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6 Tips to Ace a Phone Interview

In today’s fast-paced economy, many employers are now opting for initial phone screenings of potential candidates as opposed to an in-person interview. This added step allows companies to sort through candidates without committing to the expense and time required for on-site meetings. It also requires an entirely different set of interview skills on the part of candidates, whose assets are suddenly condensed to their voice, tone, and personality.

If you’re searching for a new job, chances are you will experience at least one phone screening. As with any interview, you’ll need to bring your A-game if you’re going to land the job. We’ve compiled all of the tips you need in order to ace your next phone interview.

1. Don’t Wing It

Often, phone interviews are conducted by human resources employees who are trained to determine quickly whether you meet the basic job requirements, and make initial judgments about personality, temperament, communication style, and salary expectations. Therefore, although they are usually less than half an hour long, they can yield a wealth of information to the screener.

That is why it is so important to take the proper time to prepare (see below). If a screener calls you and asks whether you are available now for a phone interview, it is always in your best interest to let the interviewer know that you are not in a place to speak freely, but would love to schedule a call within the next week.

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

As with any interview, you should prepare by exhaustively researching the company and position you are applying to. You should also prepare to answer detailed questions about your work history and qualifications. Be sure you are able to address any significant gaps in your employment history, and can justify every career move. Know every bullet point of your qualifications so that you can go into detail when asked. Be sure your phone is charged and you have plenty of time if the interview goes longer than anticipated.

And, as a final step, search for a photo of the person you will be speaking to online (LinkedIn may come in handy here). You will feel more comfortable in your responses if you can visualize who you are speaking to.

3. Act Like They Can See You

While it may be tempting to conduct an interview in your pajamas, you’re much more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part. Put on professional clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident, brush your teeth, and get your game face on. Be sure that all sounds and distractions – televisions, pets, traffic noises – are accounted for and eliminated before the call.

And don’t forget to smile! Any customer service representative can tell you that smiles can be heard and felt regardless of whether the person you’re speaking to can see you. It will be much harder to sound tense, nervous, or uncertain if you have a smile on your face.

4. Act Like They Can’t See You

Now that you’ve covered the basics, take advantage of the fact that your screener will not, in fact, be able to see you. Get up and walk around – you’re more likely to sound prepared and confident if you are standing than if you are sitting. Compile all of your notes, your résumé, and your application in one place so that you can reference them easily during the interview. To eliminate the sound of paper shuffling, you can even tape your paperwork at eye level.

5. Request Next Steps & Contact Information

Before you hang up, be sure to ask your screener what the next steps will be, and when you can expect someone to follow up with you. Then, be sure to request your screener’s contact information (email and phone) so that you can complete the next step below.

6. Follow Up

Even if it’s “just a phone interview,” you should still follow up with a written thank you note to your interviewer within 24-48 hours. Be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunity to discuss the position in detail, and summarize what you spoke about on the phone. If you want to sound especially clever, include a short blurb and a link to an article about a recent occurrence at the company that you found during your research.

The Social Media Mistakes that Could Keep You from Getting Hired

A 2014 study showed that 93% of hiring managers review an applicant’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, and that 55% of them had reconsidered a candidate based on what they found. In 61% of these instances, the candidates’ social media blunders lost them the job offer.

But what are candidates doing to scare away hiring managers in droves?

1. Keep It Clean

Let’s start with the obvious. References to illegal drugs scare away 83% of surveyed recruiters (although 2% do say it’s a positive, if you want to chance it), sexually explicit posts are a turn off for 70% of recruiters, profanity is a deterrent to two thirds of recruiters, guns are a negative to over half of them, and alcohol is “concerning” to a further 44%.

The simple solution is to leave common vices off your social media account, whether it be a status update, a profile picture, or a post by a friend. If you are unable or unwilling to do so on your personal social media accounts, you may want to consider creating and curating separate accounts for your professional self.

2. Keep It Professional

Aggressive, politicized posts can be a turn off to recruiters, and just over 1 in 6 said that any indication of your political affiliations could be a potential negative. So can posts about bad work behaviors – whether yours or another’s – as they showcase questionable business ethics. Furthermore, posts that bash current or previous employers and clients are a huge turn off, and can even get you fired.

Our advice – for finding a new job and keeping your current one – is to ensure that anything you post on social media could double as break-room conversation fodder. If you can say it around the water cooler, you can (probably) say it on social media.

3. Grammar, Spelling, and Grammar

We all hated spelling tests in school, and diagramming sentences was a special sort of punishment. The anarchy of the digital world was an excellent opportunity to escape the tyrannies of our jr. high English class. Comma splices, ebonics, acronyms, and a complete disregard for punctuation flourished in this untamed land!

Alas, this hasn’t stopped 66% of recruiters from holding bad grammar and poor spelling on social media profiles against many hapless job candidates. So if you’ve been hiding from your ancient language arts enemies, Revising and Editing (you know who you are), it may be time to call a truce.

4. Use Those Privacy Controls

Whether or not your social media persona squeaky clean, you should always employe carefully chosen privacy controls to protect your content from unwanted eyes. Some platforms, like Facebook, allow for extreme levels of specificity, making any post visible or invisible to select groups you can choose and customize each time you post. Take the time to explore the levels of privacy control available to you on your social media profiles so that you can customize your posts accordingly.

Another strategy to consider is changing or altering your first or last name so that you are not easily searchable. Using a nickname, middle name, or even a silly character name could deter unwanted cyber stalking and leave your social media accounts untouched.

And, if all else fails, you can simply deactivate your existing social media accounts while searching for a new job.

For tips on how to add value to your social media accounts and actually increase your chances of getting hired using social networks, click here.

Whatever you choose, be sure to stay smart with your social media choices to land the job of your dreams!

How to Harness the Power of Social Media in Your Job Search

How to Harness the Power of Social Media in Your Job Search

Getting noticed in today’s job market is becoming significantly more difficult: competition is fierce, and the sheer number of applicants makes it increasingly difficult to stand out. While there are many important components of your job search, such as the perfect resume and the first interview, many candidates overlook one key component.

Social media is a powerful tool for creating your personal brand, researching your potential employers, and interacting with industry leaders. Following the simple steps below will allow you to harness the power of social media during your next job search.

Clean Up Your Act

We’ve written extensively on social media mistakes, but it all boils down to this: before you begin making connections or interacting with others in your chosen industry, be sure your social media platforms are representative of your potential as a prospective employee. If your tweets are laden with profanity and your Facebook wall is plastered with photos from last week’s raging party, you may have some work cut out for you. Privacy controls exist for a reason, namely, to block certain viewers from content you’re not willing to share. Be sure yours are carefully administered, if necessary. Or, to be on the safe side, avoid posting compromising content to begin with.

If you would prefer to keep your personal life separate from your professional life (not an unusual approach), then consider maintaining separate profiles for each purpose. However, be aware that a simple Google search may turn up both accounts, depending on your privacy settings. 

Add Value

Now that your social media accounts are free of any questionable content, you’re ready to begin adding value. The most important platform in this step is your LinkedIn profile, which will serve as a landing page for potential connections and employers. Be sure your profile picture is up to date and professional, your job history is complete and current, and your relevant skills are a testament to your talents and competencies. Reconnect with prior employers and coworkers to request recommendations or endorsements, and don’t be afraid to post quality, industry-related content from time to time.

Posting quality content is especially important on Twitter, which lends itself to communication between industry influencers and thought leaders. Follow the influencers in your industry to stay informed of the latest trends, and don’t be afraid to tweet at them if you appreciated an article they wrote or found their advice valuable. You may just get a response or a retweet!

#Hashtag

We’ve said it before: hashtags are an excellent way to take your job search to a new level. Whether its on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Tumblr, hashtagging allows you to connect with larger topics and conversations. They are also easily searched by potential employers and industry leaders. For a complete list of relevant job search hashtags, check out our recent blog.

Pro Tip: Whatever you post on social media is public content, meaning current employers or coworkers will likely be able to see your profile as well. Be sure you aren’t tweeting and posting about your job search — without proper privacy controls — if you have not informed your current employer of your intentions.

Remember, hiring managers today have access to much more than your resume. Spending a few moments to ensure the quality of your social media presence may be the key to ensuring your job search success!

5 Tips to Show Your Interviewer That You ‘Fit’

We’ve all had that amazing interview for that perfect job. You wait and wait for the acceptance email only to be told, “you’re not the right fit.”

What happened?

While your résumé, credentials, and interview skills are all essential to landing the job, effectively standing out from other qualified applicants often boils down to “fit.” There are many nuances that define “fit” across roles and industries, but there are some steps you can take to nail down this elusive quality in your next interview.

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5 Résumé Hacks to Get the Interview

No one enjoys writing a résumé, but they are a necessary component of every job hunt. Make the most of the time you spend revising and editing your résumé by making smart, strategic decisions that allow you to hack the job search process. We’ve compiled a few of the best résumé hacks to make your application stand out.

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The 5 Biggest Interview Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them

We will all have an awful interview at some point in our lives. And that’s ok – trust me, they make excellent stories. On the other hand, the best interviews are more akin to a conversation than a simple question and answer. But how do you work past the butterflies in your stomach and the cold sweat on your palms to fully engage the person sitting across the desk?

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