|Back to Back Issues Page|
Career-Life Times, Issue #45--Tell Me a Little About Yourself
February 19, 2008
This month I’m celebrating the 4th Anniversary of this “Career-Life Times” newsletter. I sent my first issue to just seven subscribers in February 2004. Today’s issue is going out to 2,733 subscribers! I thank you all (especially you first seven!) for supporting this newsletter by being loyal readers, sharing it with your friends, providing me with your feedback—and most of all—for helping me to help others!
The most common job interview question isn’t really a question at all: “Tell me a little about yourself.”
It’s usually the first element of the interview and is often intended as an “ice breaker” to help you relax. The interviewer believes it’s an easy way to start the interview, and thus should help to calm your nerves. After all, it’s a simple, straightforward request to talk about a topic you know better than anyone else—YOU.
Yet many job seekers dread this question. They don’t consider it “easy” at all, because they don’t know what to say about themselves. As one of my web site visitors recently asked me, “What do they really want to know?”
They want to know if you can do the job, if you’ve prepared yourself for the interview, if you can communicate well, and if you’d be a good fit with their team.
As with virtually all interview questions, “Tell me about yourself” gives you a wonderful opportunity to promote yourself by telling the interviewer what he or she wants (and needs) to know about you.
But you must be prepared.
Your answer should be your own personal commercial. If the interview consisted of only this one chance to impress the interviewer, what would you say?
Be brief and specific. Keep your response to less than two minutes. (There will be opportunities for longer, more detailed answers later in the interview.) Present your most important points first. Provide a concise summary of your knowledge, skills, experience and biggest accomplishments that are most relevant for the position.
Then mention additional qualities such as dedication, enthusiasm, creativity, attention to detail, etc.
Tip: Include key words from the job announcement or position description.
At the end, throw in just a touch of personal information so they get to know more about you the person, versus you the job seeker.
Focus on your best traits that relate to the position. Highlight relevant experiences and accomplishments you are most proud of, but save specific details for later questions. Tailor your response to the specific job. By studying the job announcement or position description, you'll get a good idea of the skills and experience being sought.
Tip: If your interview is in the person’s office (versus a meeting room) and you happen to notice indications of an interest you share, consider mentioning that common interest in your response.
Here's an example for a Public Information Officer position requiring a lot of writing, communicating with the public, and planning community events (and in the office were a photo of the interviewer with a dog and a dog-themed wall calendar):
"I love to write, create and communicate. I’ve written hundreds of articles, brochures, fact sheets, annual reports and other publications. An award-winning article I wrote about United Nations Peacekeepers was published in “Soldier” magazine, which has a worldwide distribution.
“I've developed and supervised communication plans for major public events, including an international and politically sensitive World War II anniversary event which was covered by CNN and other news media.
“My educational background includes a journalism degree and graduation from the prestigious Defense Information School. I believe in life-long learning. I’ve always eagerly embraced new technologies and techniques in my past positions that saved money and increased productivity.
“While I still get butterflies in my stomach when speaking to a crowd, I’ve overcome that fear and people who’ve heard me speak told me they had no idea how nervous I was.
“I’ve lived in this area for ten years. I'm a volunteer with the local chapter of Environmental Alliance. I don’t mind getting dirty and enjoy participating in community clean-up events. I often take my dog, Chuckles, with me. He’s always a big hit with the kids.
“And last but not least, I want to work for a company that makes a positive difference in people’s lives. I’m a big fan of your annual Earth Day exhibit and other environmental improvement efforts, and that’s why I’m applying for this position. I’d love to be part of your team."
Practice your response until you know the key points well, but don’t try to memorize the entire thing. You want to sound confident, but not “canned.”
In addition to confidence, show enthusiasm and energy. And remember to smile!
Fortune magazine published it’s annual list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the February 4, 2008 issue. Here are the top 10:
You can see the entire list here: Best Companies
If you’re looking for a new job, and don’t mind relocating, why not apply at one of these best companies? Competition will be very tough, but the prize is worth pursuing… and they’re still hiring, despite the poor economy.
The magazine offers tips on how to get hired by one of the best companies, which you can read here: How To Get Hired.
Recently I was asked to speak at a conference on “Management in the High Growth Industries.” One of the pre-prepared questions our panel was asked to address was “Is there a future in management as a career?”
There had been a lot of comment in the media at the time that employees were better off seeking a career as a well-paid specialist rather than aspiring to a management position.
To obtain a quick view on the future demand for managers, I turned to the Department of Labor statistics. In particular, I looked at the figures produced for President's High Growth Job Training Initiative.
They have identified 15 sectors that fit within the following criteria: (1) they are projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy or affect the growth of other industries; or (2) they are existing or emerging businesses being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skills sets for workers.
Here are the sectors:
Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics which projects future trends over a ten year period (currently 2004-2014), a list of the top 50 “In Demand” occupations has been produced. These are ranked using a product of predicted demand x median salaries.
It’s no surprise to see that Registered Nurses and Physicians head up this list. However, there is also overwhelming evidence of the future high demand for managers in these high growth areas.
Thirteen of the top 50 occupations are specifically management jobs. Financial Services Managers have the highest ranking of these, holding the ninth position. Engineering managers in Advanced Manufacturing have the highest predicted median salary - $48 per hour.
The management occupation with the highest predicted need is First Line Manager in the Construction Industry – 209,000 jobs. First Line management accounts for five of the top thirteen management rankings - 693,000 jobs in total.
Management occupations also rank highly in the list of in demand jobs outside of the high growth areas. General and Operations Managers are ranked third in the list. First Line Managers of Office Support Workers, Real Estate and Property Managers and CEOs are all ranked in the top twenty.
There is no doubt that that the future looks bright for those seeking a management career. Two questions remain:
• Do employees want to take on the responsibilities and stress of a management job?
Many of the industries listed have no great history of effective management training. The firms within these high growth/emerging industries are often small or medium sized enterprises with little resource for training. High growth enterprises are characterized by flat management structures offering little opportunity for these managers to learn on the job.
I’ll address these two questions in later articles at www.TheNewManagersClub.com.
This article was written by Jack Francis. Jack is a management consultant and with his business partner, Elizabeth Best co-founded The New Managers Club. The Club is a great source of advice and training materials for anyone new to management.
SPECIAL: Jack and Elizabeth at The New Managers Club are offering a special F*R*E*E - T*R*I*A*L - O*F*F*E*R for “Career-Life Times” readers! You can test drive their exclusive membership site for 30 days, and you can get these powerful resources: (1) “Great Start - A Guide for New Managers” (what to do, and what to avoid, to achieve quick success after becoming a new manager); (2) “Let’s Get Organized” (a 50+ page e-book full of useful tips and techniques for organizing every aspect of your life – yourself, your work, your workspace and your home). Here’s the link: Special.
What do you do if you’re a baby boomer, shut out of the current job market and looking for something satisfying to do with the next 20 or so years of your life? Almost anything you want!
Though it might seem that the older you are the more the job market has left you behind, today’s boomers are learning how to interview, opening their own businesses, going back to school, and continuing to become a prominent factor in today’s work force.
Boomers have an edge over the younger job seekers; they have the chance to develop an entirely new career and they have the wisdom and experience that the younger market lacks.
The question is simply how do you get from where you are to where you’d like to be?
The first step is to assess yourself by looking at areas such as the following:
Capabilities such as leading a productive team, thinking outside the box, diffusing angry people, helping others to feel more comfortable, and extreme attention to detail aren’t restricted to specific industries or jobs and are always valued by employers.
Additionally, once you’ve isolated factors at which you excel and in which you find enjoyment, as a boomer, you have an extensive background from which to draw in order to relate examples of these skills. How employers perceive you is partially determined by how you present and sell yourself.
For instance, if you ran a daycare for fifteen years, you ran a successful business - it wasn’t babysitting. It entailed an understanding of business principles; research into, and compliance with, child care laws; marketing and sales; customer satisfaction, problem resolution, creative thinking, and daily planning.
And it’s not just about how you present yourself; it’s also about how you, as a boomer, are perceived. Anticipate the objections that come from myths surrounding older workers and address them directly and pro-actively. For instance, the philosophy of boomers as they’ve progressed through their careers is vastly different from that of today’s job seekers. Boomers would never think of changing jobs every three years simply to leverage their salaries, and that philosophy, which generally doesn’t change with age, translates into loyalty and stability for a new employer.
Look for examples and ways to demonstrate that you’re flexible and not set in your ways, that you’re open to learning new skills. A person of any age might be inflexible and uncomfortable going outside their comfort zone. That it should apply only to those over 50 is a fallacy. When you’ve recognized that, you can address it and show how it doesn’t apply to you.
According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 16% of community college students are 40 or older. Many boomers aren’t interested in retiring and instead are pursuing second careers, typically in fields that are more altruistic such as health care, education, or social welfare. This coincides nicely with the shortage that labor analysts predict will occur by 2012 and increase over the years following.
The job market can’t afford to ignore the boomers. Boomers make up about 50% of the current U.S. population – a percentage too sizeable to ignore.
Colleges, corporations, and communities are all building programs designed specifically to target boomers, help them to find satisfying work, train them, and create a situation in which everyone wins!
Prior to starting VisionQuest, Judi Perkins was a search consultant for 20 years in the contingency and retained markets. She now teaches job seekers how find their perfect job through renegade methods that entail doing the opposite of the traditional methods. The result is euphoria instead of increasing frustration and despair as the months keep passing. Sign up for her free newsletter at www.findtheperfectjob.com.
To celebrate the 4th Anniversary of this newsletter, I’m offering my Job Interview Success System for 4 bucks from now until the end of February. This is my guaranteed step-by-step system that is guaranteed to help you ace a job interview, and it normally sells for $39.95. You can read the details here: Job Interview Success System. But don’t buy it from that page!
Here’s how to get it for just $4:
1. Before the end of February, send me a $4 “tip” through PayPal by clicking here:
Note: If you don't see a "Make Donation" buttom above, just copy and past this link in your browser: http://tinyurl.com/27e3zf
2. Let me know you did that by sending me an e-mail: Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
3. Follow the simple instructions I’ll send you in response, explaining how to receive your Job Interview Success System.
Already have my Job Interview Success System? Tell me that in an e-mail before sending me your $4, and also tell me what your hobbies or interests are. I own Private Label Rights to dozens of e-books on a wide range of topics. (This means I can offer them to you without any copyright violations even though I’m not the author.) I’m sure I can find something you’d like that’s worth far more than $4.
Questions? Just e-mail me: Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
More Articles. You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index.
Here are three new articles you might enjoy:
Legit Online Jobs. Would you like to boost your bank account by doing some work with your computer? Here’s an interesting site you might want to check out. I haven’t tried their system personally, but they offer a money-back guarantee and—this is rare—live 24-hour support by a real person! Here’s the link: LegitOnlineJobs.com [Warning: An audio will start as soon as that page loads. If you're at work and don't want your co-workes to hear it, turn down your speakers first!]
Dumb Things at Work. Do dumb things at work drive you crazy? Dumb jobs, bosses, coworkers, policies, customers? Don't get yourself into trouble by expressing your frustrations at work--do it anonymously at my fun new forum! You'll feel better if you vent those frustrations. And who knows? Maybe others will offer advice on how to deal with all the dumbness. Oh, you can also read and share dumb jokes! The forum is appropriately titled “Dumb Things at Work.” Please check it out when you get a chance. Then vent to your heart's content! Here’s the link: DumbThingsAtWork.com.
CareerTV. Enjoy watching videos? If so, check out this website, which is full of great videos about careers, employers, and job-winning advice: CareerTV.com.
Marketing Yourself for Your Dream Job. This is a new book by my friend and colleague Malcolm O. Munro. I’ve just received it in the mail and haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I bought it—and can wholeheartedly recommend it—based on my personal knowledge of Malcolm’s expertise and total commitment to helping people succeed in their careers. I’ll provide a review in a future issue and/or on my website as soon as I get a chance. But if you don’t want to wait, here’s where you can get more information and order Malcolm’s book: Marketing Yourself.
is preceded by extended periods of
dedicated, concentrated effort."
Returning home from work, a blonde was shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call on the channels, and a K-9 unit patrolling nearby was the first to respond.
As the K-9 officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the blonde ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, and then sat down on the steps.
Putting her face in her hands, she moaned, "I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do?
"They send me a blind cop!"
Taxing Time of Year. Most people in the United States grumble about the income taxes they have to pay. I don’t mind paying income taxes… it means I’m earning income, which is always a good thing! But I sure wish the process was easier.
Why not make it like sales tax? You buy something, you instantly pay a small percentage of the purchase price to the federal government. No forms to fill out, no records to keep, no deductions or loopholes to look for, no way for people to avoid paying the taxes they owe. People who earn and spend more would pay more taxes than those who earn and spend less. Necessities like food and child care expenses could be exempt. The Internal Revenue Service and all their indecipherable rules could be totally abolished.
Of course, this would put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Not just IRS agents, but all the people who earn a living preparing tax returns, lawyers who specialize in tax laws, etc. All out of work and looking for new jobs.
Wow. That could mean a huge increase in visitors to my web site! But I really wouldn’t wish unemployment on anyone, so I guess I’ll just keep paying my federal income taxes the old-fashioned way… and continue ranting about it, like most Americans.
So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions?
Would you like to give me a tip (the monetary kind, not the advice kind)?
Note: If you don't see a "Make Donation" buttom above, just copy and past this link in your browser: http://tinyurl.com/27e3zf
I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
Please forward this to your friends!
P.S. To prevent your email service provider's spam filter from interrupting delivery or this newsletter to your email inbox, please add Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com to your address book or "safe list."
P.S.S. I apologize for the glitches (especially in links) you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in HTML format, choose that and it'll look better. (There may still be some odd formatting quirks, though.)
|Back to Back Issues Page|