3 old-school interview rules that are still relevant

It’s easy to see how job interviews have changed over time: more email, less formality, pre-interviews with chatbots, Skype interviews, etc. What’s not so easy is determining which interview principles are just as valid and necessary as ever, even as you prepare to job hunt in a modern world. Let’s look at some of the […]

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It’s easy to see how job interviews have changed over time: more email, less formality, pre-interviews with chatbots, Skype interviews, etc. What’s not so easy is determining which interview principles are just as valid and necessary as ever, even as you prepare to job hunt in a modern world. Let’s look at some of the evergreen tips that are just as helpful now as they were when your parents and grandparents were interviewing for jobs.

Wear a suit or your interview best

Many workplaces are going full-on casual these days. All the same, this shouldn’t affect how you dress for the interview. Even if you’re 95% sure your interviewer will be wearing jeans and a hoodie, you should still plan to wear your interview suit—or at the very least, an above-average, impeccably clean and tailored outfit. If you get the job, there will be plenty of time to dress like your new colleagues. However, when you’re interviewing you still want to project the most professional and put-together image possible.

No one will think you’re a nerd for overdressing, I promise.
But if you underdress, you run the risk of seeming unserious or unprepared.
Better over than under, in this case.

Print your resume

This one may seem archaic—you likely emailed your resume to the company in the first place, so who needs paper copies? It’s still a good habit to keep. The old-school idea that you need to print your resume on the finest paper stock you can afford is no longer a must-do, but bringing copies shows you’re thoughtful and organized. Sure, the person interviewing you may be reading your resume on a screen or may already have their own printout, but if they don’t happen to have your resume right in front of them, it’s an immediate point in your favor that you came prepared. It’s also a subtle hint about the well-prepared employee you’d be—ready for everything.

This also applies if you’re doing an on-screen presentation. Always bring a few printouts (for every person you know will be there, plus a couple of extras just in case). Handouts help people follow along and also serve as a reminder all about you afterward as they’re evaluating how the interview/presentation went.

Send a thank-you note

Do you know what else never goes out of style? Polite thank you notes. (Your parents and grandparents were right about that, but you don’t have to tell them so.) An email or a follow-up text technically fits that bill in this fast-paced digital world, but sending a handwritten (or typed and hand-signed, since not all of us were blessed with great handwriting) note to your interviewers is an eternally classy move. Or you can do both if you’re worried about seeming like an ungrateful procrastinator: the quick email sent the same day, and the more traditional note following thereafter.

It’s a nice touch, and not only makes sure that you’re back on the interviewer’s radar after you’ve left the office but also shows that you’re thoughtful and appreciative of the opportunity—this doesn’t need to be a retroactive sales pitch. A brief, on-point note that thanks people for taking the time to talk to you is likely to get a response along the lines of, “I knew I liked that guy for a reason!” There’s literally no downside to following up with a simple thank you note.

The job interview has changed so much over the past decade
alone, and will likely continue to shift as the workplace and hiring in general
grow and evolve. Still, despite all the outward changes, the basics of good
taste and solid organization never go out of fashion.

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Why college is no longer the only path to a successful career

There’s no doubt about it, the world is changing fast—and at a pace that most of us have never experienced before. Everything from rapid advances in technology to seismic cultural, political, social, and economic shifts are altering the way we live on a deep and lasting level, forcing us to reevaluate many of the previously […]

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There’s no doubt about it, the world is changing fast—and at a pace that most of us have never experienced before. Everything from rapid advances in technology to seismic cultural, political, social, and economic shifts are altering the way we live on a deep and lasting level, forcing us to reevaluate many of the previously “tried and true” ways of doing things.

Like it or not, there’s a term for all of this—it’s called progress—and the world is divided between those who choose to keep up and those who fall behind.

Chief among these transformations is higher education. Decades ago, college was seen as an ideal way to prepare young adults for success in the working world, and a degree was practically mandatory in order to climb your way to the top of the professional ladder and into one of the big corner offices. These days, that old way of thinking—and those corner offices—are evaporating, and it’s forcing folks to reevaluate the value of college in this brave new world of rapidly evolving professional opportunities.

The cost is prohibitive for most

A big factor that’s upsetting the old college apple cart is cost. Simply put, the cost of earning a degree has skyrocketed in recent years, and finding the funds to finance higher education has become infinitely more challenging for most of us. On top of this, the notion of borrowing your way through college has become increasingly less desirable as the stigma against getting buried in student loan debt continues to grow and get attention.

A degree no longer signifies that you’re more qualified for a job

That said, there’s an even more elemental concern regarding the value of college that’s got folks talking and thinking long and hard before making the decision to commit to earning a degree: Does college even effectively give you a leg up in the work world?

It’s long been a cliché that college kids, equipped with their expensive diplomas, are ill-prepared for the pressures and demands of a job in the real world. And now, with rising education costs and an increasing focus on alternate paths to professional success (like embracing entrepreneurship and starting your own business), the very notion of whether or not that expensive diploma is worth going after anymore is being questioned by an increasing number of people.

Sure, the argument can still be made that having that degree on your resume is a crucial step in order to get your foot in the door at most jobs. Still, it’s also hard to argue against the notion that the value of a college degree becomes increasingly diluted when everyone else has one too, and those who find other and more unique ways to stand out from the job-hunting crowd just may have the upper hand.

College doesn’t teach the skills you need for success

It’s also important to question why so many employers are lamenting the ever-widening “skills gap” that’s making it harder for them to source qualified candidates for their open positions. Some argue that it’s the direct result of an outdated higher education system that bogs students down with coursework that’s not relevant to their chosen career paths … and instead keeps them on an extended academic treadmill to ramp-up costs and eat up valuable time that would be better spent gaining practical, work-focused experience and training.

On top of all this, the higher education system, with its exorbitant costs and sometimes questionable admissions selection processes, contains barriers to entry that many progressively-minded individuals are eager to leave behind and move past. Many of today’s forward-thinking business leaders today are recognizing a new truth: a driven, hard-working, curious, and naturally talented individual who demonstrates a little grit and a lot of hustle during the interview process can be just as effective as a candidate with a college education and perhaps little else (and maybe even more effective).

So, as this debate rages on, where does this leave those who want to make the right decision about whether or not to invest in college? Like most things in life, the answer isn’t a simple one. The truth is, not all colleges—or job candidates—are created equal, and some programs in some schools are more effective at preparing students for the work world than others. Therefore, it’s up to individuals to research their options, learn about their chosen fields and requirements to entry, explore their universe of options, and make an informed decision that’s right for them.

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Ask the interview questions that will find your ideal candidate

Today’s work world is undergoing a rapid paradigm shift, thanks to massive waves of technological, economic, and cultural change, and the old ways of doing business are being upended—making hiring for all sorts of positions across industries a greater challenge. Today’s job market is also more competitive than ever before, with a crowded field of […]

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Today’s work world is undergoing a rapid paradigm shift, thanks to massive waves of technological, economic, and cultural change, and the old ways of doing business are being upended—making hiring for all sorts of positions across industries a greater challenge. Today’s job market is also more competitive than ever before, with a crowded field of companies—ranging from lean and hungry start-ups to global multinational conglomerates—all drinking from the same candidate pool.

When your business is in hiring mode, your objective is clear: you want to source and retain the most qualified candidates for your open positions in order to stock your teams with the best talent available and be a leader in your industry. You also want to prevent hiring mistakes that can cost your business in terms of wasted time and money spent onboarding candidates who ultimately turn out to be a poor fit. The professional world is littered with horror stories revolving around bad hiring decisions, and it’s in your company’s best interest to not fall into this trap—especially since it’s an avoidable one if you approach the hiring and interview process the right way.

So, what does all of this mean? Simply
put, if you want your business to be competitive in the job market and attract
and retain candidates who are the right fit for your team, you need to make
sure that your hiring procedures are razor sharp.

Regardless of your industry, the
interview phase is without a doubt the best time to determine which candidates
are ideal for your hiring needs—provided that you’re asking the right questions
when candidates are in front of you. As someone in charge of hiring new staff,
you’ve certainly been on both sides of the hiring equation, and you know the
difference between an effective interview and one that fails to do the job of
weeding out the wrong candidates and making sure the right ones shine through.

So … are you asking the right questions on interviews? Hopefully you are, or else you run the risk of weeding out good candidates and failing to catch bad ones early on. It’s simply too important to leave up to chance. Consider using the following strategies to help you make sure your interview questions are right on target.

Get past the resume

On too many interviews, an alarming amount of time is wasted on asking questions that simply confirm what’s written on a candidate’s resume. Unless your intent as an interviewer is to catch candidates who lie on their resumes, these sorts of confirmation questions are little more than conversation filler and fail to get at any meaningful information beyond what both sides of the table already know. Instead, an effective interview moves quickly past the resume and works at questions that serve to create a more comprehensive picture of the candidate’s personality, skills, and potential value proposition.

Aim to see if they’re a good fit within your organization

One of the most effective indicators of on-the-job success is a candidate’s fit with a company’s existing culture. A recent article on Inc., The 1 Thing All Great Bosses Think About During Job Interviews, supports this notion: “…culture fit is the most important aspect of retaining great employees above anything else…Hiring employees that don’t mesh well with the existing or desired company culture leads to poor work quality, decreased job satisfaction and a potentially toxic environment. This results in turnover which has high costs—both hard and soft. On the other hand, hiring employees that fit well with the culture and share a strong belief in the values will most likely flourish.”

Questions that are designed to assess a candidate’s potential fit with your company culture is time well spent on interviews. Just because a person is ideal on paper doesn’t mean that they’re ideal for your specific company, so don’t let fancy schools and former companies be your main guiding light.

Use the element of surprise

Most candidates who’ll sit in the chair in front of you have been on countless interviews in their lives, and have had the chance to hone and refine their answers to the most common questions asked. So, don’t get too impressed by those sorts of well-articulated responses. Instead, save your admiration for how candidates respond to the sorts of curveball questions that’ll really surprise them and challenge them to think quickly and effectively on their feet—which is a good indicator of the level of creative, out-of-the-box disruptive thinking and innovation they’ll bring to your team if hired.

If you’re responsible for vetting new candidates for your business, make sure the time you’re spending on interviews is time well spent. Look beyond the resume to see if the person in front of you has the skills, personality, and working style to fit well within your specific company.

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Failing up: how to spin failures into gold

It can be argued that life itself is a learning opportunity, and over the course of each of our lifetimes we’re given opportunities to try new things, engage in new endeavors, and challenge ourselves—and sometimes we’ll be met with success, and other times we’ll have to face failure. Sure, if given the choice we’d all […]

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It can be argued that life itself is a learning opportunity, and over the course of each of our lifetimes we’re given opportunities to try new things, engage in new endeavors, and challenge ourselves—and sometimes we’ll be met with success, and other times we’ll have to face failure.

Sure, if given the choice we’d all much rather be successful at everything we try all of the time, but most of us know that life rarely works out that way. Despite our grand plans, sometimes things just don’t go the way we want them too—at times due to things that are in our control and other times the result of forces outside of our control. We have to face the fact that failure is just a part of life.

The work world is certainly no exception. Many of us who’ve travelled along our professional paths for a while, and even some of us who are just beginning our climbs up the career ladder, have had to face failure, including everything from projects that didn’t go according to plan; interactions with colleagues and customers that soured; innovations and ideas that fizzled; business ideas and innovations that failed to work out; and all those big and small moments in which basic human error, lack of focus, and carelessness took hold of and got the best of situations.

Simply put, failure happens to the best of us and happens to the rest of us. But it’s how a person faces it and moves forward that separates the good from the great, and can go a long way toward determining how our professional lives will ultimately pan out.  

Think about it—when you’ve experienced failure in your life, how did you respond? Did you let failure turn into the end of the road for you and decide that since things didn’t work out, it simply wasn’t meant to be or not worth your time to try again? Did you determine that failure was fate’s way of telling you to give up and avoid getting out of your comfort zone and going out on a limb again? Afterward, were you hesitant to make another bold move for fear of failing again? 

Or did you do just the opposite, and decide to make failure an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, adjust, and try again in an effort to find success? Do you confront failure as just a bump along the road to winning? Are you persistent and determined to not let challenging situations deter you from your goals, even when things don’t initially go your way? Do you consider trial and error as a likely an often inevitable part of the journey to success?

Depending on which type of person you are, your experience with failure can seriously impact how you approach life. If you let failure get the best of you and keep you from trying new things, your options and opportunities in life could be drastically limited. Conversely, if you use your failures as learning moments and chances for improvement, then a whole universe of challenges and opportunities for success await. The key questions: Which scenario describes you? Which person do you want to be? If you’d like to be the sort of person who finds success in failure, consider using the following strategies to help you spin failure into gold and set yourself up to achieve your goals.

Be honest when you stumble

Too many of us consider failure to be a source of shame and react poorly to it. Instead of embracing the moment as an opportunity to be humble, express humility, learn, and evolve, we often go into denial mode and ultimately fail to increase the odds that the failure won’t happen again. When failure finds you, be honest about it and recognize its true value—as a chance to learn and grow.

Diagnose the situation with a critical eye

An all-too-common reaction to failure is to make excuses, assign blame outwardly, and ignore the root causes that led you there. A better approach is to try and assess the situation as objectively as possible in an effort to figure out what went wrong and where you could have done things differently—which can go a long way to help making sure that the next time you’re in a similar situation, the chances of success are much more likely.

Let the learning process make you stronger

Never forget that failure finds all of us at some point or another in our lives. A few (or many!) stumbles shouldn’t mean that you pivot away from taking on newer and bigger challenges. Instead, let your failures make you stronger and more confident as you bravely move forward. Find power in the notion that you’re a wiser and better person after learning the valuable lessons that failure provides.

Don’t forget: If you embrace the idea that you can make your failures work for you and can find the strength and courage to fail upwards as you move through life, you’ll be one step ahead of the pack and in a great position to find higher levels of success in all facets of your life.

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Why low company turnover isn’t always a good thing

Whether your organization is huge and sprawling or a lean, mean mom-and-pop operation, you know that turnover brings headaches. There’s the time (and resources) associated with hiring and recruiting to fill roles. There’s also the lost time and manpower as a new employee gets up to speed. So chances are, if you’re reviewing your turnover […]

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Whether your organization is huge and sprawling or a lean, mean mom-and-pop operation, you know that turnover brings headaches. There’s the time (and resources) associated with hiring and recruiting to fill roles. There’s also the lost time and manpower as a new employee gets up to speed. So chances are, if you’re reviewing your turnover rate for this past year and you see a low rate, you’re pretty happy. But a low turnover rate may not tell the whole story of your company’s health.

Low turnover shows the status quo, not growth

If you have a low turnover rate, you’re not hemorrhaging employees, and that’s a net positive. But it also means that things aren’t necessarily changing in an upward direction. Is it possible that your employee pool is stagnating a bit? Are people coasting along in their jobs, with the same old perspectives? Are you innovating, or just maintaining?

Turnover often happens as a result of an organization
growing and changing its strategy or culture. If it’s not people leaving because
they’re unhappy or frustrated, but rather because they don’t see themselves
fitting in with the new landscape, that can be a type of “good” turnover. It
means your strategies are reshaping your workforce to meet your updated needs.
Low turnover may mean that this natural shedding isn’t happening, and your
organization just might not be shifting and adapting the way it should be.

Your employer brand might be faltering

You might think employer brand mostly factors into your own recruiting and hiring, but the fact is that it affects how the outside world views your organization—and its employees. Obviously, you’d prefer that your best and brightest not be poached by other companies, but if you’re seeing low turnover, it could be that your workforce just isn’t in high demand elsewhere.

Hesitation and inertia might be at fault

Turnover is a tricky metric when it comes to performance management. It’s tough to see if people are staying because they feel invested and engaged and want to stay, or because your organization is weak or lenient when it comes to letting poor performers go or instituting rigorous standards.

When reviewing your turnover, it’s important to look at why. Are managers identifying and handling performance issues through your standard processes? How are low performers managed? Are managers afraid to refer their low-performing reports for termination because it touches off a too-long, complicated process?

Low turnover limits opportunities for employees

Going back to the status quo aspect of low turnover, keeping people in the same roles can limit their own growth and development opportunities. With so many open positions filled by internal hires, a lack of openings means your current employees may not be moving up. Your turnover rate might not seem bad now, but what happens in a year or two years from now as those same employees grow restless and decide to take their talent elsewhere?

Who’s leaving, and who’s staying?

The other big component of turnover is evaluating who’s coming and going. Did your overall rate stay low while you lost a small number of high performers? If your turnover rate was spread across the company (old and young, experienced and entry-level, high performers and low), there may not be an underlying problem. But if you’re starting to see an exodus among some of your stars, that could be a troubling trend for the future—even if it’s only a handful now.

Knowing who’s leaving and why gives you the perspective
you’ll need to take this year’s stats and lessons into next year, and spot
trends before they become problems for your employee retention.

Low turnover may not be a bad omen for things to come—it could just be a picture of a thriving organization that’s humming along. But taking the time to look more closely at it and understand why the picture looks as it does will help you keep those rates low, or make adjustments as necessary to improve things.

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How to relate to your younger coworkers

For those of us who have been employed for more than a little while—including all of you seasoned veterans out there with many years of on-the-job experience—navigating the work world these days can be a bit of a challenge. We often have to fight against some of the misperceptions that come with being older in […]

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For those of us who have been employed for more than a little while—including all of you seasoned veterans out there with many years of on-the-job experience—navigating the work world these days can be a bit of a challenge. We often have to fight against some of the misperceptions that come with being older in the workplace: that we’re out of date or technophobic, unable to relate to a younger demographic, devoid of energy, and unable to think innovatively. The list is long and has remained unfortunately persistent over the years.

The workplace can be a challenging environment when you’re on the wrong side of a noticeable age gap. Feeling like everything from clothes to conversations highlights the differences between you and your colleagues can make your professional life more uncomfortable and less satisfying than it could be.  

Being judged based solely on your age can also have a negative effect on your career and opportunities, and can make it hard to form satisfying and productive professional relationships with younger coworkers. It can also affect your health and well-being. According to a recent study reported in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, “Older workers tend to feel more stress than younger workers when their employers don’t provide them with the support and resources needed to do their jobs well.”

Thankfully, not all is lost. There are strategies that
older workers can utilize to help them relate more effectively to their younger
colleagues—and hopefully reduce or eliminate any false negative misperceptions based
solely on their age. Consider the following tips if you find yourself
surrounded by younger coworkers and are eager to bridge the gap.

Be open-minded

Chances are, your younger work cohorts are going to do things differently than you do—everything from how they talk and dress to the tools, processes, and systems they use for attacking tasks and staying organized. You may feel an impulse to write these differences off as not worth your time to consider adopting, or simply things that are merely passing fads or emblematic of their lack of experience and seasoning. Bad move! The truth is, staying open-minded to new ways of doing things is among the best ways to give off the impression that you’re not too old or incapable of embracing change—and can really help bridge any age-related divides and help you relate to younger colleagues. If you’re an older worker, it’s up to you to convince the younger folks that you indeed can teach an old dog new tricks—and you just may doubly benefit by picking up some new and improved ways of doing things along the way.

Show your value

Now that we’ve established that staying open-minded to the notion that you can learn a thing or two from your younger coworkers is a smart move, don’t forget to show that you have a lifetime of valuable experience to offer them in return. It may be unavoidable for some younger folks to immediately try to dismiss older employers as ineffective dinosaurs, but your best counterargument to this unfortunate impression is by proving to them exactly how wrong they are. Keep the lines of communication open and mutually respectful, and do what you can to impart your hard-earned wisdom. Many of us have had the opportunity to learn and grow with a mentor, so don’t be afraid to pay it forward.

Don’t sell yourself short

Too often, older employees try to deal with age differences by joking about it in a self-deprecating way. Not only is it a terrible way to try and relate to your coworkers, but it’s also only going to make relating to younger coworkers even more challenging by reinforcing any negative biases they may have. That’s like coming to work with a stain on your shirt and dealing with it by using a neon highlighter. Instead, avoid the “I’m just a dinosaur” jokes and focus on being the best and most effective employee possible, and someone who’s easy and enjoyable to talk to and work with. It’s a formula sure to win over younger colleagues.

Are you a seasoned veteran of the work world and searching for ways to improve your relationships with younger coworkers? Keep your head up and your mind open and use the strategies presented here to help make your work-life successful and enjoyable. Good luck!

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3 strategies for handling age-related comments at work

Today’s work world has been undergoing seismic shifts in recent decades—everything from waves of rapidly evolving technological innovation to how employers and employees perform their job tasks and interact with each other is changing at breakneck speeds. Many of these have been positive changes, and have empowered us to be better and more productive employees […]

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Today’s work world has been undergoing seismic shifts in recent decades—everything from waves of rapidly evolving technological innovation to how employers and employees perform their job tasks and interact with each other is changing at breakneck speeds. Many of these have been positive changes, and have empowered us to be better and more productive employees than ever before.

Chief
among these new developments is a more enlightened, open-minded, and bias-free
way of viewing and communicating with our coworkers. Most workplaces have put
the smackdown on inappropriate, politically incorrect, and off-color comments of
all sorts and have adopted strict no tolerance policies towards such behavior,
and for good reason—for too long, many employees had to suffer all sorts of
abuse and discomfort in an effort to hold onto their jobs. It’s an unfortunate
reality for sure, and hopefully one that has improved and will continue to
improve over time.

That
said, as much as we may want to think that we’re all living in more progressive
and enlightened times, mistakes and missteps—occasionally in the form of unfair
judgments and inappropriate comments—still happen at work. These include
comments related to age—which can adversely effect both younger and older
employees.

Older employees can be on the receiving end of comments that indirectly or directly allude to the notion that they’re out-of-date; unable to innovate, think creatively, or keep up with changes in technology; and are devoid of energy and motivation. The list goes on and it can really make things uncomfortable, especially when the comments are far from reality.

Younger employees may experience comments on the other end of the spectrum—remarks that they’re inexperienced, irresponsible, or unable to make wise and fully informed decisions; are erratic or unreliable; or are part of an inferior generation of workers.

Even if we’re not the direct targets of the inappropriate age-related comments, simply overhearing them can make the workplace an awkward and uncomfortable place. So, how should these types of comments be handled? It can be a tricky question, depending on the situation. Consider the following strategies to help you handle these situations appropriately.

Address them head on

If you hear an age-related comment that makes you feel uncomfortable, mention it directly to the person who made it, if feasible (of course, consider your office dynamics when deciding to do so). This shouldn’t come in the form of an attack, however; be polite, mention the fact that the comment was inappropriate and unfair, and calmly ask that individual to refrain from making such comments in the future. If you’re dealing with a rational person, this should do the trick and hopefully you receive an apology and a satisfying end to the incident—and both of you can move on with your lives and get some work done.

Don’t dignify them with a response

Sometimes, simply not responding in any way an uncomfortable remark is an effective way of diffusing its impact. Ignoring an inappropriate comment can strip it of its power, and hopefully, the individual who made the comment gets the subtle message that they just made a mistake and should avoid repeating it in the future. This can also be a sound approach in instances where you don’t have to interact with the person on a regular basis.

Get help if needed

If you’ve tried the other two approaches and the comments persist or are getting worse, or if you don’t feel comfortable addressing the situation on your own (perhaps a superior or a contentious colleague is involved), then consider using the resources available to you for help. Depending on the size and structure of your workplace, you may be able to bring this issue to the attention of HR personnel, a compliance officer, or your boss. Be direct, honest, and brave. Remember, sometimes you have to be proactive and get involved in order for positive changes to occur.

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Why you don’t need to meet every qualification when applying for a job

Regardless of industry or experience level, today’s job seekers have one thing in common—they’re facing a tremendously challenging job market when they’re on the hunt for their next opportunity. On top of an ever-shifting wave of technological innovation that’s shattering the old rules of job hunting and causing seismic shifts in how we pursue the […]

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Regardless of industry or experience level, today’s job seekers have one thing in common—they’re facing a tremendously challenging job market when they’re on the hunt for their next opportunity. On top of an ever-shifting wave of technological innovation that’s shattering the old rules of job hunting and causing seismic shifts in how we pursue the next steps in our career ladders, the ways that companies are sourcing resources and meeting their staffing needs are evolving.

The days where everyone pursues a full-time position with benefits are dwindling and being replaced by an expanding gig economy, in which employees craft “a la carte” workloads of various projects from varying employers and companies who hire on a freelance or contract basis. On top of this, the competition for available work continues to get more intense, which means that at least one old maxim for finding success in the work world still holds: if you want to land your next great job, you’re going to have to be at your absolute best when going through the application and hiring process.

Okay, so by now we’ve established that today’s job market is a shifting and tricky thing, and you’re going to need to bring your A-game in order to be successful. That said, why do so many job seekers do just the opposite by working against their best interests when on the job hunt? It’s true. A curious thing happens to many job seekers when they’re searching for their next great jobs: they often come across positions that they feel would be absolutely perfect for them—except for one small detail—and they talk themselves out of even applying for fear of not meeting the employer’s minimum expectations for qualified candidates. It’s a sad reality and keeps many folks who would probably perform wonderfully if given the opportunity from ever having the opportunity to test themselves and test their capabilities.

This often comes in the form of one glaring qualification listed in a job ad, which they currently don’t have, that sends a shockwave of anxiety and panic through applicants. They convince themselves that there’s absolutely no way they’ll be taken seriously as a candidate because of this deficit, and sadly move on. This phenomenon hits entry- and lower-level applicants who typically have less on-the-job skill-building experience extra hard, but it’s a bad move for everyone, regardless of level.

The
truth is, talking yourself out of growth opportunities can adversely affect your
entire career trajectory. Historically, a key point of moving on to a new
position is to test yourself with new challenges, to allow yourself to build
new skills, and to grow and evolve as a professional. After all, it would get
quite boring if you only considered jobs that allow you to do things you
already know how to do, without any hope of learning something new.

Furthermore, seasoned hiring professionals don’t (or at least shouldn’t) have expectations of finding absolute perfection when hiring—they often make decisions based on which candidates would fit well within their existing cultures and who seem as if they’d be enjoyable to work with and willing to learn. They’re likely not looking for or expecting to find a candidate who knows absolutely everything, so you shouldn’t let the idea that you’re not 100% perfect intimidate you out of at least trying.

Have you ever heard the old adage “fake it until you make it”? It’s a basic truth that reflects a well-worn approach to jobs—it’s okay to not know something and quietly keep that under wraps, provided you make every effort to get up to speed as soon as possible. And once you do, you can relax into your new position and do your job with confidence, all the while secretly glad you didn’t let it keep you from applying.

If you’re on the job hunt trail and wondering how closely your qualifications need to align with job postings, the answer is “close enough can be good enough.” Adherence to the Qualifications section of a job ad varies from company to company, but not having every single bullet point covered should never stop you from giving it a shot and going for it. Good luck!

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7 blue-collar jobs with high salaries

When you hear about “hot” jobs these days, they’re typically white-collar or traditional office jobs in the tech or healthcare sectors. But there are also lots of high-paying, fulfilling jobs that are more physical, or that operate outside of the 9-to-5 cubicle life. If you’re looking for something outside an office, here are some highly […]

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When you hear about “hot” jobs these days, they’re typically white-collar or traditional office jobs in the tech or healthcare sectors. But there are also lots of high-paying, fulfilling jobs that are more physical, or that operate outside of the 9-to-5 cubicle life. If you’re looking for something outside an office, here are some highly paid alternative paths to consider.

Nuclear power reactor operator

The name of the job may conjure up images of Homer Simpson kicking back in Sector 7G with some donuts, but in reality, nuclear power reactor operators handle the day-to-day safety and productivity of nuclear power plants.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus extensive on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear power reactor operators make a median annual salary of $94,350, or $45.36 per hour.

Police detective

When it comes to evergreen industries, fighting and stopping
crime is one of the all-timers. The need for qualified professionals to handle
crime on the streets and investigate cases will always be there. Detectives
gather facts and collect evidence against potential crimes and criminals. It
can be a very physical, demanding job, depending on what kind of investigation
is needed.

What you’ll need: A high school degree, plus completion of a training academy program. Detectives also need to be qualified to handle firearms and pass rigorous physical tests and personal background checks.

What it pays:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, detectives make a median
annual salary of $85,020, or $40.88 per hour.

Elevator installer and repairer

If you get right down to it, how many of us are terrified at the idea of being stuck in an elevator somewhere? Yet 99.99% of the elevator rides people take are safe and issue-free—and that’s because of the elevator installers and repairers who work behind the scenes to make sure elevators run smoothly and safely. This job combines strong mechanical skills and attention to detail to ensure that elevators, escalators, and other people movers are running as they should.

What you’ll need:
A high school degree, plus completion of an apprenticeship program. This is
also a job that may require you to work at significant heights or in small
spaces, so it can be physically challenging as well.

What it pays:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, elevator installers and
repairers make a median annual salary of $79,780, or $38.36 per hour.

Transit police officer

Transit and railroad police are responsible for ensuring safety and order on public transportation like trains, subways, and buses. They’re often the first line of defense when there’s an emergency on public transit, and are there to protect passengers, transit employees, and agency property.

What you’ll need:
A high school degree, plus completion of a training program similar to other
police officers’.

What it pays:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, transit police officers make
a median annual salary of $74,450, or $35.79 per hour.

Signal and track switch repairer

Also in the transit world, signal and track switch repairers are the professionals who make sure the trains literally run on time. (If you’ve ever been on a subway or a train and gotten stuck, only to hear the conductor announce that there are signal problems and to hold tight, then you know how crucial these professionals are.) Signal and track switch repairers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and fixing the electric track, gate crossing, and signal equipment, and communications systems. And as many cities’ infrastructure tries to keep up with digital technology, it’s a role that will continue to grow and change.

What you’ll need:
A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, signal and track switch
repairers make a median annual salary of $70,490, or $33.89 per hour.

Power distributor or dispatcher

With power grids under more stress all the time, power distributors and dispatchers will continue to be in high demand. These professionals operate equipment that monitors, coordinates, and distributes electricity and steam to keep power systems running.

What you’ll need:
A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, power distributors and
dispatchers make a median annual salary of $82,310, or $39.57 per hour.

Supervisor of fire fighting and prevention workers

These professionals coordinate and organize firefighters and
other emergency first-responders. While they’re not on the front lines, they
make sure that the first responders are responding quickly, effectively, and
safely to fire emergencies or other accidents or disasters. This is often a
role filled by someone with direct experience as a firefighter or first
responder.

What you’ll need:
A high school degree, plus on-the-job training.

What it pays: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, supervisors of firefighters and fire prevention workers make a median annual salary of $76,330, or $38.61 per hour.

If you’re looking for a job that gives you a fulfilling career but doesn’t require advanced degrees or the traditional office grind, you might want to consider one of these essential, hands-on opportunities.

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How to spot a bad boss during an interview

When it comes to job satisfaction, almost nothing derails your ability to be happy at work each day than a bad boss. Sure, bad bosses come in many types and they aren’t all created equal, but regardless of the type of bad boss you’re dealing with, there’s a unique type of dread that comes each […]

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When it comes to job satisfaction, almost nothing derails your ability to be happy at work each day than a bad boss. Sure, bad bosses come in many types and they aren’t all created equal, but regardless of the type of bad boss you’re dealing with, there’s a unique type of dread that comes each morning when you’re getting ready to work with someone you can’t stand.

Bad bosses can make an otherwise satisfying job a nightmare and leave you exhausted and running for the exit at the end of each workday—not a recipe for professional happiness. Furthermore, one of the greatest predictors of job success is the ability to get along with and work well with your boss. If that isn’t happening, you may find yourself stuck in a situation that is keeping you from realizing your true potential.

The tricky thing about a bad boss is that initial impressions can be incredibly deceptive. Often, a potential manager couldn’t seem nicer when meeting them for the first time at a job interview. They can be very good at luring you in during the first few conversations, making it seem as if it’ll be amazing to work with them. But then comes the sonic boom of unfortunate realization when you discover that this couldn’t be further from the truth—and at that point after your foot is in the door and you’ve already been hired and started at the new job, it can be hard to make a quick escape.  

That’s why it’s in your best interest to try and recognize a bad boss as early as possible. Yes, some of them are sneakier than others and are harder to spot early on, but there are some red flags to look out for on interviews to help you avoid a potentially unhappy work situation. The next time you’re out on an interview, keep your senses sharp and look out for the following potential warning signs to help you uncover a potential bad boss.

Ask questions

Many people forget that job interviews are a collaborative and mutually informative process in which both sides are engaged and learning about the other, all in an effort to make a fully informed decision about whether a candidate—or a position—is the right call. Instead of just eagerly waiting to answer questions that are fired at you, make sure to ask targeted questions that can help you root out a bad boss. Questions like “What is the work culture like at [company name]?” or “What are some of the primary challenges that your team faces?” can get to the heart of a boss’s leadership style and work philosophy—which can provide key insight into what it might be like to work for them.

Observe body language

Keep your eyes open—not just toward potential bosses, but also toward other employees you encounter. Do they get inpatient when you ask them questions? Do they seem tense or short-tempered during any part of the process? Are they exhibiting other behaviors or mannerisms that make you uncomfortable? These can be real red flags. Do others seem anxious or nervous around your potential boss? Is the conversational tone between them relaxed and friendly or just the opposite? True, these early indicators may not be fully indicative of what it might be like to work with a potential boss full time, but they also shouldn’t be completely ignored either. Instead, use all of the information you gather during the entire interview process—pros and cons—to help you make an informed decision should a job offer be made.

Do your research

This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people ignore this step during the interview process. The Internet is your friend when it comes to researching a prospective job opportunity, so take full advantage of it. These days, people leave reviews online about the companies—and bosses—they work for, and if they exist for the companies that you’re interviewing for they shouldn’t be hard to find. Yes, it’s probably not the best approach to treat the information you find online as unbiased fact, but it’s certainly worth considering. Do your research, but make sure that your first-hand impressions are weighted heavily when forming your opinions.

Trust your instincts

This is a more elusive concept than the others, but no less important when trying to suss out a bad boss. We all use our instincts to help us figure out a wide variety of people and situations in life, and interviews shouldn’t be any different. Do your senses start giving off warning signals when you’re on an interview? Are there just some things—either in the mood, the atmosphere, or the environment—that you maybe just can’t quite put your finger on but that don’t feel quite right? These may be early indicators of a toxic personality or work environment, which often results from a bad boss, and we strongly suggest you pay attention to these feelings—ignore them at your peril.

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