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Posts Tagged ‘Allison Green’

Five Things Your Interviewer Won’t Tell You

Ever want to get inside the mind of a recruiter or hiring manager during an interview? According to a recent post on U.S. News & World Report, Allison Green writes there are several things interviewers are thinking but won’t tell you.

1. You’re being judged on how you’re dressed and groomed. This should be a given, yes? Green writes, “In most industries, a professional appearance still matters. You don’t need to wear expensive clothes, but showing up in a casual outfit or clothes that don’t fit properly, having unkempt hair, or inappropriately flashy makeup can harm your chances.”

2. You shouldn’t over sell yourself. If you’ve ever tried to buy a car and felt pummeled by an overzealous salesperson or tried to quit your gym membership only to be talked into remaining a member, we hear ya. The good news is you’re aware and most likely ticked off when people are too aggressive so the key point as you’re interviewing is to not be that guy or gal. Considering interviewers are people, too they can spot when a job candidate tries to hard to sell him or herself. Instead of focusing on the aggressive sell, highlight what you can bring to the table and why they should hire you. Keep it simple.

3. Little things count. This point is so important, it must be repeated (all together now) — little things count. We’ve seen hiring managers get turned off when a candidate was rude to a receptionist or in another instance, someone acted weird with a bowl of candy (and be weird, we mean to walk by en route to an interview room and grab three pieces to quickly hurl them into one’s mouth). Newsflash: As a job seeker, your behavior is being evaluated from start to finish, up and down, all around. Yes, interviews and follow ups count like the thank-you note but your soft skills are important, too.

4. Know when to stop talking. In the piece, Green writes, “Your answers to your interviewer’s questions should be direct and to-the-point. Rambling and unnecessary tangents raise doubts about your ability to organize your thoughts and convey needed information quickly.” As you’re self-aware about succinctness of your responses (or in some cases, lack thereof), it’s never to late to pull back the reigns, read his or her body language, and also ask a question. Green also suggests stopping yourself after two minutes of talking and simply asking the interviewer if more examples are necessary.

5. Personality matters. Consider this: If two candidates have resumes that are almost identical, guess who will get the job? Give up? Someone who fits in better with the team. It could be your personality, work style, all of the above but just because you look great on paper doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll land a job offer. Conversely, you may look great on paper but one way to truly pop is to stand out with your soft skills. Green reminds us in the piece, “Remember, it’s not just a question of whether you have the skills to do the job; it’s also a question of fit for this particular position, with this particular boss, in this particular culture, and in this particular company.”

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Who Pays For Interview Expenses?

airplane in flight

Should a potential employer pay to fly an interviewee across the country?

Our gut reaction is to say “yes, always,” but as usual, Allison Green shows the situation is more nuanced.

If an employer really wants to see you, the manager will absolutely pay for your travel expenses.

If you really want to see them, which is a possibility, you might be stuck paying for your own way.

Green says:

“I recently hired for a position where I had two out-of-town candidates come in for interviews. I never even raised the issue of reimbursement and neither did they. I simply said, ‘We’d love to interview you next week if you can get to D.C.’ It wasn’t a specialized job, I had more qualified local candidates than I could interview, and while I was happy to consider them as candidates, I didn’t have sufficient financial motivation to pay to do it.

“Now, in other cases, where my candidate pool is more limited, I assume from the start that I’ll probably have to pay to bring in non-local candidates. It really comes down to the nature of the job and the depth of options facing the employer.”

If you’re in this situation, she says, you’re more than within your rights to ask for a phone interview “to make sure that I’m a strong match” before you shell out for a plane ticket. Or to ask, “Could you give me an idea of how strong a candidate you think I am?” The answer could help you decide how much of a gamble you’re making.

Travel expenses: just another casualty of the recession and the employer’s market.

photo: JoshuaDavisPhotography

Gimmicky Job Search Tactics Part N: Taking Out A Newspaper Ad..For Yourself

We’ve covered no end of clever jobseeker tactics on this blog, from the people taking out facebook ads targeting their favorite employers to the guy who bought Google ads for the names of the people he wanted to be his boss.

But here’s one we haven’t seen: a reader of Ask A Manager wrote in to that blog to ask whether he should take out a newspaper ad to up his chances of getting hired.

“In this ad I would try to sell myself to local businesses with the hope that someone would read it and be impressed with my very broad background and maybe give me a chance…I have created an anonymous email address that would be my only point of contact in the ad, just in case the entire thing backfires on me. Would this make me look too desperate? Is this a crazy idea? Would you send an email to a ‘hire me’ ad that you saw in a local newspaper?”

Ask A Manager blogger Allison Green says it’s unlikely she would hire someone from a newspaper ad, but “if (a) the person had the skill set and track record of achievement that I was looking for and (b) the ad really came across as professional, not like a stunt, I might — but my skepticism is very high because I’ve never seen this done in a way that both (a) and (b) were true.”

Bigger problem: a newspaper? Really?

Hate to be a jerk, here, but what forward-thinking, not-going-to-be-extinct-in-a-decade industry are you trying to work in whose hiring managers read display ads (or, god forbid, classifieds) in newspapers?

A commenter added a suggestion: if you’re clever enough to write a snappy ad about yourself, you’re probably clever enough to write a letter to the editor about some work-related issue that concerns you. An op-ed, in yes, a legacy print publication or even better on HuffPo, might count as an attention-grabber.

Ten Things To Do Before You Leave Your Internship

starbucks coffee cup
an intern’s life. flickr: Steve Webel

Now that it’s August, if you’re a summer intern, you’re probably heading back to school in less than a month—or worse, you’re being kicked out into the real world.

Allison Green explains at U.S. News & World Report what you should do in your internship before it’s too late…and Poynter’s Joe Grimm also posted a list recently of four things specific to journalists.

First, thank people. “Talk to your manager about what you got out of the experience, and thank her for giving you the opportunity to work with her. People love hearing this sort of thing—don’t be shy about telling her,” says Green. Grimm’s list unintentionally echoes this but adds that you should really thank everyone, including “the people who handled your move, took care of payroll and helped you get reimbursements or appointments.”

Second, get feedback. And make sure you ask for it, both experts say, because exit interviews may not be standard practice. “Trying to finagle one on the last day will not lead to anything satisfying,” says Grimm.

Third, Green says, talk to people about your future plans, because they’ll probably have advice or job leads. Yours truly can attest to the power of this.

Fourth, update your resume, while the details of this internship are still fresh in your mind.

Fifth, reflect on the experience. “What do you wish you’d done differently or known when you started? Can you see yourself working in that field? Would you want to do the work you saw others doing? Was the culture one you’d like to work in again or try to avoid?”

Sixth, keep track of contacts you made. Export your Outlook address book if you’re extra organized, but mostly you just want to make sure you can reach your boss, mentors, and coworkers and that they can reach you. It doesn’t hurt, Green says, to send the occasional e-mail after you’ve left. “Very few interns bother to do this, but those who do really stand out—and often develop professional relationships that serve them well long into their careers.”

Seventh, and this one’s from Grimm, make sure your references are in order. “Find out whom you can count on for this. Go for people who know you best — they will have more to say — not the ones with the biggest titles.” And ask them beforehand what they’d say. If you don’t like the answer, find someone else.

Eighth, get good copies of your work. Hard-copy clips or your portfolio are well and good for tacking to fridges but you need something you can e-mail, so if you’re able to grab PDFs of your reporting, copywriting, or PRing while you’re still inside the intranet, it’s that much easier.

Okay, so there weren’t really ten things, since these two experts had overlapping advice for the most part, but we’d add at least one for media pros to this list: make sure your portfolio is something you’re happy with. Assuming you have some time left, maybe now’s the time to try that crazy story on spec or ask to write a press release by yourself. If your internship turned out to be a bust because all you were doing was sorting files, see if you can find a way to transform that resume line item into something productive at the last minute. Ask for a bigger project, more responsibility, or do something awesome in your spare time that the company just loves.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

parrots green

What does one say to the designer who was apparently rejected from a job because he used the color green in a logo?

The story’s on Ask A Manager, where a designer writes in with a tale of woe:

“My exam was to create a study for a logo. For my first two tries, they said my designs lacked impact but encouraged me to submit one more. For my third try, they flat out rejected me, saying, ‘Sorry, you did not pass. We find the color green too dull.’…Not to brag but I have a very solid work experience and impressive portfolio, but apparently, these were all outweighed by the color green.

“Anyway, my point is, I want to tell that lady from HR that the way she informed me was really unprofessional. Her job is simple and she can’t even do it graciously. She was rude and even had the nerve to add smileys on her message.”

This sucks. But, as blogger Allison Green says in her response, don’t write that letter. It doesn’t help, and you might cross paths with the green-haters in the future.

It’s more likely, she says, that there was a different reason the applicant’s logo was rejected (like maybe that he “lacked impact” twice in a row), the HR person heard the word “green” and inappropriately latched on to it. Or they really do hate green and in that case, you wouldn’t want to work for a crazy.

photo: Steve aka Crispin Swan

A Day Of Phone Interviews: A Manager’s Perspective


Sometimes phone interviews are great. You don’t have to worry about getting lost on the way to the interview, you could have something stuck between your teeth and it wouldn’t matter, and you don’t have to dress up (but you really should). But where phone interviews are frustrating is where you have absolutely no idea what the person on the other end is thinking.

Allison Green of Ask A Manager demystifies phone interviews by going through seven recent ones she conducted.

Who got called in for a second interview and who didn’t? Well, the person who didn’t know what the position was about got eliminated, as did the guy who sounded like he “just woke up, possibly with a hangover, while you’re simultaneously watching TV and eating doritos, and not really caring too much about the conversation.”

As did the person who said he had other offers that weren’t moving too quickly and he was hoping to hold out, but he “showed integrity by being honest and looking out for our welfare,” so Green says she’ll give him a call if something else comes up.

The overqualified but eager candidate got a second interview and so does the one who asks insightful questions.

We hope more hiring managers do more of these—it’s not just “let’s pile on Applicant X because of a misspelling in her cover letter” but a clear-cut, “this works for me, this doesn’t.” More, please!

photo: Joe Shlabotnik

It’s Not Volunteering, It’s Consulting

Have you taken on volunteer work to beef up your resume? Just remember, it’s not “volunteer” or “unpaid” work, it’s “taking on a pro-bono client” or “consulting.”

“Your accomplishments are your accomplishments. It’s no one’s business how much you got paid for them, even if that amount was zero,” writes Allison Green in today’s On Careers post at US News & World Report.

This is timely, as The Levin Institute’s Jump Start NYC New Media program—which matches up NYC media pros with companies in need of an (unpaid) intern consultant—closes to applications this Friday.

As with any position, keep the focus on your resume to accomplishments and it won’t matter how much you got paid for the work.