This is a question, albeit a silly one, that sometimes comes up in interviews or written psychological testing with strangers—or strange human resource reps. Another one is, “If you were an animal, would you be a fish or a dog?” They may be testing your critical thinking ability or your creativity or temperament. Probing like this is not all that common but not unheard of, either. Interpreting it is loaded with more questions, mainly, what are they looking for? It’s enough to send you into a tailspin. Don’t let it. There is no right answer. All you can do is answer honestly according to your work ethic, values and personality, hoping that the corporate culture is compatible. If that one thing knocks you out of the ballpark, regrettably, that company might not be the one for you. Or the question might not be that weighty in the first place. Perhaps it is asked by incompetent HR reps who don’t know how to interview and what else to ask, thus compelled to fill dead air with nonsense.
Make it ring true for you! Human Resource reps say employers will hang up if your machine contains a long-running rock song or is otherwise unprofessional. Record your message in your natural voice stating your name and asking the caller to leave a callback number. You may have a fabulous Linked In profile, dynamic resume and compelling cover letter, but you can create a bad impression and sabotage your efforts over this small detail when an employer calls you for an interview. You don’t want to blow it. Remember the little things for they go a long way in job search!
Get out of the box. Believe in yourself. Focus. Take Risks. Break Rules. And run like hell with your ideas! *Adjusted from millionaire to billionaire for inflation.
DON’T YOU WISH YOU COULD RULE THE RUDE, UNCARING BUSINESS WORLD? You’d give them “the business!” Imagine creating a four-credit college course called, Employer Etiquette 101? Unless you call the shots, the best you can do is know what you want, arm yourself with a dynamic presentation, resume and cover letter tailored to each and every desired job opening—and network like crazy. Mostly, don’t give up.
Creativity doesn’t flourish in fear. Inspiration born of love does. The enduring I Love Lucy comedy series evolved with Lucille Ball keeping her husband and fellow entertainer, Desi Arnaz, around to start their family. The Taj Mahal was built for a man’s beloved wife. Even Facebook’s beginnings evolved from comparing the opposite sex at different schools. Think about what motivates you to soar higher. Don’t know? Find out what turns you on. Get absorbed in a passion. Jump for your joy—paid or unpaid. Either way, it will pay dividends for your health. You will be strong enough to get back to work that pays a decent wage—even if it’s a survival job that just pays the bills. Tools to aid you in matching your temperament and values to work, include: Occupational Outlook Handbook on www.bls.gov for career exploration; www.nycareerzone.org; the comprehensive ONET online at http://online.onetcenter.org, and the classic books, “What Color is Your Parachuwww.bls.gov for career exploration; www.nycareerzone.org; the comprehensive ONET online at http://online.onetcenter.org, and the classic books, “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles and Barbara Moses’ “What Next? The Complete Guide to Taking Control of Your Working Life.”
French author Marcel Proust said, “Each spelling mistake is the expression of a desire.” But employers aren’t as open-minded. You’ll never know if it was that typo that wiped out your chance at an interview. Hopefully the prospective employer’s eye will “correct” it when reading and never notice it. Always have someone else read your application before you send it out. Conduct ABC Spelling and Grammar check on WORD repeatedly. Now, back to the drawing boards.
You’re taking your job search too personally. How not, you ask? You cling repeatedly to a notion that an employer will come along and “discover” your heart’s desire and understand what you need. It’s the wrong slant that keeps you unconsciously stuck doing the same tried-and-failed attempts to land a job. You don’t fulfill requirements or redo strategies, make changes, ferret out the Unknown. None of us wants to hear this but finding work by joining a big group is about fitting ourselves into a preconceived collective mold someone else came up with. The painful truth is that we have to work at finding a balance of how much of ourselves we want to sacrifice for what we like and hope to do for a living…day in and day out. That is the hardest job of all.
Hold it—it’s not what you think! Here’s a way to calm your nerves and be natural to ace an interview. Imagine you are talking to someone you feel good with, or a group of friends with whom you are comfortable, while talking to the interviewer. Showcase your skills and how you can benefit the company—and feel extra confident—all while remaining professional! Actors perform similarly. It could work for job interviews, too.
Many animals, some in the most remote places on earth, camouflage their appearances in order to survive the perils of the wild. Humans can adapt in the same way to the treacherous world of business. We have to keep changing, adding skills and developing heightened awareness to shifts and trends in our fields of work—to survive layoffs.
Successfully overcoming employment gaps as interview obstacles is not just about the activities in which you engage to look and be productive while looking for work. It’s about time management—how you use that time—specifically. You have all the strategies. You volunteer and use your skills in consulting or internship capacity. Or you put some new skills under your belt in formal training. But you also need to expound upon exactly how you have benefited and how it will benefit the employer. Careerists agree that long term employment gaps sometimes hurt reemployment chances but it’s all in the interpretation. The idea is to overcome the employment gap by not merely reciting the activities in which you participate—but driving home the outcomes. For example, if you learned a new skill, you will want to appeal to an employer’s concern about time, money and production. Tell the employer you learned a certain applicable skill in less time than it would have taken an employed person to accomplish the very same thing. You want to appear vital, savvy with time management and in the swing of things—while proving that nothing was lost in the interim—and that you are still as relevant as if you had never lost your job in the first place—and you are the quick learner you claim to be—thus learning the new job quicker and saving the employer time and money. After all, what else do they care about?