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Five Signs that an Interview Is Done

Take a few spins around the Internet and you will find a good amount of blogposts on what to do in an interview, what to do after an interview, what can sink an interview, and what questions to ask at an interview. There are a good amount of these posts online; but from my own job hunts since 2007, I collected a few experiences that serve as my own warnings for when interviews and opportunities are not as promising as what they first seemed.

Consider the following as sure-fire signs you need to find a graceful exit, stage left.

1. The job description and actual opportunity are two different things. Everyone has a job, and some recruiters are resorting to tactics that are not necessarily illegal but highly unethical. I once applied for a job advertized as a Social Media Specialist position with an emphasis on marketing. When the recruiter replied to my application, I was informed that the position involved Social Media through marketing, promising fantastic commissions depending on my enthusiasm for the position. When I asked “So this is more of a sales position instead of a Social Media position?” the recruiter responded with “Are you interested in a career change?”

This tactic is a great way of showing a recruiter’s higher up’s how well they are performing, receiving and reaching out to a wide variety of potential associates. All it costs these recruiters are copious amounts of your time.

2. The recruiter is dropping buzz words left and right. I was approached by yet another recruiter that was interested in talking with me about a Social Media opportunity. Here’s how he initially described it:

“The candidate will tap into the ROI of his or her various networks, maximizing the impressions brought about from a like, a share, a re-tweet, and what-not. The idea of this approach to promotion and marketing is to tap into the potential of networks already established — namely your friends, family, Twitter contacts, and such — are then bringing those relationships into a client’s network and cultivating those to become testimonials to our clients.”

I paused and the asked “So you want me to turn to my personal networks and promote the client to them? Basically, you want me to be a Social Media telemarketer?” He “backed up” and explained the position in a different way…through a new plethora of buzz words, doing very little to make the position appear appealing.

If you need a dictionary of buzzwords to describe a position, chances are the position in question may test the boundaries of ethics. So you might want to re-consider a job that relies on double-speak to explain its requirements and duties.

(And yes, the recruiter really used “what-not” in the job description.)

3. Wining, Dining, and Power Playing. I was thrilled when the CEO of a PR group reached out to me to arrange a lunch meeting over an opportunity for their Vice President of Social Media Strategy and Training. The meeting was at a very fashionable restaurant in downtown Washington D.C. The CEO, two additional VP’s, and I had a terrific lunch, but my warning of what was really going on came when I was told:

  • The VP currently holding this position was not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media initiatives, and did not care for Social Media on a whole.
  • The current VP had come to an agreement with his CEO and fellow executives that he could running his own business on the side, and that original arrangement apparently wasn’t working out as originally planned by the PR firm.

So what did this tell me? This told me that the current executive wasn’t performing up to snuff; so as a power play, the CEO reached out to a potential replacement, and then held the interview in open company with two executives I had not met previously.

I was a scare tactic. Trust me — this is a place you really don’t want to be.

4. You need to bring the interview back on topic. Repeatedly. It might surprise you how many times I have struggled to keep the interview on track. The first time, I was in an interview where the president of the company was more fascinated with my time as a professional actor than what I can do with social media. If you find yourself trying to steer an interview back to the topic at hand, the truth of the interview is tough to swallow: they’re just not that into you.

black_hole5. Your time is irrelevant, and therefore worthless. I was scheduled for an interview with two directors and a VP, but had no idea exactly what the pay range was for this position. In the opening twenty minutes, an interview with the hiring recruiter, I asked the pay range of the position, I was given “That’s not my place to say. That’s the VP’s.” If this was a large organization, I’d understand but I knew from the recruiter this was an organization of seven people. When the VP finally gave me an appropriate time to ask this question, over two hours had passed; and this is when I discovered the pay range was not even close to what I would be asking.

Two hours. Gone. Not including the commute in and out of D.C.

This was a detail that could have been addressed within the first half-hour, but instead I had to wait for two hours. If this is how a prospect values your time in an interview, you have a good idea how your time is valued in the workplace. It also gives a good indication of how mismanaged time is in the work environment as well. After all, this was time lost for the job prospect as well as yours.

Exactly why is this kind of shoddy treatment happening? It would be easy to say “Oh it’s the economy, and employers are calling the shots…” but a job market with a seemingly endless talent pool to draw from is no hall pass for unprofessional behavior. Your time and your talent are still worth something. After all, this is why you’re interviewing for a position in the first place, right? Never forget the interview works both ways. Make sure to ask questions and keep an eye out for details. While the interview is a chance for a job opportunity to screen you, this is your chance to get an impression of a company as well.

Tell Me Everything: Why Your LinkedIn Profile Should Be Complete

linkedin-logoWhile I impress the need to be safe and to be selective in what to share, there are some times when a complete profile and sharing is imperative. Such is the case with LinkedIn. I myself have been using LinkedIn for a while now, but watching the professional networking site evolve into a more social experience, I have set aside more time to not only interact with its members but also take advantage of its options and benefits.

And if you haven’t, one advantage you should be taking advantage of is LinkedIn’s impressive mobile app, a terrific extension to what you can accomplish with LinkedIn working completely for you.

Herein lies the secret of LinkedIn — making it work completely for you. Even though LinkedIn is free, there is still an investment of time. When I found myself aggressively applying LinkedIn in 2012 for a job hunt, I knew I needed to give my online resume a complete update and overhaul, something I hadn’t done since 2009. I spent close to three days in re-writing summaries, collecting locations and titles, and updating employment history. That was when I notice a new feature: the “Profile Completeness” progress bar, located in the upper-right corner of my profile. I was only at 70%. I (can still) remember in college spending a solid week on my print resume, so another day or two to work on that 30% would not be so bad.

I hit the “100% completion” mark by the end of the day.

While I did feel a sense of accomplishment, I wondered why LinkedIn was suddenly focused on Profile Completeness? Wasn’t my degree and work experience enough? On a basic level, yes, but the basics alone isn’t what LinkedIn is all about. LinkedIn is a rare opportunity for candidates to get their name and experience in front of a physical person, and that can be a real challenge as resumes face a cyber-gauntlet designed to weed out candidates based on keywords. LinkedIn has evolved into the online initial screening and this is why a completed profile is important:

  • Completing a profile shows that you can finish a task. Think about it: you’re applying for a job and yet you didn’t feel the need to complete your profile, a trait that is visible when potential recruiters click the “View Full Profile” option.
  • Completing your profile showcases your writing skills. A skill essential to success in the corporate arena is strong writing. Your profile’s “Summary” is a first impression through writing, as well as a chance to pepper your profile with keywords that can improve your profile’s chances of being earmarked for consideration.
  • A complete profile goes more into the person behind the portfolio. While the basic one (or in those rare cases, two) page resumes give the details of you on the job, the complete LinkedIn profile offers you the ability to share published bylines, recommendations of peers and superiors from specific jobs, and honors and distinctions earned in the workplace.

Go on and invest some time in your LinkedIn profile. Set out to create a complete digital first impression that will keep you in front of potential clientele and employers. LinkedIn — when done right — can be your most powerful and impressive platform on which to build upon it a successful career.