3 Stress-Free Ways to Network at a Company Holiday Party

Because sometimes seeing your co-workers at parties can be awkward.

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-by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop

It’s probably fair to say that most of us have a love/hate relationship with office holiday parties. We love getting dressed up, drinking eggnog, and enjoying a fun night out with our co-workers - but we could do without making awkward small talk at the bar or waiting in the bathroom line with a bunch of people we don’t really know. Awkward moments aside, socializing with your colleagues outside of the office is a great way to build relationships, make new connections, and boost your reputation at work. So, why not take this opportunity to do a little networking? 

Work the Room
There’s no better time to step outside of your comfort zone and talk to people you don’t normally interact with. Everyone is usually in a great mood at the holiday party – they’re not working, they probably have some time off coming up, and they most likely have a drink in-hand. Make the most of cocktail hour by taking a few laps around the room.

Need a little help with conversation starters? Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Ask about food or drinks: “Have you tried the arancini yet?” or “Do you know what’s in the signature cocktail?”
  • Lead with a compliment: “I love your dress! Where did you get it?” or “Hey, great job on that presentation last week!”
  • Talk about current events: “Did you hear about [insert recent and amusing news story]?” or “Did you catch the [insert your favorite sports team] game last night?”
  • Chat about the party: “What a cool event space! Have you ever been here before?” or “Did you make it to last year’s party? What was the theme?”

Go Beyond Office Chat
Sure, talking about work-related stuff is an easy go-to, but you’re not at the office tonight! The holiday party is a perfect place to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level. This doesn’t have to be super deep (although if it goes there, cool!); you can talk about anything from the Warriors to your manager’s daughter’s soccer tournament. The goal is to learn more about your colleagues’ lives and interests outside of work. You never know what you’ll end up having in common, so ask questions!

And don’t be shy about sharing things about yourself, either. Do you have any exciting trips coming up? Are you learning to golf? Are you completely obsessed with Stranger Things? Now’s the time to open up.

Find the Other Plus Ones
Tagging along as a plus one to a holiday party can be extra awkward – you probably don’t know anyone besides your date. The great news is, a solid half of the room is likely in the same boat. Why not band together? Striking up a conversation with a fellow plus one is as easy as asking if they know anyone else at the party or just plain introducing yourself. They’ll likely be relieved to have another person to talk to!

The best part about hanging with the plus ones? You never know who you’ll meet. You could end up chatting with a recruiter who just so happens to work at your dream company, the very person who could put you in touch with a contact you’ve been trying to reach for ages, or a really cool new friend.

And we wish we didn’t have to say this, but… please don’t drink too much, engage in any office gossip, or bring up topics that may make others uncomfortable. You should absolutely have fun, but remember that these people are your colleagues and you’ll have to face them in the staff meeting on Monday.

End of PSA.

The company holiday party can be a great opportunity for you to strengthen your professional relationships (and create new ones!). It’s not every day that you get the chance to socialize with people from other offices or departments, chat up the CEO, or – most importantly – wear sequins to work without feeling totally overdressed. This really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy holiday networking!

Maven Volunteers at Defy Ventures' Business Coaching Night

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 - by Julia Francis

This year Maven implemented a Volunteer Initiative so our whole team could have the chance to volunteer both individually with organizations close to our own hearts and as a team with organizations where our particular skillsets come in handy. We got the opportunity to do just that with Defy Ventures this past week, and the experience, to be honest, woke me up.

While it’s easy to slip into a mundane routine, these two hours reinvigorated me, and the people I spoke with reminded me how magical it is to be fully in the present. Defy Ventures is an entrepreneurship, employment, and character development training program for currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, and youth. This particular event was a business coaching night for individuals who have already exited the prison system. They are Entrepreneurs in Training, EIT’s for short.

We arrived at the event, a donated office space for the evening in downtown San Francisco, checked in, and grabbed a piece of pizza. At the two-minute mark before starting, we all filed into an adjoining room and took our seats. Veronica, the Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter, took the spotlight. She used the first few minutes to set the stage for the night. First, an icebreaker, then introductions, and then three rounds of 15-minute coaching sessions. After giving us a rundown around what the night was going to look like, she started to drop facts:

  • Over 70 million Americans have a criminal record
  • Nearly 70% of formerly incarcerated individuals end up going back to jail
  • 89% of those heading back to prison were unemployed when they were arrested
  • One in every three black males born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their lives, and one in every six Hispanic males born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their lives

After more of these jarring facts, we jumped right into the icebreaker. Defy did an amazing job of unifying the group right from the start and breaking down barriers of impersonalized politeness. They challenged us to be vulnerable with strangers, share our stories, and be uncensored with our feelings. Even though we were there in different capacities, business coaches/volunteers and EIT’s, we were all brought to the same level playing field of just being people with different challenges and different strengths.

After speed rounds of introductions, we began our round robin of business coaching. I was blown away. I felt like I was the one being coached, but coached on hope, resilience, and bravery. I learned so much from these men in such a short amount of time. Each individual I met with was genuine and present in an unparalleled way. Their passion was effusive and it energized the room in a way that I had not experienced in years. It felt like we were all on the precipice of something big – because I think we are.

In 2016 Obama launched the Fair Chance Business Pledge. This is a pledge to take action to reduce barriers to give a fair shot at a second chance and provide economic opportunity to everyone, including those with a criminal history. Among companies to sign this pledge were Bay Area’s Facebook, Google, and Uber. Defy Ventures is part of a movement. Together we can empower one another and break down unfair stigmas and biases that saturate our community. You can be sure that I will be volunteering with them again: yes, because it feels good to “give back,” but mostly because I still have so much to learn from this impressive group of people.

How to Show Gratitude at Work (And Why It’ll Make Your Job Better)

Not to Sound Like Your Mom, but a Genuine Thank You
Really Does Go a Long Way

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 - by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop

This time of year, we’re feeling extra thankful. Between the smell of pumpkin spice in the air and a social calendar packed with fun holiday festivities, it’s impossible not to develop a case of the warm fuzzies.

We all know that cultivating gratitude is a great way to instantly boost your mood, but why stop there? Now’s the perfect time to let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them. And we aren’t just talking about your friends and family. Taking time to sincerely tell your coworkers how thankful you are for all that they do will not only spread some serious holiday cheer – it’ll make your job better, too. Here’s how.

Recognize Your Recruiter’s Efforts

You may not realize it, but there’s a lot of work that goes into sourcing, evaluating, and scheduling interviews. Recruiters’ schedules are action-packed; they often have to re-prioritize their entire to-do list at least a few times a day. And while they get to share exciting news about interviews and job offers with their candidates, they’re also the ones who have to tell their clients that they didn’t get the gig – and it can be rough.

Show the recruiter you’re working with that you appreciate all her hard work with a thoughtful “thank you” – and be specific. Is she incredibly responsive? Super well-informed about the role? An awesome ambassador for her employer? You know how your recruiter encourages you to send a thank you note after an interview (check out Don’t Forget the Final Step: the Thank You Note)? I can tell you from first-hand experience, receiving an actual thank you note is a complete mood changer, and brings an instant, gratitude-inducing smile to your face.

Thank Your Co-workers

It’s easy to take your co-workers for granted – especially if they’re good at their jobs. Why not take five minutes out of your day to let your teammates know how great you think they are? As always, be specific. Did a co-worker go out of her way to help you on a crazy project? Is he a super positive presence in the office? Is she just downright great at her job?  It can be as simple as sending a quick email to say, “thanks for being great!” or giving kudos at a staff meeting.

Not only will your teammates feel extra special, but they’ll probably be more likely to help you out when you’re in a pinch or speak highly of you in peer reviews, which will make your job even better.

Let Your Boss Know That You Appreciate Her

In addition to (hopefully) being a great manager, your boss has tons of additional responsibilities to juggle. And, leadership can sometimes be a thankless job. Your manager likely spends oodles of time making sure you have everything you need to succeed. And that’s pretty amazing.

Taking the time to genuinely thank your boss for her feedback, tell her how much you appreciate her training you, or heck, even giving her a thoughtful gift will serve to solidify your relationship. It’ll make her feel appreciated, too.

Even better? If your boss knows that you’re sincerely grateful for the thing she does for you, she’ll probably be a bit more forgiving when you make a mistake and more willing to invest in helping you develop your career.

There’s no better time of year to practice gratitude in every area of your life –  work included. Letting the people you work with know how much you appreciate them will not only make them feel wonderful (which is reason enough to say a great big thank you), but it’ll also solidify your relationships in the process. That’s the awesome thing about gratitude – its benefits are exponential.

 

Ask a Real Recruiter: Should I Use a Salary Calculator to Negotiate a Job Offer?

CEO & Founder Jessica Vann's Latest Column on The Muse
PLUS
Practical Salary Negotiation Tips During an Interview!

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My latest ‘Ask a Real Recruiter’ Column on The Muse answered one piece of the very tough question – ‘How do I talk about salary in the interview process?’ ‘Still Figuring Out My Worth’ asked specifically if mentioning salary data aggregators in a salary negotiation is useful. Quick answer, no. You can find my whole response HERE, which also starts a bigger discussion around really determining your worth and what you actually need and want from a job, salary being one part of that larger picture.

What I want to add to the ‘Ask A Recruiter’ column by writing this post is a quick tip for interviewers to help navigate the salary discussion, because really it is an ongoing discussion. The salary answer isn’t always black and white, and it can change over the course of an interview. (Again, read the whole column for the ‘big picture.’)

So my advice is to keep salary a discussion during the interview process. Remember: anchors are for boats, not salary negotiations. If and when the salary question is sprung on you, there are ways to answer it that suggest flexibility and won’t anchor you to an exact number. Try the following:

1.      “I really appreciate your question, and would first love to learn more about the role and how I’ll be able to contribute before we go down that path.”

2.      “Ideally, I’m looking for something in the range of “x” to “x”, but also recognize there’s a total package to consider and would be interested to know what that looks like.”

I think we can all agree: how to talk about salary during an interview process and offer negotiation is a big, hot-button topic, especially given that the salary talk is also about to change dramatically in California with the enaction of AB 168, which basically states prospective employers cannot ask candidates or employees about past salaries, period. We’ve been monitoring this for a while and strategizing on how this will impact the conversations we have every day at Maven, but that is a specific topic for another blog on its own.

 - Jessica Vann

How to Slay Your Interview Start to Finish

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Admins on the Rise: Maven Makover, Part THREE

Our latest Admins on the Rise event, Maven Makeover, was all about refreshing your resume and LinkedIn profile, and you can find tips on doing just that in Part ONE & Part TWO of the event coverage on Maven’s blog. While it’s always important to keep your professional profiles up-to-date, the need for a big refresh is normally triggered by the fact you are jumping into the job hunt. If that is you - welcome!

Let’s talk about the next step: interviewing! Maven Makeover guests left the event with an interview tip sheet from our team of recruiting experts who have coached thousands of candidates on how to nail their interview. Read on for those interview tips and tricks you can put into practice today!

PRE-INTERVIEW

  •  Do your research. Get to know all about the company and people you will be interviewing with. Check out their website, Google the company’s latest news and announcements, and ask any friends who work there for insights on who you’re meeting with.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Start thinking about common interview questions and your responses, including specific examples from your experience, then practice them out loud in front of a mirror. Come up with insightful, thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer.
  • Know where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there. Plan your route in advance, and aim to get there 5 minutes before your interview. DO NOT show up late, but don’t get there more than 10 minutes early, either. That may mean taking a walk around the block before going in, but that can be good to calm any nerves!
  • Get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast! You never know: if you make a great impression, you could be onsite longer than anticipated – and you definitely don’t want to get “hangry.”
  • Additional Resource: See Maven’s Blog about last-minute interview prep: http://www.mavenrec.com/blog/2017/1/16/cheat-sheet-what-you-need-to-know-to-nail-a-last-minute-interview

INTERVIEW DAY

  • Dress for success. Match the vibe of the office. If you’re going to a finance firm, wear the suit. If you’re going to a start-up, wear those polka-dotted slacks. For all interviews, look polished and presentable (no chipped nail polish or post-gym hair!).
  • And don’t overdo it. No excessive cologne or perfumes, and this isn’t the time to try out the latest take on the cat-eye. You want to be remembered for you, not your glitter eyeshadow. (Remember PART TWO of the Maven Makeover coverage)
  • Bring your resume. Actually, bring multiple: at least one to offer your interviewer, and one to keep in front of you, and anyone else who may pop by to interview you.
  • Put your phone on silent and keep it in your purse or pocket.
  • Do it! Greet and exit with a firm handshake. Remember names and make eye contact. Ask your questions. You’ve got this!
  • Additional Resource: Take a look at Maven’s Blog on how to avoid common interview mistakes: http://www.mavenrec.com/blog/2017/10/23/3-scary-interview-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them              

POST-INTERVIEW

Ready to jump into the job hunt? We’d love to help – drop us a line!

 

How to Take a Professional Headshot & Work-Appropriate Makeup

Admins on the Rise: A Maven Makeover Part TWO

At our latest Admins on the Rise event, Maven Makeover, one thing was clear – everyone loves a little pampering! Maven Makeover focused on how to “make over” and refresh your professional profile, including making your resume more impactful and your LinkedIn profile more searchable. This includes having a professional, personable headshot, so we brought in some experts: photographer Kendall Brobst and makeup artist Rachel Domingo. The two talented women had our guests feeling their best while taking their headshots, and they shared some amazing tips for a fantastic headshot and work-appropriate makeup in Part TWO of our Maven Makeover coverage!

(Check out Part ONE & Part THREE for more resume, LinkedIn, and Interview tips)

 Headshot

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Professional Headshot Tips from Kendall Brobst who shoots everything from weddings, live music, travel, and of course all types of professional headshots:

  • What’s Your Vibe: Match your look to the ‘vibe’ you are going for in your career and the jobs you want. For example, if you are applying to start-ups, you probably don’t want to wear a formal business suit in your headshot.
  • Be the Star in Your Photo: Don’t wear anything that is going to ‘outshine’ your face. I recommend small jewelry, solids or simple patterns and nothing too eye-catching or distracting.
  • Smize ‘em in the Eye: I always like to shoot headshots straight on vs. a profile. You always want people to see your eyes!
  • Be yourself! Above everything, you want this photo to convey you, the real you that is going to walk into that interview. Have fun: relay a story or a joke between you and the photographer to loosen things up to avoid a photo that feels stiff.

Makeup

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Tips for Work Appropriate Makeup from our go-to makeup expert, Rachel Domingo, who helps women look their best for all kinds of special events! You can also visit her at the Mac counter at Bloomingdale’s in San Francisco.

  • Less is More! Avoid caking it up as much as possible. There’s nothing worse than when it looks like you’ve tried too hard to look good. It should look, feel, and be effortless.
  • Know your audience: Be sure your makeup is appropriate for your work environment. It should be tailored to the impression you want to make with your employees, colleagues and superiors. If you work in a creative environment, don’t be afraid to express yourself creatively, especially if you’re an artist deep down!
  • Neutral is Natural: Neutral colors are always a “no fail” choice when it comes to color with your makeup. Choose complimenting colors for your skin tone and eye color to make your best features pop.
  • “Blend blend blend is your friend friend friend!” It’s important to avoid harsh lines and heavy makeup when coming to work. Save the smoky eyes for Happy Hour and soften up those beautiful features to appear more approachable and professional.
  • Keep it simple: Are you the “I do my makeup in my car” type? Only have 5-10 minutes to spare because you’d rather have coffee than a full face of makeup? No worries! Let’s be all about minimal makeup with a maximum impact, and you’ll have a perfect 10-minute makeup face with your latte in hand, looking refreshed and ready to attack the day!
  • “Five to stay alive.” Piggybacking on the last tip: pick 5 top makeup items and make it your “Daily Go-to” routine. Ex: Mascara, Liner, Tinted Moisturizer, Bronzer, Lips — this is still technically a “full face” without doing a full makeup beatdown a la Instagram. And you won’t need 3 different makeup removers to take it all off when you’re too tired after a long day.
  • Wear it with confidence! If you don’t feel good in it, don’t wear it! Like most things you wear, it’s important to actually feel good. If it doesn’t make you feel like you can take on the world today, save it for a day when it will!

The big takeaway? It’s all about being comfortable and confident in putting your best professional self forward. Want to learn more? Can we help you find your next dream role? Drop us a line!

 

 

 

Refresh Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile With These Simple Tips

Admins on the Rise: Maven Makeover, Part ONE

Thanks to everyone who made it out to our latest, sold-out Admins on the Rise event, A Maven Makeover, last Thursday. We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with our very own San Francisco-based recruiters for one-on-one personalized resume and LinkedIn profile advice, get professional makeup touch up and tips, and take an updated, professional headshot. We sure had a ton of fun with you!

For those who were unable to make it, there was a lot of advice floating around, so we have compiled a snapshot of ALL the tips we shared to update and “make over” your resume and LinkedIn profile in a series of blog posts.

Keep reading for Part One of our event coverage including resume advice and LinkedIn tips.

  • Part Two includes how to take a professional headshot from photographer Kendall Brobst, and interview and work appropriate makeup tips from professional makeup artists Rachel Domingo!
  • Last but not least, Part Three puts all of the resume and LinkedIn profile work you have done with tips to nail that interview it got you!

Also a huge thank you to everyone who donated to this Admin on the Rise’s event charity recipient, Dress for Success! With all of your love and support, and a donation match from Maven, we are thrilled to be able to donate almost $700 to the amazing San Francisco chapter, which empowers women to achieve economic independence and thrive in work and in life.

Now for the tips! Let’s start at the beginning – here are quick tips to make your resume more impactful and your LinkedIn profile stand out:

Resume (from top-ish to bottom):

  • Education: If you are less than two years out of school, highlight that education at the top; otherwise move it all to the bottom of your resume.
  • What’s Your Objective Here: If you are including an objective, it should be at the top, which is especially helpful and impactful if you are making a transition in your career. 
  • Clean It Up: Make your resume easy to read at a glance. This means clean formatting, bullet points, and a simple font.
  • About Those Bullet Points: Each bullet should start with a strong, action-oriented adjective that beckons your future employer to keep reading. Start with the present and work your way back – AND pay attention to tenses, which should only be present if you are still in that role.
  • Consistency, Consistency, Consistency: Fastest way to turn off a future employer? Not paying close enough attention to detail with inconsistencies. This means same font, same date structure, same margins, same italics – you get the point, keep it consistent!
  • Skills: Anyone can say “strong communicator” on a resume, but listing tangible skills are a great way to draw attention to all of your software, program, database, and technical skillsets and proficiencies. Listing the specifics can also make sure resume more searchable. 

LinkedIn:

  • Professional Headshot: Your photo should be 60 percent of your face and be ‘professionally appropriate,’ with a warm expression that actually looks like you in everyday life!
  • Tagline: Your tagline can and should be more creative than just your current title. Have fun with creating a ‘title’ with personality that provides more insight into you as an employee!
  • Bio: Think of your LinkedIn bio as an opportunity to introduce your authentic self, your WHOLE self. While this is ultimately a professional profile, add some flavor to your bio and show your personality beyond what you have done in past roles. This is the section where you would include what you do outside of work, what motivates you, and what you are looking for in a career!
  • No, your LinkedIn is not your resume: YES, make sure your companies, job titles, and dates are all accurate and match your resume. But your LinkedIn should complement your resume, not take its place. Instead of the bullet points you have so strategically and thoughtfully listed in your resume, include 3-5 sentences about your role at each company.
  • Specific Skills: Same as above: tangible skills like software proficiencies and technical skillsets are much more impactful.

With these quick but impactful changes, your resume will resonate more with potential employers and your LinkedIn profile will be more searchable. There is always more we can and love to share about all things job hunting and career planning. Got any questions? Want to work with us to find your next dream job? Drop us a line! (We seriously love talking about this!)

Counter Offer Attack!

How to Safeguard Against Your Offer Becoming Victim to a Counter Offer

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- by Jessica Vann, CEO & Founder

If you’ve been paying attention to the job reports lately, you’ve likely been amazed to see the Bay Area unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 15 years, hovering around 3% on average per county.

15 years?! 3%?! These numbers are incredible, and even if you didn’t know the actual stats, you’ve probably been feeling them when it comes to your own hiring. You certainly wouldn’t be the first of our clients to say, “Where are all the candidates?!”

The candidate market is competitive: you must be strategic and thoughtful to attract, interview and successfully close the candidate you want. A very real risk in this competitive market is the dreaded counter offer! If you’ve fallen in love with this candidate, you better believe there is always the chance their current company loves them enough to go to extreme lengths to get them to stay.

So, what can you do? We’ve navigated our fair share of counter offers, and here are our tips.

1. Have a Real Counter Offer Conversation:

Address the elephant in the room and ask, “What would you do if your company counter offered? Have you considered what you would do if your current company matched or even exceeded our offer?”

Err on the side of caution and assume this candidate has never experienced a counter offer. It’s important to roleplay these different scenarios to evaluate any vulnerable areas your candidate may have and to troubleshoot the potentiality that they get re-sold by their current employer. 

Help them visualize how the conversation with their current employer may unfold. If you are facilitating that conversation, you have an opportunity to prep your candidate and influence how they handle the tough ‘giving notice’ talk. You also have on opportunity to really get to the crux of what is motivating the candidate to make a change in their career and craft your closing arguments accordingly. 

Additionally, mapping out (ahead of time) the emotional tug-of-war they may experience during that conversation eliminates the surprise that could otherwise hijack your offer. You want your prep and guidance to take over, not their emotional side, particularly if this is someone who is conflict-avoidant. The desire to avoid conflict or disappointing someone is very real and shouldn’t be underestimated. 

2. Close the Candidate, From Start to ‘The Talk’

Always Be Closing, right? You actually start closing the candidate the first moment you reach out to schedule an interview, and that closing mentality shouldn’t stop until the candidate has both signed on the dotted line and successfully given their two weeks.

The infancy period of any new employment relationship is vulnerable and requires an equally positive onboarding experience (not just recruiting experience), but for the sake of talking about how to avoid counter offers, we’re going to call a successful close the candidate accepting your offer and giving notice.

And just to be clear, ‘closing’ is your entire company’s responsibility. This means ensuring the candidate has an authentic, highly-positive, and personal interview experience with anyone they come into contact with during the process.

 3. The Importance of Follow-up:

Okay, great – your candidate has accepted your competitive, totally amazing offer (see below for more), so what’s left?

Well, they still have to quit their current job.

As we’ve discussed, quitting a job isn’t always easy. There are a million variables, and a candidate can feel worried about having that tough talk with their current employer. This talk is when your ‘close’ is most vulnerable, and you don’t even get to be there for it!

This is where your follow-up is essential. It is gravely shortsighted to think you can offer a job to a candidate, negotiate terms and a start date, and expect that your next conversation with them will be on their first day. The span between giving notice and having someone start can be a vulnerable time. Ask your candidate when they plan to give notice, prep them for ‘the talk,’ and make sure you have it on your calendar to follow-up with them after they give their notice.

If their current employer has gotten in their head, now is the time to counterbalance that. If they’re feeling re-wooed, now is your opportunity to remind them of why they were looking in the first place and of all the terrific things they stand to gain by joining your company. You can’t afford for that doubt to fester, especially not with a 3% unemployment rate!

4. The Total Package

You need that candidate to be so thrilled about their new role that their current employer doesn’t even attempt a counter offer because the enthusiasm is leaking through their pores.

We alluded to this above, and it’s pretty simple – put your money where your mouth is. There may be a complete, mutual lovefest happening between your company and the candidate, but in this competitive market, if the package isn’t right, there is no way the candidate is going to settle. They don’t need to.

This is not the time to low ball, so have the salary conversation early so both parties can understand expectations. The easiest way to lose the counter offer battle is to be stingy in your initial offer and have that candidate be less than over-the-moon excited when it comes time to give notice. If you can’t meet salary expectations, get creative: more PTO, flexibility to work from home, competitive benefit packages. Whatever you do – do something to ensure your offer package meets and exceeds what the candidate wants. 

 

To sum this all up, the best way to win a counter offer attack is to avoid one in the first place! Be competitive in your process and package. Keep a close reign on your new employee and start showing your support as a colleague even before they start by coaching them through their notice and keeping tabs on them through every stage leading up to their start. You don’t want to be left starting a job search all over again in this competitive job market because you weren’t prepared for the very real possibility of a counter offer.

3 Scary Interview Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them!)

And you thought that new Stephen King movie was terrifying.

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-by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop

Sure, monsters, haunted houses, and that creepy clown are all pretty scary, but making a fatal interview mistake can be downright petrifying. And trust us, there’s nothing worse than the ghost of interviews past haunting your future opportunities. So, in the spirit of Halloween, we’re creeping it real with a round-up of the scariest interview mistakes we’ve ever seen. Read on to learn how you can avoid being a haunt mess in your next interview. But beware, this might get kind of spooky… we hope you aren’t reading alone in the dark!

#1 Swooping in Like a Bat out of Hell

The thought of showing up to your interview without properly preparing in advance should send a chill down your spine. Don’t try to wing it. Whether you just rolled out of bed, your Lyft was late, or you neglected to research the company in advance, your lack of preparation will stick out like a sore, disembodied thumb – and that’s not a good look.

Setting aside ample time to prepare is the trick to making your next interview a treat! Here’s how to do it.

  • Do Your Research. We know you know how to use Google. Put those skills to work!
  • Get to Know Your Interviewers (Before You Meet Them). LinkedIn will be your new best friend.
  • Dress the Part. Regardless of whether the dress code is San Francisco professional or Silicon Valley casual, you’ll want to look the part. Treat yourself to a new outfit, a fresh manicure, or a blowout – whatever will make you feel polished, confident and boo-tiful.
  • Show Up on Time. Like, five to ten minutes early.
  • Prepare for the Tough Questions. Think about your answers to tricky questions like “why are you looking to leave your job?” or “what’s with the gap on your resume?” in advance. Especially if you’re re-entering the workforce after some time away.
  • Ask for Help. If you’re working with a recruiting agency, let them help you! Recruiters will likely have tons of juicy insights to share about the company, the team, and your potential future boss. This will be extra helpful if you’re looking for your first job ever or your next home!

 #2 Being a Total Zombie

Meandering your way through an interview like a mindless zombie in search of brains won’t get you anywhere. And it’ll really spook the hiring manager. Whether you’re suffering from serious job search burnout or just didn’t get a good night’s sleep, letting your exhaustion show is a big mistake. Companies want to hire candidates who are excited about the job they’re interviewing for – not just going through the motions.

Try combating your burnout with a little self-care. Treat yourself to a massage, squeeze in a quick yoga class, or settle into your couch for an evening of Netflix binge-ing – whatever makes you feel rested and relaxed. On the day of your interview, embrace coffee, a cold (or cool-ish) shower, and some loud, upbeat tunes to wake yourself up. If that doesn’t work, call your most no-nonsense friend for a tough-love pep-talk.

One of the best ways to show enthusiasm during an interview is to ask great questions. Brainstorm a few thoughtful queries in advance, thinking critically about what the company’s needs are, how you can help the hiring manager achieve her goals, and how your experience would translate into the role you’re interviewing for. And be sure to follow up with a personalized, thoughtful thank you note as soon as humanly possible. (See Don’t Forget the Final Step: The Thank You Note for tips!)

 #3 Acting like a Bloodthirsty Vampire

Vampires are the worst (no shade to Twilight). All they want is one thing, and they’re usually terrible at hiding their motivations. Being laser-focused on how a role can help you get what you want is a surefire way to turn your interview into a horror show. Sure, you have career goals (and we want you to achieve them!) but don’t lose sight of the fact that employee-employer relationships are a two-way street. It’s not all about you.

Be sure that you truly understand the job you’re interviewing for, and what you can realistically expect to get out of it. This may sound like a total no-brainer, but if you know that the opportunity doesn’t present much room for growth, don’t go on and on about how badly you want to get promoted. The same goes for what you can expect in terms of your salary, start date, vacation time, and work schedule. Don’t make ghastly demands that you know the company won’t be able to accommodate. If the company doesn’t have a work from home policy, you probably don’t want to ask to work from home three days a week. Be realistic!

 

We know interviewing can be scary. Whether you’re looking for your first-ever entry-level job, returning to work, or a seasoned pro, chances are you’re going to encounter some seriously frightful interviews. But, if you remember to avoid the most terrifying mistakes of all, you’ll be just fine. And remember, if you’ve got it, haunt it!

Need a Resume Refresh or LinkedIn Look-over? 'Maven Makeover' Has You Covered!

Admins on the Rise- Maven Makeover.jpg

On November 9th, our latest Admins on the Rise event, Maven Makeover, will offer one-on-one counseling to make your resume more impactful and your LinkedIn profile stand out!

Sit down with recruiters for real-time, individualized resume and profile advice, get camera-ready with a touch up from a professional make-up artist, and then take updated, professional headshots - all while networking with fellow admins and HR professionals and enjoying some fall-friendly treats and refreshments. 

Click HERE for more information. Space is limited, so RSVP TODAY!