

Many of us have fantasized about telling our boss to take a hike and going into business for ourselves. There’s no question that it’s a risky move, but it can be the difference between tolerating our professional life and absolutely loving it.

“When I was working at IBM in my early 20s, I was making great money and exceeding all my sales goals,” Cindy Barshop, owner and founder of Completely Bare spas, said. “But I had a gut feeling that I could do so much more and provide a service to change women’s lives. With big risks come greater rewards and the chance to make a difference.”

But even without a cause to champion, cutting the cord can sometimes be the only way to keep your career flourishing. When Rayna James (Connie Britton) started being sidelined by her label on “Nashville,” rather than quietly handing over the spotlight, she saved her career by launching her own label. Take a page from Rayna’s book. If you’re feeling stagnant, unfulfilled, or overlooked, stepping out on your own might be the best risk you’ve ever taken.

Show Your Ego the Door

It’s called a career ladder for a reason. You often have to start at the bottom and work your behind off to make it to the next rung.

“Don’t ever be ‘too good’ to do anything, and see the big picture in those little tasks,” Joan Otto, Editor of “Man vs. Debt” said. “My first job was typing the obituaries for a local newspaper – a job nobody wanted. But not only did I do them; I developed a system that made them more accurate and quicker to process – and THAT mindset led to a 13-plus-year career there, a management position, flexible hours and more. (And my degree was in mathematics!)”

Your career decisions shouldn’t be ego-driven. If all you’re looking for is an impressive title that will look good on paper, you’re likely to miss out on real opportunities to catch the attention of people who can help you achieve your career goals.

Women have more possibilities than ever to create the careers and lives they desire. If you’re lacking inspiration, look to these other successful ladies and put your professional future into your own hands. Whether it’s a real-life CEO or a powerful television icon, like Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) from “Scandal,” there is no end of strong, smart women to help you take the next step and realize your full potential.

Soul Search — Then Job Search

Written by career consultant, Maggie Mistal

Most of us assume that the best way to find a job is to look at what’s available in online listings, or to follow someone else’s advice. However, these methods often lead to unfulfilling career choices.

You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys to recognize how unfulfilled most workers feel. For seven straight years, The Conference Board has reported that less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied in their careers. So what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?

Uncover Your Core Genius

“Core genius” is the special contribution that each of us brings to our professional life. It’s what you are in this world to do that only you can do. It’s the unique package of skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities and attitude that you possess.

Take my client Laura Rolands. Laura was a hard-working Human Resources executive at Chrysler. She’s also a mom. When Laura’s son was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she got to work and investigated how to best help him with attention strategies at school and in life. Through this experience and through our career coaching work together, Laura realized she had a talent and an interest in helping people with attention issues.

It led Laura to start an attention coaching business shortly after accepting a voluntary buy-out from her position in the automotive industry. Her business is in a relatively new field, focused on coaching people to overcome challenges associate with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Actually, you don’t need a diagnosis to benefit — anyone who feels overwhelmed or distracted in today’s hyper-connected environment will find value in Laura’s services. Her clients have developed time-saving personal routines, and have improved their academic and business performance.

The Path to a Successful Career Fit

In 10 years of coaching, I have seen that we are each uniquely built to fulfill a specific purpose. And I am proud to have many success stories such as Laura Rolands. However, too often people take their unique talents for granted. In fact, the real challenge is that most people have no idea what their purpose is. That is where I help.

I believe the best way to find your purpose — your core genius — is to conduct a formal Soul Search, and get specific about all the elements of your ideal career. It starts with helping clients assess themselves in 8 essential dimensions, as part of the “Soul Search, Research and Job Search” process I developed.

These elements include: 1) your top interests, 2) key motivators, 3) skills you want to employ, 4) ways you want to contribute, 5) best qualities, 6) best work environment, 7) activities you enjoy most, and 8) salary and benefits.

Soul Search Before Job Search

By working through exercises and self-reflection questions, we prioritize what’s most important and brainstorm career possibilities that match those elements. You can gain even deeper clarity with my downloadable (PDF) Soul Search workbook.

This workbook contains over 30 pages of exercises to help professionals uncover the eight core elements of your core genius. The insights developed from each exercise are designed to correspond with a section of your own personalized career guide. This helps you easily organize and interpret the information as the basis for brainstorming new career possibilities and making sound decisions about the best options for you.

So stop looking at want ads and instead start talking to anyone and everyone about the ways you are already of service. Carefully process all of that input, and you’ll see viable new options ahead. Take seriously the value you bring to the table, and (like Laura Rolands) believe that you can get paid to deliver it. Let others know about the high-value service you are prepared to provide. Then deliver it consistently and professionally. Soon, you’ll find you have more than enough work in your new role — and you’ll be making a living while loving what you do.

Have You Discovered Your Core Genius?

Are you in touch with your core career strengths? What steps did you take to gain that awareness? And how have you applied it to your career? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

Maggie Mistal(About the Author: CNN dubbed Maggie Mistal “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches.” A former Learning & Development executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she is a certified life purpose and career coach who, for seven years, hosted “Making a Living with Maggie” on SiriusXM, and now airs a monthly podcast on iTunes. Maggie has been featured across major media, including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, CNN and The New York Times. Connect with Maggie on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Facebook.)

(Editor’s Note: For a limited time, in conjunction with her February 2014 appearance at #TChat Events, Maggie is offering special pricing for her “Soul Search” career planning workbook to anyone who mentions #TChat when contacting her. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your core genius!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay