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Category Archives: Gen Y

Job interview advice – especially for Gen Y

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the importance of not judging job applicants, especially Gen Yers, by initial outward appearances or perceptions.  I still believe that is important.  However, that blog inspired some healthy discussion with colleagues and business leaders about how difficult it is to change perception, and inspired me to write about tips for job applicants as well.

Written and electronic contact tips

Make sure your resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and please don’t use text lingo like LOL or TIA (“thanks in advance” for Gen Xers like myself) on your cover letter or email.  Recruiters and Managers want to know that you can fit into the business world, and unless you’re applying for a role that communicates strictly through text, you’ll need to demonstrate proper use of the english language.

What’s your email address?  If it’s something like “hotbabe69@hotmail.com”, create a more professional email address for business use.

Customize your cover letter to the job.  A very common mistake that I’ve seen is applicants who send a cover letter or a cut-and-pasted email that makes reference to the wrong company.  Take the extra time to mention specific things about the company or job that you’re applying for and why you would be ideal.

What will a recruiter find if they google you, or look you up on Facebook or Twitter?  It may be too late to undo those drunken photos, but get busy un-tagging yourself, and remember that everything you post online will exist in cyber-space forever.  So
think twice before you tweet.

Prepping for the interview

Think about situations that you have handled in a positive way, that you would be proud to tell someone about.  You may not have had a ton of working experience, but there are likely conflicts you’ve been in, problems you’ve solved, and people you have helped, through school, sports, or other associations or experiences, that have given you the opportunity to practice skills that will be useful in the business world.  Log the situations and include details such as:

  • How the situation was caused or came about
  • What you did personally (vs your team or others)
  • What you were thinking and feeling at the time
  • What the outcome was
  • What you learned from it or would do differently next time

This type of log will help you to think of positive situations that you can use when asked behavioural interview questions.  

Research the company and think about what else you would want to know about the organization and the role itself.  Remember, the interview is your chance to evaluate the company just as much as it’s their chance to evaluate you.

The day of the interview – what to wear and bring

The general rule that I was always taught was to dress a step up from the job you want.  If the company you’re applying to dresses business casual, wear a suit.  If they wear jeans, wear dress pants or khakis.

Hair, makeup and jewelry.  Again, think of the company you’re applying to.  A retailer like skateboard shop West 49 will be much more accepting of piercings and funky hairstyles than most office jobs.  In any case, though, make sure that you’ve done your hair and make up that day, and you aren’t sporting the look from last night’s party (I don’t mean to be insulting – I’ve seen this).

Bring a pen and notebook, with the questions you would like to ask prepared already.

At the interview

Smile and be friendly.  Regardless of how nervous you are, this will help to portray confidence.  And remember to be friendly even to the receptionist or clerk who you speak to on your way in.  You never know what that person’s involvement might be in the hiring process or providing feedback to the recruiter.

Watch your language.  Never swear, even if the recruiter does.  Try not to speak negatively about past companies or bosses.

Answer the questions.  Seems to go without saying, doesn’t it?  But in truth, sometimes it’s more difficult that it seems.  Think about your answer before you start talking.  If you need to stall, repeat the question as you think.  Then answer, and watch out for babbling or getting off track.  Check that you’ve answered the questions adequately when you’re done.

Be yourself

If you feel like you have to be someone you’re not when you apply for a certain job, chances are it’s not right for you.  You don’t want to find a job where you will be uncomfortable or have to act in ways that are contrary to your own beliefs.  In the same breath, though, you will learn and grow the most when you are challenged to change.  It’s up to you what level of accommodation you can make – whether it’s removing a nose ring, covering a tattoo, or simply behaving in a professional way.

What other tips might you offer to job seekers, especially Gen Y?  Add your comments or tweet them to me!

Pic via freedigitalphotos user Dundee Photographic

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Recruiting? Watch your red flags, especially with Gen Y

This morning I was facilitating an introduction to recruitment and selection for restaurant managers, and there was one particular “a-ha” moment for the group that I thought I’d share.

It was about the “red flags” or preconceived notions that managers traditionally based hiring decisions on during the selection process.  Here are some of the things that these managers had been screening out when candidates applied for jobs, and the challenges I posed to them.

No Pen.  Why would an applicant come to apply for a job and not bring a pen with them?  Many managers thought that if they need to hire someone who is organized and prepared, this is a big red flag, and that they would automatically take these candidates out of the running for the job.  My challenge: In an age of blackberries and iPhones, what Gen Yer is carrying a pen with them?  They use computers at school and text to communicate across distance.  They likely aren’t thinking about our antiquated process of having someone fill out an application.

Sneakers and other dress code no-no’s.  This one is a tough one to get past for many.  For those of us in Gen X or the Boomer generation, it seems like simple common sense for people to dress up when they are applying for jobs.  Why would I give someone a second glance who walked in to hand in a resume in sneakers or jeans?  A few things to consider:  First of all, especially in an industry like the restaurant industry, people are often applying for their first job, and nobody has taught them how to dress.  One manager said to me “My mother wouldn’t have let me out of the house to apply for a job in running shoes”.  My response: If you judge them on their clothing, you may be finding more out about the applicant’s parent than about how they themselves will actually fit into your culture or serve your customers.  Some other things to consider before you cross these sneaker-clad folks off your list: Perhaps they thought they were only going to drop off a resume and didn’t expect to see a manager.  Perhaps they have been watching leading companies like Google and Zappos and have seen the dress code there (not business casual), so thought jeans were the norm.  At the end of the day, it’s likely you have a uniform or a dress code in your business, so you can easily set the expectation for dress code with the right person.

Applying for a job during a peak revenue period.  Talk about a no-no!  Granted, if you’re managing a restaurant, you are likely busy during the lunch and dinner periods.  My watch out here, though, is twofold.  First, in my mind, it is most important to find someone with the personaliy that fits your culture and values, who will genuinely care about serving your customers, rather than someone who has a wealth of experience in your industry.  So this may be a candidate who doesn’t know that Friday night between 5-8 is a bad time to apply.  In fact, on the contrary, they may think that this is the best time to apply, since it’s likely a manager will be in the restaurant.

At the end of the day, my advice to these managers was to focus on the personality traits of the person and whether they are a fit with what you’re looking for.  You can train them on your expectations and the job responsibilities.  Always remember that a job applicatn is also a potential customer, and that the way you treat them is what their impression of your business will be.  Whenever possible (always) take 2 minutes to at least meet them, introduce yourself, and ask a few general screening questions to see whether you should take further time later to interview them.  Be careful how you judge some of the traditional red flags.  You never know when your next superstar is going to walk into your restaurant, and the worst thing you can do is turn them away because of a missing pen, poor clothing choice, or bad timing.  Your competitor may be the winner in this situation, as the superstar walks across the street and gets hired.

What do you think?  What “red flags” do you screen candidates out of the running for? 

Pic from Flicr user rvw

 

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