As an old saying goes you cannot fit a square peg in a round hole so before you take that job offer, ask yourself- ‘Is this company somewhere I can truly picture myself?’ You need to work in an environment that you look forward to being in everyday, an environment that inspires you to do the very best you can do. A positive company culture that suits you will drive your passion to succeed whilst fueling your ambition and determination to climb to the top of whatever cooperate ladder you belong to. Otherwise, it will be the cause of you wishing with every bone of your body as the 7am alarm buzzes on dark winter mornings, that you could go back to sleep. Here’s some things to do see if you are aligned with the culture of a company you may be looking to work for: 1. Do Your Research Find out as much about the company as you possibly can. Have a creep around their website, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Accounts or threads on boards.ie or Glassdoor can also be very useful for behind the scenes gossip but be very wary of them and take them with a pinch of salt as they are anonymous comments and we have no idea as to the honesty, profile or past experiences of the commentator. 2. Values & Goals Values determine behaviour and decisions so it is important that an employer’s and an employee’s values match. If you do not agree with the values the company complies by, the work load and even minute tasks will prove to be difficult for you. When we as employees cannot comprehend or agree with the values of a company the decisions we make will be out of alignment with the company’s current practices and that will cause a whole lot of extra work and stress, which nobody needs. Your vision for the future should also match where the company aims to go. There is no point accepting a job when you have no interest in what the company itself is aiming to build. 3. Work Environment If you are not fortunate enough to know someone already working there, use your interview to assess the work environment and way in which the company works. Some of you may be social butterflies who can work in an open plan office chatting the day away whilst still meeting your goals and deadlines. More of you may prefer a quiet space where you can put your head down, get your work done and scurry off before having to interact with anyone. Also do not forget that in your interview the employers are also assessing whether you would be a good cultural fit for their company or not. Some questions you could take the opportunity to ask the interviewers may include: If you could describe the company’s culture in three words what would you say? Are the work hours strict or do you offer flexibility? If lucky enough to get this position what type of office environment would I be in? Is there reward structures or incentives in place? How would you describe the work culture on this team? 4. Social Does the company’s present culture fit in with your lifestyle? Perhaps everyone in the office is an avid sports fan but you cannot tell a football from a tennis racket, or maybe the only out of work activity on offer is drinks in the local bar on a Friday night when you need to be at home with the kids. If social activities are important to you to get to know your colleagues and to also help you meet that work life balance that is congruent with positive mental health you need to make sure the social benefits and activities the company works around suit you and at the very least appeal to you! Finally let me tell you to listen to your gut! You more than likely got a feeling from the interviewers, present employees you passed in the hallway or even the receptionist at the front door as to what the atmosphere in the company is like and if you received warm, welcoming vibes that’s usually a good sign. Think about what you want, what type of workplace will work for you and just go find it! Maybe you are looking for flexible hours, need incentives to reach targets or seek a social club to build relationships with your colleagues, either way the company with the perfect culture for you does exist. You just have to relax and take the time to find it. So now, when offered your next position instead of accepting it right away based off its six figure salary (hey we can dream) take the time to consider is it really a good fit for you?
The one question I am always asked when preparing a candidate for an interview is “how do I answer the weakness question?” The worst reaction you can have to this question is to say I don’t have a weakness. Everyone has a weakness and the reason the interviewer is asking this question is to see how you act outside your comfort zone. People often make the common mistake of trying to turn a negative into a positive. An example of this would be I’m a perfectionist or I work too hard. These answers are boring and show the interviewer you have put very little thought into his/her question. Also you are not actually answering the question you’re just trying to put a clever spin on it.Another mistake candidates make is being too honest. Never mention a weakness that you have if it is going to stop you from getting the job. So don’t answer “I’m lazy” or that “I’m always late” as this is not what your potential new employer wants to hear. The trick to answering this is in the same way you would answer any interview question and that’s by preparing your answer in advance. It can be very difficult to talk about your flaws in a stressful situation like an interview so make sure you spend time preparing your answer. These are a few ways to best answer the weakness question: 1. Pick a weakness that is acceptable for the job Don’t pick a skill or requirement that is on the job spec that you don’t have and say it is your main weakness. This will only put doubt into the interviewers head. 2. Pick a weakness that you can develop For this type of answer you might think of an example where you had a weakness but developed it over the course of your time in prior employment. 3. Describe your weakness in a concise way Don’t go into loads of detail on this question. They are asking you your weakness so be brief and don’t come across as negative. A common answer that candidates often use when asked the weakness question is on their delegation skills. Here you can mention a time when you used to have the mentality that only you could do the job but over time you realised that it was actually slowing the work down and by delegating to other staff members the job was done quicker. This answer is perfect to give but it depends on what job you are going for. If you are going for a managerial role where managing and delegating work will be part of your job description then don’t use delegating as your weakness. Every question in an interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself, so it is important you never miss a genuine opportunity and the weakness question is no different. Treat it like you would any interview questions that you find hard and prepare your answer.
Your CV is your sales document. Make sure to target your CV for each job you apply for. Your CV should mirror the job spec of the job you are applying for, ticking all of the requirements for the role. Create a first draft Write all your qualifications, experience, employment history, personal history, hobbies and interests, including all relevant information under headings. Now write down everything you’ve gained personally from these experiences – skills, insights, personal growth (in paragraphs). At this stage just write as many pages as you need to get the brainstorming process done – only later on will we be concerned with cutting it down. Filter out the unimportant You can’t tell potential employers your entire history, but you can highlight the important details for them: these will include skills, insights and abilities that you have been able to develop, as well as your academic qualifcations and what you gained from your studies and experience. Keep it concise Eliminate unnecessary details. HR departments have lots to do, so don’t make the mistake of asking them to read through an unnecessarily long CV. HR departments won’t read a lengthy CV if they are short on time, short on patience, or have a lot of CVs to wade through. Remember that there may be a pile of CVs a foot high for some positions! CV’s should be around two pages in length, although it may be longer if you have to describe a lot of relevant work experience. Even a two page CV is of no advantage if it’s full of information that isn’t reasonably applicable to the position you’re qualified or applying for. Use the space only if you need it to fully disclose your accomplishments. Include the Basic information Even if you have entered this information into this site, you should still include it on your CV. When the recruiter makes the call to say you have been accepted, your CV is the only document he or she will hold in their hands. Make sure it at least has all your personal information such as: Name Address Telephone Number Date of Birth Nationality, including visa and work permit status Languages (level for both written and verbal Driving License (if you have one) State long term objectives What are your short and long term career aims and objectives? Do you have any preferences for the type of work you want to undertake? (Don’t be too restrictive. It is better to be general about your career aspirations at this stage, for example, Business Related, IT). Don’t include short term objectives Your short-term objectives should be clearly articulated in your cover letter. If you do include objectives, be specific. Vague statements, such as “Looking to utilise my marketing skills” or “seeking a rewarding position” add nothing to a CV and may in fact make you appear insincere. Include your Employment history All your employment is important whether it is part-time, temporary, voluntary, vacation work or Saturday only. It should be presented in reverse chronological order, most recent first. Give dates, name of employer, job titles etc. Include your Education history List your most recent qualifications first, including: Dates, Institution – Name of Degree Course etc Degree Classification. It is not necessary to list all the modulesyou have studied Technical qualifications Achievements / Positions of Responsibility Include Hobbies / Interests Be Positive! Use “power words” such as “developed,” “managed,” and “designed” to emphasise your accomplishments. Stick your chest out and don’t be afraid to tell people what you’ve done. Produce a well-organised professional document You’ll generate a better response from your curriculum vitae if it is well organised and is packed with relevant information to match and support your professional, academic or career objective. Be honest! There is a huge difference between making the most of your experience and exaggerating or falsifying it. A falsified CV can be easily spotted by a recruiter or employer (if not immediately then certainly through the interview process), and if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the job, it will cost you the job later on. Use good document layout Make your CV easy on the eyes. Use normal margins (one inch at the top and bottom, one and a quarter inch on the sides) and don’t cram your information onto the page. Allow for some “white space” between the different sections. Avoid unusual or exotic font styles; use simple fonts with a professional look. Do not use more than two fonts throughout the entire document. If you aren’t sure of the fonts to use, try a sans-serif font like Arial or Helvetica for the headings, and a serif font such as Times Roman for the rest of the text. Put the good stuff at the start One big mistake that job seekers often make is to list very important data in the lower sections of their job descriptions. As you compile statements for your CV, prioritise them by importance, impressiveness and relevance to the job you want. Remember that a strong statement, which uses power words and quantifies, will affect every statement under it. Re-read! Read through your CV. Ask someone else to read through your CV carefully once you are finished. When you have been working on your CV for hours, it can be difficult to spot the errors.