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What should I Add to my LinkedIn While Job Searching?

July 24th, 2020

If you’re about to step into the job market (either because you lost your last position or you’re just looking for something better than your current role), you’ll want to take a close look at your Linkedin page and make some changes. You’ll be officially switching the message of your profile from a passive (“This is who I am and what I do”) to active (“You should hire me!”) and you want to make sure the transition is successful.

Here are a few things to add as you start attracting the attention of potential employers.

First, switch your settings.

Make sure recruiters can see your profile and make sure employers know that you’re searching. Be clear about both, since it’s very easy to miss this move and fall through the cracks.

Activate your keywords.

Recruiters often begin a Linkedin search by using three specific keywords to narrow the pool, so be sure these keywords are present and clear in your profile. They include your 1) desired job title, 2) geographic area, and 3) industry. If you’d like to be a marketing manager in the healthcare field and you’re searching in Cleveland, all three should be listed.

Your last job is the most important.

Most recruiters and employers scanning Linkedin don’t care much about the details and responsibilities of a job you held ten years ago. Those details matter somewhat, to some employers, but they usually only become relevant during later stages of the selection process. As far as hiring managers are concerned, your most recent jobs, or your current one, are the most interesting and most descriptive of what you can do.

Be clear about what you want.

You don’t have to be specific about your target role (especially if you don’t feel specific and you’d be willing to consider almost any option). But you do have to be clear. Just framing yourself as a general go-getter and an all-around hard worker won’t help you get hired. Give some details about your background, your interests, and your career goals.

For more on how to tighten your profile and grab the attention you need, turn to the team of experts at Merritt.

The Best Way to Follow Up After an Interview

June 26th, 2020

Your interview is over. Whew! All that preparation and nervous tension are now behind you and it’s time to get ready for the next step. You may have fumbled a question or two and you may have hit it out of the park…but since you don’t have a clear answer just yet, you’ll want to take every step you can to make the most of what went right and overcome whatever went wrong. Don’t waste any time! Get to work as soon as you step out the door and drive away from the venue.

First, send a note.

A polite, small handwritten note can carry a lot of import after a job interview, and here’s why: because it’s sweet and personal. It lets the interviewer know that you’re a human being, you enjoyed making a connection with him or her, and you care about the job and the outcome of your session. Keep it small; a large card or flashy statement comes dangerously close to looking like a gift, which is not necessary and signals urgency instead of patience and class. (Gifts, by the way, are never a good idea. They can tank your chances and may even go against company policy, leading to your immediate removal from consideration.) Use your note to simply say thank you for the meeting and remind the recipient that you’re qualified for the role.

Second, sit tight.

After you send your note, don’t contact the interviewer or the company for at least two days. They will be interviewing other candidates during this time and it’s inappropriate to expect a decision before every candidate has been screened. After about three days, you can assume that the interview process may be ending soon, and you can plan your next move.

Send a short, professional message.

A short, concise, polite email offers and appropriate way to inquire about your status. If you decide to send a message like this to the hiring manager, don’t expect an immediate answer and never send more than one such message per week.

Call if you like, but recognize that you may be crossing a line.

Calling the office after your interview is not a crime, by any means. But it can be considered rude and intrusive, and some companies clearly ask candidates not to do this. If you call, keep your conversation short and take the opportunity to remind the employers that you’re still interested. Stay friendly, relaxed, and purposeful.

After your interview, focus your attention on the next task: lining up and preparing for your next interview. We can help. Contact the experts at Merritt for advice and guidance.

Go to the Interview Even When You’re Not Looking

February 28th, 2020

You’ve been summoned for an interview by an employer—or maybe a recruiter—who seems interested in your background and skills. Accepting the invitation will require a bit of an investment on your part; you’ll need to set aside at least an hour of your time, and you may need to dry clean your interview outfit, take some time away from your current job, arrange pet (CBD Treats for Dogs can be checked out for your pet here) or childcare, or simply do some research and planning if the interview will happen via phone or video. So before you respond, you’ll need to ask yourself: Is it worth it? If you already have a satisfactory job and you aren’t actively looking for new work, should you take a closer look at this new opportunity?

Nobody can see into the future, but in most cases, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

You’ll learn something.

Attending the interview can help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s available to you in your industry and your geographic area. You’ll learn more about the job landscape around you, and you’ll also learn more—and gain a new contact—within a specific company near you. Even if you never speak to the employer directly and you only talk to a recruiter, you’ll find out more about what these employers need and what they’re trying to accomplish.

You may change your mind.

Every negotiation starts when two people sit down at a table. Even if you think you aren’t interested in switching jobs right now, give the interviewer a chance to convince you. This new opportunity may put you on a faster track to your goals. Or maybe the job offers a shorter commute or more flexible hours. Maybe you’ve been dealing with some minor headache or pain point in your current role and this new job can make that issue disappear. And of course, the new job may pay more. In order to find out, you’ll have to lend your ear.

If this job doesn’t suit you, another one might.

If you engage in an open and honest conversation with your interviewer, you may discover that this job isn’t a perfect fit for you, and the interview won’t lead to a hiring agreement. But she may have something else to offer you or someone else in her web of contacts who can present you with a closer match.

Interview practice makes perfect.

Time spent interviewing is never time wasted, despite the minor hoops you may jump through to make it happen. Hearing yourself as you highlight your skills and tell your professional story can help you work out the kinks and make your story tighter, stronger, and more convincing. When the next opportunity comes along, you’ll be that much better prepared. For more help with your job search and interview skills, contact the experts at Merritt Staffing.

Four Questions to Ask at the End of Your Interview

September 20th, 2019

As your interview winds down and your employer reaches the end of his or her list of questions, the employer may turn the tables and ask if you have any questions of your own. Even if the interviewer doesn’t directly ask you, take advantage of these final minutes of your session to take the floor and get some vital information about the job before you walk out the door. 

Asking some questions of your own has a twofold advantage: Not only will you learn more about the company and the job, but you’ll also have a brief opportunity to impress your interviewer with your proactive, incisive nature and your sense of self-direction. Here are a few example questions that can grab answers AND positive attention. 

What made you choose my resume? 

Ask this question in good faith, and expect an honest and detailed answer. If you do, you’ll probably get one. And that answer will help you understand exactly what you’re employers are looking for and what they hope to attain when they bring you on board. What changes will they expect you to bring them? How do they believe you might influence the culture or personality mix in the office?  

What specific challenges are you facing as a company/department? 

This question can help you understand the larger industry and the business model of this company. It can also help you gaze into the future and get a sense of the struggles, pitfalls, or growth spurts that may be awaiting this team, and you if you sign on. For example, you may learn how competing products are encroaching on the company’s market share, and how the company hopes to push back against these trends.  

How does your company stand out from its competitors? 

Your employer should know that this job isn’t the only option that lies ahead for you. With skills and talents like yours, they are likely one of several organizations that stand to benefit by having you onboard. What can they offer you that others can’t? And in the meantime, what makes their product or service a better bet for their customers? 

We talked about your company values; how does the company demonstrate those values?

Companies often want to emphasize that they are driven by values, not just by profits. This may or may not be true, but it’s a nice way to humanize the organization and it helps the company attract human workers who do have values and want to partner with companies who share them. So if your interviewer talks about environmental responsibility, for example, ask for some of the green initiatives they’ve taken. If they claim to care about social equality, ask how they’ve demonstrated this through programs or charitable donations.  

For more on how to make sure you’re on the right track with your job search, talk to the experts at Merritt. 

Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview

March 22nd, 2019

When your would-be employer is finished asking you a list of questions about your background, your career goals and your preparation for the company’s open position, it’s time to turn the tables. Never leave an interview session without obtaining some important information of your own; information you’ll need in order to make a smart, informed decision about this job and how it might support your career and add to your life.

Your employer can’t read your mind, and they won’t know exactly what to tell you about the company and the job unless you ask. So, make sure you include these questions in your conversation (plus any others you decide to add).

Where can I go from here?

What will this job do for your career? Ask your employer to describe the next rung of the ladder and explain where you’ll go when you outgrow this job and it’s time for a promotion. Are there management roles above you that you can step into? Or will you need to seek work elsewhere as soon as you’re ready for the next chapter?

Will this job provide the specific training and exposure that you need?

What kinds of training and experience will you need to become one, two, and ten degrees better at what you do? Can this company provide that training and experience? Maybe this employer offers or supports opportunities outside the company. Ask about tuition reimbursement for coursework at local colleges, and ask about extracurricular training and support, sabbatical programs, conference attendance and other forms of personal development.

Will you be able to do the kind of work you want to do?

Some companies offer a kind of bait-and-switch, a system in which you step onboard but don’t actually DO the work you want to do until you’ve stayed for several years and reached various assigned milestones. If this may be one of those companies, establish a clear timeline. If you can’t do your chosen work right away, when will it happen?

Can they give you the benefits you need?

Now isn’t the best time to ask about salary (save that until you’re closer to receiving an offer). But it’s a great time to clearly ask about the benefits you’ll need the most. Does the company offer on-site childcare? Commuter compensation? A strong healthcare plan? If you need something specific and the company can’t offer it, find out sooner rather than later.

What makes this place special?

You can work anywhere. So why should you choose to work here? Frame your question diplomatically but get the answer you need. If competing companies in the same industry are equally likely to hire you, what makes this company stand out? Is it the culture? The low turnover? The prestige? Factor the answer into your decision.

For more on how to get the most out of your interview, contact the job search team at Merritt.


What You Need to Know About Every Candidate

July 13th, 2018

As you launch into the initial screening and selection stages of the staffing process, there are a few things about each candidate you absolutely don’t need to know. These include your candidate’s ethnicity, religion, family status and sexual orientation, which may not be visible on the surface. They also include race, age, disability status or appearance (which may become apparent when you meet). These aspects of the candidate’s life should remain unknown as long as possible, if not forever.

But there are a few things you WILL need to know, and you’re better off obtaining this information as quickly as possible during the process. Save money, time and hassle for both the candidate and yourself by moving quickly toward these key data points.

Where the candidate lives.

More accurately, will the candidate be commuting a daily? And where will the candidate need to relocate from to accept the job? Will you be flying candidates in for interviews? Will you be covering relocation costs? Are you willing to accept a candidate who faces a miserable commute and may leave as soon as a closer opportunity becomes available? Answer these questions before you move forward.

What the candidate wants to do now and three years from now.

Two points of alignment may spell success or failure: what the candidate wants to do in the present, and what they want to do in the future. If they aren’t interested in or not qualified (just yet) to take on the daily tasks of the role, that’s important. If they’re fine with the daily tasks but want to advance within a year and won’t be able to do so if they take this job, that’s also worth noting. Get a sense of their long- and short-term mission.

Uncover any legal issues impeding the process.

Does the candidate have the appropriate visas or working papers to take the job? In this case, age may play a meaningful role, since you need to know they are old enough to enter the workplace.

Is this the right industry?

Almost every industry offers professional jobs in interdisciplinary fields (like marketing, sales, IT, PR, product development, product testing, etc.). A marketing or administrative candidate can easily move throughout their career from one major industry sector to another. But the question is: Do they want to? Are they interested in applying their marketing skills to this sector? Will this further their career or hold him back?

Can the candidate get over the highest hurdle?

This job may have one major issue that makes the position hard to staff (for example, a remote location, long hours or one odd problem that frequently sends candidates out the door). Determine the candidate’s feelings about this before you get into fine-grain details.

For more on how to move efficiently through the search process, contact the staffing team at Merritt.

The Four Best Ways to Tank a Job Interview

March 9th, 2012

When we head out the door on the way to a job interview, most of us know that we’re about to step into a stressful situation. We’re ready to control the things we can and let go of the things we can’t. We’re wearing strong deodorant, we have plenty of copies of our resume in hand, our timepieces are accurate, and the tanks of our cars (bought from used car for sale) are full.

But unfortunately, even the best preparation can’t protect some candidates from silly, preventable, interview-killing mistakes. Don’t become one of these candidates. If you’ve landed a promising job interview, congratulations! Now just avoid these simple blunders that often take place before applicants have a chance to close the deal.

Brain-Mouth Disengagement

A well-qualified, promising applicant can tank his chances entirely with one witless remark during an interview. If you tend to blurt things out when you get nervous, recognize this tendency and plan ahead. Try this tip: Pause for two full seconds (two Mississippis) before responding to any question, even a pleasant inquiry about the weather or your drive to the venue. A two second pause is short enough not to seem odd to your interviewer, but it’s long enough for you to take a full breath and assemble your thoughts before your mouth opens.


While you’re pausing and counting out two full seconds, make sure that what you’re about to say is honest. Positive spin is one thing, but exaggeration and outright lies are another. If you’re asked about your experience, feel free to focus on accomplishments that are relevant to the position, even if you have to pick and choose among the things you’ve done. But don’t stretch the truth.

This also applies to anything you commit to writing in the form of an application or resume. It should go without saying, but never claim schools, degrees, positions or affiliations that aren’t real. And never “adjust” your dates of previous employment. These are easy lies for your employer to uncover, and the resulting humiliation isn’t worth the risk.

Underestimating the Value of Appearances

If you aren’t sure what to wear, opt for a simple grey suit in an updated style. Suits with either pants or skirts are almost always appropriate, no matter the position. If the workplace and venue are more relaxed, feel free to wear a simple, conservative shirt and tie with pressed trousers, or a neat blouse and skirt ensemble. In any case, err on the side of formality. And check carefully for loose threads and tiny stains before you leave the house. Neatness and attention to detail will show respect for both your interviewer and yourself.

Emphasizing Your Own Needs

Try not to focus on your own needs until you have an offer in hand. It’s true that an interview is a two- way street, and you’ll need to evaluate your potential employer just as she evaluates you. But don’t quiz her about salary, bonuses, parking, or perks until later. For now, make sure you emphasize all the contributions you’re ready to make to the business, rather than the benefits you intend to take away.

Contact a personnel staffing agency at Merritt Staffing for specific questions about interview protocol and help with the job search process.

Five Non-Traditional Interview Questions That Can Help You Select the Best Candidate

November 23rd, 2011

As you get ready for a few long days of candidate interviews, you’ll want to make sure you choose questions that accomplish the following goals. Regardless of the position, your interview questions should:

  1. Allow the candidate to reveal her qualifications for this particular job.
  2. Offer open-ended opportunities for the candidate to express her personality and personability.
  3. That’s all.

No matter how bored you may be with traditional interview questions, or how tempted you may be to test a candidate’s wits by asking something off-beat, don’t do it. Stay professional and keep your questions relevant to the job at hand. Resist the urge to ask things like, “Give me five reasons not to hire you”, “If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be?” or “Which do you value more, work or family?”

In an interview setting, these types of questions are unprofessional and not nearly as amusing as you may think. Give applicants a chance to shine. Don’t bait or embarrass them, don’t expect them to grovel, and don’t let silly, poorly-chosen interview questions allow excellent candidates to slip away. That being said, there are several legitimate ways to expand on traditional interview questions in order to gain deeper insight into an applicant’s problem solving skills, sense of humor, perseverance, and other relevant character traits.

Some of these can include the following:

  1. Describe a situation in which you worked with a team and the team failed to reach its goals. How did you respond and what did you learn?
  1. Describe the most challenging aspect of your most recent position. How have you managed this challenge on a regular basis?
  1. Describe one of the worst interpersonal conflicts you’ve encountered in the workplace. How did you handle this conflict?
  1. Tell me about a time when you had to win someone over to your way of thinking. What approach did you use and how well did it work?
  1. Tell me about your proudest moment in your last position. What challenge did you overcome? How did you excel?

For help contacting the best candidates, your local recruiting agency in CT at Merritt Staffing can weed out the best candidates to keep you from performing endless interviews and keep you fresh for the top performers.

“Why SHOULDN’T I Hire You?” Trick Question, or Opportunity to Reflect and Impress?

November 18th, 2011

Every now and then, especially when dealing with novice hiring managers, you may find yourself fielding odd, intentionally quirky, or even insulting interview questions. Hiring managers sometimes present these questions because

1. It makes them seem innovative or offbeat, and presumably sets them apart from other employers

2. They genuinely want to ask candidates something off-putting to see how well the candidates think on their feet

3. They simply want candidates to grovel for the job, since the willingness to do this may suggest higher levels of dedication down the road.

Ideally, an interview should be a civilized conversation designed to assess your skill sets and readiness for a specific position. As they help employers get to know you on a personal level, questions should stay straightforward and should focus on your qualifications. But like life, interviews aren’t always perfectly predictable, and interviewers aren’t always perfectly professional.

If you’re presented with something that seems like a trick question designed to test you, pause and reflect before answering. Ask yourself how badly you want this particular job.

If you’re desperate for the job and are willing to put up with a bit of nonsense, give the interviewers what they want. Answer in a thoughtful way that highlights your humility, your grace and your wits. You can also answer by politely taking control of the conversation and steering the interview back on track. For example, if your interviewer asks for a list of reasons not to hire you, you can simply use the question as another opportunity to list your qualifications, gently but firmly bringing the interview back where it needs to be. Politicians do this all the time. But remember: If you get this job, you’ll be working with these people all day, every day. Make sure you’ll be comfortable within this company culture.

If you aren’t desperate for this particular job (and you shouldn’t be), then you have every right to politely decline the question. No job is as costly as your dignity. Your skills and qualifications were hard- earned, and as a candidate and a person, you are worthy of respect. Stay confident, patient, and self-possessed, and the right job will come your way in time. For more interview opportunities contact your local employment staffing services at Merritt Staffing for help.

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