Job Seeker Blog
One thing I tend to ask daily is “What in the actual hell?” Why you ask? Buzzwords.
I don’t know about you, but corporate jargon makes me want to repeatedly slam my head against a brick wall. Words all too commonly found in presentations, blogs, articles and reports that are used to deliver a momentarily big impact. Add one of these words to your speech they say your perceived IQ will allegedly skyrocket?
No, buzzwords don’t connect you to people. They are meant to set yourself apart and maybe even above others. They are overused, over played and overworked in today’s society. Let’s be authentic, let’s be real, let’s truly connect with people.
Often the worst part of applying for an HR or payroll opportunity is the waiting. Patience may be a virtue… but often it’s hard to find that virtue when applying for jobs.
After you (maybe) receive a confirmation email from a robot telling you that your resume will be reviewed… blah blah blah… then what happens? Hours turn into days and then weeks and chances are if the HR or payroll job was one you covet, you’re going to get antsy and frustrated – but should you do anything about that in the way of follow-up?
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“Well, I was born in Wyoming but moved around a lot when I was growing up. Now I love to go on hikes with my kids and my favorite meal to cook is lasagna.”
The simple question, “tell me about yourself” can panic interviewees. It causes candidates to fumble their words and babble about anything they can think of. It’s such an important question, that one of our most popular blogs is on the topic. So we decided to give you five more creative ways to “tell me about yourself.”
Whether you already have your position or if you are looking for your next HR or payroll opportunity, it’s important to ask the right questions so you don’t end up miserable or worse. Asking the following questions can help ensure that this opportunity is the right one for you. They will give you a deeper understanding of the organization and the position – and if they fit what you’re looking for.
When was the last time you took a moment to take stock of your relationships? Taking a step back and being introspective helps you repair a situation or move away from one that’s unhealthy. You should do this in a variety of areas in your life, but specifically with your own HR/payroll career. You may find that you’re right where you need to be, need a few tweaks, or are miles away from the ideal… but take time to ask yourself some tough questions.
It’s the most uninventive question in an interview for an HR or payroll position – but it’s coming. It’s even worse than – Where do you see yourself in five years (nicer car, bigger house). Nope – 90% of interviews have the simple, unimaginative yet illuminating request: Tell me about yourself.
No one likes answering this question – but you have to, and the better job you do at answering it, the more likely you tee up your opportunity to continue to do well in your HR/payroll interview. Heck, the question even comes up in networking – so let’s examine a few ways you can go about answering it. First, consider the person asking you is not only listening for your answer, they’re paying close attention to if you deliver your response with enthusiasm and passion. And they’re looking for you to be ready to answer – this shouldn’t be tough – they are asking about your (presumably) favorite subject… you! Taking too long to answer demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and self-esteem.
Interviewing is difficult, especially if it’s for a position you really want or the process is drawn out with either lots of steps or a lot of delays. As a candidate you will often feel out of the loop (because you are) and unsure. It’s an emotional roller coaster as you attempt to manage the job seeking process with the responsibilities of your current job. So how do you get through the roller coaster? Here are a few tips:
Stay in the Moment
Hopefully you aced the interview, but don’t assume that will get you the job or even the next interview. Your interpretation of how an interview has gone for your next HR/payroll opportunity may differ than the hiring team, and even if you absolutely nailed the interview, don’t know who else is in the running or if someone “perfect” for the HR/payroll position comes in after you. Be excited for the opportunity, but don’t mentally place yourself in the HR/payroll position could end up crushing you if you aren’t the chosen candidate.
If it wasn’t for those pesky cover letters it would be easy to apply for HR and payroll jobs. Just blast your resume and sit back and wait… right? Well we know that’s faulty logic because the resume’s goal is to land an interview. The cover letter? You need that to get employers to read your resume.
The painful part of the cover letter is each should be customized and different. It’s not efficient, but it is effective if you take the time to make that awesome first impression with a cover letter crafted especially for the job.
Get personal. Look on LinkedIn and find out not only who may be the hiring manager but also if you have connections who can serve as a reference. If your connection is strong, let them know about your plans. You could even start following folks on Twitter… assuming your own Twitter feed is professional and appropriate.
Customize. It would be nice to have some sort of canned cover letter when applying for HR and payroll jobs – but it is not advisable. Customize your letter for each position. Whether you have industry experience or specific experience and accomplishments that are being asked for, craft 3-5 powerful bullets that will scream… “I am your candidate, keep reading.” At the same time, your cover letter should be approximately a half-page – keep it simple and streamlined.
We’re wrapping up the year with some tips that you could, and we emphasize could use as New Year’s Resolutions.
Put Business Priorities First
It’s easy to do what you love – what’s hard is aligning your priorities and what you do each day. It’s easy to put off the least desirable tasks for late in the day… or tomorrow. Align what you do with what’s most important for your business and your HR/payroll role rather than what you prefer to do. Not sure what your priorities should be? Make lists and track them in a tool like Evernote or Outlook… whether you like it or not, priorities will be self-evident when you take a step back and look at the list.
Don’t Be Complacent
It is easy to become comfortable – it is even good to be thriving in your HR or payroll role. Problem is, comfort can often lead to complacency. Keep challenging yourself in and out of the workplace. Look for HR and payroll professional development opportunities (Willory will be continuing these next year). Make sure you are involved with your local SHRM or APA chapters and other networking groups in HR and payroll to stay current on industry trends. These are also great places to make connections if you decide to start looking for a new position.
Make a Plan
Whether your plan is to move on to another HR or payroll position or simply to grow in your current role, reevaluating your goals each year is an exercise you should undertake. Hove annual goals and break these down with milestones and smaller goals to achieve throughout the year.
It’s the season for a lot of HR and payroll industry events – and with them the chance to network. The challenge is most HR and payroll professionals either hate networking, are bad at it… or both.
You can take solace in the fact that you are not alone in hating networking and making up small talk. And you can take some of these small talk questions to warm up conversations…
- Have you ever been to (insert event before)?
- This helps you understand what to expect in terms of who you can met and what you will get out of coming… and maybe even coming again.