Get a Job: The Interview

Job Search Preparation

✔ Build Your Network

✔ Know Yourself

✔ Research Jobs and Organizations

✔ Apply for Jobs

?? Rock the Interview

You’ve done everything right up to this point and you’ve landed an interview.  This is your time to showcase yourself as well as see if this is really the job you want and the organization you want to work for.  Here are some tips so you can rock your interview:

  • Think of your answers to possible questions ahead of time.  Now, you can’t possibly come up with every possible question that will be asked and have every single answer to those questions.  However, you can think of about 6-8 topics that you expect to be covered and develop responses for those topics.
  • Tell stories.  After you come up with your 6-8 topics, you want to develop your responses into compelling stories.  Use anecdotes and concrete examples.  You’ll be remembered better if you can tell a good story about yourself and how you awesome you’ll be for them in the job.  If you just spew out a list of skills and accomplishments, you’ll bore them quickly.
  • Practice.  Practice answering interview questions.  Practice out loud.  Utilize your college’s Career Development Office (many offer services to alumni).  Most Career Development Office will even do mock interviews, the ultimate practice.
  • The standards:  dress well, be on time, good eye contact, firm handshakes, turn your cellphone off, no gum, etc.
  • Be yourself.  Be honest.  Be Sincere.  Focus on the positive, even when discussing negative experiences.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues.  These can help you know whether you’re talking too long, you’ve said something confusing, you’ve said something that clicked with someone, and whether an answer you gave went over well.
  • Ask good questions.  Prepare some questions in advance (afterall, you’ve done plenty of research).  Don’t hold all your questions until the very end.  Ask questions all throughout the interview, unless, of course, you really don’t care about the job (but then why did you apply?)

Those are a few things that have worked for me in interviews.  At the end of the interview, when asked if I have any questions for them, I like to end with a question.  If I am still very interested in the position I will let them know that and then I will ask if they have any concerns that they would like me to address.

Then celebrate afterwards.  Interviews are hard and you’ve made it through, so celebrate that!

Get a Job: Prep!

I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to do a blog post every day this week on job searching tips.  Given my past posting record, posting every day is in itself quite a feat, but then I pick the very week that the Harry Potter finale opens, and yes, I’ll be at the midnight showing Thursday night!  It is also in the same week that my youngest is having a sleep-over for her birthday, for which I have to plan yet another epic scavenger hunt.  Oh and we can’t forget about Women’s World Cup Soccer!

oopsOops!!  I certainly did not plan very well for this week.  Poor planning can sometimes have very negative consequences.  That is what today’s post will be about…the planning and preparation that needs to go into an effective job search.  Job searches and career management are already tricky enough; you don’t want to make it any more difficult than it needs to be.  One thing you can do is learn from other people’s mistakes. 

Common mistakes people make in their job search:

  • They don’t know themselves.
  • They don’t learn enough about the job or the organization.
  • They just aren’t prepared.

You can (and should) easy avoid these mistakes by doing the following.

Know Yourself

This one comes as a surprise to most; after all, you know what you’re capable of, right?  You know your college degree, what you’re smart at, what your skills are, what you like to do, so what is the big deal.  The big deal is that you need to fit into a job for you to like it and for the organization to be glad they hired you. 

  • Determine your values
    • What is important to you?
    • Do this values exercise and try to come up with a list of your top 10 values.
    • Values are what help you prioritize your time.  If creativity is very important to you, do you really want to work at a company that stifles it?
  • Do a skills inventory
    • Note:  this is not your resume! 
    • Be honest and determine what you are good at.
    • Be able to match your skills to a job position’s needs through accomplishments 
    • This OWL website offers a nice set of skills to start with (you have to create and determine your own accomplishments, though, and you may need to add some other skills to this list)
  • Maintain a Curriculum Vitae or comprehensive file of your values, skills, and accomplishments.
    • Again, this is not your resume or what you will send in for a job application.
    • Consider this your toolbox or file cabinet to pull from when you need to build your resume for a particular job.
    • Update it at least once per year.
  • Start your job search
    • Your professional network, job websites, etc. are all great ways to learn of job openings.
    • When you find a job you wish to apply for, do some research.  

Know the Job and Organization

Too many people will send in a generic cover letter and the same old resume to every job they apply.  The person reviewing job applications spends something like 10 seconds looking at your material before making a decision on whether to keep you in the ‘consider’ pile or put you in the ‘forget about it’ pile. 

  • Research the job and the organization.  
  • Utilize your network to learn more. 
  • Determine if the job and organizational values match your own.
  • Determine what skills you have that match the needs of the position.
  • Write a cover letter that not only indicates your interest and that you are applying for the job, but also that addresses a specific need mentioned in the job posting by highlighting your experience, with examples, as it relates to that need.  
  • Create your resume, highlighting skills and accomplishments, that relate specifically to the job for which you are applying.
  • Leverage technology.  There are plenty of websites that address resumes, cover letters, the right action verb, etc. 
  • Apply in a manner that matches the organizational culture.  For most places, the traditional resume is still the best way to apply, but there are alternatives, but those alternatives should align with the cultural expectations of the company that you researched and learned about much earlier in your process.  

Be Prepared

If you are fortunate enough to put in the ‘consider’ pile, you may be called for an interview.  There is often a ‘weeding’ phase where a preliminary interview may be done over the phone or by other means.  If you are called for an interview, it is absolutely vital that you be prepared.

  • Do more research!  Know as much about the job, the organization, and the field as possible.
  • Practice interviewing (more on this tomorrow)
  • Contact possible references and prepare a reference list (sometimes this is asked for in the initial application, but be prepared to offer more)
  • Prepare questions.  You’ve done you’re research, but you can’t possibly know everything!
    • Ask meaningful questions, questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in the position and the organization. 
    • Don’t ask question right away about money, time off, vacation, etc. 
    • Don’t not ask questions!
  • Be yourself.
  • Be honest.  Don’t make things up or embellish your capabilities.  It will become apparent at some point if you do.
  • Be positive.  Highlight your accomplishments and don’t discredit or bad mouth other people or other organizations. 

Remember, the interview should be a two-way information gathering session.  Naturally the organization wants to determine if you will be a good fit, but you should also be determining if the organization and the job are really a good fit for you as well. 

This may all seem like a lot of work, especially considering most people don’t even hear back from companies when they apply.  However, you greatly increase your chances of getting that ‘consideration’ and will be called if you do this work upfront.  Additionally, maintaining, or managing your career in this way makes it so much easier to submit a job application when that perfect job does come along! 

Tech Tip Tuesday: Get a Job

Day 2 of the ‘Get a Job’ week and since it is Tuesday, the focus will be on technology.   There are a lot of websites dedicated to getting a job or managing your career.  There are some big players in the job search market, such as CareerBuilder and Monster, but don’t discount some others that are in the game such as Simply Hired and Indeed.   There are also more specialized options such as USA Jobs for government listings and HigherEdJobs for those like me who enjoy working in academia.

Managing your career isn’t just about getting a job, especially since most people will have several career changes over the course of their lives.  It’s important to stay current on how to effectively manage  your career.  Two of my favorite blogs on career development are The Brazen Careerist and Penelope Trunk.   These two absolutely rock; they not only offer great advice and career wisdom, but they also make me laugh.  Others that are good and more traditional, include QuintCareers and CareerHub.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some networking sites.  There are obvious networking sites, such as  LinkedIn and Brazen Careerist that are great tools for professional social networking.  However, creating profiles is not the extent of maintaining an online network.   You should also network by following people on Twitter or reading blogs that matter to you or relate to your career interests.  It is not only important to follow and read what others have to say, but it is also important to add to the conversation.  I contribute to and follow It’s Academic, the blog of the College and Research Division (CRD) of the Pennsylvania Library Association.  The blog certainly covers interesting things happening in academic libraries, but it  also covers thing such as networking,  Just last week, one of my awesome colleagues, Erin, not only shared a post on networking in the CRD blog but her own blog is also a great read for librarians.

Leverage the technology and use it effectively.  Experiment with it.  A traditional resume or a CV are still the main ways to convey your skill set for a position.  Today’s technology allows you to be more creative in how you sell yourself.  Google Maps, video, slideshare, etc. have all been tools used in place of or along with traditional resumes.

As awesome as technology is though, what Erin said in that CRD post really says it all:

it all comes down to people and the power we have to make or break situations, organizations, conferences and the like…read more

Use your technology effectively and appropriately, but growing and nourishing your relationships and networks will be the biggest advantage in your career.

What sites or tools do you use to manage your career?

Why Don’t You Get a Job?

Why don’t you get a job?  Why don’t you get a job?  Why don’t you get a job?  Notice how the meaning of that one question can change based on where you put the emphasis.

Searching for a job isn’t an easy task to begin with and it is even more difficult in this economy.    Lately, several people I know seem to be in the midst of a job search, even those who are already in a good job.  I learn a lot with each job search I go through and I am often asked for advice on this particular activity (the advice requests may be more the result of my direct connection to a most excellent career development expert, my husband!)  I thought it was time to put some of that advice down in print to make it more accessible to others.

This whole week will be dedicated to the dreaded ‘Job Search’.  Today will focus on networking.   Tuesday we’ll stick with technology and offer some tech tips that can aid in a job search.  Wednesday will be on preparing for your search. Thursday will include tips on interviewing.  We’ll finish on Friday with follow-up and the end result.


Networking is by far the most important thing you can do for yourself and your career.  Period.   What are some things you should know about networking?

Networking is about helping others. 

What?  Don’t all job search books and websites tell you that networking is the most important things you can do for your own job search?  This is true; however, most jobs are still the result of a good network.  Networking is about being nice to others.  Networking is about getting to know people and what they need and then trying to help them fill that need.   Networking is about adding value to someone else’s life.  The more you give of yourself, the more people will want to give back to you when you need it.

Networking should be a habit…a regular and consistent habit.  

One of the biggest mistakes people make when networking is that they only network when they need a job.  First, this violates the first point that networking is about helping others.  Second, it takes time to build a solid network.  Third, networking is not something you do on a part-time basis or just now and then.  You have to network all. the. time.

Networking is about quality, not quantity.

Networking is about relationships.  Relationships take time and energry.  Social networking has made networking easier in some ways, but your network will still only be as effective as you are willing to make it.  Is it better to have 500 connections or friends on a social network, most of which you don’t know what their needs are or how you can help them, or to have a very solid network of 200 people, where you know everyone and can identify how you might be helpful to them.  If you can be helpful to them, chances are they will know how to be helpful to you as well.  It’s okay to have many people in your network, but be sure to develop those relationships.

Your network is larger than you think.

Networking is partly who you know, but many people think they have to know those at the top for networking to work well.  Never underestimate the power of a connection regardless of where a person fits into an organization, even if someone isn’t directly in that organization.  You’d be surprised how many people your hairdresser may know.  You’d be surprised how much the UPS delivery person knows about a particular company.   Identifying who should be in your network is as easy as making a list.  Start with your family and write down family members, then write down who you went to school with, people you know in the community, people you work with, etc.  Before you know it you’ll have a very large network of people you know.

Networking is easier than you think.

Start with your list of people in your network.  Be sure to develop solid relationships with the people in your network.  Find out what they need and see if and how you can help them, even if it is just connecting them with someone else in your network who can directly help them.   Networking is also easy at your ‘traditional’ networking events, such as conferences, job fairs, etc.  Networking at these events is often about making new connections.  The key to making new connections is asking questions, listening, and getting to know someone.  If you’re shy or introverted, develop a list of questions (open-ended) ahead of time so that you have something to start with.  Most importantly, listen more than you talk.  Then follow-up and maintain those new relationships.

Go into networking with a positive attitude.  Set yourself some networking goals; one goal could be that you will try to establish three new connections every week (that will give you 150+ after one year!).  Build and maintain those relationships.  This doesn’t mean that  you have to connect with everyone in your network every day, but you should main relationships so that you are connecting with people more than just once a year.

You’ll be amazed how quickly your network grows.  You’ll feel great because you’re helping others and making a difference.    Finally, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people are willing to help you when you need it.

I’ll leave with you a music video to help psyche you up to build your network, and even get a job if you that is what you need.  I wanted to leave you with Why Don’t You Get a Job? from The Offspring on Vimeo, but evidently Sony doesn’t allow a direct embed, so you just get the link here.   Since The Offsprng may not be for everyone, I’ll end with a little doo-wop called ‘Get a Job’ by The Silhouettes.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Learning Languages

Learn A LanguageIronically, my last post was on taking some tech-free time.  For a change, I did somewhat heed my own advice, at least as far as the blog went.  I did many of the suggestions from that post…I connected to loved ones through graduations, parties, and celebrations, I networked with and became inspired by colleagues at workshops, I read books, I got back into an exercise routine, and I even danced when no one was watching.  One other thing I did was explore some tools to learn a language.  I haven’t decided yet if I will learn a new language or brush up on my German.  Perhaps both!   While I am deciding, I will share some tools I think are worth exploring to learn a new language. (Just in time for the Tour de France!)

BBC Languages

BBC Languages  is one of the most comprehensive and easy to use websites, featuring a large selection of languages where you can learn simply key phrases for travel or advance through lessons from beginner to advanced.  Loaded with audio, video, worksheets, quizzes, tips, and much more, you’ll find learning languages through the BBC site is fun and easy.

Mango Languages

Mango Languages is also an online learning system not meant to make you fluent in a language, but to learn enough to be comfortable in conversation and in the culture of the language.  You can try your first lesson for free at their website; however, this company has worked hard with libraries so you may also be able to access lessons online through your library.  Check out Mango’s library locator to see if your library offers Mango Languages.


Learning a language should be a social endeavor, yet many opt to learn a language on their own, rarely conversing with others.  LiveMocha helps take learning a language to a social level.  Membership is free and offers some basic lessons, flashcards, chat, and messaging.  Native speakers can help you learn and you can help others learn as well.

Go Mobile

There are several apps out there for learning languages on the go.  Both BBC Languages and Mango Languages have mobile options and LiveMocha hopes to release a mobile app in the very near future.   Then there is Trip Lingo.  Trip Lingo is definitely not going to make you fluent, but it is geared for those who wish to learn what they may need when traveling.  Trip Lingo offers a dictionary, flash cards, and even a slang slider so you can determine how you want to learn your language.  Trip Lingo is also not free, but it is on sale right now for $2.99.


These are just a few useful sites and tools to help you get started in learning a language.  I’ve included more sites and tools on Diigo under the ‘language’ tag.  It’s summer, so have a little fun and learn a new language, even if you aren’t traveling anywhere this summer!