Monthly Archives: December 2016
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” How do you answer this common interview question? The following is an excerpt from my book, Get That Job! The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Job Interview, available from Amazon.
What’s behind this interview question?
Why do interviewers ask you this? For one thing, they want to know whether the job aligns with your goals, and thus whether you’ll stick around. They may also be hoping you have some ambition. Ambitious people often make better employees. They’re more motivated, and they may work harder and smarter. They make a point of growing their abilities.
On the other hand, those who come in with their eye on a higher position and view the current role only as a stepping stone may be impatient and lack commitment to the tasks at hand.
So give an answer that combines a desire to grow, on the one hand, with realism, patience and commitment on the other.
Before the interview, see if you can find information about paths to advancement from within the position. If the only position you can advance to is that of the person you’re interviewing with, proceed with care! He probably won’t like the idea that you have your eye on his job, so just talk about growing and taking on more responsibility.
In most cases you won’t have much information, in which case it’s safest to start with a general answer followed by a question, like this:
“Over the next few years I see myself building my skills, taking on more responsibility and moving up, if it’s appropriate. Can you tell me about how others have advanced from this role?”
Although the question often includes the phrase “five years,” you don’t have to be that precise in your answer. More open-ended terms like “over the next several years” may be best.
We have all heard about the power of networks in the job hunt, but too many people still fall back on using online applying as their central job search method. However, internal referrals and inside validation of candidates still often act as the catalyst to eliminate or minimize the competition. To reach this status, a strong network is needed, and it does not mean that we all need to be extroverts. Here are some basic tips to help expand your network.
Ask members of your current network for referrals. The “friend-of-a-friend” connection is quite strong and can be very successful. “Who else should I be talking to?” is a good question to consider using when asking for referrals.
Ramp up your activities on social and professional networking sites. Add connections / friends. Make sure that your LinkedIn Profile is up-to-date and vibrant. Endorse skills of your connections and write sincere testimonials. Virtual connections can be further strengthened with face-to-face connections, when possible locally.
Join professional groups on LinkedIn. Then become active in participating in or starting discussions. Online networking is an excellent way to grow our networks beyond our geographic limitations.
Join professional associations with local chapter meetings. Then attend the meetings, get to know others, and look for opportunities to assist others. Reciprocation is natural and cooperation bonds people. Local affiliations often hold networking events. Take full advantage of such opportunities.
Volunteer. This is especially important for those in the social services field. Providing your time and effort to a needy cause is perhaps one of the strongest venues for networking because you are working side-by-side with people who share your passion for helping others.
Conduct informational interviews. This is an especially effective method for entry-level job seekers and career changers. As the name implies, this is an interview you set up with someone in your profession or industry who can provide you with an insider perspective. Not only do you gain insider information but you create a valuable contact. Keep it short and professional. Most people are happy to talk about their careers if it does not impinge too much upon their time.
As you grow your network, you will see that it snowballs in a very positive direction as long as you stay positive and professional.
ocial Media: Social media has become more important than ever during a job search. While I have stated it before, let me repeat the five golden rules for social media use during a job search:
- Delete from Facebook, Twitter, or any other site those pictures and posts that show your nonprofessional side, including any heated arguments you exchanged.
- Do not use social media to trash your last employer or your fellow employees.
- Make sure you have a professional profile on LinkedIn and other professional sites.
- Do use social media and the company website to find out more about the company where you are applying or interviewing and to make sure your resume and cover letter speak to the company’s needs.
- Remove any political content in your social media footprint. It has been a contentious time in politics. However, if you are looking for a job, expressing your opinion on social media, or complaining about the results can be perceived as a big negative. Remember half of the voting public in the United States likely disagrees with you.
Resume Content: Your resume may be two pages (or more) but the content in it must be concise and powerful. Hiring managers and recruiters—not to mention applicant tracking systems—do not appreciate long paragraphs about what you did and how you did it. They want to know results and achievements first, and they want to know them fast. Include numbers (revenue you brought in, size of team you led, efficiencies you contributed to) wherever possible. Numbers talk.
Soft Skills on Your Resume: Some of the most important soft skills involve teamwork and team leadership, the ability to motivate and mentor, and the ability to work across silos, countries and backgrounds. More and more companies are reaching out globally, working hard to keep strong teams onboard and discovering the benefits of inclusivity. The workforce has been becoming more mobile and eclectic with every passing year. You need the soft skills to fit in with that new normal.
Contact Information on Your Resume: Complete, correct contact information, including a professional email address, is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many candidates never receive an invitation to interview because their contact information is incomplete.