Though a relatively new trend in recruiting, employers are increasingly adopting strengths-based interview techniques to get the most value out of the application process.

These interviews look to understand the kind of things that you enjoy and that interest you. They are designed to stop candidates from feeling like they have to cheat the system or second guess what your interviewer wants to hear.

However that’s not an excuse to go in cold without any preparation. It’s not about rehearsing perfect answers, but you still want to ensure that you shine in the best possible light.

1) Begin with some self analysis
Start by thinking carefully about what engages you and the kind of tasks and activities you enjoy. While you’ll already have an instinctive sense of the above, you want these ideas to be fresh and clear in your mind. Having this self awareness will give you the confidence to deal with different types of strengths-based questions and provide fluid responses.

2) Revisit your application
It’s important to be able link your core qualities and interests to real examples from different areas of your life. Go back to your CV and/ or application form; think about your experiences: was there a course or extracurricular activity that really engaged you? Did you thrive in a particular work placement, were there aspects of a previous role that made you feel positive about yourself and your job?

3) Get to know the company
While the focus is very much on you, there’s no harm in seeking to understand the qualities and values that your prospective employer holds dear. We’re not suggesting you deliberately tailor your answers to these, but it’s useful to see where your values align and the kind of qualities and strengths you should be drawing attention to. It might also help to identify the type of language you should be using to describe your experience.

4) Understand the questions and let them sink in
While every interview is different, it’s useful to have an idea of the kinds of questions you may face. Brace yourself for quite a few questions – it usually takes time to build up a rounded picture of your personality and qualities.

• What type of things are you good at?
• What kind of tasks do you most enjoy doing and why?
• Do you feel more energised at the start of a project or at the end?
• When have you felt most fulfilled?
• What achievements are you most proud of and why?
• What particular aspects of this role do you think you’ll enjoy?

Google ‘strengths based interview questions’ to pick up some more ideas.

Remember, your interviewer is looking for honest and genuine insight, not perfectly scripted answers. Rather than rote learning your responses you could try jotting down a few bullet points or using a spider diagram to brainstorm key ideas or experiences.

At the end of the day strengths-based interviews are as much about your helping yourself to determine whether the role is right for you as about the employer uncovering their perfect candidate. Treat it as a mutual learning process, be honest and true to yourself, and you can’t go too far wrong.

Reference: Abintegro News

26 May 2016

Myth: age no longer matters when it comes to applying for jobs. Like it or not, preconceptions and prejudices surrounding older or, just as easily, younger workers are still all too common in today’s increasingly competitive job market.

Here are some of the most common, and avoidable, CV giveaways of younger and older job seekers.

Common mistakes of younger job seekers:

1. Sloppy presentation
Younger job seekers are more likely to succumb to basic CV ‘no-no’s, such as spelling and grammar mistakes and uneven layout. This is the first impression employers have of you, so make sure it counts.

2. A funky email address
Woof_22@me.com or crazysister93@gmail.com both indicate not only a younger candidate, but a less serious one. Be careful about the numbers you use in your email address as well which could either imply your age or year of birth, and choose a sensible, grown up address.

3. Failure to tailor
Employers are generally not interested in work experience from your early teens nor your GCSE results, and inclusion of these usually indicates a lack of experience. The rest of the CV needs to meet the needs of the employer and position too. Junior jobseekers tend to forget to make their CV specific, use key words and give evidence of the points listed on the job description.

4. Not including a summary statement
It may seem old-fashioned, but most employers and HR managers expect an opening paragraph, summarising your experience and skills. Keep it short, punchy and to the point.

Common mistakes of older job seekers:

1. Outdated layout/font
Microsoft Office has moved on since its launch in 1990. So have CVs. There is no need to stick to a rigid structure or font, nor any harm in adding an element of ‘flair’ to your presentation to help it stand out from the crowd. Check out some templates online and update your structure, format and font.

2. Including carbon-datable details
Using your home address rather than your email address and home number as opposed to your mobile number as your primary contact details are a tell-tale sign of advancing years. Equally having an email account from aol, Hotmail or your cable provider looks a bit wrinkly too.

3. Going back too far into your professional history
Keep it fresh by only listing relevant positions. When referring to years of experience use terms such as ’10+ years’ experience..’ rather than ’25 years’ experience’ to avoid assumptions about your age. But it’s generally best not to refer to experience much beyond ten years ago. The interview will give you a chance to refer to less recent history.

4. Plugging obvious technical skills
There are very few people under 50 who can’t use Internet Explorer or Excel. Listing generic skills such as these will only draw attention to the ones you don’t have. Limit your ‘skills’ section to things that add value, like using InDesign or writing code, or don’t include one at all. Certainly don’t include your prowess with WordPerfect or Lotus123 – nobody uses them anymore.

A few points for both teams:
• Avoid age-defining clichés such as ‘seasoned professional’, ‘young and eager’, ‘mature’ or ‘youthful’
• Remove the dates against your education, but list the most recent first
• Never write ‘references available upon request’ whoever you are!

While deliberately removing all evidence of your age from your CV may seem dishonest, you are really just playing employers and recruiters at their own game. If you think you’re up to the job, then a few miles on the clock, or lack thereof, shouldn’t stand in your way.

Reference: Abintegro News – Financial Highway; Wet Feet; Forbes

18 May 2016

“You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life…so keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

With more than 25 million Youtube views, Steve Jobs’ famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech has been inspiring school and university leavers for over a decade.

They seem to be heeding his advice, with new research showing that today’s graduates are switching jobs and careers in greater number than ever before. A study by New College of the Humanities in London has revealed that an astonishing 95% of students change employer at least once within three years of graduating. A tenth of leavers have made their way through three different jobs before their 25th birthday.

The culture of graduate employment is changing. The days of the ‘career for life’ are long gone, and the conventional wisdom that you need to spend at least two years in your first role feels increasingly out of touch with the needs of today’s early career professionals.

Practicality trumps loyalty: why stick out a job or career if it doesn’t feel like the right fit or it doesn’t fulfil your interests or long-term ambitions? Rather than sticking it out, sometimes there’s more to gain by using this ‘learning experience’ to inform your next career move.

Employers also realise that today’s young professionals have a plethora of employment opportunities at their fingertips and may need time to understand where they fit into the workplace. What was once frowned upon as ‘job-hopping’ can now be rebranded as sensible career development; indeed, workers with a varied career history are often more flexible, skilled and broad-minded than those who’ve followed a more ‘traditional’ route. The onus is now on organisations to introduce retention strategies and to provide graduates with the skills and experience they need at the start of their career.

A note of caution, however: there’s a difference between a genuine desire for professional development and simple ‘grass is greener’ syndrome. It’s about truly understanding your career motivations and the kind of work that interests you, and a ‘suck it and see’ approach will only go so far. It’s essential that you give each role your full attention and really think about the parts of the job you enjoy as much as those that you don’t.

To summarise, while a sprinkling of young people will fall out of school or university straight into a long-term career, there’s no harm in taking some time to look around and see what’s out there or changing your mind a couple of years into the job. As long as you use these experiences wisely and make full use of them, these ‘false starts’ could turn out to be the stepping stone to your perfect role.

 

Abintegro News. Reference: UK press; CNBC

12 May 2016

 

Family, friends, colleagues: when it comes to job hunting advice, it seems everyone’s an expert. With so many wannabe career advisors out there, it’s often hard to sort genuine, good advice from the hearsay or folklore. Here are some of the most commonly touted falsehoods to watch out for.

1. Your CV is all that really matters
The most dazzling CV can only go so far without a strong interviewing technique and the right interpersonal skills. Spend as much time honing these as you do on polishing your resumé.

2. Networking is no longer necessary
80% of positions are, in fact, still found through networking. Building a rapport with a potential employer helps put a face to your application and can give you a foot up on the competition.

3. Job-hoppers will be prosecuted
With many companies now operating a ‘flat’ structure, employees are increasingly moving between firms in order to climb the professional ladder. This has made job-hopping a much more common and accepted practice.

4. Specialised knowledge trumps transferable skills
A big part in switching jobs or careers successfully is realising the value of your existing skills alongside specific sector expertise. You shouldn’t be put off if your experience doesn’t exactly fit the job description.

5. Lower your expectations in a down-turn
Employment trends are relatively transient, meaning you would often do better to hold out for something you really want, rather than the first thing that comes along.

6. Lowering your salary demands will boost your chances
Likewise, you should resist temptation to demand a lower salary in order to improve your chances of success, which can make you appear desperate and lacking confidence in your abilities.

7. The more applications the better
A scatter-gun approach to job applications is ill-advised as employers can usually spot generic, one-size-fits-all cover letters a mile off. It’s always worth investing the time to make sure each application is specifically tailored to the position.

8. No one appreciates a pushy job seeker
You could do the courteous thing and wait until a job has been posted before contacting a company; however, the chances are the post will have already been circulated within the company by then.

9. Patience is a virtue
By the same token, sitting there waiting for the phone to ring won’t always get you very far. Many employers will expect you to follow up on your application, so get dialling.

10. Being fired or laid off = career suicide
Interviewers will be sensitive to the fact that employees leave jobs for any number of reasons. Be up front about your dismissal and the reasons behind it and it shouldn’t prove a deal breaker.

The main thing when conducting your job search is to go with your own instincts. Of course, there are others who have been there and done it before, but their experiences shouldn’t necessarily determine your own.

Abintegro News

Reference: USnews; Business Insider

11 May 2016

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What you can do besides a CV and cover letter?

Say what you will about recruiters, but you can’t accuse them of not moving with the times. A recent survey by JobVite, for instance, shows that 73% of recruiters or hiring managers have hired a candidate via social media.

In an ever more competitive job market, there’s more than one way to get yourself noticed. While no one is suggesting we do away with CVs or covering letters any time soon, it may be worth looking at some of the different ways you can add to your professional profile and branding.

1. The tried and tested
A LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer for any discerning job seeker, with a whopping 87% of recruiters now using the networking site to scour for candidates. The same goes for business cards – a little formal perhaps, but perfectly designed for distributing at events such as careers fairs.

2. Other networking tools
Beyond LinkedIn lies a plethora of other platforms, all of which can add something extra to your personal brand. Instagram is a great resource for professionals in more creative industries who want to showcase portfolios or recent projects. Pinterest is a slightly quirkier version of the same.

3. Websites and blogs
A personal website or blog takes this messaging one step further and will allow recruiters and hiring managers a deeper insight into your personality. They are also a great platform for demonstrating your understanding around a particular industry or sector.

4. Twitter
Twitter is one of few social networks that successfully straddle both the personal and the professional arenas. Tweeting your insights on a particular industry or updating others on the work you’re doing is a great way to get noticed by the people who matter, however be careful not to merge your personal and professional identities.

5. For the more adventurous
An infographic CV can be a fun addition to your professional brand and looks great on your LinkedIn page or personal site. However, to really stand out you may need to go where few others dare – video CVs are starting to take off in the creative industries and are also popular among sales professionals.

6. For future reference…
Big things are expected of Mark Zuckerberg’s latest brainchild, Facebook Live, which allows individuals and organisations to broadcast their thoughts live to the world. It’s early days for the platform but watch this space.

When it comes to boosting your personal brand it’s really a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained. At the same time it’s important to do things properly – half finished profiles and abandoned blogs are as likely to detract from your professional image as to add to it. With the right energy and commitment these ideas could prove the gateway to that dream job.

Abintegro – News

Reference: WiseBread; Business Insider; Sell Inbound
21 Apr 2016

Why am I still unemployed? Here are 10 possible reasons

You may be an experienced professional, struggling in the job market or the one in every 10 graduates still without a job six months after leaving university. Either way, there are probably one or more good reasons why you haven’t found a company to call home. Here are some of the most common issues and how to begin rectifying them.

1. You aren’t operating in the right channels
Limiting your search to job boards and online listings means discounting the estimated 70% of positions that aren’t advertised. Start making contact with potential employers through email and whatever means necessary.

2. You’re not working your connections
You might feel uncomfortable hitting up friends or relatives for favours. Don’t be. There’s nothing wrong with leaning on people you know, especially given the current level of competition for jobs,

3. You’re not targeted enough
Wheeling out the same tired CV for each application might save time, but it’s unlikely to be pressing the right buttons for the HR manager screening your application. Make sure to tailor your resume to the specifications of each role.

4. You’re spreading yourself too thin
If you are applying for anything and everything, you are probably expending energy where you shouldn’t. Don’t click the ‘apply’ button unless you have at least 60% of the qualifications listed on the job spec.

5. You’re overqualified
Equally, being seriously overqualified for a position can prove just as much of a turn-off for potential employers. Managers may be wary of hiring someone whose career ambitions extend far beyond the role, believing they are likely to jump ship at the drop of the hat.

6. You’re not prepared
With an average of five employees interviewing for each role, you need to do everything you can to swing the odds in your favour. That means rehearsing for every aspect of the interview, from researching your interviewer to preparing a list of questions to ask.

7. You don’t present well
Inappropriate clothing or poor personal hygiene may be creating a negative first impression on the people sitting opposite you. Ask a friend to give you the once over to help iron out any flaws.

8. Your communication skills need work
Having the best CV on the planet will only get so far if you aren’t able to clearly express what the interviewer wants to hear. What can you bring to the role that others can’t? Practise your spiel on friends and family.

9. Your attitude is wrong
Employers are looking for people that are enthusiastic about working for them. They want positive people in their organisation that are willing to take on challenges, make an effort with new colleagues and bring some real value to the team. If you’re too shy to smile or too jaded to engage they may not see past it.

10. Your body language is off-putting
You know the drill, but slouching, crossing your arms, not making eye contact, giving a limp handshake all give the impression that you are not bothered about connecting with the hiring manager, so why should they bother hiring you?

Of course, there is an element of luck in every application process and sometimes things just don’t work out for reasons we can’t explain. Nevertheless, controlling as many of the factors in play as possible can help narrow the margins for disappointment.

 

Reference: Ere.net; Spot Bridge Global; Abintegro

20 Apr 2016

How to text your new boss communication, new role Fact: 8.3 trillion texts are sent every year. That works out as nearly 23 billion messages a day, or 16 million every minute. Time-crunched profess…

Source: How to text your new boss

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