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“7 Questions Job Seekers Should Always Ask—But Can’t”


“How To Effectively Follow Up After A Job Interview”

If you’re unfamiliar with Google+, you’re missing out on instant access to a hotbed of industry knowledge—top experts in your industry are posting valuable articles, videos, and tips on the social networking service right now.

There are two significant benefits of using Google+: First,social media in general is essential today to immerse yourself in industry knowledge and stay ahead of the curve on the latest trends in your field. Google+ is a more organized, comprehensive tool than Twitter, and its more personalized than LinkedIn with more engaging features. It’s a great addition to your social media belt.

Second, when a potential employer Googles your name, your robust Google+ profile will show up. You can use it as a way to showcase your professional interests, personality, and industry savvy to stand out from the rest of the heard. Here’s a quick job seeker’s guide to using it:

1. Circle your relevant industries. Take a few minutes to “circle,” or select, the industries in which you’re most interested. This unofficial Google+ recommended users list is a go-to source for finding active, fascinating people most relevant to you.

Remember to be a little choosey and stay organized. Don’t fill your home stream with everything and everyone. Adding too much means having to sift through Paris Hilton news and missing, say, Altimeter Group’s Principal Analyst Brian Solis’ insightful news on business and marketing. You could, of course, filter your feed by Circles, but why add distractions?

Once you choose relevant topics, your Circles will fill with experts and relevant people who post related news, articles, and trends to help you stay abreast. It’s also a great way to network. Use the “@” sign to tag specific followers and ask them questions. Google+ is more engaging than you might think.

2. Utilize Google “Hangouts.” Google Hangout is a video chatting feature that lets you video conference with up to nine people. This is particularly great if you want to make a real, strong connection with a former colleague, professional acquaintance, or anyone with which you’d feel comfortable discussing job opportunities. It can be more convenient and much more personal than a LinkedIn invite.

And you can get pretty creative with Google+ Hangouts—it’s a great tool for self-starters to collaborate with others on independent side projects, which can boost your resume and impress employers.

Some employers have incorporated it into their recruitment process. For instance, ChefHangout.com, a culinary class, hired all of their chefs through Google Hangouts.

3. Tune into “Hangouts on Air.” While Google+ Hangouts are limited to nine people, Google Hangouts on Air (HOA) is a video broadcast that an unlimited number of people can join. You can browse HOA events by typing “#hangoutsonair” in the search bar on top. And from here, you can browse various public HOAs. To find ones most relevant to you, search your industry.

There may be some less-than-legitimate HOA hosts out there, but if you look at the host’s profile to confirm strong activity and legitimacy, you can tune into heaps of interesting video conversations relevant to you.

Asking questions during an interview shows the employer your interest and enthusiasm. It helps you pinpoint what the employer is looking for in their next hire and gives you the opportunity to connect it to your experience. Some questions, though, should not be asked during the initial interviews or you might not make it to the next round.

1. How much will I make? While certainly you should discuss salary before taking the job, asking too early can turnoff potential employers. An employer wants to feel like you’re interviewing for the job because you’re interested in the company and the position, not just the money.

Wait until you’ve been invited back to bring up salary, and even then, tiptoe around the issue. Try to word the question better, such as, “what’s the salary range for this role?”

2. Who do I speak with about vacation time? You haven’t even gotten the job and already you’re asking for time off. This is a huge red flag for employers, especially in the interview process. If and when you get to the offer stage and you think there will be a scheduling conflict, you may bring up any already planned events, but only at the appropriate time in the hiring process.

3. Where is my parking space? This is just an example of one of an infinite number of superficial questions that have no place in a job interview. Rest assured: this company has hired before, and if the employers select you as the best candidate for the job, they’ll fill you in on everything you need to know—from where to park to when to take your lunch break.

4. What does the company do? Ask this if you want a quick escort out the door. It is your responsibility to study up on any company that’s interviewing you. You should be able to walk in and tell them what they do, about their products, their competitors, and even the most recent company news.

You can, however, ask intelligent questions about the company, such as:

  • What are the biggest challenges someone in this position will face?
  • How would you describe the company culture here? How do you measure someone’s success who works here?
  • How has Company X’s strategy changed in light of [insert intelligent comment here from all the research you’ve done]?

5. When do I start? Confidence is an important trait to show while you’re interviewing, but cockiness will send you to the door. You shouldn’t presume you have the job in your initial job interview. You’re likely one of several candidates being considered, and even if you’re the most qualified, attitude trumps experience in many cases. A better way to work around this blatant question is to ask when the hiring manager expects to make a hiring decision and have the new person start.

6. How flexible is the company? If you’re already looking to bend or break the rules when it comes to showing up to work late, leaving early, taking long lunches or other situations, chances are the human resources manager is going to move on to the next candidate. Before asking the hiring manager to accommodate your personal circumstances, make it clear through the interview process that you’re the ideal candidate for the job.

7. Can I telecommute? If telecommuting wasn’t described in the job description, then most likely the company is looking for somebody on-site. At many companies, telecommuting is an earned privilege and not one offered right out of the gate.Asking indirect questions may give you some insight into how flexible the company is with telecommuting, but if it seems like it’s on a case-by-case basis, you’d be better off to leave it until you’ve been working in the company for awhile.

8. Any personal question. It’s perfectly fine to start with small talk to warm up the interview, but don’t cross the line with the personal questions. If you see a photo on her desk, it’s natural to ask if it’s her family, which could lead to a generic conversation about her kids, but don’t ask her if she plans to have more children, if she’s married, or how old she is. None of it pertains to the subject at hand: how you qualify as a job candidate.

9. Too many questions. If you’re nervous you might ask lots of questions to keep the other person talking. Try to be aware of how many you’re asking and not to come across as if you’re interrogating the interviewer. You want to get the questions answered you feel like you need to know to move forward in the interview process, but leave some for your follow-up or next interview.

Your job search is a full-time job. And to perform that job well, you want to use the right tools to perform your best and most efficiently. Technology provides the tools to make life easier, however, they are not the quick fix to getting a job. These tools will improve upon the job-search strategies you’re already using.

1. Email. You’re using this tool already, but do you know what your email says about you professionally? Many people use a web-based email provider, which allows the on-the-go access needed for an active job seeker. If you haven’t signed up for one yet, go! A commonly overlooked feature of email is the email signature; the customizable stuff that is appended at the end of each email sent. When you consider the hundreds of emails you send out, most sent to people who do not know you, what impression do you want to leave? What information is vital for the recipients to know about you? What opportunity are you missing by not communicating your name, job title, contact information, and even a link to your LinkedIn profile? For a slick looking format, check out WiseStamp.com. And don’t forget to set up a similar signature on your mobile device.

2. Calendars. You most likely lived by your calendar in your previous job. It served as a guide to keep you on track. Are you using it as diligently in your job search? There is nothing worse than missing a scheduled appointment, networking meeting, or interview. Use your calendaring system to keep track of your follow-up activities too. Again, for the mobile job seeker, having this calendar accessible on your smartphone is absolutely critical. Be sure to include phone numbers and email addresses to your calendar in case of an emergency and to have easy access.

3. Social networks. The most recent Jobvite social networkingstudy reports that 93 percent of companies used LinkedIn to recruit candidates in 2010 and 2011. At a minimum, you will want a robust LinkedIn profile. It should be as complete as possible, which means you should take the time to write a summary that conveys the most important information of your professional experience. Use the skills and expertise section to call out the specific job skills companies are seeking. Do more than just list your work experience. Under each job, talk about what the scope of your job was and include notable achievements. Don’t forget to include a professional head shot. Differentiate your profile by including applications such as SlideShare, Box, or Reading List by Amazon. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ are also worth learning more about and using for your job search.

4. Contact management systems. As you meet new people, how are you keeping track of their contact information? Do you have a stack of business cards with notes scribbled on the back? You should be adding them to your contacts. Additionally, are you keeping track of what you talked about and who referred you? Sales professionals understand how important this information can be to lead generation and nurturing relationships. One tool that can kill a couple of birds with one stone in your job search is FreshTransition.com. Not only can you add contact information, notes about your conversation, and who referred you; you can also use the tool to schedule follow-up actions and set it to send you daily calendar reminders.

5. Reputation management tools. What do you see when you search for your name through a search engine like Google? Are the results on the first page the best links referencing you? If not, you’ll want to manage this. There are tools like BrandYourself.com and Vizibility.com that make it easy for you to fix and manage where you rank in search results.

Remember to Stay Current

Today’s job search requires many skills, some you may not have a lot of experience with currently. However, you will use these skills again, whether it be in your next job or in your next job search. The ability to develop new skills and stay current with technology helps set you apart as a life-long learner and desirable candidate.