Category Archives: Interviews

Use Your Strengths to Improve Your Relationships

What are your strengths?

Hundreds of self-directed tests and assessments have been created to help people figure this out. It’s one of the most commonly asked interview questions, and many companies aspire to build a “strengths-based” culture, which encourages employees to discover and develop their strengths.

Studies continuously show that focusing on your strengths leads to higher levels of engagement and better performance. When you focus on using your strengths, rather than improving or “fixing” your weaknesses,  your confidence and self-awareness increases.

Conversely, when you are focused on your weaknesses, you are more likely to have lower levels of confidence and be more stressed, which can negatively impact self-esteem and your ability to have healthy relationships.

Discovering Your Strengths

You may have an idea of your strengths based on past performance reviews, feedback from others, and by looking at your past successes. These can be helpful, but they are contextual and subjective. Here are a few tools for helping you discover your strengths:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been used consistently in organizations over the past 40 years to help people become more aware of how they judge and perceive situations and others. For example, are you more externally focused (extroverted) or internally-focused (introverted)? Do you look to logic for decision-making (thinking), or do you consider how you or others feel first when making a decision (feeling)? Through a questionnaire, you are assessed across four main dichotomies and given your personality type. For a fee, you can take the test and receive personalized courses and guides about how to make the most of your strengths. Because this test has been used for so long, it has been refined and validated by many professionals. There are endless resources available based on the test that help you leverage your personality type and strengths in both a personal and professional context.
  • For an assessment about your character strengths, the VIA institute offers a free character test for you to identify whether things like teamwork, gratitude, and curiosity come more naturally to you than other character traits. These not only give you insights into your own strengths, it also helps you recognize strengths in others, which can improve your relationships and the gratitude you feel towards others in your professional and personal life.
  • The DISC Assessment Test is a free psychologically-based assessment test that is commonly used for teams and motivational purposes. Based on your answers, you are placed into one of four different personality types: dominant, influence, steadiness, and compliant. Although you’ll likely exhibit one type more than the others, you may demonstrate the other personality types in varying degrees.  Because this test is widely used, there are many free resources that help explain the implications of your result and help you understand the traits of the other personality types as well.

An important thing to remember is that there are advantages of all of the personality types, character traits, and categories that these tests diagnose, and one type or category is not “bad” or better than another. Also, while these tests are a great start to helping you determine your strengths, they have their limitations. It is impossible to capture the full essence of someone through online tests and questionnaires. To make sure you’re not missing anything important that such assessments did not detect, ask your friends and colleagues about your strengths and competencies as well.

Choosing a Career Based On Your Strengths

Knowing your strengths also allows you to choose opportunities for which you are well-suited. For instance, if creativity is a strength, choosing an R&D position rather than a sales or administrative position might be a better fit for you. Similarly, if you shine in client-facing tasks, choosing a client representative role over a position that is more focused on research and analysis will help you hone your strengths and increase your likelihood of success in that role.

In addition, being aware of your strengths can help you determine the value you can add to a team or a group, as well as identify the types of people with whom you work best. For example, if you are very detail-oriented, then you might add a lot of value to the team by taking note of the action items from each meeting and holding people accountable. If you have this trait, you would work well with someone who is more big-picture focused, since they will complement your detail-oriented approach by keeping the overall project or purpose of the task in mind.

Using Your Strengths To Build Positive Relationships

Authentic relationships are the key to unlocking your true potential. Understanding your strengths and recognizing others’ strengths will help you find and build positive professional relationships that will be mutually beneficial. The Enneagram Test is a tool commonly used in the workplace to help improve team dynamics and business relationships. It measures your personality across 9 personality types, giving you a better understanding of your tendencies, stressors, fears, and strengths. It helps you understand how you interact with others and how others will interact with you based on their personalities. The better you understand your strengths and how to use them, the more you’ll be able to bring to a relationship.

For example, if one of your personality strengths is making people feel connected and comfortable, help your contacts connect with others and start conversations. If you’re task-oriented, use that strength to stay in touch with your contacts on a regular basis or help them accomplish a task they’ve mentioned to you.

Using your strengths in relationships will likely feel natural to you in situations or relationships in which you feel comfortable. It may take a little more effort and practice when you’re feeling vulnerable, but that’s when focusing on using your strengths, rather than worrying about your weaknesses, will help you build and develop relationships that create opportunities.

Using Your Strengths To Serve Others

Understanding your strengths and confidently using them will allow you to serve others in meaningful ways. Serving others increases your sense of purpose, which leads to greater happiness. Conversely, knowing your strengths also enables you to set boundaries and say “no” to projects, requests, or relationships that aren’t a fit. Focusing on how you can use your strengths to best serve others, rather than how you can please others, will enable you to thrive in your relationships and career.

Going through the process of discovering your strengths and the best ways to use them will also improve your ability to help others discover and use their strengths successfully. Bringing out strengths in others is a highly desirable leadership skill, one that will serve you well in business, relationships and your career.

Key Takeaways

  • Focusing on your developing strengths rather than “fixing” your weaknesses will help you build a successful career and positive relationships.
  • Use the available personality tests and assessments to get an idea of your strengths, weaknesses, and relational style. However, recognize that automated test results don’t fully define you. Ask trusted friends or colleagues to share their feedback and do some self-reflecting to fully understand your strengths.
  • Knowing your strengths and using them to serve others is the best way to build authentic relationships, feel a sense of purpose, and thrive in your career.

How are you using your strengths to serve others in your career and relationships? Write down a few ways you are or want to and let them guide you!

 

Looking for a new opportunity to tap into your strengths?  Check out all of our available positions and apply today!

 

How to Keep the Job Search Moving Forward—Even if Recruiters Ignore You

Source:  The Wall Street Journal

 

Career coaches say these interviewing and résumé tips can help you stand out and land a new role.

There are more than 10 million job openings in the U.S., so why do so many job seekers remain frustrated by hiring managers who ignore them and online application portals that delete them?

There are a lot of jobs out there, but a lot of rejection, too. It’s easier than ever to apply for roles, so companies are swamped, leaving applicants—even ones who have been courted by recruiters—either facing a void or never hearing back again. Hiring experts at Tuesday’s WSJ Jobs Summit said candidates can take steps to build relationships with the humans overseeing the hiring process—and bounce back faster when they are rejected.

“Job searching’s probably not easy for anybody,” said Brie Reynolds, a career coach and career-development manager at FlexJobs, an online site that lists flexible and remote job opportunities. “There’s always a confidence piece there that you want to make sure you’re building up.”

Here are more tips from career coaches.

You’re going to be ignored. Persist anyway.

Maintain reasonable expectations, and don’t expect a reaction from every hiring manager you reach out to, said Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at Handshake, a careers site for college students and recent grads.

“Sometimes you might not be the right candidate at that certain time,” she said.

Knowing when to follow up after applying or interviewing for a job can be one of the toughest challenges for applicants—especially if early conversations seemed promising and now you have been left hanging.

“Organizations deeply appreciate persistence, as long as your persistence is generous,” said Keith Ferrazzi, an executive coach and author of “Leading Without Authority.” Sending a flurry of check-in emails is usually a bad idea, he added, but asking thoughtful follow-up questions by email and volunteering your knowledge to a potential boss can be a winning strategy.

“If your persistence is, ‘What about me? What about me? What about me?’ That’s not generous,” he said. “If your persistence is, ‘I’ve been thinking about your company, I’ve been researching a little bit more about your company, I’ve had a few ideas about the conversation we had,’ those are generous acts of reaching out.”

Motivated job seekers should ask if there is anything they can do during the hiring process to demonstrate to the employer that they are right for the role, Mr. Ferrazzi said, and then follow up to prove it.

“Ask the person interviewing, ‘Is there anything you are curious about relative to my ability to perform this job that I can do between now and the next call that could show you how I can perform?’” he said. “Actually start the work.”

Nontraditional methods of communication can sometimes yield a surprise reaction, said Keith Wolf, chief executive of ResumeSpice, an executive and professional résumé-writing service. He advises reaching out to people you are eager to connect with on Twitter or Instagram instead of simply sending an email.

“Twitter—you can have a conversation with someone who will never return your email,” he said.

Don’t worry about beating the bots.

People become obsessed with outsmarting résumé-reading applicant-tracking systems that most companies use to sort through candidates. It is a better bet to focus on the information and keywords provided in a job description and incorporate them into your résumé, Mr. Wolf said.

“It’s almost like you’ve been given the answers to the test,” he said, adding that the skills and demonstrated experience spelled out in a job posting should be reflected in a résumé.

Mr. Wolf recommends using logical headers—such as experience, education and skills—and ditching fancy formats and fonts. “Anything you think is going to get a human’s attention to really stand out can hurt you when it comes to an applicant-tracking system, and they won’t allow your résumé to be read,” he said. “Simple is better.”

Another tip: Eliminate the objective statement. Those few sentences at the top of a résumé, summarizing skills and the type of role a person is seeking, only makes it easier for recruiters to disqualify anybody who is not an exact match, Mr. Wolf said.

“It’s a great excuse just to take you out of the pack,” he said.

Another common mistake is using valuable résumé real estate to describe your companies instead of your work, said Ashley Watkins, a job-search coach at Write Step Resumes LLC. While it is tempting for job seekers who have worked for startups or small businesses to detail what their prior employers have done, a résumé should be all about you, she added.

“If I want to know about the company, I can Google them, as a recruiter,” Ms. Watkins said. “The résumé is about you and the value that you offer, not your company.”

 

 

If you want to avoid the bots and have a conversation with a real, live recruiter, contact Allied today!  We don’t use algorithms.  We make genuine connections with job seekers and work closely with you to find positions that fit. Apply today and see the difference we can make in your job search! 

 

What To Do After An Interview

Interviews can be stressful.  Allied has some easy guides to help you through any interview process.  Start by checking our guide on how to dress for an interview, and review some quick tips for a successful interview.  (Just make sure you don’t prepare too much!)  Finally, follow these steps for ending the interview and proper follow-up.

After the Interview

  • Before leaving, ask the interviewer what the next step is. This will allow you to determine the best way to follow up.
  • If you are asked to call the interviewer about the next step on Wednesday, call on Wednesday. Not Thursday…Wednesday. This is often a test. An employer is evaluating your ability to follow directions and follow-up properly. These skills are vital to any position.
  • If the interviewer said she would call you Friday and you haven’t heard from her, call on Monday. If you must leave a message, be polite and brief.
  • If after leaving a message you haven’t heard anything in 2 more days, send an email. Again, be polite and brief.
  • If you haven’t heard 2 days after that, assume you were not selected and move on. Do not give in to the temptation to call and/or email again to tell the employer they missed out. This will eliminate you from any future consideration should other opportunities within the company arise.

The Thank You Note

You should send a separate thank you note to each interviewer. The note should be handwritten on a conservative card and be brief and professional.

Dear Mr. Gehrig,

I enjoyed meeting with you today regarding the administrative opening with your company. I believe that my experience and your needs will be a good match. I look forward to hearing from you about the next step in the process. Thanks again!

Marilyn

If plans were made for a second step within the next 1 – 2 business days, it would be appropriate to send an email rather than a note card.

Having trouble landing that interview?  Let Allied help!  Apply today and let us connect you to the Lehigh Valley’s top companies!

Can you be Too Prepared for an Interview?

A recent discussion here at Allied about trends within the applicant pool gravitated toward one particular trend showing up more and more frequently – candidates who are too coached and how that negatively affects an interview.

You may think that “practice makes perfect” applies to interview preparation and the more you rehearse the better you’ll do. This doesn’t necessarily apply to interviewing.
The purpose of an interview is for a company to discover detailed information about your work experience and your job history, including the reasons for leaving jobs and the specific skills you possess. Equally important, sometimes even more important, a company needs to assess your fit for their environment. This is where too much practice can be a problem.

One pattern recently has been in applicants who talk about the importance of “networking” in the job search and how they are especially “effective at building relationships”. Both are important concepts but virtually all of these candidates use the exact same phrasing over and over. It appears as if a particularly compelling article circulated online, everyone took its advice, memorized the suggested “good” answers, and are now interviewing at the same time. Here is the thing though– the answers are only good if they are YOUR answers.

A good interviewer doesn’t want to hear the buzz words and the packaged answers available to everyone. An interviewer wants and needs to hear from YOU — the person who will show up every day and work hard (without a coach or source material). An interviewer needs to know what interacting with YOU will be like. An interviewer needs to know if YOU are going to get along with the rest of the staff. An interviewer needs to know what YOU are really good at – not what the articles say are important skills.

There’s nothing wrong with preparing ahead of time so you can intelligently talk about your experiences, the job opportunity and the company at which you applying but keep it down to earth. It’s fine to practice how you might answer certain questions and to make sure that your answers will include some key things that are important for the position but don’t be generic about it. Be genuine. Be yourself and you will land the right job for YOU.

Check out Allied’s available jobs and apply today!

3 Tips For Successful Interviews

Looking for a great job in the Lehigh Valley? Part of the process will almost certainly include interviews.  In addition to placing people in career opportunities with some of the leading companies in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, Allied provides our candidates a crash course in interview preparation. Here are what we consider our top 3 tips to prepare you for an interview.

Always research the company and the position.

The Internet provides the means for gathering extensive information on a company. Visit the company’s website to read up on their history, their product line, and any current news. Many smaller companies also profile members of their management team. A company website will likely also offer a full description of the available job and may even include general information on the benefits offered. LinkedIn is also a great resource to learn more about the company, as well as the person who will be interviewing you.  By doing your research ahead of time, you will also be better able to formulate intelligent questions during your interview.A job interview

Be courteous to everyone you meet.

We always encourage candidates to be friendly to the first person they meet when they walk in the door of a company. Many interviewers will ask the person at the front desk or at the security desk for a quick first impression. If you were rude, if you were talking on your cell phone, or if you were pacing nervously, they will share that information with the interviewing/hiring manager so it is important to not get off on the wrong foot. Greet everyone with politeness and wish them well when you leave, turn the cell phone off in the car (vibrate isn’t good enough – it needs to be off), and sit calmly while waiting.  Consider your interview starting the moment you arrive at the company.

Even if it seems like common sense, think about it.

Most people look at us oddly when we provide this advice but you would be surprised how often simple common sense errors trip up an otherwise decent interview. Before you walk in the building make sure your sunglasses are off of your head and that your suit jacket lapel isn’t folded under. Make sure you’ve left food and drink in the car (this includes gum and mints). Always take at least three extra copies of your resume in case you meet with more than one person, and ensure those resumes are neat and are free of coffee stains, folds, and pen marks. Make sure you have reference information with you including the person’s full name, phone number, and email address. And most of all make sure you know who to ask for when you arrive!

Despite low unemployment rates, the job market in the Lehigh Valley is always competitive and employers will be considering multiple candidates when hiring.  If you’ve done your research, remember your manners and pay attention to the common sense details, you will absolutely have a leg up on the competition. Rest assured, we’ve seen enough people stumble to know what gets you noticed in a positive way.

Good luck with your search, and be sure to check out Allied’s available jobs regularly.