Risk Failure to Achieve Career Success!

If I told you that I have been downhill skiing for more than forty years, you might assume that, by now, I must be really good. You would be wrong. I am what I like to call a “cautious skier”. I seek out the green runs and my goal is always the same – to stay
upright. I would like to ski better, or at least enjoy it more, but my anxiety about the possibility of falling down and hurting myself causes me to tense up unless I am well inside my comfort zone, skiing along trails that barely qualify as hills.

Recently, I asked a friend, who is a ski instructor, for some advice on how I might improve. She told me that if I genuinely want to become a better skier, I will have to get out of my comfort zone, take on more challenging hills, build up some speed, and risk a wipe-out. Sage advice, and also an excellent prescription for career success.

We all enjoy feeling competent at work and school and many of us gravitate to tasks we find easy with the goal of pats on the back at work or high grades at school. Challenges come with the risk of failure and possible confirmation that we are not smart enough or talented enough to handle a more difficult problem or a more complicated situation. Unfortunately, over time, this strategy can result in negative career growth. It is associated with what psychologist Carol Dweck has identified as a “Fixed Mindset”, http://mindsetonline.com.

People with this characteristic believe that they have fixed intelligence and abilities. In their minds, if a skill requires effort to master, if they are not “naturals”, then they must be missing that talent. They avoid challenges, and failure may cause them to withdraw from a particular field of endeavour altogether (e.g. “I will never be good at math” or “I’m just not management material”).

Taking risks may lead to career success!

Taking risks may lead to career success!

In contrast, Dr. Dweck’s research has shown that people with a “Growth Mindset” believe they can build their capabilities through effort and practice. They see setbacks as a part of their growth and look for ways around them, applying even more effort and seeking even greater challenges. They are committed to learning. Not surprisingly, people with a growth mindset are more likely to realize their potential in all areas, including their careers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN34FNbOKXc

Stepping outside of your comfort zone to accept a new challenge at work may feel scary, and contemplating a public failure may make you cringe. But situations which make us the most uncomfortable can also offer the most opportunity for growth. If you are serious about taking your career to the next level, you may have to risk a wipe-out.

Caroline Burgess is an Educational Consultant and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of posts aimed at assisting job seekers and those in career development. Be sure to share our info to your network. Happy reading!


To speed interview or not to speed interview?

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a mock speed interview provided by my instructor while enrolled in the Work Search Tools and Techniques course of the Career Consultant Certificate program at Mohawk College.

I have never participated in anything thing like this and to tell you the truth, I found it very exhausting and stressful.  I can only imagine what it would feel like if it was a real speed interview.  The way it works is you have a few minutes to spend with an interviewer and they ask a series of questions within those few minutes.

The questions asked in this mock speed interview were very interesting and could be asked in a real situation.  Some of the questions asked were, what is your greatest accomplishment?  Who in your life made an impact on your career?  Some questions that I couldn’t see being asked but could be asked to show creativity were if you had super hero powers, what would they be?  Name 10 things you can do with a pencil other than writing?  And finally, how would you weigh an airplane if you didn’t have a scale?

This process makes you think on the spot and really shows an employer how you react under stress!  The employers are also looking at your body language and your appearance.  I found that speed interviewing emphasizes the fact that you really need to know who you are and what skills you have to offer an employer.  Remember, you only have a few minutes to answer the questions accurately and you don’t have time to hesitate.

Being prepared is the key to success in anything you do from preparing your resume, to job searching, to interviewing.  If you ever have the opportunity to participate in a mock speed interview, I highly suggest you try it.  Not only will it help you prepare for an actual speed interview, it will allow you to know what to expect.

MCACESBlogs is a series of blogs created by students enrolled in the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. Be sure to follow our blog and learn about the tips tools and tricks of the work search process from current and aspiring Career Practitioners!

Speed interviewing is a great way to practice your job interview skills...fast!

Speed interviewing is a great way to practice your job interview skills…fast!

Oh, What To Wear?!? Appropriate Interview Attire

Career Consultant Certificate student Debra Hand provides interview attire advice!

Career Consultant Certificate student Debra Hand provides interview attire advice!

Have you ever woke up and couldn’t decide what to wear?  Now imagine the added stress of figuring out what to wear to a job interview?!?!?! There are many steps one can do to ensure they are properly attired. Let’s begin.

If you are not sure what to wear, you can begin by checking out the employer’s office.  If it is a public office, casually go in, walk around and see what everyone is wearing.  If the building is a secured building and you have no way of entering, grab a coffee and hang out outside the building and watch the people coming and going.  Once you have a sense on what everyone is wearing, you can then begin to put together your “interview outfit.”  This process has two positives outcomes; the first is you have an idea of what the employees wear and what the office culture is like, and second, you know where you are going for your interview.  So not only will you look great and fit in, you won’t be late!

If you cannot do either of the previous steps, error on the side of caution.  I suggest business casual which could consist of, for the ladies, dress pants or a knee length skirt, blouse and a blazer if you have one.  Do not show too much leg or too much cleavage.  For the gents, dress pants, dress shirt and tie, or sweater over dress shirt, tie optional. One thing to keep in mind is not to dress too formal, unless the type of job you are interviewing for calls for it.  Keep your colours dark or neutral tones as this will enable the interview to focus on your skills and not the loud colours of your outfit.  Shoes should be clean and polished and for goodness sake, do not wear running shoes and especially for the ladies, no flip flops!!!

Be sure that your outfit is clean and pressed and ready the day before the interview.  There is nothing worse than running around at the last minute trying to get everything ready and this step definitely will take alot of stress off the preparations for your interview.

When it comes to personal hygiene and grooming, it is suggested that you shower, nobody wants to interview someone who smells badly.  It has also been said that “you are what you eat” so be careful of the types of foods you eat before an interview.  I know I have spoken to someone who has eaten a very spicy dish and it wasn’t a very pleasant conversation.  I couldn’t wait to get away for them.  And please, please, please, refrain from too much perfume or cologne as you could be interviewed by someone who has scent allergies.  Also, for the ladies, if you choose to wear makeup, keep it neutral and light.  Finally, the one thing I personally do when I dress for any event, is look in the mirror to see if I’m overdone.  If I have to second guess what I am wearing, including accessories, I avoid wearing these items.

If you keep all of these tips in mind and are prepared and organized, you are sure to make a great first impression when you meet with your prospective employer.

Debra Hand is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. For more information about the world of work including tips and techniques, be sure to follow MCACESblogs! For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate, please contact Lidia Siino at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

The Easiest Job Search

Have you ever gotten a job when you weren’t even looking?  ………..How often does that happen?

Well, I don’t mean to brag, but this could happen to anyone as long as you remain open minded so that when a chance experience comes along ….you go for it!   Don’t sit around and wait for it to happen.  You have to take risks ……….. try new approaches.  You never know how it might turn out.

I’ll tell you my experience and then you might want to take that risk next time.   I was very happy in my bookkeeping job at a small non-profit organization.  However, I picked up the phone one day and a friend, who happened to be an Employment Counsellor, said  “I have a job posting here and it sounds like the perfect job for you!”  The first thing I thought was…..”Aren’t I already in the perfect job for me?”  Then I thought of the last time I updated my résumé or had an interview…..it was 3 years.  I should apply for this job just to keep updated and practice my interviewing skills.  What the heck!   So this is what I did:

  1. Got a copy of the job posting.  It was very interesting and a nice increase in pay!!  Bonus!!
  2. Updated my résumé targeting this exact posting
  3. Wrote a cover letter and sent it and my targeted résumé to the company

OK, that was good practice….and then I got a call from the company to come for a computer test.  A lot of businesses have this as part of the interview process if computers are a big part of the job.  Now I was nice and relaxed because my future was not riding on this test.  I spent a few minutes in conversation with the person that set me up on the laptop to do the test.  This interaction was good because she was later asked by the interview panel who she liked and she mentioned ME because I was the only candidate who actually took the time to have a short conversation  with her.

I was called for an interview and was very relaxed yet honest and professional to the interview panel…not so relaxed that I looked bored or cocky…..that is a no no for interviews.  So this is what I did:

  1. Smiled and used a firm handshake
  2. Made eye contact to the person asking the question as well as to the others on the panel
  3. Did not fidget or cross my arms…..body language says a lot!
  4. Answered all the questions with honest, personal or professional examples
  5. Offered a portfolio for panel to review or referred to examples in portfolio to answer question
  6. Asked a few questions of my own at the end
  7. Provided references
  8. Sent a thank you note off to the HR person after the interview

I was  sitting at work the next day when my colleague got a call from the panel as one of my references at the same time I was talking to another reference who called to say they just talked to the panel.  I don’t think it was 10 seconds after I hung up the phone and they called and offered me the position!

To make a long story short……I accepted the position and 6 months later I would have been laid off of my perfect job that I didn’t think I needed to leave.   The moral of this story is jump on every opportunity, take risks because you never know…….Image

Dawn Walker is a Continuing Education Student currently studying with the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca

Finding That Dream Job (Part 4)

Does anyone like interviews?  The very thought of an interview makes me nervous.  In fact, I think I’m breaking out in hives just writing about the topic!  Unfortunately, job interviews are a necessary component of getting a job.  My advice is to research your potential employer, know your stuff and most importantly, try to relax!

Job interview tips!

Job interview tips!

You can learn about your potential employer a couple of ways.  Check out their website and familiarize yourself with their policies.  You can also do a Google search on your soon-to-be employer.  If you have friends or acquaintances that work for the company, give them a shout and find out about the interviewing process.  For example, will you be interviewed by a single person or a panel?  Are there multiple steps to the interviewing process?

Prior to the interview, make sure you’re well prepared so you can walk into the interviewing room with a confident, (but not arrogant) stride!  If you are a teacher, go over the Ontario Curriculum documents and other vital documents.  What types of questions might they ask at the interview?  Brainstorm possible questions and practice, practice, practice, answering the questions in an articulate manner.

Finally, relax and try to enjoy the experience as much as possible.  For me, a job interview is a great excuse to buy a new outfit!  My point is, make sure you know exactly what you are going to wear prior to the day of the interview.  You don’t want to be immersed in a total state of panic, trying to find the perfect outfit.  Also, get directions to the interview location prior to the big day.  I’ve actually done a “drive-by” a few days before some interviews to make sure I knew exactly where I’d be going.

My last parting thoughts on the topic of interviews – have a cup of herbal tea, perhaps chamomile, and plan to arrive ten minutes early.  But most importantly, be yourself, and remember to smileJ

Renee Morley is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.