The four things you need to do after an interview

To quote baseball speak: it’s never over till it’s over. After all those hours of preparation and the stress of the job interview itself, the temptation is to leave events at the meeting room door and enjoy some well-earned relaxation time.

There’s still plenty to be done, however, especially if it helps to improve your chances of getting the job or indeed future positions. Here are some useful important steps to follow:

1. Debrief yourself
While things are still fresh, now’s the perfect time to deconstruct events and to analyse what worked well and what didn’t. Use the return journey home (or perhaps back to work) to debrief, make a note of the more challenging questions you were asked and evaluate your interview strengths and weaknesses. While perhaps the last thing you feel like doing, it’s extremely useful for honing your technique.

2. Say thank you
Now safely back in front of your home computer, a quick thank you note or email, ideally within 24 hours of the interview, is always recommended. As well as being a standard courtesy, it will help the interviewer to remember you. Even if this doesn’t translate into a concrete job offer, it could lead to a referral or recommendation further down the line.

3. Follow up
Waiting to hear back on their decision is perhaps the most agonising part of the application process. A well-considered follow-up email can help to keep you in the loop and, if nothing else, will keep you in you at the forefront of the hiring manager’s thoughts. Try sending something to pique his or her interest: an article on a topic discussed at interview, or evidence of work you’ve done on the subject.

4. Don’t stop searching
Don’t count your chickens: one promising interview does not a formal job offer make. It’s sensible to keep as many irons in the fire as possible, so make sure to keep your job search ticking over on all fronts.

While this may seem like a long to-do list, it’s important to strike while the iron’s hot and keep any positive momentum from your interview going. You can be sure that your competitors are doing the very same thing.

Reference: CIO; Forbes; Boston

Creating a coaching climate

The dream environment of many an organisation is one where managers and employees are able to communicate consistently and openly around their personal, professional and organisational performance and development. And there’s good reason for that aspiration: research shows it can make a significant difference to an organisation’s development and long-term performance.

This might seem like something of a utopian scenario, but with an effective, well-structured coaching programme in place, that level of communication can become embedded within the very fabric of your organisation. Establishing the right coaching climate for that programme to flourish, however, is far from straightforward and requires time, effort and involvement at all levels of the organisation. Here are three steps to help you along the way:

1. Seek top-level commitment
The first step towards a consistent coaching climate is to identify one or more senior leaders to be the flag-bearers for your approach. As well as being someone others point to as an example of a great coach and inspiration to their team, these individuals should be acting in a way that gives the right message about coaching across the organisation; they should be people who will spread the word and commit to tackling any barriers or opposition that could arise along the way.

2. Spread the skill
With the right role models in place, there need to be measures in place to allow enthusiasm and understanding of coaching to filter through the organisation. This means making training opportunities readily available across all levels while actively encouraging employees to engage with your approach. Don’t assume this will happen automatically: managers need skilling up in order to deliver effective coaching conversations to their teams who will in turn require training in order to receive their full benefit.

3. Stop and take stock
Once integrated, it’s important to revisit your coaching climate at regular intervals. Like any new policy or strategy, it requires regular attention to see what’s going well and where things could be working better. Think of it as a garden, one that requires regular watering and upkeep in order for the plants within it to grow and flourish.

When it comes to introducing a coaching climate to your organisation there really is no quick fix. Interest and engagement in coaching need to be cultured throughout the organisation along with an understanding of how to deliver and receive it. Rest assured: with the right building blocks in place, there’s every chance of success.

10 Jun 2015
mentors, management,
Reference: Abintegro

How to explain unemployment on your CV, resume and LinkedIn

As we know, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. That’s all well and good, but try telling it to your future boss. While most hiring managers understand that unemployment is part and parcel of working life, as a job seeker, the anxiety of deciding how to reveal your job loss to a prospective employer can make an already challenging situation even more stressful.

Fortunately, there are always things you can do to soften the impact of any employment gap on your application or job-seeking material.

Being upfront about your current job status is usually the more sensible strategy and will avoid any potentially awkward recriminations. Removing the ‘Current Role’ or equivalent heading from your CV/ resume is an obvious first step, while also making sure to switch your last role from ‘current’ to ‘previous’ on your LinkedIn profile.

That said, there’s no requirement to label yourself as ‘currently’ unemployed, nor is there a need to detail the exact length of your employment gap in months (years are fine for long periods of hiatus). The same applies to covering letters: clearly state that you are looking for work, without necessarily feeling obligated to go into details about the hows and whys of your unemployment.

Having opened up about your employment status, it’s up to you to paint as positive a picture of your situation as possible.

Employers will naturally be wary of skill atrophy, especially if you’ve been a long time out of the workforce, so look to include details of temporary or consulting work at the top of your CV. Volunteering is also important and LinkedIn now provides users with a separate section dedicated to detailing this kind of work experience on their profile page.

In both cases, make sure to highlight any significant achievements or skills you have learnt, and how these have contributed to your professional development. These, along with further study or training, are all things you can showcase in more detail in your covering letter.

Being out of work can happen to the best of us and is certainly nothing to feel ashamed about. Yet it’s still up to you to present the experience in the best possible light and to show it hasn’t dulled your abilities or enthusiasm for your work.

11 Jun 2015
Reference: Forbes; Business Insider: Fast Company; The Guardian

Why you should leave work on time and how to do it

With competition for jobs and career advancement never greater, employees are under increasing pressure to be seen as the hard worker who ‘puts in the hours’ and is among the last to exit the office each evening. This is a worrying trend: a study by Kansas State University showed people working more than 50 hours a week were more likely to skip meals and experienced higher rates of depression.

With your work performance, not to mention general wellbeing, at stake, it’s time you took some steps towards a timely exit each day:

1. Lose the guilt
Be prepared to get tough with yourself: staying beyond your allotted work hours might be an occasional, necessary requirement but avoid getting into a mindset where putting in face time each evening is the norm. Start putting your own work and wellbeing first and ignore what the rest of the office are doing.

2. Know what’s expected of you
Not all organisations want their employees burning themselves out working late into the night. A number are even introducing policies such as R.O.W.E. (Result Only Work Environment) that expressly contradict this approach. It’s worth taking the time to understand what’s really expected of you before making assumptions.

3. Maximise your time
That said, it’s hard to justify a dash for the door when you’ve frittered away company time on online shopping, polishing your LinkedIn profile and long chats by the water cooler. Capping these distractions to 15 minutes or so each day will stop you feeling like you need to worker longer to make up for it.

4. Structure your overtime
No matter how organised or productive you set out to be each morning, it just takes one issue or email for everything to start spilling over. Structuring your overtime, perhaps allocating a set evening or early morning each week to deal with any add-ons will help to stop these diversions from eating into the rest of your week.

While workplace pressures can be hard to ignore, the good news is that employers are coming round to the concept of work-life balance. Though easier said than done, being satisfied with your own performance and achievements at the end of each day should really be what matters most.

wellbeing, organisation,
Reference: Forbes; Entrepreneur; The Muse; LinkedIn

Reference: Fast Company
You know you’re living in the 21st Century when ‘brand’ invariably carries the word ‘personal’ before it. While we might not care to think of ourselves in terms of something you’d pick up at your favourite clothing outlet, personal branding and messaging is an important if not essential part of creating a modern professional identity.

Successful branding is about tying your professional skills and attributes with your interests and personality into one cohesive message. Here’s how to hit the ‘refresh’ button on your personal brand in five easy steps.

1. Seek others’ opinion
How your brand comes across to others is what this whole thing is really all about, so start by canvassing the views of friends and colleagues. Ideally refer to people in a similar field and those who use social media or similar platforms themselves.

2. Decide where your true value lies
Identifying your USPs early on in the process can save further tweaks and overhauls along the way. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, plump for a single title or role and base your branding around this.

3. Understand your target audience
Who are you trying to impress through your personal brand / social media presence? If it’s new career opportunities you’re after, take a look at employees at companies you’d like to work for and how they present themselves.

4. Aim for consistency
The next step is to make sure your theme is carried consistently throughout the various branding platforms you use. This could mean making sure all your social media pages carry the same profile picture, to using a similar writing style on your personal website to the one you use in emails.

5. Keep things current
An online profile is great when fresh and current, but let it grow old and it can quickly turn into a negative. Sharing content and commenting on group posts is an easy way to keep your brand visible and relevant and will keep you in tune with the latest developments in your industry.

Like it or not, reinvigorating your personal brand is an important investment of your time. With professional networking sites like LinkedIn now boasting more than 300 million members, that’s a lot of potential first impressions being formed. You need to make sure theirs is the one you want.

interview questions you'd prefer not to answer.


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