Interview

Should I Take a Lower Level Job If I'm Returning to Work After An Extended Leave?

iStockphoto.com |  fizkes

iStockphoto.com | fizkes

 People leave the work force for many reasons, such as having children, performing military service, taking care of ill relatives, or to return to school on a full-time basis. Whatever the reason, when someone decides to return to the work force after an extended period – often measured in years – he or she will encounter additional obstacles unique to those with gaps in their work history [8 Job Search Strategies for Returning to Work After An Extended Gap].

If you were a Director four years ago, you may believe you should automatically return to the same level, or higher, and under certain circumstances, like earning an advanced degree, that may be an achievable goal. In other cases, however, it’s important to prepare for the possibility a return will be at a lower level and/or lower compensation.

Selling yourself and your value as a return presents its own set of challenges. For better or worse, it’s important for job seekers to understand the insider perspective of recruiters and hiring managers.

There’s the perception that you are “out of the loop”, and recruiters/hiring managers will ask, “Is this person’s skill set aligned with current standards and practices?”

It’s essential to consider the reality of the situation. Time off the job can translate into missed skills, and since the starting point is the perception that you are “behind” other candidates, employers will likely focus more on your current skill set and less on your past work experience and accomplishments. For example, if every job is “Salesforce experience preferred” and you don’t have any experience in that software, no amount of impressive metrics on your resume will lift you over that hurdle. Your resume probably won’t make it past the Applicant Tracking System.

And make no mistake – as the returner, your leverage can be weaker than someone who is and has been gainfully employed. After all, an employer may not feel compelled to shower a candidate with money to attract them if their alternative is continued unemployment. Candidates who have been laid off face this same challenge, and some companies may exploit that to their advantage. 

As you develop a strategy to return to the workforce, how can you cancel out negative perceptions and rise to the top of a company’s list of candidates? Here are some important factors to consider.

  • How long have you been out of the work force? If it’s been several years, rapid changes may have occurred. Laws change. Regulations change. Technologies change. Do the research. Study the job postings. Become an expert again.

  • Where are your technical skills today? You’ve done your research and mapped the current landscape. Now it’s a simple game of compare and contrast. Determine if, and in what areas, you have skill gaps and develop a plan to resolve them.

  • Ego. Your ego. Letting go of your past life, or salary, may not be easy, but your number one priority should be to position yourself to get back in the work force. By no means should you work for free, but understand that returning where you were or ahead of where you were when you left the job market may or may not be a feasible option. Focus on the future.

 

As you tackle the search as a returner, consider the following: 

  1. Remember that you have value. It is easy to fall into the trap of self-depreciation, and it will be on your face and in your voice during the interview process. Keep in mind that you would not even be in the game if you didn’t have desirable professional and personal qualities. Be your biggest fan!

  2. Understand where you can realistically re-enter the work force. Self-assessments are an essential tool and effective weapon. Do your homework! If you have clarity on this point, you will be more effective targeting the jobs you want the most. Also, you should note that one of your best tools is Paysa.com, a compensation site that can help you understand the salary ranges for the roles you’re looking at.

  3. Always be training. This mantra is critical to both the unemployed and employed alike. Continuing your professional development – whether working or not – is one of the best ways to bolster a lateral, or even upward, move back into the work force.

  4. Demonstrate positivity. Show your best and most professional self. Positivity is a “soft skill” that can make instant inroads with employers who believe you will be a good co-worker and collaborative team member.

  5. Your next job may not be your last. End up in a lousy job that underpays you? Consider it a springboard to a better opportunity. It’s not going to take long for you to rebuild your toolbox and enhance your marketability. When the time is right, move on to a company that will pay you what you’re worth.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Ten Great Ways to Blow a Job Interview

iStockphoto.com |  IPGGutenbergUKLtd

iStockphoto.com | IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Everyone blows a job interview at some point. Here’s ten proven ways to do it in style. 

  1. Show up late. This proves to the employer that you do not have time management skill, AND that you lack respect for both the process and your potential co-workers. There is nothing recruiters, hiring managers, and participants in the interview process love more than waiting for a candidate to show up.

  2. Don’t bother to bring copies of your resume. Assume that Human Resources, or whoever is in charge of the hiring process, will take care of this for you. They really aren’t that busy, and they’re thrilled when they can do free administrative work for complete strangers using company resources.

  3. Treat your interviewers with respect in correlation to their position in the company. Nothing demonstrates your business acumen to an employer better than letting your attitude tell everybody where in the corporate hierarchy you believe they fall. Really want to nail this one? Don’t be cordial to the receptionists and assistants.

  4. Be non-specific in your answers to questions. Really make the interviewers dig to get information about you, or assume they already know everything about you. Make them earn their paycheck. You already spent an entire evening entering all this stuff into their endless online application, and didn’t they do a background check? They should know all this stuff already. Your value should be obvious and should not require explanation in an interview.

  5. Start the interview by asking how much the job pays. There is no reason to talk to these people if the money is no good, so best to lead with it. This sends the message that you are primarily interested in collecting a paycheck, which is a sure-fire way to impress both the recruiter and CEO alike.

  6. Don’t bother being friendly. We all know kindness and friendliness reek of weakness – you don’t want to leave the impression that you are weak! Interviewers may mistake your friendliness for skills necessary to be a productive team player, or for a personality that aligns with their corporate culture. Rudeness wins.

  7. Don’t bother to dress for the occasion. Way too much emphasis is put on the way you look in our culture, especially at work. Show your potential employer that you are an independent, non-conformist, maverick by shunning the traditional “interview dress code” for whatever may still be clean. This has the side benefit that when you receive an offer, you’ve set expectations so low that you won’t have to spend a penny on work attire for years to come.

  8. Forget about researching about the company or the job. Wing it. Preparation and knowledge are for candidates who are serious about their careers, and companies are all the same. You will “win it in the room” because of your natural born charisma and magnetic personality. Besides, you have a sweet connection who already works there.

  9. Don’t make eye contact with your interviewers. It is said that you can see the soul through the eyes, so make as little eye contact as possible, especially if it’s a panel interview with multiple participants. There is no telling what is lurking down there in your soul that may pop out and ruin your credibility. If you must, focus intently only on the ranking interviewer (not creepy at all) and pretend the other participants aren’t there. If asked a direct question, answer, but stare at your shoes.

  10. Don’t bother sending thank you notes to everyone. Not only is sending anything a note outdated, so is saying, “thank you.” You’re entitled to every job for which you interview, so why thank the interviewers for doing their job. And why use written language when your email and smart phone have a library of emojis to make your point? You don’t want to show weakness in the form of gratitude – you could unfairly earn a reputation for being professional.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In case you couldn’t tell, this was tongue-in-cheek. This is a compilation some of the more self-defeating behavioral traits I’ve seen applicants display in an interview setting. Just sayin’.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

You Can't Tell Them Your Boss Is A Jerk – Explaining Why You're Looking For A New Job

iStockphoto.com |  AntonioGuillem

iStockphoto.com | AntonioGuillem

A common reason people look for new jobs is because they hate what they’re currently doing. It could be that the work is a grind, the boss is a jerk, and the pay is insufficient for the level of responsibility – or some combination of these factors.

If you’re in this situation, it’s understandable that you’re on the job market.

But here’s the problem. They don’t want to hear you say that your current work is a grind, the boss is a jerk, and the pay is insufficient.

When you’re in an interview with a potential employer, he or she is looking for a candidate who is upbeat, positive, and would add to the overall morale of the office. Negative talk about your current employer could knock you out of contention.

It’s not that your reasons for seeking new employment opportunities aren’t true – they are all probably quite valid. But appearing to “trash talk” can raise concerns to a recruiter or hiring manager, such as, “What is this candidate going to say about us when he discovers something he doesn’t like?”

The interview process is a dance, and answering the question “Why are you seeking new opportunities” is a step in this dance. And. like any dance, it’s best to approach it with finesse so that you don’t step on any toes in the process. Here’s how to prepare to answer this difficult question.

  1. Understand Your True Motivation For Changing Jobs. Every job comes with its own annoyances and frustrations; we tend to tolerate the negative aspects of the position because they’re often outweighed by the positives. Dig deep and ask yourself, “What is it about the position that’s truly making this job more trouble than it’s worth?” The rest is just noise.

  2. Identify The Aspects Of Your Current Job That You Have Enjoyed. Maybe you truly love your day-to-day core duties, or perhaps the company has given you great training opportunities, or they’ve exposed you to new career growth avenues.

  3. When Presenting Your Reason To A Potential Employer, Sandwich The Negative With The Positives. By starting and ending your explanation the the things you like about your current job, you provide valuable context and soften the negativity.

Here’s an example:(Positive) In my current role as a project manager, I absolutely love the scope of responsibility I have – I’m able to work on a variety of programs with some truly wonderful customers. (Negative) As the years have progressed, the company has gone through several reorganizations which have made the role more difficult. (Positive) I’m very grateful for the opportunity the company gave me – I’ve been promoted multiple times and I work with wonderful people, but when this role with your company was posted it seemed like a good fit for the next stage of my career.”


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.