Don’t rule yourself out.

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One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for those making a career transition?  Don’t rule anything out until you have a job offer.  What do I mean?

Say you’re interviewing for a few different jobs, and based on things like salary, location, or position, you’ve decided you like one more than the others.  You focus all of your energy on that interview, and spend little time preparing for the others.

Can you see why that’s the wrong way of thinking?  Look, salary, location, and position are three VERY important things to consider in a job, especially when you’re thinking of uprooting your family or considering your happiness and financial well-being.  But those are important things to consider when weighing job offers.  An interview isn’t an offer, so when you don’t prepare well enough for positions you may be less interested in, you’re not presenting your ‘best self’ to that potential employer.  In this economy, you can’t afford to appear disinterested when hundreds of people are competing for that same position.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, right?  Go into every interview like it is your #1 choice.  Even if there are some things about it that are less desirable, you’re looking to be employed.  By focusing on every interview, you increase the likelihood of multiple job offers… and THAT is when you get to really scrutinize and choose what you want.

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My First Job Interview!

I haven’t been blogging as much, but that’s because I’ve been so busy INTERVIEWING!  So happy to be taking this next step in my transition.

I’ve actually had about a dozen interviews thus far, all coordinated by my recruiting firm, and I’ve actually been pretty successful.  I was extremely nervous going into it (okay, I may have been shaking!) but I learned a lot about the process.  I’m now working through follow-ups, which is just as daunting but even more exciting.

I’m not an expert by any means, but here are a few of the things I’ve learned/realized during this process that may help you as you make your transition to Corporate America:

My Interview Tips:

  • Dress to Impress.  I really think wearing my suits and looking the part of a professional was an important step, not just to impress the interviewer, but to put myself into the right mindset.
  • Nail the introduction.  Try to learn the interviewer’s first name before you head in, and use it (but don’t overuse it!) throughout the interview.  And introduce yourself right off the bat, with a good handshake and your first AND last names.
  • Smile and stay energetic.  Just do it.  Seriously, otherwise you look disinterested and bored.
  • “Answer the question, and shut up.”  This is actual advice I received from a very successful careerwoman!  Answer the question, Bottom Line Up Front, then go into a concise explanation of what you did to achieve that.
  • Read your interviewer and LISTEN.  Look at their body language.  It will tell you whether you are on the right track, boring them, not letting them interject/talking too much, and more.
  • Prepare questions.  Some interviewers asked me if I had questions, right off the bat!  Don’t ask questions about benefits and other subjects irrelevant to an initial interview.  Ask them questions about the specific job you’re applying for, and ask quality questions.  This was a HUGE trend in all of my interviews.
  • Don’t forget the finish!  When your time is up, don’t just walk out.  Thank them for meeting you, tell them how interested you are, and leave an impression.  Don’t take off, no matter how you felt you did during the interview!

What Not to Wear

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One of the things that may be most foreign to a transitioning veteran (depending upon your background) is the idea of a professional wardrobe.  Sure, we have dress uniforms, but for years we’ve been wearing what we’ve been told to.  There are entire regulations with instructions and standards for what to wear… but in the corporate world, we have to dress ourselves.  And that can take a little bit of getting used to.

Every work environment is different.  Some will require traditional business suits, others a form of business casual, and some more creative companies will allow more flexibility.  In some jobs, safety add-ons like steel-toe boots and the occasional hardhat may be necessary for work.  But when it comes to the interview, it’s best to stick to the basics.

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