Monday, January 25, 2010

Interview tips for grads

In a recent CareerBuilder poll, more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals were asked to identify the biggest mistakes new college graduates make during the application and interview process. Based on the percentage of respondents who gave each answer, these are the top 8 poor moves among new grads

1. Acting bored or cocky (69%)This sounds familiar. We had someone interviewing at Pongo recently who seemed pretty good, but two or three people used the word "cocky" to describe the person's attitude. (Our managers, like those at many companies, solicit opinions from everybody who comes in contact with a job candidate, not just those in the interview room.) A positive, respectful attitude is one way to set yourself apart. Confident = good. Cocky = bad.

2. Not dressing appropriately (65%)
Your interview attire, like your attitude, says a lot about whether you're serious about proving yourself, or just think you're entitled to the job because you're you. Your clothing should be clean, pressed, and modest.

3. Coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company (59%)
There's no excuse for not researching an organization that's considering hiring you. They have a web site; use it to learn what they do, who they are, what they specialize in. Google the executives' names (after all, they'll be Googling you; see #8, below).

4. Not turning off cell phones or electronic devices (57%)
Frankly, I'm surprised this isn’t No. 1. If you accidentally leave your phone on and it rings during the interview, don't get flustered and start babbling, "OMG, I can't believe I did that!" Offer a brief, sincere apology, turn off the phone (without checking who it is), then carry on professionally as if nothing happened.

5. Not asking good questions during the interview (50%)
If you don't ask anything, you must not be interested. That's what the hiring manager will assume. This is a place where you supposedly want to spend most of your waking hours for the next couple years or more. You must want to know something. Besides, there are certain questions you should always ask.

6. Asking what the pay is before the company considered them for the job (39%)
Mentioning salary in a first interview is like asking your crush what s/he plans to spend on you during your relationship – before you've even agreed on a second date. You have to flirt and make sure they're attracted to you before you ask about a financial commitment.

7. Spamming employers with the same resume and/or cover letter (23%)
This guy John really, really wants to work for Company A, so he applies for every job opening Company A posts, whether he's qualified or not. Annoyed by John's never-ending resume spam, Company A's recruiters unofficially blacklist him (although if asked, they'll deny it). Don't be like John. Tailor your resume for the one or two jobs at your target company that align with your skills.

8. Failure to remove unprofessional photos/content from social networking pages, Web pages, blogs, etc. (20%)
You will be Googled. Employers today use every means at their disposal to uncover red flags that might foretell a bad hire.

The transition from college to the real world is tough, and our mistakes are good teachers. Commiting one of these eight blunders doesn't mean you're doomed, nor does avoiding them guarantee you’ll get the job. But generally speaking, it's fair to say less leads to more job offers.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The apprentice – A closer look

The apprentice – A closer look E-mail

Those that are left in the house have shown adaptability and possess a number of key characteristics that are essential to be a success in the business world. In the early episodes those that were lacking certain traits were clearly identifiable with aggressive outbursts and poor planning a common problem. These were at their height when Donal blew his cool in the boardroom at Brendan and when Jennifer spent the seed money on candles rather than a paint sprayer.

When the weakest candidates were weeded from the group we got to know the remaining candidates much more intimately, all their skills were tested, replayed and judged on a weekly basis for all of us to see. So what could be learnt from each contestant? What are the essential characteristics needed to bring you through the first few tasks and what are those little extras needed to win it.

Determination; “Nothing in this world can take the place of determination.

Talent; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.

Genius; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
Calvin Coolidge (American 30th President of the United States, 1872-1933)

This steely resolve is best seen in Aoiffe, ruthless at times and seemingly without loyalty but always focused on the objective and determined to win. This first quality is essential for anyone wanting to succeed in a commercial environment or indeed any work force throughout the country. Aoiffe is an extremely determined person and this drove her on to win numerous tasks. She reveled in the pressure of working to deadlines and targets as her success could be quantified and compared to others, this is core competency for any sales person and standard in a commercial sales position.

Confidence; “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.”
- Sven Goran Eriksson

In any business scenario confidence is paramount, it shows that you believe in yourself and your product, it in return gives confidence to your customer and encourages them to do business with you. The results of not having confidence were best seen when we look at our Breffny. His honesty and natural warmth were admirable, people liked him and found his general demeanour appealing however nobody would buy from him and his sales presentation were generally more comical than professional. The doubts he had in his own abilities led to customers believing that there were doubts on the product he was selling, a disaster for any business, a disaster for Breffny.

People Skills; “My advice to salesmen is this: pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, "Make me feel important." Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life”
Mary Kay Ash- Creating a cosmetics empire

People Skills are skills dealing with the interaction with other people, such as communication and interpersonal skills. The ability or "skill" to persuade, motivate and effectively deliver a message. This would include the understanding of group dynamics such as dependence, interdependence and independence as to where and when they are factors. This could include the relevance of both verbal and non-verbal communication within a specific social context. Hence, people skills can relate to either individual, small or large group interactions within a particular context.

What is clear is that the term “people skills” encapsulates a vast amount of very different interactions and examples of these are seen every week in the apprentice. Steve is the master of a one to one selling situation, he is friendly, concise, positive and earns the trust of the person he is selling to. He handles objections very well and tailors his sales pitch to understand the needs of the customer. The results are clear with him easily persuading customers to buy from him and comprehensively winning individual sales tasks. When thrown into a group setting however Steve’s ability as Project Manager (PM) were questioned with him being accused of being a bully and he himself admitting to lacking certain qualities. The PM needed to galvanise the team by listening and motivating, to delegate the right tasks to the right people and to always have the end goal in sight through effective communication. When the PM lacked in these areas we saw the ill effects such as the continuous fighting between Geraldine and Aoiffe or the catastrophic results of the Diageo task. Contrary to this when the PM possessed these qualities the results have been impressive with the platinum team creating an impressive advertisement campaign for Meteor to go and platinum again creating an excellent advert for the newly released samsung jet mobile phone.

These three characteristics are central to the success of any candidate in a commercial sales environment and will go along way in deciding the results of the apprentice but will these be enough to win it, what else will be needed? Integrity, creativity, attention to detail, charisma will all be the extra traits required to be chosen to be the next apprentice. Personally I felt the contestant that showed the best overall characteristics was Lucinda, fired last night the boardroom virgin was tipped to win and certainly seemed to be the most likely to possess all of the above characteristics. We will watch the remaining three episodes closely and perhaps more traits will come to light, maybe Bill will select the best candidate or perhaps he needs to talk to Contract People.

David Harrington, Contract People.

Jan 2010 FMCG industry news

Promotion fever seizes grocery categories
Profits double at Johnson & Johnson in 2008

Barry & Fitzwilliam wins Tia Maria rights

30% of Irish shoppers say they are backing Irish brands

Dunnes rises five places in global retail rankings

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