Gracefully Declining That Job That Ain’t For You

Earlier today, I was staring at the 10 day weather forecast in NYC (rain, rain, rain and some more rain with a side of 35 MPH winds) and my mind started to wander to “good problems to have.” (Yes, I’m serious- hear me out.) I was like, “Well, we got very little rain this summer so it’s probably good for us, AND that means I’ll actually stay inside and finish that underwater basket weaving project I’ve been working on.”)

And then I thought about ‘good problems’ my clients have. The biggest? She gets a job offer she doesn’t actually want. And then I realized this has happened to 4 clients in the last week or two, and then I realized I had to write a blog post about it to share some tips/spread the love.

So what’s, so what’s the scenario, you ask? Maybe someone did you a solid by getting you the interview and you don’t want to ruffle feathers. Maybe you got a bad vibe from the whole process (that happens soooo much, you wouldn’t believe! Or maybe you would- in any event, listen to your gut in those cases.) So how do you gracefully say no?

1.  Phone- No Snapchat! I don’t even really know what Snapchat does for me, since I basically belong in the year 1870 minus the lack of women’s rights thing, so my point here is no.email.period. Pick up the phone and call the person who offered you the position. I always recommend calling once or twice and not leaving a message if they don’t pick up, but on the 3rd time, it’s ok to leave a short, gracious message. Something like, “I was so hoping to talk to you and thank you over the phone for the gracious offer. I’ve decided not to accept it, and wanted you to know. I thank you for your time.” (And no, this doesn’t supplant a handwritten or emailed thank you.) And you never have to accept or decline an offer on the spot, by the way. If anyone tries to get you to do that, that’s an electric red colored flag.

2. Grievances, Schmievances. Maybe their interview process is whack and left you cold. Maybe they handled it all weirdly. For example, a client went in to interview recently for one job and was offered a completely different job after the interview concluded. Whatever the case may be, there’s no need for a point by point rendering of your ‘issues’ with their protocol, process or people. Calling them out may take you completely off their radar for another position and will do nothing but burn bridges. The only exception is if you are, in the rare case, asked for interview process feedback. (Maybe they’re trying to improve actively and your thoughts will help them.)

3. You Can Say Why, Though. I’m not saying lie or anything. At all. On the contrary, if it’s not aligned with your career goals, say that. If you do not feel there is the growth potential you value, say that. If you’ve discussed your values in the interview (either obliquely or in a straightforward way) it’ll be easy to refer back to that part of the conversation. If they try to ply you with more dinero and it REALLY is about the career growth or job, then it’ll be easy to still turn it down. If it’s about the money and you’ve negotiated the ish out of the original offer but no more wiggle room is offered, you can speak to that. If they really want you, something tells me they’ll find the extra $5k. And if they don’t, there’s another offer out there for you.

4. Know Your Story. Above all else, know your vision. This work obviously comes before you even enter the job search process. You want to know what you value for your career, what your short and long term vision is and what impact you want to have. If you have that and your personal story down pat, then it’ll be easy to decline (politely) a position that doesn’t scream “YES!”

It’s not easy to turn down an offer. Two of my clients recently offered a position not aligned with their career growth and they used their emergency “lifeline” calls I provide to talk through their concerns. It’s hard to walk about from sure money, especially when things are miserable where you’re at. Remind yourself that if it’s not the right thing and you take it to plug some holes in the interim, you’ll find yourself in job searching mode sooner than you can say, “Hakuna Matata.”

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Totally Doable Job Tip of The Week: Resume Basics

Heyooo! It’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve been a bit behind on presenting my next totally doable job tip of the week. And this one is TOTALLY.DOABLE.

Even if the thought of revamping your resume right now really makes you want to play in traffic, there are a few simple things you can do that are often overlooked, believe it or not.

  • Current Address: Even if you live in the metro area in which you are applying, if you forget the addy, you run the risk of going to the bottom of the pile. No joke! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it happen. I would ask, “What if they live here?!” and the answer was, “Well, we have so many applications to go through and we don’t know that so we move on to the next.” Flabbergasting, but often true.
  • Have Page Consciousness: In other words, keep it to one page ideally, or two pages max. I’ve seen so many 4 page resumes- cut anything older than 10 years old!
  • Core Competencies: Instead of long mission statements at the top of the resume (use LinkedIn and cover letters for that jazz- it’s still important but not on the resume!), choose your top 4-5 core skills/things you bring to the table and include them in a one line bulleted list. More impactful and when you have less than 10 seconds to catch a recruiter’s eye, it’s critical.

 

What other tips have transformed your resume? Leave them or any questions in the comments below!

 

How to Prep Now To Hit The Ground Running In January: Job Search Edition

I’ve heard a lot of people say that December is a ‘wasted month’, ‘no one looks at a resume in December,’ and ‘might as well wait til January.’

Hold your horses for a second there, sparky. I urge you instead to consider the following:

  1. Da Competition: How many times have you heard friends or co-workers talk about how busy they are preparing for the holidays- shopping, buying, parties, Hanukkah dinners, crossing the days off in their Advent calendar, etc? Well, guess what that means all those people are NOT doing? Looking for jobs! Lay the ground work now, in these last two work weeks of the year, to prep applications, find the correct contact person, if you don’t know who they are already and send ‘er in! The Daily Muse published an article the other day on 10 companies ‘hiring like crazy’ in December! Check it out here.

 

 

  1. The Last Week of the Year: Many, many people take it easy the week between Christmas and New Years, including yours truly. This doesn’t mean people are necessarily doing nothing work-related, but year end deadlines are done-zo and final numbers may be in, so they may be looking toward more long-term projects, like finding the right hire for that strategic marketing position, for example. Getting an application in for a position you covet during the Dec 15 week allows hiring managers to see it come in before the holidays and maybe put it on their to do list while they recharge. Then, you can follow up the first week of January regarding next steps!
  2. Holiday Networking! Tons of networking groups have a holiday mixer or party and it’s a great way to meet new people while spreading the holiday cheer. It doesn’t even have to be networking groups necessarily- it could be friend’s holiday parties or extended family gatherings. Women’s groups with holiday parties of include:
    1. Ellevate Network: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/events
    2. Levo League (check your local chapter): http://www.levo.com/locallevo
    3. Lean In NYC (Email me at jill@jillozovek.com for information on my December 16 event!)
    4. In Good Company: http://ingoodcompany.com/classes/monday-night-networking-dec15/

 4.  Resume and Job Search Prep: Even if you don’t see the job of your dreams posted in December, don’t fret- it’s not a wasted month. Take the time to update your resume with your most recent position and generally make it so it’s ready to send out in January. There is not end to great advice on tweaking your resume out there, but for my #1 tip I’d say to make sure your resume doesn’t just list out your job duties at each post; instead change duties into accomplishments. (Think “Increased sales by 10% in fiscal year 2014 which added $X to the bottom line” as opposed to “business development”).

 

How To Come Back From a Terrible Job Interview

We’ve all had ‘em: confusing, off kilter, and often soul crushing job interviews that make you want to curl up in a giant pair of sweatpants with a bottle of pinot noir and watch reruns of the Mindy Project for days on end. And forget it: the thought of going on another job interview anytime soon just ain’t gonna happen.

But alas, if you want to extricate yourself from your current situation- whether that’s a job you can’t stand or a job that doesn’t do it for you anymore- you’re going to have to. So what are some things you can do to move forward and get past an awkward/awful experience?

Recharacterize The Experience: Instead of, “Wow, I did so terribly” or “The pre-screener totally led me astray and I was blindsided”, can you characterize the experience as just that- an experience? What did you take away from the interview?  Maybe there was a certain question or segment of questions that stumped you or got you tongue-tied, and you need more clarity on those answers for next time. What did you learn about yourself? Maybe it’s not the type of environment or work culture for you. Instead of thinking about how crappy it was, try for just a few minutes to think about what you learned and see how that feels.

 Avoid Laying Blame: Mostly on yourself, is what I mean here. Not every job opportunity or place of employment is meant for you, and vice versa. Falling into the trap of thinking you’re a failure is not only going to keep you stuck, but it’s also not true. I went on an interview that was almost comical in its “not right for me-ness” and I was so disappointed when I wasn’t chosen that I couldn’t see that it was simply not a match. It set me back for weeks while I petulantly refused to interview more. It was a real good use of time, man (sarcasm).  So I repeat here: “DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF.” There are hundreds or thousands of companies out there in your field, and there are just as many different cultures, hiring managers, etc.

Also, you may have gone for something above your current skillset. That’s AWESOME! Learn from that experience- get feedback from the interviewer if possible- on what else you’d need to learn more of to be hired for such a position. Then go figure out how to get those skills (night classes, workshops, on the job training at your current job, books, etc).

Keep Applying, Networking, Etc:  Go on an interview again as soon as possible to get the bad taste out of your mouth. Obviously going on an interview isn’t all up to you, as an employer has to see your application and want to interview you. So keep your options open, keep applying, and as soon as you get a relevant bite whose job description gets you jazzed up (ie, don’t just apply to any old thing to get another interview under your belt), GO ON THE INTERVIEW. It’s the equivalent of ripping the Band-Aid off, which often makes me tear up and/or cry because I find that somewhat painful, but as soon as it’s off, I can scrape all that black Band-Aid sticky stuff off. That may or may not be a terrible analogy, so I’ll say it again: GO ON THE NEXT RELEVANT INTERVIEW!

Go On An Informational Interview and/or Practice: Quick, go on and do it. Maybe you’re not ready to go on a formal interview despite my pleas above or maybe it will just take you a bit of time to get called in for one. SO, in the meantime, schedule an informational interview with someone you know at another company in your field. Getting out there in an interview-y (official term) environment will get you acclimated again and ready yourself for the real deal.

OR, ask a friend, mentor, colleague, parent, spouse, significant other, sibling, etc to mock interview you. Give them the questions, especially any that trip you up or you know will be asked for an interview in your field, and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

These are just a few ideas to get you unstuck and moving after a traumatizing, pinot noir inducing interview experience. What’s worked for you and why? Leave a comment in the comments section below and let us know!

 

 

Q: How The Heck Do I Prep for a Group Interview?

A: Group interviews, often described as a very specific form of torture, have risen in popularity over the years, and with an increased importance placed on office dynamics, they’re probs not going away anytime soon. In my practice with my clients, I’ve seen group interviews become a more common form of interviewing in recent years, and I’ve recently worked with a few people prepping for their upcoming group interviews. Usually, but not always, you will know if your interview is in a group format, so below are a few tips, tricks, etc we used  when the candidate knew she was going into a group interview:

Introduce Yourself: A lot of times the interviewees will be in the room together before the official interview begins. Resist the urge to check Kim Kardashian’s Twitter feed on your phone and instead introduce yourself to the other candidates. It can definitely put you more at ease once you realize the others are ‘real people, too’ and when the interviewer(s) come in and see you facilitating the conversation, they’ll see you’re not afraid of networking, meeting people and being assertive—all good things in the workplace.

Let Go Of “What if he says what I was gonna say?”: Let’s face it- if you’re all there for similar positions, there are going to be threads of similarity in the answers. It’s gonna happen, so you might as well let go of the idea that all of your answers will be 100% original. However, there are ways to come off as original, even if the content of your answer is not…

Examples, Examples, Examples: This is one seemingly obvious way to sound original, but surprisingly, not one many people take advantage of. For example, if an interviewer asks you about your short and long term career goals, someone who goes ahead of you may have a similar answer. It’s important to acknowledge that person (involving the others in the room through this and the aforementioned ‘introduce yourself’ tip shows confidence, that you can easily build rapport and relationships and that you give credit where credit is due- all good things!). Once that acknowledgement occurs, you can build upon what was already said with your own examples of why xy and z are your long term career goals and, if there’s time, how you plan on working to achieve them.

Familiarize Yourself With Common Questions: It’s a group interview, so there are going to be common questions. And specific fields will have questions specific to those fields. Make sure you do a google search for some common types of questions per your field. Generally speaking, these are questions like:

  • Short and long term career goals
  • What’s your biggest weakness?
  • Describe a time where you had a conflict with a co-worker. How did you handle it?
  • Tell us what you know about us and why you want to work here.
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Why are you the right applicant for this position?

Be Yourself/Let Your Personality Come Through: When I used be in my corporate role and would interview people, the biggest mistake I saw was when people would literally read me their resume when I asked them to ‘tell me a little about themselves.” Granted, that is a vague question, but in the reality of the interviewing world, not one that is going away anytime soon.  Talk instead about your passion for the type of work, what led you to this path, why XYZ industry/role is important to you, etc. I could rarely recall the details about a person who told me in deep detail where he went to school and his summa cum laude credentials, but could always recall the candidate who told stories about how his passion for the work compelled him worked another job exploring a new field part-time or on a volunteer basis. Find ways to get your passion to come out. If you don’t know what your passion is or how to do this, I can help.

Beware Of Over-Prepping: As with any type of prep for something important, you can go overboard. If you get that stuffy head-spinning feeling or you feel like your mind is racing, put your materials to the side for a bit and do something completely unrelated- go for a run, spend time with friends or call your mom. And above all, I highly recommend not looking at your materials the day or two before the interview. At that point, you’re ready and finding new points of view or information that last minute may trip you up. Be yourself and know your stuff and you’ll be cool. Download a meditation app on your phone to do a quick 2-5 minute meditation on the way to the interview or in the parking lot. Get your mind right to go kick some toosh!