How to Obtain your DD214 or ORB/ERB

Your DD214

Many veterans already have their DD214 in paper form or saved to their computer. If you have your DD214 saved to your computer in PDF form, there is no needto go to eBenefits. Simply upload your DD214 (in PDF form) from your computer to Purepost.

If you have paper copies of your DD214, you will need to scan and save your DD214 to your computer in PDF form, or you can snap a picture with your smart phone and save it in PDF form with one of the many apps in the Apple or Google store.

If you have already ETSed from the Army and can’t find your DD214, you will need to go to eBenefits to obtain it. Access will require either a CAC or Department of Defense Self-Service (DS*) log in:

  1. https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage EB1
  2. Select Log In or Register, depending on if you’ve created an accountEB2
  3. If you have already set up an account, you will be taken to a Login page; you must first agree to the terms before logging inEB3
  4. Select “Request your OPMF Information” button on right side of screen   EB4
  5. You will be taken to DPRIS – U.S. Government Information System page; select the “Accept” button with your cursorEB5
  6. Enter the email you wish to have your DD214 emailed to, check the Army box, check the DD214 box, and press “Submit” with your cursorEB6
  7. The system will email you once your records are ready for view; it can take up to 3 days for your records to be ready; once the records are ready for review follow steps 1-4 above.
  8. After completing steps 1-4; Select “View your retrieved OMPF Information” button on the right side of the page.
  9. Your records will be located at the bottom of the page and will be viewable/downloadable for 14 days only.
  10. Save your DD214 as a PDF, to a location where they can be easily retrieved.
  11. Finally, upload your DD214 to Purepost.

*DS log in can be created by using the eBenefits website located in step 1 above.

Your ORB/ERB/SRB/2-1

Why an updated and accurate ORB/ERB/SRB/2-1 is important?

The ORB/ERB/SRB can be considered a military resume. It details all of your accomplishments and achievements while serving in the military. To best prepare for transition out of the military, it is an excellent practice to ensure that your record brief is always up-to-date especially with your schooling, awards, and assignments. 

How do you obtain your ORB/ERB?

How to obtain your ORB/ERB from AKO (Active duty Soldiers only):

  1. Go to Army AKO at www.us.army.mil.
  2. Select “ORB: Officer Record Brief”/ “ERB: Enlisted Record Brief” link under Army Links column on right side of the screen.
  3. Once forwarded to the ORB/ERB page, select the “view/print” button.
  4. Save as a PDF to your desktop, where they can be easily retrieved.
  5. Finished!

How to obtain your ORB/ERB in the Reserves/National Guard:

  1. Contact your Unit Administrator (UA) for assistance in building your 2-1/SRB.
  2. Ensure that you have all documentation required to help the UA build out your completed and accurate 2-1/SRB.

Feel free to contact us for assistance or with any questions in gathering your military documents and records.

-The Purepost Team

ETS Equals Active Job Seekers

I decided to leave the Army in April of 2006. My 8 years of Active Duty Service would be complete May of 2007, which gave me roughly a year to prepare for my ETS.

I didn’t realize I should have begun my job search as soon as I decided to ETS. No one explained to me that my civilian counter parts have their next job lined up before leaving their current job. No one explained to me that I should have been applying for jobs, networking, and discovering how my military skills transferred to specific job opportunities in the private sector.

To be honest I figured after leaving the Army I would find a job while taking a break from work. However, being unemployed in the private sector while looking for a job is a red flag for recruiters and employers. Here are some of the stereotypes:

  • The unemployed are lazy
  • The unemployed are incompetent
  • The unemployed don’t want to work
  • Something is wrong with the unemployed
  • The unemployed lack the skills necessary to find work

Bottom line, employers believe the best workers are the ones who already have work. If I had known this to be true I would have been actively seeking work while employed by the U.S. Army.

So what does being an active job seeker mean? LinkedIn says that an active job seeker or candidate is actively looking for work. This does not mean they’re unemployed, but it can. In our case, we’re not unemployed; we’ve just made the decision to transition from the military. The key is now to find work before our ETS date.

LinkedIn further explains that the active job seeker is looking for new work for a variety of reasons:

  • They’re concerned about their current employer’s stability
  • They would like to take more responsibility and grow professionally
  • Their job was outsourced (meaning the job is now held by someone separate from the current company)
  • Their employer went out of business

About 25% of the work force falls in this category, so we’re not alone from our civilian counter parts.

Now that we know we’re active job seekers there are a few steps to being effective active job seekers.

Resume

First, it starts with creating a resume that translates your military experience to civilian terms that recruiters understand and are searching for. Purepost takes care of this for you in about the time it takes to a 1040EZ tax return online. Building your resume has never been simpler, and we support all service branches.

A resume is important because it provides an overview of your professional achievements to a recruiter and employer. In many ways, a resume is similar to your ORB or ERB. Like your ORB/ERB, the resume provides a snapshot of your past and current jobs (duty assignments), achievements (awards), and education (training, badges, schools).

Your resume is:

  • What you will apply to jobs with, online
  • What you will email or take with you, when networking with professionals
  • What you will take with you to all interviews

Job Search

Once you’ve created your resume and understand how your military skills map to private sector skills, you’ll want to begin your job search.

Here is where you will want to be strategic in searching for your next career in the private sector. You will search for your job in one of three ways:

  • Location
  • Company
  • And of course Job characteristics

When I left the Army, I followed on to complete my Masters in Business Administration. Once I completed my education, I knew living in the San Francisco Bay Area was top priority to succeed in my next career.

This told me that I would not be looking for any career opportunities outside of the Bay Area.

After I settled on my location, the next most important factor to me was the type of job I wanted. This put the priority of company last and actually allowed for more job opportunities.

Once I decided on the type of job I wanted, I compiled a list of all the ideal companies I wanted to work at in the SF Bay Area. This is not as simple as it sounds and takes research to discover what companies where ideal for me. Here are some topics to research that can be discovered online or through Glassdoor.

  • The product or service provided to the consumer
  • The Culture
  • Company Leadership
  • Salaries
  • Current events and news concerning the company
  • Company Vision, Mission and Goals – what do they ultimate want to accomplish and create in the future
  • Current financial and cultural health of the company – i.e. have they laid employees off recently, how are their products and services doing in relevance to market share – in other words, are customers happy and are the products and service successful

I realize this all may seem overwhelming, but the articles here on the Purepost blog provide the guidance you need to break this task down in a manageable way, providing methods for determining the company you want to work at.

Networking

Once you’ve decided the location, job, and company you want to work at, it’s time to network. I’ve chosen to discuss networking before applying for a job because of one main reason – It’s all about who you know in the private sector. By knowing someone who works at a company you desire to work at, or an industry you desire to work in, your chances of finding a job increase. This does not mean you have to network to obtain a job; it just might speed up the process.

When I moved to San Francisco I applied to countless jobs. What was surprising was 90% of my interviews came from knowing someone at the company before submitting my job application.

For example, I was interested in working at a major health care system located in Oakland. Before applying for the job, I did my research on the company and later reached out to a gentleman, who I’ll call James. James also graduated from the same masters program I had attended. This was a connection I obtained from a friend who I also went to school with.

When I met James it was over coffee and he had 30 minutes to meet with me. Prior to our meeting, I had studied the company and knew of 3 jobs I was interested in. James first asked me why I was interested in his company. I explained that my background in the Army was Medical Service, in terms he would understand. I handed him my resume and explained my background. James asked a few questions about my Army experience and I fired back responses similar to being interviewed.

He then asked, how can I help? At this point I had brought up the jobs I was interested in and asked questions about these opportunities. I also explained why I was qualified. James explained that he knew people in that department to include the hiring manager (The employee who requested the position you are interviewing for. If you are provided a job offer, and decide to accept, you will be working for the hiring manager). James explained to send him an email with my resume to forward to the hiring manager. This experience resulted in an interview.

This happens across all industries and job types. One of my good friends, who had worked in a warehouse at a major grocery company, obtained a job as a forklift operator/driver from networking with my father. My father also worked in the same distribution warehouse and introduced my friend to the hiring manager after filling out a job application. It does not matter what type of skilled worker you are, networking works.

Applying for a Job

I discussed networking in length and believe it helps, but it’s not necessary to get a job. What is necessary is having a resume and filling out a job application. If you’ve never done this it can be a bit challenging and over whelming at first. This is why I recommend having a job search strategy. This will at least allow you to focus on specific jobs and companies to apply to.

So what does this process look like? The short answer is you have to apply for a job online. This could be through a companies own website or a job board like Monster.com.

Job boards like Monster.com are helpful in your job search.

Family Dollar uses Taleo for their application process.

Nestle also uses Taleo – this can make it easy when applying to other companies who use Taleo.

If you look closely at the Family Dollar’s and Nestle’s job application site, you will notice they are quite similar – that’s because they’re both powered by Teleo. Taleo is a talent software product for companies, which allows a company to manage their job applications. This also makes it easier for job seekers who have already filled out an application under within the Taleo system.

For example, if I fill out an application at a company that uses Taleo, I may not have to fill out a complete application or upload my resume to the next company. This definitely makes it easy if you’re applying to similar jobs, however if you’re applying for a different job, it’s best that you start over and complete the application to satisfy the job you’re applying for. This may also require you to upload a different resume with different skills selected. Luckily, Purepost makes this easy to change.

Becoming an active job seeker is a job in of-its-own. I know this can seem overwhelming, but it takes practice and it’s best to start as soon as you’ve made the decision to ETS. I’ve found that on average, it can take 3-6 months to find a job, once you’ve fine-tuned your process. Which means you need to treat your job search as a second job.

You’ve got incredible experience and skills that transfer perfectly to several career opportunities. Employers respect your service, they know you will learn on the job, and they know you’ve got core values that ensure success. A Purepost profile will assist in translating the rest.

Anthony Garcia
Purepost CEO
U.S. Army Combat Veteran, Iraq ‘03-’04 and ‘05

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: Body Language

TED has spreading ‘ideas worth sharing’ all over the world since 1984. As something that began as a one-time conference quickly became an annual conference in 1990. TED (Technology, Education, Design) has grown into a flourishing non-for profit organization, finding the cutting edge experts on important issues and ideas.

In a widening global platform of internet virality, it’s often hard to know what is worth your time and what you should just pass by without a second thought. If you have not yet heard of Ted Talks – they are among the most influential dialogues and speeches making impacts on social relationships, educational approaches, technology advances, environmental resources, political endeavors; you name it, there is a probably a Ted Talk on the topic.

So how can Ted Talks help in your transition? We are excited to feature a Ted Talk every month that highlights a different component of the transition process, career development, or civilian workplace. Being aware of modern issues, innovative solutions, and breakthroughs in all areas of personal development can be a driving force in confidence, presentation, and a successful transition.

The way we walk, the way we talk- It all matters. Have you ever thought much about your body language during an interview? The vibe you give off at a social networking event? How your eyes and audible sighs form the relationships and shape the responses others give you?

Dr. Cuddy is a professor and social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Her research on non-verbal expressions of power has afforded some ground breaking insights and explanations that are relevant in just about every facet of day-to-day life.

Leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce will bring a new wave of new people and new experiences in various social situations. What better to know than how our body language affects others and how we can cue others into what we are saying non-verbally. Cuddy explains how her research has empirically verified that certain specific types of body language shape who we are and have the ability to influence positive outcomes for us. The base summary of her discourse at the Ted Global event in Edinburgh, Scotland, is that engaging in “power poses” or dominant postures for as little as 2-minutes a day can decrease your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase your testosterone levels, and increase your appetite for risk. Who doesn’t need a little less stress and a little more excitement in their lives? The most immediately obvious use of this model for veterans or service members transitioning out of the military, as well as military spouses seeking employment, is to engage in “power poses” to prepare for job interviews. Dr. Cuddy, along with Dana R. Carney and Andrew J. Yap, have confirmed that employment of this technique definitively improves the performance of job seekers during interviews. Cuddy summarizes the key aspects of the research with, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

If you only watch one Ted Talk, make it this one; the guidance and advice that Professor Cuddy offers has the ability to dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes as you move forward in your career and personal life!

~The Purepost Team

Quick Tips on Recruiters (The non-military kind).

Whether you started your military career in a recruiter’s office or not, you get the idea. You know the process. You know that the recruiter’s job is to onboard candidates that are a good fit for the military life. There are questions. There is an interview. There are physical standards to be met. They are your initial step in the military sector. While a recruiter in a corporate setting functions in a similar capacity, they have very little to do with the hiring process other than qualifying you as a candidate for the company they work for. So what exactly does a recruiter do in the civilian world? Do they sit in store front offices and wait for people to drop in and ask about employment?

Fast forward 20-30 years when your time comes to retire and transition into a civilian job, you’ll be taking on recruiters of a different kind. Corporate recruiters function on a very different wavelength with very different parameters and goals. Here are the top 5 things that you should know:

  1. A corporate recruiter is not a headhunter. Different jobs. Different roles in the job marketplace. A recruiter normally specializes in one industry or in one particular company. They are involved in a broad spectrum of human resource capabilities for their company. A headhunter, on the other hand, usually seeks out talent for one specific job and can be contracted by many different companies at once.
  2. Recruiters are the connection between YOU (the candidate) and the hiring manager. They seek to make the best matches for their company, pass those candidates onto hiring managers who then conduct interviews and make job offers. The recruiter won’t be a part of the hiring process past connecting you to the hiring manager.
  3. A recruiter is not there to help guide you in your career transition or active seeking process of employment. They are paid by a company to find candidates to fulfill jobs within their organization. So while a recruiter may help you land a job within their company, they generally won’t make referrals, recommendations, or mentor you in a general sense.
  4. A recruiter will spend a VERY limited amount of time on your resume. So make it concise, easily formatted, and a strong reflection of you who are as an individual! Purepost can assist you in completing your resume as a military veteran entering the civilian sector. Having your military experience translated in a way that a recruiter, hiring manager, or future employer understands is critical. Recruiters are looking at up to a thousand resumes depending on the position, so give your resume the 30 second test. Can somebody not familiar with the military get a good picture of who you are by looking at your resume in 30 seconds?
  5. Ask questions. This is your career and your future. “Once you have my resume, when should I expect to hear from you again?” or “Will you ever submit my resume to a company without my approval?” are questions that a professional should have no issues answering and should welcome from a prepared, professional candidate.

We look forward to providing additional tips and content on recruiters, the process, and how to navigate your way through your career transition. If you have any specific requests or insights, please email us at blogs@purepost.co.

~The Purepost Team

 

 

Sources: 
What Does A Recruiter Actually Do?
5 Things You Should Know About Job Recruiters
At First Glance

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: How to Talk so People Will Listen

Ever wonder if people are really listening to you? As we’ve seen in previous TedTalk highlights, there are great behavioral methods to adopt to be not only a more effective communicator, but also someone who others’ actually listen, absorb, and react to. As your transition from military to civilian life involves many conversations where you need answers, assistance, opportunities, and results, Julian Treasure has some great tips on how to speak so that people WANT to listen.

 

 

 

Gaps in Employment

Explaining the gaps in your employment history can be both nerve wracking and confusing for most people. As many Veterans decide to leave the Military and use additional vacation time to transition into their next career path, this additional gap combined with military service can prove confusing to potential employers too. Employers will sometimes make assumptions about candidates with a gap in their employment and often employers believe the best workers are the ones who already have work. But as with life, things happen. Unemployment happens, transitions happen, and in the end, honesty is always the best route. 

From family emergencies, illnesses, layoffs, and even luck, each person can be faced with the decision to work full-time or use their time and attention for something else. Overall, honesty will be your main champion on your resume and in your interview.

First, let’s discuss your resume. Your resume is a brief overview of who you are and why a company should sign you up for an interview. Most recruiters are looking at your last two positions in less than 30 seconds to determine if you are a quick fit for the job. If this is where your gap in employment resides, it’s time to make sure your resume is setup to answer questions with clear and concise information. (Note: Purepost users can add the following information to your Civilian Job or Skills Sections.)

  1. Professional Experience versus Employment. An Employment section of a resume just tells the reader that you worked, but a Professional Experience section can cover a variety of experience and skills learned over time. This avoids you putting more than one sentence about why the gap is there if it works. Use your cover letter to explain any additional information if needed; your resume should include all the achievements and experiences in the past 10 years.
  2. Volunteer work. Add Volunteer positions into the Professional Experience section. Why? You either provided part-time work for free which the organization appreciated or you provided a skill they did not have but added to the organization’s success. Talk to the organization about being your reference and the title you could list as your “job”. This could include PTA officer, Troop Leader, and Volunteer Coordinator if you gained experiences due to parenting or a personal break in employment.
  3. Stay Active and Share. Emphasize any activities you undertook during the gap to improve your professional standing. School, certifications, volunteering or major personal projects can be mentioned as well as consulting, freelance or contract work. The time you dedicated to a project will show your active learning ability. Additionally, mentoring and coaching peers and children should be noted to share your ability to be a part of another person’s development.
  4. Importance of the Skills Section: Having this at the top shows what you bring to the table regardless of gaps in time. Add years of skill experience to enhance that element if the company has it listed in the job description. For example: “10 Years Project Management”, “Bilingual- Spanish (Read/Write)”, or “2 Years Fundraising”. You can add additional Skills to your GuideOn resume by clicking on the Skills section and adding a new Skill at the bottom.

Next up: How to discuss your gap in employment during your interview. Remember, you want to tell the hiring manager or recruiter why adding you to the team is the best option for both parties, don’t feel that you need to give all the details of your gap. Compare it to purchasing a quality used car. The goal is to find out how well the car will help you and be an asset to your life; not all the bad things it went through and how it might not work in one year due to a previous issue or change.

  1. Job cuts. Why are you no longer with your last employer? Identify if you aren’t at a company because of a restructuring or downsizing. Those two words are important to why you no longer work at a company in a time where there are cutbacks, even in the Army.
  2. Your Choice to Leave. Explain your reason for leaving a company in a positive way during an interview. What were your achievements? What did you learn that you want to use in your new job?
  3. Focus on the future. Rather than dwelling on or apologizing for the break, you want to let the interviewer know that you are excited and ready to work. Be prepared to answer questions based on your previous jobs, experiences, and values. Provide positive, future focused responses and be proud of the accomplishments you’ve had at a job, in school, when volunteering and in life.
  4. Be Honest. At the end of the day, just be honest if asked what you were doing during a gap in employment. How you verbally respond to the question and your physical behavior portraying confidence will allow the person to best understand why you were without a job for a specific period of time. 

With ever changing career mobility and economic tides, gaps in employment are becoming more and more common. Don’t let any taboo fears override your instincts to just be honest and explain periods of unemployment in your professional life. Honesty and confidence in your journey will be your best accompaniment in a resume and interview setting.

Interviews: The Breakdown

The Interview Process

The job interview is a culmination of all of your efforts to sell yourself as a viable candidate for the target position you are seeking. For the hiring manager and recruiter, the interview is a chance to meet you face-to-face and to determine whether or not you are a good culture fit for the organization. While the interview process varies from firm to firm it generally follows a general structure involving an initial phone screening, then an in-person behavioral interview, followed by a technical or case interview, and ultimately a final behavioral style interview with the key decision maker. Career Services at Princeton cites that interviews may also take on several different formats: e.g. phone interviews, video interviews, and in-person interviews – which include one-on-one interviews, panel interviews and group interviews. In addition, at certain companies your interview process may take an entire day – or even several days. Regardless of what style or structure the interviews end up taking on, the best way to establish yourself as the most suitable candidate for the job is to prepare extensively. This includes a focus on developing detailed knowledge of the position and its responsibilities; conducting granular research on the company and the ecosystem in which it operates; determining the cultural characteristics of the firm and team you will be working on; and identifying the key recruiters and hiring managers who you will be interviewing with. At the core the interview process is about fit, for both yourself and for the employer – but generally more so for the employer. “An interview is actually about how you can help your future boss and future employer succeed. It’s about finding out what their requirements and hopes are and matching up your background and experience with what they need (The Ladders).” Throughout the process always remember to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager and the interviewers to say yes.

Interview Formats

With regards to the styles and structures of interviews it’s best to break them down into formats and types. The formats as mentioned in the previous paragraph are: phone interviews, video interviews, and in-person interviews – including one-on-one interviews, panel interviews, and group interviews. “Phone Interviews are utilized to determine if someone is worth bringing in for an in person interview” according to the Darden Alumni Career Services. In these formats it’s recommended to dress in your interview attire, standup and project your voice with a measured and confident tone, and have your research notes in front of you in preparation for potential questions that may arise. 

With Video Interviews it’s essential again to dress appropriately; however, in these settings – e.g. Skype and Google Hangout – it’s important to remember to maintain eye contact with the camera and to understand that your movements and mannerisms may be accentuated and that the microphone may be overly sensitive. Additionally, it’s critical to ensure that your background is amendable to a formal interview setting via Marketwatch. With in-person interviews it’s vital to build rapport, to establish credibility, and to be thoughtful and engaging. It is additionally incredibly important as the Darden Alumni Career Services website mentions to listen carefully in order to provide appropriate responses, but also to build a relationship with the interviewer. In a one-on-one setting, it’s critical to build a rapport with the interviewer and to give concise answers while summarizing the central point up front.

With Panel Interviews the company will have more than one person interviewing you at the same time. In this type of interview it’s crucial to speak to each interviewer when answering questions and to remain relevant to each individual on the panel; this can be done by answering the question of the panelist who asked it and then add other aspects that might be relevant to the other panelists. Group Interviews are used to evaluate candidates’ teamwork and general interaction with other people. The key in this format style is to exhibit creativity, confidence, and leadership to differentiate yourself. 

Interview Types

The different types of interviews are generally grouped into four categories: Screening, Behavioral, Technical, and Case. Screening interviews are usually conducted by a recruiter in order to determine your baseline fit with the organization and to reduce the overall volume of candidates. They are typically done over the phone to verify values, interest, and general suitability for the job. In this style of interview it’s important to keep your answers short and concise and to thoughtfully articulate why you would be a good fit for the job. “In a Behavioral Interview, you will be ask to describe past situations that exemplified your ability to use the skills, abilities, or knowledge required for the job. Your challenge is to convince the interviewer that you have the initiative, interest, skills and mature competence to do the job” according to Darden Alumni. The optimal way to frame the relevant stories or examples that you provide to the interviewer in this setting this through the STAR Format: Situation, Task, Action, Result. The STAR format is easy to use and is the generally accepted way to answer behavioral interview questions. When making use of this technique to answer questions focus on utilizing the Situation and Task to frame your story and put the emphasis on the Action(s) that you took and the Result that was achieved, along with lessons learned associated with it. “Case interview questions are hypothetical problems you are asked to solve as part of the interview. The purpose of the case interview is to gauge how well you listen, your logical problem solving abilities, how you formulate a plan, and whether you can articulate a solution under pressure. Generally there is no right answer to the case question, but rather the interviewer is evaluating your approach, structure, analysis, poise, and communications style.” Technical Interviews are a type of interview that evaluates programmers, developers, IT professionals and engineers on their talents and abilities. In this type of format it’s best to prepare by brushing up on the specific skill set that is required for the role and to bring a portfolio of your work – e.g. apps or projects that you’ve worked on, and be prepared to clearly write out all solutions on a white board per CIO Magazine. Although this specific type has been scaled back a bit recently, if you are in a highly quantitative and technical field, it’s imperative that you remain prepared for a technical interview in your area of expertise.

As a veteran you have a great capability to provide meaningful contributions to many different firms. Your Purepost resume and work ethic combined with your dynamic problem solving skills make you an indispensable team member. As you approach the interview it’s important to remember to thoughtfully sell yourself to the employer and to articulate how you will be able to add value to their organization. Through diligent research and deliberate practice you can refine your presentation and train yourself to be prepared to succeed in any interview scenario.

~The Purepost Team

Interviews: Best Practices

In the first part of this series, Interviews: The Breakdown, we discussed the types of interviews and the basics of preparing for each type. Interviews are new to the transitioning veteran and are different based on the industry and type of business. Let’s explore some best practices once you introduce yourself to the interviewer.

 

High-Level Best Practices

At the core, the two biggest things that you can do to improve your chances of success are to prepare extensively and to understand that the interview is not about you – it is about determining whether you are a good fit for the firm and its culture. In terms of preparation, it’s best to identify a list of potential questions much like those from the University of Pennsylvania Career Services and then have a friend ask them to you while videotaping your responses so that you can review your tone, enunciation, and non-verbals. The more deliberately that you practice your responses to these questions the more that you will be able to refine your answers and determine the best way to present yourself as a candidate. You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll make the necessary adjustments when you watch the video recording of your practice interview. If it’s possible, there’s also a value-add in going to an actual job interview for a position that you’re not particularly interested in to help further refine your skills and build up your confidence; this will help you get some solid real-world experience under your belt before undertaking the interview at the firm that you’re most interested in.

The second high-level key to success is to understand that the recruiter and hiring managers are looking for someone who fits well with their team and their organization. Make certain to do your research beforehand to gain as much of an understanding as you can about the attitudes, dress, and atmosphere of your target companies. Most interviews also have a predictable flow: they follow a set script, engage in small talk to kick things off, and then get into the nitty gritty of job related details. Recruiters or hiring managers want someone who is going to fit well into their culture, business, and goals but be sure that culture is someplace you also see YOURSELF fitting into. Ask questions and when you are sitting down with the hiring manager or recruiter, build rapport. Take advantage of that small talk, no matter how awkward it feels. It’s very good to come off as confident, however, you need to make certain that you don’t overdo it and portray yourself as brash, arrogant, or egotistical. People generally like dealing with people who are similar to them yet have a strong sense of who they are, the story behind what brought them to this point, and the ability to effectively articulate their story. Knowing your “why” is often the defining moment in successful communication and relationship building with employers, clients, and even friends and family. We’ll dive into storytelling and developing your “why” in our final series on interviewing next week!

 

~The Purepost Team

 

Interviews: Your Why, Your Story

Once you have a solid understanding of the breakdown and best practices in the interviewing process, you can begin to drill down to the more specific and detailed practices which can push you over the top. These vary from developing your story, to mastering your non-verbals, and ultimately to honing your impromptu responses to standard – and surprise – questions.  The Darden Alumni Career Services website has a very nicely organized set of tips and best practices which are highly effective and can be applied in just about any interviewing scenario. Having your own personal story down to a science is paramount to setting the tone for the interview.

There will likely be some form of a question where the interviewer asks you to tell her a little bit about yourself. When articulating your story make certain to incorporate how your experience will make you a valuable addition to the company, while being as concise and compelling as possible. It’s really a sort of “elevator pitch” about yourself. Think of it this way, you have one elevator ride of two minutes or less to tell a person why they should hire you (UCSB Career Services). Your story, as with the rest of the interview practice, makes all the difference; rehearse your story over and over again until you’ve mastered the flow and timing to perfection.

Nonverbal communication is another factor that can dramatically impact your success in an interview. Having good posture and positive eye contact is crucial, along with avoiding crossing your arms and fidgeting with your feet. A good general practice is to mirror the nonverbal behaviors of your interviewer and to actively listen while following their pace and flow. By focusing on enjoying the interaction you can help to foster a positive engaging atmosphere in the interview space. In crafting your responses to questions, it’s typically best not to memorize your answers, instead it’s better to have a general idea of how you would reply to a particular question and then allow yourself to respond extemporaneously to create a more natural conversational answer. This focus on impromptu answers assists you in preparing for unexpected questions and allows you to be more adaptive and flexible. The Darden School Alumni Services recommends, “If you happen to become nervous or blank on a specific question, breathe deeply.  Another trick is to ‘ground’ yourself by noticing the feeling of your feet on the floor, or your hands on your lap.  If you need a few moments to think while you formulate your answer, take them.  It’s okay to break eye contact; in fact, most people look away while they are thinking.”

By far one of the most important aspects of the interview is the close.  As humans, we are hardwired to remember the last portion of an experience as Daniel Kahneman mentions in his TEDx video “The Riddle of Experience”. Even if the entire interview went perfectly up to that point, an awkward closing or failure to ask poignant questions at the end of the interview risks you leaving the interviewer with a bad memory of the experience. Make certain to practice a smooth natural finish to the interview, where you allow the interviewer to take the lead and express your gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the position.

(Sidenote: If discovering your “why” and telling your story are new concepts to you, there are great leaders and research out there to guide and inspire. I highly recommend reading, “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek and we’ll soon have a blog feature detailing additional avenues and resources in storytelling.)

 

~The Purepost Team

The Down and Dirty: After the Resume

You can’t launch a job search without a great resume, but now that you’ve got a great one, you have to strategize about the next steps in your search. This process is oddly similar to dating: If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it – target selectively! It also doesn’t hurt to have some great connections or wingmen in both of these processes so – network, network, network!

Targeting Selectively:
Scattershot is never the most effective way to conduct your job search. You’ll only exhaust yourself and get discouraged if you send tons of resumes to tons of employers. If you just randomly blanket the market with resumes, you’re going to get more rejections – no matter how awesome your resume is – because employers are wise to that kind of mass marketing. Think about those mass mail marketing pieces you find in your snail mail or those spam emails you get in your inbox. You likely don’t even open them. Employers won’t read past the first few lines if you are unfocused. So focus in on your true target, and your search will be more effective and less draining. Being targeted also comes across as more genuine and enthusiastic to potential employers. Think quality vs. quantity.

Consider your VIPS:
Values – We all have them, but we don’t always consider them in our job search. What’s most important to you in this life? Has this changed over time? How do you want to represent your values in your work?
Interests – What do you do in your free time? What makes you lose track of time you’re so interested in it? You love it so much, you’d do it for free if you could afford to.
Personality – Are you introverted or extroverted? Highly structured or a free-spirit? Do you possess the power of ‘WOO’ (Winning Others Over)?
Skills – We often know the most about this aspect of ourselves, but it’s not the only thing we should consider. Your skills are broader than just your job titles and duties. You likely have more skills than you even realize.

If you want assistance clarifying any of your VIPS, commonly used assessments available are: Sokanu, Myers-Briggs (MBTI), MyPlan, True Colors, and Strengths Finder are just the tip of the iceberg. Often the assessments are available online, but avoid anything with a fee. There are also many books available that coordinate with these assessments, if the printed page is more your style. Do What You Are and Strengths-Based Leadership are a couple great ones!

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