Tag Archives: composure

Keeping Hope Alive

One of my greatest life lessons, to date, is learning that everything in our lives happen for a reason.  Upon my release from prison, I applied at more places than I could count, was turned down by many, and applied for more positions.  One employer, after being honest about my criminal record, offered me a position as a receptionist.  I was so excited and thought things were looking up.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was short lived.   I arrived early for my first day but was disheartened when the employer notified me that another employee in the organization did not feel comfortable with me in the office as I had been incarcerated.  My heart plummeted and my hope diminished.  The person apologized but ultimately the job was offered to someone else.   I had to take a moment, regroup, and begin my search anew.

When one door closes, another one opens.  After this obstacle, I secured employment at a transitional house, and began my 500 hours of community service hours at Goodwill Industries of NWNC.  Now 5 years later, I am working at Goodwill Industries assisting others with criminal records.
I look back to that moment and now want to thank that employer for not hiring me as I am now in a position that I love.


Tonja Fultz

Project Re-entry Employment Specialist

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Filed under Hope, Initiative, Unexpected

Body Language Can Speak Volumes

Often times when preparing for an interview, we get so caught up in finding the right words to say that we forget about what we don’t say actually can make a difference as well.  Your body can speak volumes about you without you even saying a word.  It is one of those things that can be overlooked, but it is just as important when trying to make a good impression.

Some of the given gestures include good eye contact, smiling, and good posture but many people don’t know why.  Having good eye contact….natural eye contact, can convey that you are self confident and sure about what it is that you are saying, smiling gives the impression that you are a happy, vibrant person, and good posture just shows that you’re interested, alert, and paying attention.  Careful not to sit too erect though or the confidence that you made sure to display will be diminished and you may be seen as nervous.

It’s all about balance.  Your words and gestures need to be on one accord.  Facial expressions should match your tone of voice; pleasant expressions should accompany pleasant words.  Here is an illustration of how it all comes together: It’s hard to appear as the best candidate for an early AM, customer facing position if your eyes have grocery bags beneath them or are blood shot red.  The first thing to come to mind would be, “This is not a morning person, and therefore not the one for the job”.   The remedy for this would be to get a good night’s rest beforehand and maybe invest in some Clear Eyes to get the red out.  You still may not be a morning person, but at least you would look the part.

Another important point to remember is to appear engaged and receptive.  This can be achieved by subtle acknowledgements during the conversation, such as a nod, or an “I see”, and by keeping your body open….cross nothing!  This is especially important for men.  Crossing your arms or legs gives the impression that you’re guarding something and are not receptive to what’s being said.  The same goes for women, but if it must be done, crossing your legs at the ankle is the only acceptable form.

Thirdly, be mindful of not just what you’re saying, but how you say it.  Don’t speak too fast or too slow, too loud or too soft.  Watch the inflection at the end of your sentences.    Lifting your voice at the end of a statement makes it sounds like a question or even worse, like you are unsure about what you’ve just said.  Lowering your voice too low can make it difficult to hear.   Practice eliminating excess words such as, “like”, “you know”, “um”, “stuff” and “whatever”.  Using these words in excess can cause you to be seen as immature rather than professional in the eyes of an employer.

Keeping these things in mind will help you in your pursuit of employment.  These tips may not get the job for you, but at least they won’t be the reason why you didn’t.

Christien C. Amour

Data and Reporting Specialist

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Filed under Attitude, Courtesy, Self-Improvement, Skill, Tool Box

Stress Free While Looking For A Job

Looking for a job in today’s economy is enough to stress anyone! If you’ve been laid off, and the bills keep coming, you are feeling like you want to pull your hair and disappear there are some things that you can do to stay mentally and physically healthy while you are looking.

Keep Breathing-
Looking for a job is stressful! When we are feeling stressed we tend to hold our breath subconsciously. A good first step to relieving stress is to take a deep breath and hold it for 3 seconds, and then release it slowly for 3 seconds. Do this three times. Soon you’ll feel more calm and ready for a productive job search.

Get Up-
It’s very easy to fall into the habit of sleeping in, staying home watching TV or playing games. Instead, get up at the same time you did when you were working. Shower, get ready, get a healthy breakfast and GO!!!. Do this every day because finding work is an every day job.

Exercise-
Something as simple as walking around the block can “clear your head,” and give you fresh start every day. It will also make you feel physically better, and it’s important that you keep your health up when you are searching for employment.

Set daily achievable goals-
Your ultimate goal is to get a job. But if you set small goals for yourself each day, you’ll have a better chance of reaching that final goal. For example, try sending at least 3 applications per day or sending out 5 resumes each day.

Stay involved-
Look for volunteer opportunities that are related to the jobs you are interested in. This helps in three ways. First, it gets you out of the house and interacting with other people. If you are used to working in an office atmosphere, being home alone all day can be incredibly stressful. Second, it is a great way to network and make contacts with people in the industry. And third, it gives you more experience — further strengthening your resume. This is important in today’s competitive economy.

Remember DO NOT STAY HOME, looking for work is can be a very difficult job so you need to keep yourself motivated. The unemployment benefits help alleviate the financial stress but do not last forever. The more applications you put out there, the better chance you have to find a job…and remember to visit our Career Centers we will help to make your life less stressful.

Mayra Rice

Career Connections Coordinator

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Filed under Attitude, Self-Improvement

Responding to an Inappropriate Interview Question

By now most people know they’re not supposed to ask questions about age, race, religion and whether a woman is planning to have children.  But beyond the illegal questions I’ve found clients sometimes confronted with the occasional inappropriate question.

These usually occur when the employer is a smaller one or a family-owned business.  In other words, larger, more structured companies typically operate in a more standardized setting.  But less structured interviews, particularly if they involve a lunch or supper meeting, can occasionally stray into question about public issues of the day.  I don’t necessarily think the employer is trying to catch the candidate as much as the inquiry is simply born of ignorance.

Politics and pop culture can be dangerous topics if not handled properly.  Imagine sitting there during the height of the Iraq War and being asked your view on President Bush and our nation’s strategy?  Or President Obama and healthcare?

On the one hand you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with my ability to do my job?”  And you’d be correct.  Yet, how should you handle that inquiry without appearing rattled, confrontational or evasive?  How can you convey that, well, it’s none of that person’s business without somewhat alienating the interviewer?

A simple technique I’ve found effective is to use a verbal cushion to acknowledge the question, but to then turn things around and ask the employer their thoughts on the subject.

For example, “I’m not sure there’s any easy answer on the war.  There are certainly passionate opinions on both sides.  I’m curious, Mr. Employer, what you think about it.”  And if the interviewer doesn’t respond, change the subject.  If they do respond while giving their opinion, at least you know whether what you might have said would have matched your with your potential employer.

If the employer responds, then further asks you your opinion, I think you’re within your rights to respectfully refuse to answer.  Try, “While we both know it’s a hot topic, I hope you’ll appreciate my desire to separate my personal views and interests from my work objectives.”  Be careful not to impugn the employer’s motives for asking or verbally slap their wrist too harshly.

Awkward, inappropriate or even illegal questions can easy rattle many candidates.  How calmly you respond under such circumstances could help separate you from your competition.

Learn more about us at www.woodengroup.com.

Randy Wooden

The Wooden Group

As founder and president of The Wooden Group, Randy brings over 25 years of experience in a number of human resource areas including outplacement, career coaching, executive recruiting, in-house staffing and training. Additionally, Randy has served as a college adjunct instructor, teaching classes on interviewing and the overall job hunting process.

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Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Unexpected