Blog Archives

5 Things Never to Ask in a Job Interview

Image
It’s that time of the year, college graduation is just around the corner and soon after, THE REAL WORLD! Looking for a job is an exciting adventure but definitely can be quite stressful at the same time. Here are a few tips on what NOT to ask in an interview.
Your resume didn’t fall into a black hole. You’ve been called for an interview. You picked out a nice suit to wear and you’re ready to dazzle them with your smarts. And you know it’s important to have questions for the interviewer because it shows you’re engaged and genuinely interested in the position.
The wrong questions, however, can tank even the best interview. You know better than to bring up salary, benefits or vacation early on in a discussion — those are still commonly viewed as taboo in a first interview. But there are other, less-known pitfalls to avoid as well.
Here are five questions you should never ask in a job interview.
What does this company do?

You’re here to interview with Consolidated Widget Makers, and you didn’t bother to look up what they do? That’s inexcusable.

This is an unfortunate, but common, mistake now that people can easily apply to multiple positions with the help of job boards, says Kenneth Johnson, president of East Coast Executives, a Philadelphia based executive search firm. “A Google search will uncover the answer and save you the embarrassment.”
Even if you’ve applied to dozens of positions and been on many interviews, treat each new one as the potential game-changer that it is. When you’re called, in addition to the time and address of the interview, be sure to take down the name of the company and interviewer so you can do some research and show up well prepared.

What is your drug testing policy? 

Johnson says this is the worst question he’s asked in interviews. “Even if the company has a very liberal testing policy, this question definitely raises some doubts about your candidacy.” Asking is unprofessional and a huge red flag to employers.

How long until I can have your job?

I’ve heard this one often, says Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. “Some candidates seem to think this demonstrates career focus and gumption. On the other side of the table it feels obnoxious. Demonstrate strong passion and commitment for the job you’re interviewing for.”
If you’re asked about your five- or 10-year plan, that would be the time to inquire or express your desire for advancement, but “until then, articulate your commitment and qualifications for the job at hand,” explains Hurt.

What about overtime?

Questions about overtime can get you in trouble a couple ways. First, employers who are worried about budgets and hiring hourly staff may be very sensitive to paying out for extra time. Asking if you’ll get frequent overtime may mean you’ll risk turning them off in favor of a candidate who will work efficiently within their regular hours only.

A question such as “Will I have to work overtime?” is also bad form. “Asking this question during the interview gives the interviewer the impression that you don’t want to put in any more work than is required. This does not give the interviewer a positive impression of you,” says Cheryl Palmer, owner of executive coaching firm Call to Career.

It’s probably best to ask what the normal hours for your position will be and leave it at that.

Any question about what you’ve already been told.

The person who wrote that job listing worked hard to make sure it conveyed the right information to the right group of people. It obviously worked if you’ve applied and gotten as far as the interview stage. Don’t make all their hard work seem trivial by not fully reading every communication they send.
“If someone asks me questions during the job interview that have already been covered in the job posting or emails, it makes me question their attention to detail,” explains Carol Cochran, HR director for FlexJobs, a job search service for telecommuting and flexible positions.

20 Things Twenty-Somethings Don’t Get….BUT SHOULD!

Here at Denali Executives, we specialize in leadership and entrepreneurship. Running a business and hiring “millennials” has been quite interesting and after reading this article on Forbes.com, a lot of things make since!

Image

Time is Not a Limitless Commodity – I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level.  In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want.  Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back.  Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated – Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet.  As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Sh-t Medal.”  Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential.  There’s no prize for talent, just results.  Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success.  (Tip: read “Talent is Overrated”)

We’re More Productive in the Morning – During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis.  I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone.  But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours.  Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

Social Media is Not a Career – These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both.  Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue.  It’s not an end in itself.  I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.

Pick Up the Phone – Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person.  It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities.  And when the Internet goes down… stop looking so befuddled and don’t ask to go home.  Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.

Be the First In & Last to Leave ­– I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career.  You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove.  There’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.

Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do – You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility.  You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do.  Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure.  Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.  

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career.  But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution.  Stop trying to justify your F-ups.  You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked – Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have.  This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career.  Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing ­­– 1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company.  It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion.  It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship.  Otherwise your resume reads as a series of red flags on why not to be hired.

People Matter More Than Perks – It’s so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings.  Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you’ve left.  Make a conscious bet on the folks you’re going to work for and your commitment to them will pay off much more than those fluffy perks.

Map Effort to Your Professional Gain – You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do.  Keep your eye on the prize.   Connect what you’re doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow.  That should be all the incentive you need. If you can’t map your future success to your current responsibilities, then it’s time to find a new opportunity. 

Speak Up, Not Out – We’re raising a generation of sh-t talkers.  In your workplace this is a cancer.  If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP.  Don’t take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards.  If you can effectively communicate what needs to be improved, you have the ability to shape your surroundings and professional destiny.

You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops – Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore.  I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position.  If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.

Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter – It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business.  Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it.  Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible. (TIP: Here is my Networking Advice)

You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors – The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who’ve achieved what you seek.  You should always have at least 3 people you call mentors who are where you want to be.  Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive.  

Pick an Idol & Act “As If” – You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does.  I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act “as if.”  If you were (fill in the blank) how would he or she carry themselves, make decisions, organize his/her day, accomplish goals?  You’ve got to fake it until you make it, so it’s better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine.   (Shout out to Tony Robbins for the tip)

Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts – Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters:  all breadth and no depth.  Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover.  All the keys to your future success, lay in the past experience of others.  Make sure to read a book a month  (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.

Spend 25% Less Than You Make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big.  Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment).  Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential.  You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income.  No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life.  It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.

Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business.  It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity.  Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure.  It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.

                                                    –Written by Jason Nazar, Owner of Docstoc

 

Let us know your thoughts!

 

10 Actions You Can Take That Will Dramatically Change Your Life 10 Actions You Can Take That Will Dramatically Change Your Life

Someone once said “experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.” However, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what that test is. We are not going to go into the usual jargon about taking up a hobby, going for a jog, or joining a self-improvement group. Changing our lives can be complex. Nonetheless, the flow of life is onward and upward irrespective of our need for self adjustment.

Here are the actions you can take to create dramatic change in your life.

 

10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Change Your Life

 

#1 Get over It!

Yep, that’s it. Get over life. Stop making life more complicated than it is. Everything happens for a reason, and when one door shuts, another one opens. Once we stop resisting life and live it, we will see dramatic changes take place. One famous and wealthy actress who once lived in a homeless shelter stated “I learned that I could live through any situation. I grew into a person who knew that they could always make their own way.”

Learn your lesson, get over it, and move on.

 

#2 Change Your Outlook

Dramatic changes calls for employing that stint of courage that propels us to make positive changes in our lives. Prepare for positive and new things to enter your life. A shift in consciousness is all that is needed to make the changes you seek.

 

#3 Go for it!

If you are dreaming of something bigger, it won’t come to you. You will have to go out there and get it. Jenna Fischer, an actress on the hit TV show “The Office,” made a trip from her hometown to Los Angeles expecting to land a super job within a year. However, it took much longer. But patience paid off and she eventually landed movie roles and started producing.

 

#4 Don’t Give Up

Good things come to those who do not give up, not to those who wait! Change requires action but those changes won’t usually happen over night. In 1983, Dewey Bozella, then an amateur boxer, was convicted of a murder he did not commit. It took over 20 years for his name to be cleared. Free to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a boxer, he was 52, stepped into the ring against a 30 year old fighter and won! At the end of the night he said “Don’t every give up.” Lesson learned.

 

#5 Go on a Diet

Many of us have tried various diets whether to loose weight or gain it. But those are not the types of diets we are referring to here. In order to make significant changes in your life you should try a “mental diet.” Get out all the clutter that’s been stuck in your brain for eons. That means releasing yourself from the negative thoughts that keep you from being the person you wish to be.

 

#6 Be Thankful

Instead of wondering through life like an ungrateful tormentor always wanting more, more, more, maybe its time to appreciate what you already have. It may not seem like much, but making this type of change in your life will help you feel better about yourself, thereby, changing your outlook on life.

 

#7 Chill Out

Today, it seems so difficult for people to simply relax. Beating the walls and making a big hoot about everything will only make you a nuisance, and no one will want to be around you. Former US president Ronald Regan once stated “its true, hard work never killed anybody, but why take the chance.”

There’s a difference between hard work and working hard. If you have the “all or nothing” attitude, change it.

 

#8 Become Less Sensitive

Sometimes changing ourselves requires “seeing ourselves as others do.” If you are one of those people that others feel the need to “walk on eggshells” whenever they are around you maybe they are on to something. Our own thoughts about ourselves are always the most important, but delusional musing is a great obstacle to change.

 

#9 Have a Broader Sense of Humor

Nothing changes the heart and mind like a good laugh. Laughter creates an opening where tension and fear once closed the door. Even while alone, have a few funny quotes you read that generates a deeply rich honest chuckle. A humorous quote by political satirist and entertainer Mark Russell says “the scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.” It’s imaginative and funny.

 

#10 Love

The love being referenced to here is not the clinging, dark, jealous, possessive love that makes you hate yourself and causes others to run away from you. Love in general is the modus operandi referred to here. It’s easy to point the finger at others but love understands because we are not perfect ourselves. It changes you because you become more perceptive.

 

You can probably think of a few other ideas that can result in dramatic changes in your life or someone else’s. All that is required is the desire to change.’

Never Give Up on Your Dreams

You are what you dream of, when you doubt your dream you place a limit on your becoming. You cannot become what you doubt, you can only become what you believe. When people doubt your dream you can still fight your way to fulfill it. But when you doubt your dreams then that is the end of it. You are a major player in the reality of your dreams.

Dr. Tererai Trent’s personal story of growing up in poverty, and her desire to give back to others, made her Oprah Winfrey’s all-time favorite guest. Her amazing ‘never give up’ attitude is an inspiration and a lesson in perseverance.

Will Smith on the Law of Attraction

“I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. While the other guy’s sleeping, I’m working. While the other guys eating, I’m working.” – Will Smith

Ten Tips for Success

 
1. Improve your physical ENERGY level. You can’t make your goals and dreams come true if you are burned out, stressed out and running on empty. If you are dead on your feet, you are dead in the water.
 
 
2. Improve your sense of  PURPOSE. If your heart isn’t in the battle, you have lost the war way before it has begun.
 
3. Improve your ATTITUDE. It is impossible to make anything in your life worthwhile with a negative, self-defeating attitude. Admit to yourself that you don’t know it all and get excited about learning from the experience of others who are successful.
 
4. Improve your ability to SET GOALS. Without crystal-clear goals, you will simply burn up precious time and energy… with little or no progress made towards realizing your dreams.
 
5. Improve your ability to MAKE PLANS. Remember this simple FACT…a goal without a plan is merely a wish without a hope
 
6. Improve your ability to PRIORITIZE your activities that will get results. Focusing on the IMPORTANT tasks that get RESULTS that gives you the edge over your competition.
 
7. Improve your ability to create strong teams and interpersonal SYNERGY. Real power comes from building powerful teams of high energy positive like minded people.
 
8. Get and stay ORGANIZED. If your systems don’t support you…redesign your systems until they do. This is the single biggest flaw in people that holds most of them back from attaining success and accomplishing their dreams and goals. If you are inefficient, you are out of the game. 
 
9. Make OPTIMUM use of your time. Fail to Optimize your time and you will never live up to your full potential. The game will be over before you even get into the hunt.
 
10. Take bold ACTIONS to make things happen. In every area of life, it’s up to you to GET the ball moving… and KEEP it rolling in the direction of your goals. Learn to continuously take Smarter Actions, and you WIN. Don’t and you won’t.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse: Leadership Lessons From “The Godfather”

 

What does a real-life CEO have in common with the central figures of a fictitious Mafia crime family in The Godfather? According to Justin Moore, CEO and founder of Axcient, plenty. 

Moore is a serial entrepreneur, early-stage advisor, and angel investor. He’s currently at the helm of Axcient, a company he founded that provides backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery services to the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market. Right now, Axcient is protecting more than 2 billion files and applications for businesses across North America.

Moore also happens to think that The Godfather is “one of the best movies ever made” and had a chance to watch it again when the film was aired extensively last week to mark the 40th anniversary of its premiere. Though a decade had passed since the last time Moore watched it, his recent viewing offered an unexpected reward. This time he found the film rife with teaching moments for CEOs running a business today.

“I certainly don’t endorse crime or violence, and I’m not suggesting business should operate like the Mafia,” explains Moore, “but there are some universal themes in the movie I can relate to as a CEO.” Moore says The Godfather offers valuable lessons in community and team building, making tough decisions, and playing to win while not neglecting friends and family.

Here are five essential leadership lessons Moore distilled for Fast Company.

1. Build a powerful community. 

Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. ~Vito Corleone

Uttered in the iconic rasp of Marlon Brando, the words of Vito Corleone illustrate how he creates a loyal community among those he has helped. Moore says, “By granting these favors and helping people with their problems, Vito Corleone is building a network of influence–relationships that may or may not deliver a specific or quantifiable return, but all which serve to strengthen his power base and which have the potential to be reciprocal in the long run.”

Moore says building strategic partnerships enables companies to work through challenging markets and fast-track overall success. “As a CEO, I see it as part of my job to be a super connector, networking with the technology and investment community without an expectation of reciprocation. Partnerships forged through time, trust, and mutual benefit–such as those Axcient has built with HP, Ingram-Micro, and a vast network of service providers and resellers–are the types of community relationships that bring about the greatest returns.”

2. Hold people accountable. 

What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft. ~Vito Corleone

The Godfather reminds us of the importance of being tough when necessary. “As soon as Vito Corleone allowed a few moments of weakness to be seen by his enemy, they attempted to assassinate him. And it was largely because of failures of his team,” Moore observes.

“In business, accountability isn’t achieved by a murderous rampage. But the lesson is this–to be successful in business you have to be tough, and you have to be extremely focused on hitting goals and getting results,” says Moore. That doesn’t mean patience and understanding don’t have a place, he says, but ongoing tolerance of low-performing people or products just eats away at the success of the entire company. “You are ultimately responsible for all of your employees and shareholders, and that requires tough and swift decisions.

3. Don’t get emotional. 

It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business. ~Michael Corleone

“Many people don’t like to talk about the fact that in business, there are winners and losers. When Sonny Corleone reacts impulsively and emotionally, he gets taken out. In business, if you don’t take the opportunity to out-sell, out-bid, or out-market your competitor, they’ll take you out. I’m not suggesting doing anything outside the boundaries of morality or rightness–simply pointing out that when people make emotional decisions, they start making bad decisions. To lead successfully, you have to take your emotion and ego out of the equation.”

Likewise, Moore says it’s important to play to win. In business, that translates to knowing the competition and always staying at least one step ahead. “Operate your business with integrity and have respect for competition, but you also need to seize opportunities to eliminate your competition and win.”

4. Be decisive. 

Moore says that he, like most people who appreciate The Godfather, watch the movie with a combination of shock and respect. “Shock because he is so ruthless that he kills his own family member, but respect for the fact that Don Corleone knows exactly what he wants, executes decisively, and commands respect through unwavering leadership.”

While you don’t have to kill anyone to prove a point, as soon as you know what choice to make, move forward. “Know who on your team is making the right choices, and trust them to take decisive action as well. Hesitation too often leads to missed opportunities.”

5. Spend time with your family. 

Do you spend time with your family? Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man. ~Vito Corleone 

Moore isn’t endorsing 1940s machismo, but he is decrying 100-hour workweeks that many entrepreneurs fall prey to in hot pursuit of the next big thing. Though he’s been dedicated like that in the past, Moore finds it’s not sustainable in the long run. 

“A leader can’t be successful in creative problem-solving and making excellent decisions unless that person is connected to people and passions outside of work. I find that it’s often time with family and friends that gives me the perspective I need to build the relationships and make the decisive actions required for continued success in business,” says Moore.

A Pep Talk from Kid President

Kid President shares his views on life and how we all have a choice to make our journey, truly amazing.

Whether you’re young or old, up or down, everyone can learn a thing or two from this inspirational boy they call, “Kid President“.

40 Inspirational Speeches in 2 Minutes

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt like you had no energy left, that the you cannot go on any further, or that you have tried every way possible and feel like giving up? Well this inspirational video here should be the answer to your problems and may be just what you need to break through!

How Bad do You Want It?

Renowned speaker, educator, author, activist and minister, Eric Thomas speech on success. Take action and choose to want success right now. Just make the decision to make a change in your life.