The economic world has never before been so mismatched. In October of 2019 I was let go from my Oil & Gas position. Through no fault of my own, I might add. The downturn for oil started in the summer of that year and a financial impact from other countries contributed to the beginning of a major downturn for the industry. Thousands of professionals lost their jobs in probably the worst downturn O&G has scene ever. Then of course we had a global pandemic to contend with.
During the ensuing 16 months of part-time work, I not only worked as a Wal-Mart employee (don’t ask!), but also a maid, a bartender, a writer, a hawker, and pretty much anything that would allow me to survive to the next paycheck. I’ll be giving back to friends for their generosity too for a while to come. Nothing I did professionally was making any headway so just like thousands of other people on the planet I was stuck trying to find employment while being drowned in bills.
After hundreds of applications, I do not exaggerate, I was able to land a number of professional interviews. Unfortunately, I only received limited interviews because of my advanced degrees. The number of times I heard that I was over-qualified would have made a nun curse.
During these interviews however, I remembered a great deal about good practices. Here, we categorize the 7 worst things you can do in technical interviews:
- Not communicating effectively: This is surefire way to not get a job. You have to know how to communicate to get anything done.
- Not admitting when you don’t know the answer: If you get caught not knowing some information, just admit that you don’t know and demonstrate that you know how to learn it. Or that you know where to find the correct information. If you lie and they figure it out, you’re screwed.
- Cramming the night before an interview: This is a surefire way to tire yourself out and be in worse shape than if you hadn’t crammed at all, remain balanced.
- Memorizing code for algorithms & data structures: You have no real clue about what you’re going to be asked. Filling your head with useless information right before technical interviews that could destroy your chances of answering something effectively.
- Overlooking the “cultural fit” interview: Technical interviewers almost all come from a background of doing it themselves. This being said, they are typically not really looking for your full technical knowledge background, that’s what your resume is for. They want to know if they’ll want to spend most of their week with you, or whether you can handle stressful situations and fast paced changes. Having someone who is extremely technical but who can’t actually handle a social situation is almost always worse.
- Starting with the optimized solution: Always starting off with the optimized solution can show a very structured and inflexible mind. Show off your versatility, not just that you get straight to the point.
- Overlooking programming foundations: Instead of going off on fancy things, start with the basics – if they start asking about more advanced thins then that’s the opener for you to get creative. If you just jump over the basics they wont know where your base is.
These 7 shortfalls of technical interviewees are well established. They each come from well-known interview practices. Knowing how to communicate effectively is a must, no matter what job you’re interviewing for. Taking time to relax and stay calm before an interview and not cramming your brain full of information you may have no idea is going to be talked about. It’s a good list for technical interviews to be sure.
The thing I always try and remember in any interview, whether it be for the C-suite, or for McDonalds, I have a few rules to keep in mind. Not that they always got me what I wanted but it’s something to start with for those of you reentering the work force for whatever reason:
- Be yourself: If your main goal is to hide character flaws, then ultimately one mistake could give them a bad impression. If you go into the meeting being yourself, you can at least be truthful on your strong or weak points to ensure best fit.
- Be prepared: You know yourself, or at least I’d hope so. You know whether its best for you to study the week before or the night before technical interviews. Make sure you know the position you’re interviewing for and the company itself. You don’t have to memorize everything but you need to be prepared.
- Be calm: You might be the nervous sort who has to pace on phone interviews. Well, if you are, just keep that in mind. I know for a fact that those interviews that I took on the phone without video, I paced around my room continuously. Whatever you need to do to appear calm and coordinated, do it.
- Be observant: Reading the room is an essential skill for anyone trying to get a job. You could be blabbing the secrets of becoming a millionaire to someone who just doesn’t want to hear it. You wouldn’t get hired. You have to be able to know what’s going on around you.
As the world is, finding job is just a difficult process. You have to remember to not give up. That is the only thing that will stop you, quitting. Use any and all connections that you’ve made to keep moving forward. Don’t hesitate to use social media either. It’s there for a reason. Good luck!
Removing remote work options creates a new caste system
(BUSINESS) Remote work has created a democratization of sorts in the workforce, and companies desperate to nix the options could take a hit.
Many companies are mandating a return to the office after over a year of allowing employees to work remotely, and, according to a recent study, over half of workers surveyed say they won’t stand for it. As remote work becomes more normalized for all levels of employment, it is crucial that employers retain the option for employees to work in this capacity wherever possible – even if it means employing nontraditional methods.
Harvard Business Review references something called “the democratizing effect of remote work” – the great equalizing that took place during stay-at-home orders nationwide.
In short, this philosophy entails workers having their needs met while continuing to fulfill their contracts of employment. Theoretically, this is a win-win situation.
But employers have their own predilections toward in-house operations, with remote flexibility often being reserved for the highest-ranking officials while “lower” employees are expected to commute. It’s a business model with which we’re exceptionally familiar; why change?
The answer to that question may be employee-driven, as many employees cite a preference for hybrid or remote work environments post-pandemic. “Employees are leaving workplaces that don’t suit their needs anymore,” cites HBR.
Many of those needs are emotional, too. Non-white employees and female employees face a higher level of discrimination in the workplace than their white and/or male counterparts; Black employees, in particular, reported stressful work conditions, with HBR citing that only three percent of Black employees demonstrated an interest in returning to an in-office environment (as opposed to 21 percent of white employees).
Allowing stressed and oppressed employees to work from home can improve their mental health, stress levels, and even their “feelings of belonging at their organization” in the case of Black employees.
Outside of race and gender, the publication also stresses the negative effects that mandating a return after allowing for remote work will have: “Creating a new caste system where elites have anywhere jobs and non-elites are shackled to the office full time is a recipe for high attrition among employees who often have a lot of firm-specific knowledge that is valuable to their employers.”
The less-subtle breakdown is this: If companies that are capable of offering remote work want to retain employees, they need to offer some remote options.
We saw the effects of employees in frontline occupations refusing to show up to work because of poor wages and working conditions earlier this year. It isn’t outside of the realm of feasibility to expect the next major workforce shortage to impact corporations as well.
If the solution is as simple as letting employees work from home a few days per week or permanently (especially if their productivity doesn’t suffer), that’s a pretty small price to pay for continued prosperity.
The case for nixing your company happy hour forever
(BUSINESS) Happy hour is designed to bond teams and offer a perk, but the design is outdated to benefit few workers – let’s just get rid of the practice.
The world of work has forever changed from the pandemic. Melinda Gates hopes that COVID-19 makes society get serious about gender equality. Some people are wondering how many people really want to return to the office at all. There are questions about providing customer service, not to reduce costs to the business, but because shoppers don’t want help in the store.
Let’s tackle another tradition in the office – the happy hour. Wondering if employees really want happy hours? Do they even help?
Why do we even have happy hour?
Happy hour is a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century and the United States Navy. It was originally a weekly entertainment created to alleviate boredom on the U.S.S. Arkansas when sailors were at sea. The practice became popular in the Navy, but over time, the emphasis changed from entertainment to drinking. As drinking became less stigmatized after prohibition, employees began drinking at work and after work. Although happy hours declined in the 1970s and beyond, there was a resurgence in the 2000s.
Why do offices hold happy hour?
Hosting a happy hour is thought to help a team develop positive relationships and encourage employee engagement and productivity. Drink o’clock can be a time of celebration to help employees feel good about the work they’re doing.
Employees can interact with each other outside of the stress of work. It sounds pretty innocent, just getting together at the end of the workday at a local pub or bar, but it comes with a lot of issues.
Is it time to nix the work happy hour?
Happy hour can come with a lot of pressure for employees. Some people believe they have to attend in order to keep moving up in the job, because skipping out can be seen as not being a team player, and many who don’t show up to the “optional” happy hours are also the ones who didn’t get to schmooze with the bosses and thereby are not the ones who get promotions.
This disproportionately hurts women, who typically still have the majority of caregiving tasks in the family and can’t stay out drinking on weeknights.
Transportation issues or flexible schedules don’t lend themselves well to the traditional happy hour after work. And don’t forget the drinking atmosphere doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are many religious, cultural, and personal reasons for people to avoid alcohol, bars, and happy hour functions.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of liability issues for employers. Can your business risk an accident by an employee who went to happy hour and was a little buzzed when they left?
While we’re rethinking workplace traditions in the post-pandemic era, let’s think about how to get employees engaged. Maybe this outdated practice isn’t the best way to build your team anymore.
You absolutely don’t need to be a 100% match for a job to apply
(CAREER) Most people believe they should only apply for their dream job if they’re a perfect match, but studies say that’s the wrong approach.
You don’t need to be a 100 percent match for a job to apply. You just don’t.
We’ve all seen the crazy job postings:
-Must be fluent in Mandarin
-Must be be full-stack coder
-Must also have real estate license
-Must be a rockstar ninja (uuugh)
After seeing endless open positions with specific requirements, it’s no wonder that so many job seekers become discouraged. How can anyone fit 100 percent of the requirements on the job listing? And actually, most people don’t. According to a recent study, you only need to meet ~70 percent of the job requirements to be a good fit for a job.
So you’re telling me a requirement isn’t actually a requirement?!
The study analyzed job postings and resumes for over 6,000 positions across 118 industries, and they found that applicants are just as likely to get an interview whether you meet 50 percent or 90 percent of the requirements.
Crazy, I know. That law of diminishing returns will eff you up.
But what about women? I wondered the same thing. Surprisingly, the interview data was in favor of women that meet less of the requirements. In fact, the study shows that as a female, the likelihood of getting an interview increases if you simply meet 30 percent of the requirements. Also, female applicants are just as likely to get an interview if they meet 40 percent versus 90 percent of the job requirements.
Before you start complaining that women have it better in the job search process, correlation doesn’t equal causation.
Interestingly enough, 64 percent of the female users rejected at least one job where they matched 50 – 60 percent of the requirements, while only 37 percent of male users did. This leads us to believe there more implicit factors to take into consideration, like imposter syndrome throughout the interview process.
If you’re a recruiter or employer, this may seem like more work. But in an increasingly competitive job market for both employers and applicants, this presents an opportunity to get to know people for who they actually are, not just on paper. And resumes often do a poor job of reflecting that — especially the ever-important soft skills.
As we’ve gone through this study, here are a few practical action items for job seekers:
1. Apply for a lot of jobs to increase your number of interviews.
The study shows that increased interviews are a direct result of increased applications, not just picking and choosing what you think you’re a good fit for. Which brings us to our next point:
2. Go for those “stretch” roles — you never know what may come of it!
Send in a lot of applications, but don’t let that stop you from approaching the process thoughtfully. Recruiters can tell if you’ve skimped on the cover letter or your resume, and a thoughtful approach to the application process will be noticed and appreciated by recruiters, especially for those reach roles.
3. Don’t second-guess yourself.
We’re always our own worst critics, and according to this, we don’t need to be — especially throughout the job application process. Job hunting is stressful enough, so put on your most upbeat playlist (or Beyonce), say your affirmations, and go on with your bad self and start applying!
This story was first published here in December 2018.
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