Questions to Ask an Employer During an Interview

Congratulations! You’ve got an interview after what was probably a grueling job search. Now is the tough part, the actual interview. There several questions that you will most likely be asked, “Why are you applying for this job?”; “What makes you the ideal candidate?”; “How did you hear about us?” You might even be asked, “What are your strengths?” (click here for help with that question), and of course the dreaded, “What are your weaknesses?” We’ve got you covered if you need help with that question too.

However, few prepare for the question that usually comes at the end of an interview, “So what questions do you have for me?” This can stump even an experienced interviewee. If you’re asked this question, you’ll want to be prepared. Asking a potential employer questions shows them that you care about what type of environment you’re going into, and that you’re ambitious and eager to learn. Showing more interest in the position, your duties, training, the team you’d be working with, the company and its culture will be in your favor.

Prepare in advance a list of questions you may want to ask. Here are a few to get you started:

What do the typical day-to-day tasks of this role look like?

Should you get the job offer, learning about what the day looks like can help you immensely in preparing for your first day. If you have an idea of what the flow of the office is like, you can better manage your time as you’re learning. Is it more casual? Are there a lot of distractions? Do we eat lunch together for team building? If the answer isn’t what you are looking for, it might not be the ideal environment for you. Your individual success and happiness is just as important as the company’s.

What type of skills and characteristics do you look for in an ideal candidate?

This can be a confidence booster if the answer already matches your skill set and personality. Some employers might be willing to help you enroll in courses or trainings to help improve your skill set for this position. This is also a good time to ask about what opportunities for growth the job could potentially have in the future.

Can you tell me about the team and their various roles?

Asking this question will help you figure out what everyone does and how much of the work is team-oriented or individual. If you’re in a group interview, this is a great question for each interviewer to answer and will help you learn a little more about the people you might be working closely with. Make note of names and titles, especially in a group interview so you can thank everyone appropriately for taking time to interview you.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

This is an important question to ask. Yes, work is work and it won’t be all fun and games, but working for someone that genuinely loves their job and is happy says something about the company culture. If you ask this question and the interviewer is stumped, that might be a red flag. If your potential boss does not find any part of their job rewarding, this probably isn’t the place for you.

You’ll never know exactly what will be asked during an interview, but adequately preparing will always help. Asking even one of these questions shows the interviewer that you prepared for the interview and are an ambitious, take-charge kind of person. Understanding the company’s core values and mission prior to your interview will impress the interviewer as well. Do your research and practice your answers and questions. Good luck!

Job Board Sites: Pros & Cons

Whether you’re ready to change careers or just starting out, searching for a job can be difficult. There are many job board sites to use that all have one basic function: help the user find a job and help employers find qualified candidates. Job boards have become the obvious choice for Millennials seeking employment; you can upload your resume one time and it’s a click away to apply for a job. You can customize your profile to make it easy for employers to see where, when, your preferred salary, and what industries you’re interested in. It usually takes only a few minutes to apply for multiple jobs, that’s pretty incredible!

There are some obvious pros to using all these sites: they are all relatively easy and free to use, and most of them are connected with Glass Door. Glass Door is a site that allows the user to read testimonials from current employees about the climate of the company, average pay, and sometimes even thoughts from CEO’s and senior executives.

A con that all sites have in common is competition. You’re not just competing with applicants in your immediate area, but possibly from all over the state. It’s harder to make yourself stand out online, especially if one of your best traits is your personality. How do you translate that from a computer screen? There’s never a guarantee that a person will see your resume or application.

Here are some pros and cons to several job boards to consider:

Google

While not technically a job board, Google is always a great place to start your job search to find the best resources available in one place.

Pros of Google:

Google is great for job searching because it filters through all of the job searching websites. If an employer posted on Indeed and not Monster you will still be able to find these opportunities. Google is also a great tool for looking at jobs because they tend to show the most recent posts and sometimes directly from the hiring company’s website. Some employers only accept applications through their own websites.

Cons of Google:

Because Google pools all job postings from various sites and home pages, you will see dozens of job postings, which can be overwhelming for the user.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional social media network. Users turn to LinkedIn for many reasons, but one of the key aspects of LinkedIn is its job search functionality. LinkedIn can help you stay connected with former colleagues and friends from school—it’s nice to see when friends reach their professional goals.

Pros of LinkedIn:

There are many people in a variety of fields on LinkedIn. You can discover companies in your field of interest and make connections with other professionals at that company. You can even see the available jobs at these companies and determine if you are qualified. If you’re not active on LinkedIn it’s easy to get started. For tips on creating a LinkedIn profile, click here.

Cons of LinkedIn:

LinkedIn isn’t your traditional job site, so it may not be the best option to conduct a job search. Not all companies post their available positions on LinkedIn so there is the chance you could miss a job opportunity. It’s always best to search across multiple job search websites. A big concern with a site like LinkedIn is privacy. Anyone can search a name and see a picture, current employer, and location, so make sure your settings are up to date if you don’t want this information  . LinkedIn is also more competitive because others might be willing to pay to make their profile stand out more with their various membership levels. Last, review your privacy settings if you do not want your coworkers to see that you’ve updated your profile and are making your profile visible to   prior to launching a job search.

Monster

Monster is one of the more well-known job searching websites, its platform is very straightforward and easy to use for any job seeker. Monster is unique because their site offers comprehensive tools that might help you in your hunt like career advice and resume help.

Pros of Monster:

Monster is completely free, no membership fee required. You can focus your search by area code and industry keyword.  Monster is also a great tool if you’re just curious to see what’s out there, but might not want your current employer to know you are looking. There is also an option to browse jobs by category that could be useful if you might be looking for a career change.

Cons of Monster:

Because of Monster’s large audience, the site often contains spam and out-of-date listings. Monster does not provide an option to search jobs based on desired salary.

Indeed

Indeed is very similar to Monster and has become increasingly popular. Its postings are frequently updated.

Pros of Indeed:

Indeed is a free platform; there is no membership fee required. For example, if you’re looking for a specific HR job for which there are no current openings in the company, should an opening come up later, you’ll receive an email. Indeed’s advanced filter option is also much more comprehensive: desired salary, location, hours, exact miles away from your location, and experience level.

Cons of Indeed:

Similar to the cons of Monster, this website is incredibly popular. Since there’s already lot of web traffic, one job posting might receive hundreds of applicants. That’s a lot of competition. Unlike Monster, the site doesn’t have any extra resources for the applicant like resume help.

ZipRecruiter

For recruiters, ZipRecruiter lets you post from a single platform and captures all the applications in one place, saving hiring managers from having to repeatedly post jobs and filter through applications from multiple job sites. ZipRecruiter is free for job seekers and has easy-to-use management tools for the recruiter. ZipRecruiter is the youngest out of all job boards mentioned above, having only launched in 2010 making the service a relative newcomer to this industry.

Pros of ZipRecruiter:

Like other job boards, ZipRecruiter has a one-click “apply” feature, updates of new job postings, and a comprehensive search bar. One unique quality is that you can receive an alert the instant your application is viewed and who viewed it. ZipRecruiter job postings also show health benefits the applicant may receive, which could be incredibly helpful for someone needing a job with benefits.

Cons of ZipRecruiter:

ZipRecruiter appeals to small- or medium-sized businesses, so there aren’t as many job listings as some of the other larger job sites. While free for job seekers, it can be costly for employers to post their jobs and boost listings to more qualified candidates.

In an increasingly busy and efficient world, you have unlimited resources at your disposal and many options when it comes to looking for open positions. Hopefully, these resources give you a great place to start your job search. Good luck!

BLS economy at a glance

What You Should Know About the Colorado Springs Job Market

The job market is forever changing, and you may be asking yourself, how do I keep up? There’s so much data, what does it all mean? Here is some helpful insight on what you need to know about the job market in Colorado Springs.

 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Colorado Springs reached an all-time high in January 2011 of 9.9 percent, compared with the rest of the country at 9 percent. In September 2018, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent, its lowest since 1969, but Colorado Springs’ unemployment is still higher than the national average at 4.1 percent. So why is the unemployment rate in Colorado Springs higher? One could argue the increase is caused by an influx of new residents and they might not be employed right away, therefore contributing to higher unemployment.

A Brookings Institution study on U.S. Population looked at The Millennial Generation, and discovered Millennials are moving to Colorado Springs at the highest rate in the country. Just this past April, U.S. News & World Report named Colorado Springs second-best place to live in the country, with Denver close behind at number three. So, why are more people moving here? Besides the scenic mountain views, gorgeous weather and abundance of outdoor activities, here are a few other reasons people are choosing Colorado Springs over other areas:

  1. Cost of Living – while the overall cost of living in Colorado Springs is slightly higher than the national average, residents spend less than average on groceries, utilities and transportation. Colorado Springs offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.
  2. Job Market – Some of the top industries in the Colorado Springs job market include Health Care and Social Assistance, Accommodation and Food Services; and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services. Our culture and economy are heavily influenced by corporate and military presence. Businesses are attracted to Colorado Springs’ business environment, educated and talented workforce and low operating costs.

The construction industry is booming across Colorado, yet currently we are experiencing a shortage of skilled labor, despite a civilian work force of 355,492. According to to The Gazette, Colorado’s skilled labor shortage could become even worse in the next few years: “Labor shortages are expected to hinder the state’s economic growth this year, according to the Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2018 released last month by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.”

The Tech industry is also booming in Colorado and we’re seeing a surge of job creation. A study done by The Computing Technology Industry Association names Colorado Springs in the top 20 due to job opportunities for IT workers. In 2016, Gov. John Hickenlooper approved funding to support renovations to a former satellite plant to house a National Cyber Security Center owned by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Goodwill Staffing has extensive experience representing the Administrative, Accounting, Construction, Engineering, Maintenance, Manufacturing, Transportation, Warehouse and Retail industries, among others, in addition to a wide range of general labor jobs. We also offer one of the most innovative and successful temp-to-hire conversion programs in the business. If you’re a skilled laborer seeking a direct hire opportunity or looking for seasonal employment, visit our Job Opportunities page to see available positions.

Resume Tips & Tricks

There are so many resources out there about writing that “perfect” resume, but let’s be honest here, writing a resume is intimidating. You can even pay someone to review and write your resume for you if that’s what you want, but why pay for something you can do on your own? You might be looking to land your first job, get a promotion or change career paths completely. No two people are the same; we all have different levels of experience, education and goals we want to accomplish. Aside from avoiding typos, learning how to write a strong resume will not only save you money, but can elevate your job search, strengthen your status as a top candidate and increase your chances of landing that dream job.

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started:

  1. Design Matters – you want a resume that is eye catching without being over the top. Choose a template that is simple and clean. Depending on the field of interest, incorporate color on headings or titles, adding aesthetics that will set it apart from every other resume out there. Do take it easy on italics, bolds and ALL CAPS – use these effects sparingly and only when you want to emphasize a specific section. Choose an easy-to-read font that looks good on both a screen and on a sheet a paper. As a best practice, test print your resume and perhaps ask a trusted friend to proofread it before you send it off to employers.
  2. Be Selective – Don’t include too much history on your resume. The busier it looks, the less likely a recruiter is going to pay attention to it. A recruiter may not have the time to look at more than two pages total, so perhaps you consider including just the last five or 10 years of experience, depending on your job history of course. Be mindful of your descriptions too. You probably don’t need to include the exact date you started and finished a job, so consider showing the month and year only, but remember that a significant gap in employment is a red flag to hiring managers.
  3. Get Rid of Unnecessary Information – to start, stop adding “Objective” at the top, these are a thing of the past. An employer wants to know what you’ll bring to their company, so consider adding a summary statement showing why you’re the best person for the job. If you’re applying for a position you’ve never held before, lead your summary statement with something more generic like “Human Resources Professional…” Keep this brief, a 3-4-line blurb. Something else to consider is removing your full street address and only keeping your city, state and ZIP. If you’re applying for an out of state job, you can leave your address off (although you probably have to include this in an online application). Determine whether to drop your date of education or not. If you’ve been out of school for 10+ years you probably don’t need to include the year you graduated college.
  4. Put the Best Parts First – the first third of your resume is prime real estate so you should make this part count! If you have a LinkedIn profile and you’re confident in how this looks, add your profile address under your name and contact info. Make sure your profile is where you want it to be first though (check out these tips to enhance your LinkedIn profile). Include your list of skills and expertise below your summary statement and include five-10 skills you have that complement the job description. Highlighting skills and expertise will let employers know you’re good at what they want.
  5. Highlight Accomplishments, Not Tasks – avoid packing your resume with responsibilities. Employers are more concerned about your successes than day-to-day tasks. They want to see how you can apply your accomplishments to their company. Be specific, but not too wordy and be sure to include relevant accomplishments that complement the job description. Accomplishments that can be quantified like client growth or cost savings are resume gold. If your resume is lighter on bottom-line accomplishments, take a look at your skills and how you can enhance that area. Are you a go-to resource for a particular skill or were you frequently consulted by colleagues on projects? Have you ever gone above and beyond your traditional job duties? Share your story.
  6. Outsmart Resume Bots – it’s common for larger companies to use an Applicant Tracking Software to weed out unqualified candidates. It’s no secret many candidates may not get past an ATS. To help your chances of getting your resume seen, tailor it to include some of the keywords or skills in the job description. You might end up with several different versions of your resume, but you want to make sure whatever you submit aligns with the job requirements.

Resumes are difficult to write; we’re all different and how you write your resume truly depends on the job you’re applying for. You now have some tips and tricks to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Good luck!

Why Should I Create a LinkedIn Profile?

You might be asking yourself this exact question. When you think about it, it makes sense if you view LinkedIn only as a tool for active job seekers. Regardless, yes, you should care, even if you have a job. Here’s why…

LinkedIn is a professional social media network. Users turn to LinkedIn for many reasons. Professionals in a variety of fields engage in business related discussions to feel a part of something bigger.

“But, what if I’m not looking for a new job? Doesn’t being on LinkedIn send the wrong signal to my employer?” Absolutely not! We can’t argue that job searching is often the main reason people choose to become active on LinkedIn. This platform is your digital resume to show employers what you know, but simply being on LinkedIn is in no way an acknowledgement that you’re looking.

It’s important to understand a few main reasons companies might go on LinkedIn to view your profile. You’ve already applied for a job, at some point during the interviewing process they’ll visit your LinkedIn page to vet you. Not only do they want to see you have a page set up, but also what others might be saying about you. The employers may use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool as well. Many recruiters simply search LinkedIn to discover people who match the job criteria and you want to be found in that search. A 2016 Jobvite Survey found 87 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.

Sure, some might assume you’re a job seeker, but having a strong profile is in your favor to showcase your experience even if you’re employed and are not job hunting.  Current and potential customers might want to check out your credentials and look at your profile to assure them you’re capable and qualified.

Here are a few things you can do to elevate your LinkedIn profile:

  1. Review your work history to ensure your profile matches your current resume. Your job titles, dates of employment, and accomplishments need to be current. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to find discrepancies. This implies you are either untrustworthy or not attentive to details.
  2. Get recommendations from people in your LinkedIn network. Reach out to your connections and ask for a recommendation. It’s okay to let the person know a few specifics you would like them to mention. These show recruiters and hiring managers the value you can provide to their company.
  3. Use LinkedIn to network and build your connections. Connect with colleagues and industry peers. Engage with what they share on LinkedIn and post industry related content to your profile as well. Join industry discussions and groups. Keeping current with industry-related topics shows employers you know what you’re doing.
  4. Add your skills and get endorsements. On LinkedIn a skill equals a keyword. If you are seeking a new job, you will appear in search results when people are looking for those skills. Recruiters are more likely to contact you if you have the right skills shown. You can also be endorsed for your skills by your connections. These are a quick way for someone to say you are good at that particular skill. Endorse your connections for their skills and they will be more likely to endorse you for your skills in return.
  5. Be mindful of what you post! You don’t want to share anything that could make someone question your morals or work ethic. If you post negative comments about colleagues or your current employer, the reader will assume you’ll post similar things about them as well.
  6. Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile. Start with uploading a photo. Aim for a photo of just yourself in a professional setting. If you have a professional headshot that is great too! Don’t use a photo where it’s obvious you tried to crop out other people. Get dressed up and stand against a simple, uncluttered background to have your friend or colleague take your photo. Be sure you’ve completed all sections of your profile. You don’t want to give others the idea you don’t finish what you start.

Whether you’re looking for a job or not, you are own sales team and branding expert for yourself. LinkedIn is one of many tools you can use. Your profile is a representation of you and your employer, think of how much more positively customers and recruiters would view you if you did have a strong profile?

Even if you aren’t actively seeking a new job, you now have many reasons to care about your LinkedIn profile. It’s worth to take the time to make yourself stand out!

“Oh, no! The interviewer just asked, “What Are Your Weaknesses?”

Re-blogged from The Goodwill® Blog by Randy Wooden

No list of the most challenging interview questions would be complete without the ol’ “What Are Your Weaknesses” question.

Today I’ll explore why they’re asking the “What Are Your Weaknesses?” question and strategies for answering. Bear in mind, no single answer is necessarily best or worst, although I have a couple definitely in the running!

First, why are they asking it? They’re actually looking for signs you’re self-aware. Do you recognize an area or two where you realize you could improve? Beyond that, they’d want to know what you’re doing to actually improve.

Frankly, I think employers miss the mark by labeling it a “weakness.” That word carries a pretty negative connotation. And, when you think of it, an interview is the last place you’d want to talk about your negatives. I’d prefer they phrase the answer differently. For example, “Tell me an area you’ve identified for improvement, and what steps are you taking to address it?”

OK, so they’ve laid that “weakness” trap. Now, how do you answer?

First, the two worst answers are to either say you have no weaknesses or to say you’re a perfectionist. I’ve heard people encourage folks to “turn a weakness into a strength.” Don’t go there. It’s a nice thought and sounds great, but it’s impractical and falls apart when the employer drills down to learn more.

Now that you know what not to say, here are a couple ways to answer their question. One thought is to change the question’s wording, much like above where I’d wished the employer would have done so right from the start.

It goes something like, “While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a weakness, one area I’ve identified for improvement is ___. Here’s what I’ve done/am doing to address it…” Perhaps you speak of a class or training you’re taking. Maybe you’re reading a book on a business-related area.

Another strategy is to bring up something easily seen. For example, perhaps you lack a college degree. Or maybe you don’t have specific industry experience. State the obvious, then tell them what you DO have.

For example, “Some might say my lack of a college degree is a weakness. And while I can’t change that as I sit here today, what I can tell you is I have xxx number of years doing the very sort of work you need to have done. If you have to have a degree, I’m not your man. But if you’ll look at my experience and accomplishments, I hope you’d see I’d do an excellent job!”

Avoid bringing up traits such as being impatient, overly analytical, etc. And for goodness sake don’t talk about being combative, quick tempered, uncooperative, hard to motivate, etc.

Speaking to weaknesses – or areas of needed improvement – can make you feel like you’re giving them a reason NOT to hire you. Hopefully today’s tips will give you a degree of confidence in handling one of the most difficult interview questions out there. Good luck!

Also check out our, “What Are Your Strengths?” blog for more help with interview questions.

Answering the Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths?”

Re-Blogged From The Goodwill ® Blog by Randy Wooden

The “What Are Your Strengths” question is one of a handful of questions most all interviewers will ask at some point. And while it’s not a question like the “What Are Your Weaknessess?” one that’ll make you squirm, I’ve too often found clients failing to nail it.

They aren’t nailing the answer to the “What Are Your Strengths” question because clients are simply mentioning a skill, but not providing any supportive information to back it up.

I’ve come up with acronyms to help with remembering how to structure some interview questions. GEESE, for example, to answer ‘tell me about yourself.’

So let’s have a little fun and try another acronym. This one’s a little edgy, but at least you’ll remember it: S.T.D’s. The “S” is the strength or skill. The “T” is the title and company where you worked. And the “D” means to describe an example of that skill.

For example, maybe your strength/skill is dependability. Rather than just saying, “I’m very dependable,” followed by a bit of silence as the employer waits for you to explain why, here’s a better way to answer it.

“I’d say I’m very dependable. (The “S”) For example, when I worked as a cashier for Company XYZ, (The “T”) my manager had me either open or close because she knew I’d get my work done on time and correctly. Also, she’d call me in to work extra shifts in bad weather or when people had called in sick. (The “D”)”

See how much better that sounds? I’d also like to see you add something along the lines of, “And that’s the sort of attitude I’d bring to your company as well.” In doing so you’re not simply showing why you think you’re dependable, but you’re wrapping up your answer by telling the employer why that’ll be a benefit to them, too.

Here’s another point to consider.

What sort of strength or skill should you mention? Ideally you’ll have read their job description and should know what’s important to the employer. Let that serve to guide you.

As a general rule strengths like dependability, hard work, honesty, etc., are difference makers at the lower end of the wage scale. As you move up in wages to jobs requiring greater knowledge or skill, those basic strengths are viewed as a given. In other words, a manager would never answer by saying they’re dependable, but an entry level or lower wage hourly employee might find that to be a great strength to cite.

I’ll end with a story I’ve shared many times over the years. I was teaching a job search class at Goodwill through the Department of Social Services. Most students needed lots of interview practice, but were having difficulty remembering what I was sharing with them. So I came up with those silly acronyms like STD and GEESE.

One day a former student came back to Goodwill to thank everyone who’d helped her land a job. She was thrilled… and when she saw me from a distance down the hall at our Goodwill, she yelled out, “Mr. Randy… Mr. Randy… I just want to thank you for those STDs!”

Imagine the look on peoples’ faces as they turned to look at her, then to me! As we got closer, she said I’d made it fun and easy to remember… and that because of my teaching that she was able to land a job she really wanted.

Sometimes being silly helps you remember. Try it. Good luck!

Fall is a Peak Hiring Season – Are You Ready?

Re-Blogged From The Goodwill ® Blog by Randy Wooden

As we approach fall, it’s back to school time and the end of summer vacations. Fall also marks one of the top two “seasons” for hiring. Are you ready to make the most of this peak hiring time?

Yes, fall and the first quarter of the year are typically the most active in terms of hiring. Let’s take a few minutes today to ensure you’re ready.

Do you have a resume? If not, put one together and be sure to customize it to make it match as closely as is truthful to the job for which you’re applying. Instead of having a family member review your resume, try to get a recruiter or hiring official look it over. Family members mean well, but often times either don’t want to challenge you or, possibly, they really don’t know what constitutes a good resume in the first place.

Are there certain companies you think you’d like to work for? Even if they aren’t presently listing openings, that’ll change. You’ll want to be front of mind when that happens. Showing interest in a company by getting to know people there – before they advertise an opening – goes a long way toward standing out when there is an opening.

If you’re a professional – or desire to become one – are you on LinkedIn? More and more, companies are using LinkedIn to source candidates… candidates who might not otherwise know about that company’s opening. Once you’ve put together a good resume, then focus your attention on building a solid LinkedIn profile page.

What about staffing companies/headhunters? Make them aware you’re looking. Quite often employers will use a staffing company as the entry point to eventually getting hired full time. In other words, the employer wants to “try you before they buy you.” For many positions, you have to go through the staffing firm, so get to know them sooner versus later.

If you’ve set up your resume on sites like Indeed, Monster, etc., double check them to ensure your information is up to date. Do you have additional duties or accomplishments to list? Even if it is up to date, make a simple edit or two so that your resume is now pushed back up very high when companies conduct a search for resumes based on ‘most recent.’

We’ve all probably heard the term, “Make hay while the sun shines.” Well, the period between Labor Day and mid-November is your chance to make some real headway. Hopefully today’s checklist will help ensure you’re doing all you can to land that next job. Good luck!