Are Employment Gaps Tanking Your Interviews?

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During job interviews, you want to keep things as positive as possible. However, the reason for leaving past employers can sometimes make that challenging. Whether it is getting fired or an extended gap in employment, you need to be ready to address questions that could lead to negative misconceptions by the interviewer. The good news is that there is a right way to handle these issues, and it will make your interview a lot easier.

The key to explaining a gap, termination or resignation is to be confident and optimistic in your answer. Perfect a 30-second elevator speech highlighting your positive outlook and productivity in between. Don’t apologize and don’t dwell. Don’t leave your answer at “I was not being challenged” or “I am looking for more challenging work” as it could mean that you will leave your next job too quickly. Bring your explanation back around to why you would be a great fit for the job you are interviewing for. Change the subject immediately back to the interview by asking a question. The specific question is not the point, but rather, asking a question redirects the focus of the interviewer. For example:

In the event of a termination:

“There were some differences in opinion between me and my boss and I was let go. I accept responsibility for my part in not resolving them and I learned a lot from that experience. I still respect my past employer and I am ready to move on to an opportunity where I can excel. What is your first focus for the position you have?” 

In the event of a resignation:

“I knew that I was ready for a change, but I didn’t want to take my focus off the job if I was going to keep working there. So I did what I believe was the right thing and left the job, to allow them to get someone who was in it for the long haul and to allow myself some time to ponder  my next steps. What are some of the department’s best team attributes?”

In the event of a gap between jobs:

“Well, my time away from traditional work has brought even more value to future positions for me as you can see. I understand this position needs someone to hit the ground running. What is the most immediate challenge I would be able to focus on and solve in the first few months?”

By perfecting your elevator speech for each instance, you can give a satisfactory answer WHILE subtly changing the subject. Typically, if you don’t dwell, they won’t either. By handling this question correctly, you’ll be able to move onto the next subject quickly.

Going Green in Santa Barbara

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Here is the Santa Barbara AppleOne team channeling Rosie the Riveter to show their commitment to Going Green. This awesome team is just one of our 150-plus global locations staffed with great Hiring Advisors committed to providing exceptional results to job seekers and companies looking for great Talent. Go AppleOne!

How to Answer the Salary Question During an Interview

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There is a decent chance that you will be asked about salary during an interview. This can be a bit tricky to navigate.  When you are asked how much you are seeking for the position, you could give a number that is too high and price yourself out of a job, or you could give a number too low and take away your ability to negotiate later. When it comes to answering questions in regards to salary, here are some good things to remember.

If You Can, Deflect

While it is important that you don’t deflect other questions in your job interview, when it comes to questions about salary and compensations, you may not know enough about the position at the interview stage to answer it intelligently. In that case, you can try to use the question to pivot to learning more from them. For example, a good answer may be:

“I’ve done some homework and I have a general market range in mind for the position but I understand you may have other internal factors to consider. What can you tell me about the compensation you are offering for this position?”

Instead of avoiding the question outright, you turned it back on the interviewer. Now, they can give you a salary number, if they choose to, and you can counter it at a later date.

If They Push, Be Ready

Deflection doesn’t always work when it comes to questions about salary, so it’s best to be ready with an answer. This means that before your interview, you should do some research to determine the typical salary for the position in your area. Sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor can help with this. You may also be able to ask your contacts that work in the company or in similar types of companies or industries. This way when you are asked in the meeting you can answer like this:

“From the research that I have done it appears that a position as you have described it would typically pay in the range of $60-70K in this geographic area. It that the range you had in mind?”

By presenting them with this information, it doesn’t just answer the question, but it also shows that you have done your homework.

If You Were Sent By A Staffing Company, Let Them Know

If you were sent by a staffing company, such as AppleOne, refer them to your Hiring Advisor for any question about salary. When asked about salary, you can answer like this:

“AppleOne has asked me to allow them to address any questions related to salary. I can tell you that they know my range and what I am looking for, and I know that they would not have arranged this interview if there were any concerns about that.”

Happy Anniversary!

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We’d like to recognize colleagues who are celebrating their anniversaries this month! Happy 26th anniversary to Linda L., happy 25th to Carrie T. and Gus M., happy 24th to Samantha S., happy 22nd to Camila S., happy 20th to Paul V, happy 19th to Lisa L., and happy 18th to Al C. and Sheri G. Last, but not least, we’d like to tip our hats to Ruby C. for her 27 years of service and results. We’d like each of you to know how much we appreciate all that you do… each day, year after year

We are so proud and inspired!

Jan NBC Today Show July15th Beige coat

Congratulations and thank you to Janice Bryant Howroyd, our Founder and CEO, for a tremendously uplifting and empowering interview with NBC Today Show’s Jenna Bush Hager. This is definitely another proud moment that speaks volumes about who we are as an organization, and why we are so committed to those we work with and work for: our candidates, our clients and our colleagues!

How to Answer the Simplest, Yet Most Complex, Question in Your Interview

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“Tell us about yourself.”

It’s a question that is asked at just about every job interview. While it’s a simple question, it is also a complex one as well. It’s the “open-endedness” of the question that can trip some people up. The good news is that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about answering the question. As long as you stay within some constraints, and practice your answer before you go in, you can make the most of your answer. Here is some advice for how to properly answer.

They Don’t Want Your Life Story

If they ask you to tell them about yourself, they don’t want your life stories, and they don’t want to know about your hobbies or your pets. They want you to provide a broad and concise overview of your professional experience before they start to get into specifics. Unless you have a good reason to bring it up, there is no reason to bring up that fast food job you had at 17. A good rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t seem relevant, leave it out.

Keep Your Answer Tight

Your answer should summarize where you are in your career based on an extended version of your WIFM Commercial Script (for more information on your WIFM Commercial Script, check Pg. 4 of your AppleOne Navigating the Hiring Process book). You may start with a WIFM that is four minutes long; your job is to pare it down little by little until it is manageable. A good example of an answer would be:

“I got into accounting because it allows me to draw on my strong attention to detail and my love for precision. My first job in high school was in my parents’ shop. Their accounting system was a shoe box of receipts, but I found I really loved solving the puzzle and making the pieces fit. I studied accounting in a school where I got a 4.0, which allowed me to secure an internship at International Widgets, a large multinational. That led to a position as an accounting clerk where my boss, Jill, the head of Accounts Receivable, nicknamed me The Laser because of how quickly I was able to spot any errors. For instance, I found $338,000 that had been improperly allocated, which saved my company $5,397 in fees. Three years later, I still get a thrill every time my accounts balance, and my accounts always balance, so I really love what I do. I’m especially excited about your opportunity because it sounds like you really need someone with great attention to detail like me.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you have your answer, practice saying it until it sounds natural and you can quickly respond in a fluid way. While you don’t want to sound like a robot, you don’t want to try and wing it either. The only way to be truly confident in what you say is to be through in your preparation. You want to walk into the office feeling like you can take on the world!