Category: Career Coaching


Should I Apply for a Job I’m Not Qualified For?

A Common Question

This is a common job search question and one I recently answered on Quora. I have several clients who think if they don’t check off all the boxes of requirements on a job ad, they can’t apply for the job. But let me tell you a little story…

You Never Know What Can Happen

…When I was just coming out of grad school, I applied for a director’s level position without any full-time professional job experience. I knew I was unqualified for the director’s position, but I was interested in it and applied to see what would happen.

Of course I got rejected for the job. But then the company called me because the assistant director position had also just come open. They wanted to see if I was interested in it.

I was much more qualified for that role and was indeed very interested in it. They offered me the job a few days after my interview! I was so excited because it was my first “real job” out of school.

I say all this to show that you never know what can happen. You have nothing to lose but the time it takes to apply.

The Truth About The Job Ad

Most job ads read more like the hiring manager’s “wish list” instead of a realistic request. It’s highly unlikely that one person will have all the desired qualifications from the job ad.

My recommendation is, if you have at least 60-70% of the qualifications they’re looking for, go ahead and apply and see what happens. But only do so if you have a genuine interest in the job. Never apply for a job you have no intentions of taking just to gain interview practice. This is unethical.

Be understanding if they decide they don’t want you and don’t let the rejection get to you.

For more job search tips, check out paNASH’s on-demand programs. Get 15% off each individual program and the program bundle from July 9th to July 16th (use discount code SUMMER at checkout).

Related posts:

Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From Today’s Competition

Many of my clients come to me facing the daunting task of conducting a job search for the first time in nearly 20 years. A lot has changed in 20 years. But most of the job search advice floating around is outdated, especially interview advice.

In fact, while recently helping a friend with her upcoming job search, I showed her a specific job interview strategy. She said she’d never heard of it before, and was shocked to learn it was something she could try. “Do you mean I can actually do that for a job interview?” she exclaimed.

“Yes!” I said.

Not Your Grandma’s Interview Advice

Last week I saw this question posted on Quora:  “What are some smart interview answers?”

My response to this question was the same advice I gave my friend:

Smart interview answers are ones that show you have the company’s best interests at heart. And if you don’t really care about the company, you probably shouldn’t be interviewing for a job there. You should always make your answers about them, not about you (until it’s time to negotiate an offer, at which point you need to make it a win-win situation). Here’s a step-by-step method for how you do this:

  1. Find out what the company’s most immediate need is they’re hoping the person in this position can fulfill. Determine this BEFORE the interview! Once your interview has been scheduled, email the person with whom you’ll be interviewing. Tell him or her that you look forward to the interview. Then ask the following question, “What is the main thing you hope the next person in this position will accomplish or help solve?”
  2. Use the answer to this question as your foundation for preparing for the interview. Brainstorm one or two possible ways you can use your strengths to help get the desired result. Also, think of examples of times you’ve achieved similar results.
  3. Summarize your ideas and your past examples in a one-page proposal. You don’t have to have all the details of a full proposal, just an outline of what you’re thinking. If you don’t have enough information to come up with even just an outline, create a one-page case study of a time where you previously solved a similar issue. Indicate the challenge you were facing, the action you took, and your accomplishment or the results of your solution.
  4. Bring this proposal or case study to the interview with you so you have something tangible to show.

Taking the time and effort to speak to the company’s most immediate need shows you really care about working for that company, which will make you stand out from today’s competition in a big way!

Want More Modern Interview Advice?

For more modern interview advice, check out the paNASH on-demand program The 3 Super Powers of Successful Job Seekers. It includes proven job search strategies that blow all the cookie-cutter strategies out of the water! Get 15% off this program and all the other on-demand programs (including the bundle) from July 9th to July 16th (use discount code SUMMER at checkout).

It’s Not Too Late! How to Salvage the Last Half of 2017

In a few days we’ll begin the last half of 2017. Can you believe we’re already halfway through the year?!

For me, 2017 has already been filled with ups and downs, as I’m sure it has also been for you. The mid-point of the year is always a good time to:

  • Review the goals you set at the beginning of the year.
  • See which ones you accomplished.
  • Re-commit to the ones you have yet to accomplish.

My Passion Planner has an entire section devoted to doing just that between its June and July pages. (I really love having a paper calendar again!)

There may have been some bumps in the road since January to cause you to get behind on your goals. But, there’s still some time to re-focus and catch up.

5 Steps to Salvaging the Last Half of 2017

  1. Think back to what your goals were at the beginning of the year. Did they include discovering new passions? Making more money? Starting or completing a special project? Finding a new job or new career?
  2. Find your notes where you put these goals down in writing. If you didn’t write them down, then DO SO NOW! Did you know, people who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t?
  3. Start breaking your goals down into smaller goals. See if you can set a deadline of December 31st, 2017 to some, if not all, of these smaller goals.
  4. Begin working on your smaller goals TODAY. By doing so, you should be able to accomplish at least part of the bigger goals by December 31st as well.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if this deadline doesn’t seem realistic for each goal. Right now, just focus on what you can accomplish by the end of the next six months. Once you have, you’ll gain more momentum and more motivation going into 2018.

Resources to Assist You in the Last Half of 2017

A dismal first half of the year doesn’t have to destroy your hopes for an improved you.

One quick way to get back on track is to utilize the on-demand resources offered by paNASH. These videos focus on topics related to improving your work and your life. They’re broken down into smaller video segments, making them quick and easy to access anytime online. They come with handouts to guide you through every step of your goal, whether it includes:

  • Pursuing your passions.
  • Making more money.
  • Improving your job search skills.
  • Developing your authentic brand.
  • Or even just properly setting goals.

Summer is a great time to catch up on your 2017 goals! To help you, I’m offering 15% off all paNASH on-demand programs. Use the discount code SUMMER at checkout. This offer is good beginning July 9th and lasts until July 16th. So maybe one of your first goals for the rest of this year is to take advantage of this offer on a resource that will kick your last half of 2017 into high gear!

The Best Way to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions (Re-Post)

“Tell me about a time when…”

UGH! Behavioral interview questions. No job seeker enjoys answering these questions. Myself included. They’re just as dreaded as the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question.

I can remember back in grad school doing my first mock interview with the career center on campus. It was very intimidating, even more so than any real interview I’ve ever had. They recorded it which of course was even more horrifying. And I was really bad at answering the behavioral interview questions.

It was actually this experience and what I learned from it that made me decide to go into career advising. A year later I was working as an intern in the same career center. Eventually I became the director of a college career center and then started my own career coaching business.

You have more experience than you think

I remember my mock interview like it was yesterday. A few years ago I found the video and watched the cringe-worthy performance (through my fingers). I’d used the same example for every behavioral question because I thought I didn’t have any other “real” experience to pull from. After all, I was just a lowly graduate assistant with only one assistantship under my belt.

But now I realize this wasn’t true. I could’ve pulled from so many other experiences for more variety of answers:  my part-time jobs from college, my work as an orientation leader at my undergrad, my leadership role in my student organization, my class projects. I could’ve even pulled from my work on my passion projects.

The tried-and-true method vs. modern experience

The formula for how to answer behavioral interview questions hasn’t changed much since my grad school days. But the way people work has, therefore giving job seekers a new way to sell themselves in an interview.

Here’s what I mean. When answering a behavioral interview question, you always want each answer to follow a method similar to the “CAR” method:

  • C:  State the CHALLENGE you faced.
  • A:  Describe the ACTION you took.
  • R:  Indicate the RESULTS of your action.

But unlike what you may have thought in the past, your examples don’t have to all come from traditional job experiences. Today, people have side-hustles, freelance assignments, passion projects, and greater access to creative pursuits. These bodies of work may be very different, but they all demonstrate your creativity, project management skills, and problem-solving skills. All things employers seek in potential employees.

The secret to perfect behavioral interview answers

The secret to answering behavioral interview questions perfectly is to gather relevant examples from ALL your sources of experience (paid, unpaid, volunteer, stuff done for fun, etc.). Then, tell a single interesting story for each question that connects the dots for your listener. Show how your “soft skills” used on your own projects will benefit the company on their projects. Hard data (quantifiable results) and testimonials (qualitative results) will drive home your points, so always include them in each answer.

Also, anticipate further questions. When practicing your examples, listen for holes in your information triggering a need for clarification or more details. A friend or a career coach is more likely to help you recognize those holes, so get assistance. By addressing those areas right away, the interviewer won’t have to keep probing. You’ll be a hero because you made their job easier by providing all the important info without being asked or reminded to.

The best way to prepare

There’s no way to prepare for every commonly asked behavioral interview question. There are just too many. The only way to really predict which ones you’ll get is to look on Glassdoor to see if there are any interview questions listed for your particular job opening. However there’s no guarantee they’ll ask the same questions this time around.

Instead, the best use of your time and energy is to look at the list of required skills in the job ad, and come up with a different story for when you’ve previously performed each skill. This is more manageable since this list is finite. Always choose stories that show your success in performing the skill.

By focusing on the list of skills, you’ll have enough examples to use as answers for the unexpected questions. Most importantly, you’ll be able to connect those dots from your past experience to your future experience. Don’t forget to use the CAR method when drafting your stories. Doing so keeps your stories organized with a beginning, middle, and end.

Pulling from ALL your experience is a great strategy for someone who has a lengthy gap in their employment history. It’s also a good approach for recent grads with little to no professional experience. Click here to see how this has worked successfully for Tanner Christensen who landed a job as a product developer at Facebook with very little experience.

For more job interview tips, sign up for the on-demand program, Steps to Acing the Interview. You’ll learn how to answer other commonly asked interview questions, questions you should be asking, and more, resulting in more job offers!

7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts

Most people, especially introverts, find networking to be very awkward. Here are 7 tips to make networking a little easier and more comfortable.

#1. Start with who you know

Start with the people you already know and feel comfortable with. Invite them to go with you to events and ask them to introduce you to the people there they know. Be sure to take someone who’s extroverted so they can also introduce you to the new people they’ll easily meet there.

#2. Have your contacts give a “heads-up”

When friends give you the name of one of their contacts, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time you’ll be contacting him or her. This gives the person a “heads up” and it will be clear why you’re contacting him or her.

#3. Email before calling

If you’re going to make cold calls to industry people, start first by sending them an email or connecting with them on LinkedIn.

#4. Develop talking points

It’s good for you to know what you want to talk about before aimlessly engaging in conversation. Decide ahead of time which questions you want to ask and what points you want to make. Also, frame your conversation with small talk. Start and end your networking conversations with small talk, and have the middle part of it be about business. 

#5. Network during your peak time of energy

If you have more energy in the mornings, attend networking breakfasts. If evenings are your peak time of energy, go to events held after work hours. Know what works best for you. Be selective by only attending those events which work best for your energy level and what you hope to gain.

#6. Set goals and allow time to re-charge

If you know you’re usually tapped out after talking to only 3 or 4 people, then go to an event with the goal of meeting only 3 or 4 new people. Afterward, go home or to a quiet place to re-charge.

#7. Push through the discomfort

Acknowledge any discomfort you feel and push through it. While it may be more comfortable to network via email or LinkedIn, you eventually have to get out from behind the computer. If you still feel intimidated by the idea of attending a networking event with numerous people, start with one-on-one meetings and informational interviews.

For more easy networking tips for both introverts and extroverts, check out paNASH’s on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. Learn about informational interviewing, networking etiquette, and when/where to network. As a result, you’ll be better prepared and will feel more at-ease in future networking situations. And you’ll make stronger connections with those who have hiring power.