Archive for Career Advice
Every interviewer has the magic moment in the interview when they turn the tables and ask “what questions do you have for me?” Don’t be fooled, this is a test, so don’t respond that you don’t have any. The interviewer is curious to see what research you’ve done, how seriously you’re taking the interview, and what kind of preparation you’ve done. Show up with a typed or hand written list of questions you want to learn about.
When you do get a chance to ask questions, there are a few areas you should not ask about in the first interview. We recommend avoiding asking questions about compensation, work schedule, benefits, bonus, etc. This is a great opportunity for you to learn more about the company culture and opportunity to ensure it’s a great match as opposed to just looking for the money. Focus on questions that will educate you on the company’s growth plans, training, career path, management turnover, etc. Also ask the person interviewing you why they like working for the company. This will surely get you an honest response and give you a more personal insight along with building better rapport with the interviewer.
Searching for employment is always a challenging task, but when there are more people seeking jobs during this time than we’ve seen in recent years it becomes even more important to distinguish yourself from everyone else out there searching.
One of the best ways to distinguish yourself is to have a partner in the search advocating for you. Find a recruiter that you connect with, trust, and feel does have your best interest in mind. If you choose to partner with a recruiter, it is essential that you feel you can be open and honest and truly partner with them in your search efforts. A recruiter will be able to understand where you are coming from and where you are looking to go, enabling them to create options that will actually help you move forward in your career and not just find you a job. A recruiter will be able to present options to you that you may have never thought of on your own, introduce you to an emerging concept, or open the door of a confidential search that isn’t advertised anywhere. Additionally, a recruiter has a relationship with the hiring manager and can directly present you to the person making the hiring decisions. This direct access is priceless as the amount of people applying on their own is continually growing and it’s important that you are not being lost in a sea of resumes. Having someone representing and advocating for you is an endorsement that cannot be missed.
With all of the support a recruiter can provide, it is essential to your success at finding the right position and getting the right offer to be 100% on the same page with your recruiter. Treat them as a trusted advisor and share all of your excitement, concerns, nerves, and questions. Their role is to support you and get you the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Without complete candor, the relationship can only go so far and you may be limiting the recruiter’s ability to truly bring everything to the table for you.
The key to preparing for an interview is being able to answer the question “Why do you want to work for us?” If a company doesn’t sense a genuine interest level, they are not likely to feel you are a good fit. The best recommendation to knock this interview question out of the park is to do your RESEARCH. This begins with scouring their website for details – look at the info they offer to describe their company, their culture and mission, their career offerings, and even their management team. If they offer stock information as a publicly traded company, do research on their stock performance over the last year. Search for restaurant reviews online to see what their guests think. In addition, the best source of research is to do an actual visit to the restaurant and dine there. There is no better way than a firsthand experience to help you learn as much as you can, sometimes even seeing the person you will be interviewing with you in action.
When you do a restaurant visit, go to the interview prepared to discuss your observations. Always start by offering the positive feedback – what did you notice that you were impressed by and would make you want to work there. It is then appropriate to offer a concern or opportunity you observed based on having a critical eye. Pick the one area that you think may affect the operation or guest the most and highlight your observation, why you think it is an area of concern, and then offer a time you overcame a similar obstacle so that the hiring manager gets a sense you are a solution oriented manager.
One of the most important parts of the interview process, yet often the area least thought about, is professional references. In the mind of a hiring manager “past performance indicates future performance” so it is very common for a company to want to speak to former employers. While many companies have a no reference policy and will only verify dates of employment and eligibility for rehire, it is still commonly expected that a job seeker can supply names and phone numbers of former supervisors and colleagues. A good rule of thumb is to be able to offer the name and phone number of a former supervisor for your last three employers. More often than not, a hiring manager prefers to speak with someone who managed you as opposed to a colleague, someone you managed, or vendor. Very rarely will a company look to speak to a personal reference so be prepared with appropriate contact information.
In addition, it is imperative that the people whose names and numbers you provide are aware they are references for you and are willing to chat with potential employers on your behalf. Every time you are in search mode, you should be updating these people so they can be prepared to expect calls and return calls in a timely manner. If a reference doesn’t follow up to an employer within a timely manner, that is usually detrimental to your overall presentation to the client.
The other sticky situation is being able to provide a reference from your current employer. It is always helpful if you can provide someone at your current job, but many companies understand that is not always possible. This is when it may be appropriate to offer the name and number of someone who is currently working there in a lateral position to you as opposed to a supervisor or maybe even a former supervisor who is no longer with the company. If you truly feel there are no options to provide a reference from your current employer, let them know that you are discreetly searching and no one at your current place of employment is aware, but if an offer is extended you would be happy to provide someone at that time.
15 minutes early is considered on time! When it comes to interviewing, the rule of thumb is early is on time and on time is late. Always show up about 15 minutes before you are scheduled to meet the interviewer; any earlier and you look nervous. Be sure to take the time to really plan your route, potential traffic issues, and the parking situation. Always take the phone number of the location where you are meeting so if there is an unforeseen circumstance you can call ahead (at least 15 minutes before scheduled meeting time) to let them know you may be delayed. If you can’t speak with the interviewer directly, be sure to get the name of the person you speak with and asked to pass the message along for you.
Every time you embark on an interview you should be prepared to discuss strengths and weaknesses. While this question can make even the most confident of managers shake in their non-skids, all it takes is a little preparation! The key is to offer information that will make you the best candidate for the particular job you are applying for; this is not the time to use a cookie cutter, rehearsed answer. When preparing for the interview, think about the job description, job advertisement, and company information available on their website. This should describe the areas of responsibility and characteristics they are looking for their managers to have. Think of specific examples of how you have had success in one or two of these areas and how you are passionate about it and you have your strength. For example – if they are looking for a manager who can be the face of the restaurant, think of ways you have developed great relationships in your community in a prior position and how it increased sales. When it comes to discussing your weakness, it is okay to be honest. Demonstrate your ability to be coached and willingness to grow by sharing something that you have already recognized is an opportunity but then back it up with examples of things you are doing to improve it on a day to day basis. Hiring managers appreciate someone who can self analyze and are open to becoming stronger, no matter how seasoned of a manager one might be.
A few things to keep in mind next time you’re heading to an interview!
“The 50 Worst Interviewing Mistakes”
1. Arriving late.
2. Arriving too early.
3. Lighting up a cigarette, or smelling like a cigarette.
4. Bad-mouthing your last boss.
5. Lying about your skills/experience/knowledge.
6. Wearing the wrong (for this workplace!) clothes.
7. Forgetting the name of the person you’re interviewing with.
8. Wearing a ton of perfume or aftershave.
9. Wearing sunglasses.
10. Wearing a Bluetooth earpiece.
11. Failing to research the employer in advance.
12. Failing to demonstrate enthusiasm.
13. Inquiring about benefits too soon.
14. Talking about salary requirements too soon.
15. Being unable to explain how your strengths and abilities apply to the job in question.
16. Failing to make a strong case for why you are the best person for this job.
17. Forgetting to bring a copy of your resume and/or portfolio.
18. Failing to remember what you wrote on your own resume.
19. Asking too many questions.
20. Asking no questions at all.
21. Being unprepared to answer the standard questions.
22. Failing to listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying.
23. Talking more than half the time.
24. Interrupting your interviewer.
25. Neglecting to match the communication style of your interviewer.
28. Bringing along a friend, or your mother.
29. Chewing gum, tobacco, your pen, your hair.
30. Laughing, giggling, whistling, humming, lip-smacking.
31. Saying “you know,” “like,” “I guess,” and “um.”
32. Name-dropping or bragging or sounding like a know-it-all.
33. Asking to use the bathroom.
34. Being falsely or exaggeratedly modest.
35. Shaking hands too weakly, or too firmly.
36. Failing to make eye contact (or making continuous eye contact).
37. Taking a seat before your interviewer does.
38. Becoming angry or defensive.
39. Complaining that you were kept waiting.
40. Complaining about anything!
41. Speaking rudely to the receptionist.
42. Letting your nervousness show.
43. Overexplaining why you lost your last job.
44. Being too familiar and jokey.
45. Sounding desperate.
46. Checking the time.
48. Sounding rehearsed.
49. Leaving your cell phone on.
50. Failing to ask for the job.
Very pleased to announce our Director of Training, Jessica Diamond, will be speaking at a NAFE Philadelphia Luncheon later on this month. If you’re in the Philadelphia area January 26, 2010, please sign up to attend this exciting informational session:
Join NAFE Philadelphia for a
NAFE Signature Event
2010 Kickoff Lunch
Mastering Your Career Search
Employed Or Unemployed
Interactive Presentation, Lunch & Networking
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
$20 + tax & gratuity 3 Course Menu
Lacroix at The Rittenhouse Hotel
210 W. Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia PA 19103
After graduating from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration Jessica moved to Philadelphia to take a position in the Food & Beverage Department at the Four Seasons Hotel. After a few years managing restaurants, Jessica joined Goodwin & Associates Hospitality Services. She opened a remote office in Philadelphia for this company, whose focus is on recruiting management within the hospitality industry. 3 ½ years later Jessica is now serving as the Director of Training for the company, providing the tools and resources necessary to all newly hired recruiters on the team. During her time with Goodwin, Jessica has developed a strong network of both local and national companies. Jessica also currently serves as the Director of Membership for the Tri-State Hospitality Network.
Non NAFE Members Welcome
Please RSVP to:
Alexandra T. Townsend
NAFE Philadelphia Director
Phone: 215 790 2530
What do the Compass Group, Fairmont Hotels, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons have in common? Like many other leaders in the hospitality industry, they’ve discovered a wealth of talent in older employees. They’ve also recognized that workers 55 and older will make up roughly 20 percent of the U.S. labor force by 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so these hospitality giants are actively integrating golden power in their operations.
At Chartwells School Dining Services, a division of Compass Group, 60 percent of the employees are over 50, and many have worked for the company for 15 or 20 years. Regional director Cathy O’Connor calls it a “happy accident” that Chartwells works with so many mature workers. Turnover, especially among older workers, is very low, and mature employees work side by side with younger staff benefiting from the combination of expertise and enthusiasm. Says O’Connor, “We find older workers bring maturity, life skills, positive attitude, experience, and skills from other careers.”
The benefits of integrating mature workers
Tim Hortons has always seen the benefits of building a diverse team. The quick service restaurant chain of more than 3,400 locations throughout North America has a history of combining younger and older workers. “Mature employees bring value to a team or work environment in terms of diversity of skills and experience,” says Nan Oldroyd, corporate HR director for TDL Group Ltd. (Tim Hortons). “Like younger staff, they have unique perspectives on customer service and business.” As with Chartwells, Tim Hortons has found that mature workers tend to have low turnover rates, a high degree of loyalty, and energy. An added bonus for the QSR is that the diverse staff mirror the diversity of customers. “The faces of our employees reflect the faces of our customers, which is the right thing to do but also is simply good business,” says Oldroyd.
Accommodating today’s older hospitality workers
Harnessing these talents requires a more flexible hospitality employer mindset.
Peter Shrive, a partner with Cambridge Management Planning, points out areas where employers need to change assumptions they might have about managing older workers:
* Get rid of any pre-conceived notions that more mature workers can’t keep up with the work, aren’t willing to do the hard jobs in hospitality, or are resistant to new technology.
* Create a climate of respect since you and your staff will be working with people who are older than you.
* Be ready to accommodate the skills level, both physical and mental, of older workers.
* Let employees with wisdom and experience offer their ideas, feedback, recommendations and, on occasion, criticism.
* Consider that for some of your more mature employees, this is a post-retirement position, second career or return to the workforce, and their ambitions and drive will differ from the energy of your younger staff.
* Create a work plan that accommodates the schedules of all of your employees. Many mature workers are looking for flexible hours that allow them to travel or deal with family issues (caring for older relatives, babysitting grandchildren). Job-sharing might be the best option for these employees.
* Make adjustments to your training and development. Some of your older employees might not be long service workers. Are you prepared to make an investment that might not pay long-term dividends?
* Make mentors out of your older workers. Even if they come to the hospitality industry from another field, their wisdom and expertise can definitely benefit your younger, less experienced staff.
Savvy hospitality employers recognize there’s a wealth of talent in the over-55 set. Make room for them on your team, and you’ll reap the rewards in stability, attitude and an unbeatable customer service ethic.
The Pink Slip Party is a grass-roots phenomenon that took off during the dot com crash several years ago and has enjoyed a revival given today’s challenging economic environment. Pink Slip Parties bring together hundreds of professional workers and their supporters with a renewed sense of purpose and hope for the future. These gatherings offer great networking opportunities, connecting those who have been, or are about to be pink slipped with HR and recruiting professionals from companies looking for new talent.
Attending a Pink Slip Party is a smart move. You’ll have a great time, make some new friends and learn about new job opportunities before they ever hit Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. You’ll be able to showcase your talents in a relaxed, friendly environment and trade tips with fellow job-seekers. Beverages are usually provided, BYOB, but if your a chef, feel free to showcase your stuff and bring hors d’oeuvres.
Once limited to dot com companies, pink slip parties have expanded to include a wide variety of diverse industries and they’ve exploded in popularity in Chicago, Seattle, Denver, New York, Silicon Valley and major metropolitan areas. Find more on www.pinkslipparty.com