By: Kevin Servino
Aligning Your Personal & Professional Interests
Over the last two years I have received lots of emails and calls from people seeking advice on how to enter into the Outdoor, Sporting Goods or Action Sports industry. Most of these people either received my information from a friend in the industry, or simply found me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. First and foremost, my job is to market jobs to candidates, not candidates to jobs, though with an ageing workforce and a personal appreciation for diversity, I see a necessary shift for these industries to be more inclusive of enthusiasts from other industries vs. the exclusive attitude I currently see. Below are some tips for people interested in being noticed by companies and recruiters in the Outdoor, Sporting Goods or Actions Sports industry.
1. Dress for the job you want
If you are a CFO and a passionate climber, but have no industry experience and the picture of you on your LinkedIn page is of you in a business suit, you likely won’t be top of mind for a recruiter looking through their contacts for a job in the Outdoor industry. The image does not translate the interest, which is what many of my clients want. The professional skills will translate, but the personal interest will likely retain you in the company longer and allow you to assimilate into the culture easier. If you have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and have a picture of it, put it on your profile!
2. Express your interests
Listing your interests on your resume is typically not encouraged. If you are hoping to penetrate the Outdoor, Sporting Goods and Action Sports industry, this rule does not apply. If you are a passionate angler and have traveled across the world to fly fish, or played Division I college football put it on your resume. It makes my job, and the job of an internal recruiter easier to locate you. In addition, keep tabs on websites who promote the type of roles you want. Examples of websites include: www.outdoorindustryjobs.com, www.workinsports.com, http://careers.outdoorindustry.org/jobs, as well as several specific LinkedIn groups.
3. Reverse engineer your search
I met with a gentleman within the last year who was in-between jobs. He lived in China while working for Nike and speaks fluent Mandarin. When I looked at his resume I noticed there was no reference to Mandarin. He was shocked. I have worked on searches in China and Mandarin is one of the top search terms I look for. My advice for candidates interested in roles in the Outdoor, Sporting Goods, or Action Sports industry is to reverse engineer your resume by putting yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager or recruiter. What are the key words you would likely search for to fill your role? These could include terms like softgoods, hardgoods, names of key accounts you have called on…
4. Being in the right place at the right time
There are tons of groups on-line who cater to people who share a common interest. These include websites dedicated to running, climbing, hiking, fishing, skiing, etc. Get involved in those groups. Many of the professionals in the industry play in those areas. You may just be the hidden gem who forms a strong friendship with a key decision maker. Face time often beats resume time in this industry. Get involved and get noticed!
Candidate Interview Protocol:
Bringing Your "A" Game to the Interview
By: Enrique Washington
The time spent preparing for an interview is as important as the time invested in getting the interview. To get to the interview stage, you have applied or been recruited and likely participated in the beginning stages of a hiring process. As a result, your interest level in the position has increased and the organization has become more interested in you as a candidate. What can you do to make sure you put your best foot forward - to bring your "A" game and get that job offer?
Of course, there are long lists of things you can do to prepare for an interview and I encourage you to "Google" them. However, for the purpose of this article, I will share some of the most common areas that even seasoned professionals forget.
In preparation for your interview, here are four areas that will help you develop your "A" game. They are as follows:
1. Do your homework. As simple as this may sound, there are still seasoned professionals who do not come prepared for an interview. You should:
a. Understand and research with whom you will be meeting.
b. Understand and know the organization's business at a level that shows you have invested the time to learn about the organization and how it connects to the role it is trying to fill.
c. Leverage your network by speaking with individuals who may have worked for the organization, currently work for the organization and/or who know people who have worked for the organization.
d. Understand the culture down to the level of knowing the appropriate way to dress for the interview.
2. Be prepared to reflect on your experiences. Because the interview can often predict future job performance, you should come prepared to communicate your past and/or current work experiences. The best way to prepare for such questions is to think about your responses by using a simple acronym called S-A-R. S-A-R translates into "your situation," "your actions," and "your result." Remember to be clear and concise!
3. Be present. There is nothing worse than going to a meeting and not being 100% present. Being present will definitely impact the interest level of your potential employer. Come focused on your interviewers and remember to listen. You should prepare thoughtful follow-up questions that you may want to ask your interviewer. Do not forget to silence your cell phone!
4. Be organized. It is very natural for people to come to meetings prepared with the necessary items needed to be effective. So, why should an interview be any different?
You should always come with extra resumes, a notebook and, of course, something to write with.
5. Do your follow-up. Letting people know how much you appreciate their time should never be forgotten. It is important to write a brief thank you note to the individuals with whom you met. To demonstrate how well you listened, you should reference in your note a statement or comment from the interview. Do not forget to confirm your level of interest.
All too often even seasoned professionals make simple mistakes that cost them the job. Seasoned or not, you should always invest time in planning and preparing for your interviews. Bringing your "A" game to an interview will highlight the difference between you and other candidates being considered for an offer. Spending the time, being prepared, being present, being organized, and following up are all part of your "A" game to help get you that offer.
10 Typical Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
By: Nathan Lloyd
Sweaty palms and a dry mouth; if this is the way you typically feel before going into an important job interview, don't worry, you're not alone.
It's natural to feel nervous occasionally, and far from being negative, sometimes nerves can help you focus and stay alert in pressurized situations.
However, whilst it is always natural to feel a little anxious before an interview, you may become a nervous wreck if you go into an interview completely unprepared for what may lie ahead.
I have put together 10 typical interview questions you are likely to face when you go for that next career move.
The way to approach each question is to answer with specific examples and clear evidence of what you have done. Remember you are selling yourself, so closed answers will never set you apart from your competition.
So let's kick off with that old favorite...
Q1: Tell me about yourself.
This is your chance to make an immediate impact with a quick two to three minute synopsis of why you are perfect for the job. They won't really be interested in a detailed account of your ornithological weekend twitching, more a quick summary of your qualifications, work history and future goals.
Suggested answer, "Since graduating from University X I have worked for a marketing agency where I have improved the market share of all the clients I am managing. I am looking to take this experience and specialize in one sector of the market and the sector you are involved in interests me above all others..."
Make is snappy, don't waffle and remember you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Q2: Why should I hire you?
The obvious thing to say here is to state that you are the best person for the job, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, you'll need to back this up with something that differentiates you from the rest of the candidates in the running.
What could give you the edge? Look at the job spec, can you draw something out and give an example of where you have excelled or really added value to a similar job or a project?
Speak passionately about some of your achievements in previous jobs while always thinking how these examples could apply to this new role.
Suggested answer, "What sets me apart from other candidates is the passion I will bring to this role and the experience I can draw on from many years in this sector. I have demonstrated my loyalty, commitment and progression in my last position and I'm looking to apply this and deliver the same levels of success in this role."
Q3: Are you a team player?
I've yet to interview anybody who has answered a straight no to this question! Of course the stock answer is yes, but you need to provide examples of where you have demonstrated examples of being part of a team, either at work or maybe whilst playing a sport.
Talk about how being part of a team can deliver better results than working in isolation, but that each team member still needs to be held accountable for their results.
Suggested answer, "I've worked and lead teams throughout my career and also whilst playing in a 5-a-side football team. I recently managed a project which delivered a successful campaign on time and to budget. The campaign went on to deliver outstanding results for the client...."
Be prepared that there may well be questions which follow on from this about managing or handling conflict within the team.
Q4: Tell us your greatest weakness.
Don't fall into the classic trap of answering with a strength dressed up as a weakness. The interviewer will have heard them all before, "I always work till 8pm and on weekends", or, "I'm such a perfectionist".
Try choosing a weakness that you are actively working to overcome. Obviously avoid examples of not being able to get out of bed in the mornings, cooking or having a poor sickness record!
Suggested answer, "I've had issues with my time management in the past, so I have started to diarize my days on Outlook, which has helped me prioritize tasks and plan my working week."
If you feel there are any obvious gaps in your knowledge that this role will require, focus on these and emphasize how keen you are to build that skill set in order to gain your new position.
Q5: Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is where you want to let the employer know that you want to be with them and in the sector for years to come, even if you don't. Emphasize that you want to grow with the business and that their aspirations match what you are looking to do over the next five years. Avoid saying that you want to be sitting where they are or that you are looking to take over the company or even move overseas.
Suggested answer, "I'm looking to join a vibrant growing business whose aspirations match mine. Hopefully as the company grows, I can grow and progress with them..."
Q6: Why do you want to leave your current job?
Do not, under any circumstance answer this question with a tirade of negativity about your current employers or a boss you don't particularly like or respect. This is an opportunity to focus on what you have learned from your current position and how you can transfer these skills over to this new opportunity.
Suggested answer, "Unfortunately, I felt there wasn't the scope for my employer to match my ambitions and I'm looking to join a vibrant growing business whose aspirations match mine and hopefully I can grow inline with the business."
Q7: If I asked your friends or colleagues to describe you, what would they say?
This question is asked to try and understand if you are a people oriented person who can speak honestly and openly about themselves.
Although they may ask about your friends opinions, the likelihood is that they are really only interested in how you are perceived in the workplace.
Therefore, keep the description as professional and factual as possible. Avoid phrases such as jovial, carefree and risky.
Be careful not to trip yourself up with an answer that may come back to bite you in the future!
Suggested answer, "My colleagues and friends would describe me as an ambitious, determined hard working professional. The team I work in know me as flexible, tolerant and good at planning and managing projects."
Q8: Tell me about the worst boss you ever had?
Be careful; don't see this as simply an open opportunity to slate previous bosses. Remember, the person interviewing you could well be your future boss and will anticipate you talking the same way about them somewhere down the line.
This question is gauged to understand how much a candidate has learned from previous bad experiences with managers. However tempting it is to criticize a manager for being a poor leader, try and focus on what you may have done differently to get the best out of the situation.
Suggested answer, "Looking back, I understand the pressures my manager was under and why he/she was often abrupt and critical with me. I didn't always take the feedback on board, but I can see how beneficial it could have been."
Q9: What level of salary are you seeking?
This is typically a question that will come up towards a latter stage of the interview process. When the question is broached, be careful not to sell yourself short. Recruiters will have a budget for a particular position and you can be on the front foot as long as you have done your homework.
Don't be afraid to negotiate on salary. Have a clear picture in your mind of the salary you would accept and the figure which would mean you walked away from the opportunity. Interviews are a balancing act; you don't want to come up with a preposterous figure that will make you look greedy and unrealistic, but equally you don't want to come across with a figure that appears desperate and risk selling yourself short.
Suggested answer, "Can I ask what you would usually look to pay somebody with my experience?"
Q10: Do you have any questions?
It's the end of the interview and this is your opportunity to show that you've done your homework about the company.
You may have had the opportunity to ask a question during the natural course of the interview, but if you didn't, remember to keep them brief as there may be other interviewees waiting in the wings.
Prepare some questions in advance and remember not to base them on topics such as holidays, pensions or use of the communal refrigerator! You can also refer to your notes as this will give the impression that you are really keen on the position and again emphasize the fact that you have done your homework.
I have listed below some suggested questions:
-How do you assess the performance of your staff?
-Is there opportunity to progress in different functions in the business?
-What is your internal staff training scheme and do you also back external training opportunities?
-What is the ratio of working in the office to being field based?
-How long have previous employees stayed in this role?
-What is the team structure?
-Would you be able to utilize my foreign languages?
-How has this company developed over the last decade and where is it likely to go in the next 10 years?
-What is your personal experience of working for this organization?