A few thoughts on job and career fairs, part 1: Niche Events like Military MOJO

I have participated in more career and job fairs than I can count, and I have also had plenty of conversations with others who have made the circuit of job-seeking events.  Many of those I chat with are frustrated, and some of them have reached the point of “job fair fatigue” that they are giving up on attending them.

A lot of their frustration comes from an unclear set of expectations for what job fairs are about.  Not all job fairs are the same, and not all career fairs have the same goals, opportunities, or areas of interest.  Just like everything else in life, job and career fairs are different, and if you don’t recognize that going in then you, as a participant, will likely become frustrated and disillusioned.

There are many different types of fairs, and each of them provides a different service and experience for the transitioning military or veteran participant as well as for the companies and organizations that attend.  The underlying goal for fairs is universally the same – to provide avenues to employment for vets and those in transition – but how that goal is achieved varies with each and every fair.  To help those who are not familiar with the differences am writing a string of posts to highlight different types of events.

The first type of career fair is one that is focused on a specific niche of transitioning military and veterans.  Military MOJO is one organization that specializes in matching transitioning and veteran military officers and noncommissioned officers who have earned college degrees.  They have four conferences spread across the country throughout the year (in Austin, Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., and San Diego)  Dozens of companies are on hand at each conference to meet with hundreds of veterans, and a part of the engagement process includes resume review and placement of resumes onto a database that is accessible by participating companies.

Military MOJO’s next conference goes in Austin, Texas on March 27 and 28.  To learn more about the conferences, you can read the Military MOJO Conference Press Release.  If you for some reason you cannot follow the link, I have reposted the contents of the release below:

MOJO (Military Officers Job Opportunities) is a premier hiring event pairing commissioned military officers, senior non-commissioned officers, and non-commissioned officers holding degrees with national employers seeking veterans for leadership opportunities.  MOJO will be hosting four events this year in Austin, TX; Virginia Beach, VA; Washington, DC and San Diego, CA. Candidates and companies interested in this unique opportunity are invited to visit Military MOJO’s new website at http://www.militarymojo.org for more information on how to attend.

These events will showcase Commissioned Officers (formerly and currently commissioned): meet exclusively with Junior Military Officers (JMOs) and Senior Military Officers (SMOs) from the ROTC, OCS, CWO (Chief Warrant Officers), National Guard and graduates from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Naval Academy, West Point, Norwich College, The Citadel, Villanova, VMI, and other military schools. Senior Non-Commissioned Officers: meet with SNCOs (E-7, E-8, E-9) who are experienced high-potential, skilled leaders. They have hands-on technical and functional training, four-year college degrees.  Transitioning Non-Commissioned Officers:  meet with young, ambitious, college-degreed transitioning NCOs who potentially have previous corporate experience. These candidates have a minimum four year B.S. or B.A. degree from an accredited university and some have their MBA’s.  Candidates skill set/experience will include: STEM, Six Sigma/Supply Chain, Operations, Logistics, Project Management, Sales/Marketing, Manufacturing, Cyber/Intel, Consulting, Government/Defense, and many areas of Engineering.  Most candidates have TS/SCI, CI & FS POLY Clearances.

Candidate registration includes individual resume review and career coaching, a networking reception, industry seminars and face-to-face interactions with national companies. Our volunteer team in comprised of former military officers and corporate executives who are committed to the mission of supporting veterans transitioning into the private sector. Company registration includes booth space, interview space, a recruiter focus group (best practices military hiring), networking reception with complimentary food, beverage & bar. Companies will receive resumes of registered candidates 2-3 weeks prior to the career fair. There are no extra fees for hires. For a list of companies currently attending the event click here.

The dates and locations for the 2014 hiring events are:

  •     Austin, TX – March 27-28, 2014
  •     Virginia Beach, VA – June 19-20, 2014
  •     Washington, DC – September 25-26, 2014
  •     San Diego, CA – December 4-5, 2014 

Each event will feature a company check-in, recruiter focus group, industry seminars/sponsorships and networking reception on the Thursday prior to the career fair to bring the companies and candidates together. The career fair will take place on the following Friday from 9am-4pm with a one hour lunch break.  To learn more about the conference and registration for the different locations, visit http://www.militarymojo.org.

About Military MOJO: Military MOJO hosts exclusive hiring events throughout the year to pair military officers with high profile employers. The niche career conference showcases candidates who are currently and formerly commissioned officers: ROTC, OCS, Service Academy – West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Citadel, VMI, VA Tech, Warrant Officers. Some in attendance will be Wounded Warriors Officers.  To learn more about Military MOJO and upcoming events, visit http://www.militarymojo.org.

Their career fair is a great example of one that focuses on a specific niche of veterans, and if you are in that group then you should certainly check it out.  In my next post we’ll take a look at job fairs on military bases.

 

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It’s here! Orders to Nowhere is now a book!

It’s finally here!  The first edition of Orders to Nowhere is available in print.  It will be six to eight weeks before it shows up in bookstores, and a week or so before it hits Amazon.com.  If you want to avoid the wait, you can order it straight from the printer by clicking the cover:

Orders to Nowhere

Since you are a loyal reader and follower of the blog that got it all started, you can use the discount code ZVGYFQ28 and save 10% off the cover price.

Thank each and every one of you for reading and following my journey through transition!

Orders to Nowhere: The Book!

Coming soon!  The launch date is expected by be no later than November 10th, but hopefully sooner. I’ll post a note as soon as it goes live.

Written over the two years of navigating the often frustrating and always confusing waters of military transition, Orders to Nowhere is finally available in print!

Orders to Nowhere is the essential insider’s guide to military transition.  Demystifying the uncertainty and ambiguity that surrounds getting out of the military, Orders to Nowhere is the comprehensive After Action Report of a career Marine’s transition from the tightly knit military world back to civilianhood.

Tens of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen transition back into the civilian world each and every year. The change from life in uniform to life beyond the military is a significant emotional event for everyone who experiences it. Hanging up your uniform for the last time isn’t easy, and Orders to Nowhere was written to help explain the overwhelming process and make it easier for military members planning to get out, while they are in the midst of transition, or after they become veterans.

Mike Grice is an award winning writer, retired career Marine, and intrepid explorer of the military transition process.  Orders to Nowhere is the journal of his experiences , but it is also the story of every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman who takes off the cloth of the nation and goes back to civilian life.  Written during the author’s adventure through the trials and tribulations of transition, Orders to Nowhere eases the pain by giving an inside look at the widely varied aspects of military to civilian transformation.  Things like:

 -making the decision to hang up the uniform
– telling your boss that you are getting out
– the administration and logistics of moving on
– the emotional roller coaster of transition 
– effects on family
– transition decorum and ceremonies 
– the details of military retirement benefits
– transition assistance classes
– dealing with the Veterans Administration
– VA disability claims
– the Post 9/11 GI Bill
– finding a job
– how to dress like a professional
– writing a resume and cover letter
– networking
– interviewing for a job
– salary and benefits negotiation 
– adjusting to civilian life
– and much, much more

The book contains over 160 lessons learned and recommendations that can help anyone going through the military to civilian transition avoid making costly mistakes.  The path back to “normal” life is anything but normal, and Orders to Nowhere is the traveler’s guide that every member of the military and veteran needs to ease the pain of the journey.

A must for every man and woman in uniform to help make transition as smooth as possible!

The importance of differentiation

There are many career paths that you can take in the military.  The obvious ones include those that involve fighting, but there are a whole lot of jobs that don’t.  For every infantryman who carries a rifle into harm’s way there are anywhere from three to ten or more men and women in uniform who make sure that the grunt on patrol has the ammunition, water, fuel, and everything else he might need.  Every tank has a crew of four, but before it rumbles into the fight dozens of mechanics and ordnance specialists and electricians perform hours and hours of maintenance to make sure that the vehicle is in tip-top shape.  For every naval aviator who catapults from the deck of an aircraft carrier there are thousands of shipmates aboard who do everything from chipping paint from the rusty decks to keeping the nuclear reactors on line to making and serving chow.

Those jobs are all crucial in order for the military to accomplish its mission of keeping the nation safe.  Interestingly, within the military itself, even though all of those duties are important there is a definite difference in the prestige associated with them.  In the Marine Corps, for example, the infantry is considered to the ultimate expression of the service; everything else as they say is just support.  In the Air Force it is the fighter pilots who have ruled the roost for decades, and in the Navy the ship drivers and aviators are those who wield the most power.  For the Army, it is the infantry and armor branches that hold the most distinction.

Unfortunately the most prestigious positions in the military are also those with the least direct corollary to civilian employment.  There are no civilian infantry battalions, fighter squadrons, tank platoons, or aircraft carriers.  There are, however, plenty of jobs in those support areas that are often viewed as second class within the military.  The civilian world does not need artillerymen, but it does need electricians.  It needs truck drivers, and mechanics, and logisticians.

In short, the civilian world needs people with definable and useful skills.

Skills, for example, that an employer can put to work immediately without taking the risk of hiring someone who may or may not know enough about the business to be effective.

Unfortunately, many of the skills that those in uniform who have spent the majority of their time at the pointy end of the spear have developed are not directly transferable to the corporate sector.  Being a leader is great, and undoubtedly the leadership skills that our warriors have gained in Iraq and Afghanistan are first rate.  That is great for the military because leading people to do amazing things is what the military is all about, and the best military leaders we have are those who are dedicated to mastering their craft and being the most proficient soldiers or sailors or Marines possible.

Leadership in the civilian world is leadership in a different context.  An infantryman can demonstrate his leadership through arduous training, bravery, and a consummate grasp of tactics, weapons, and equipment.  By being a first rate infantryman, he can lead by example and inspire his fellows and juniors to shoulder their loads and step out to meet the enemy.  The best leaders we have are those who are the best at what they do: they are the best infantrymen or tankers or pilots or ship drivers.

The civilian world is no different.  The best CEOs are those who have dedicated themselves to learning their businesses inside and out.  They inspire their people to great achievement by understanding their industry and markets and customers and then being able to align the company’s employees to meet their goals and objectives.  They challenge their people and recognize those who excel.  Instead of using medals to motivate their corporate troops, they use other things such as money and stock options and trips to the Bahamas.  They lead by example and are masters of their craft.

It is here that the perception that many military leaders, particularly those in the combat arms, runs awry.  I cannot count the number of conversations that I have had with my peers and friends in uniform in which we talked about how we, the combat leaders, had all the skills that would make us tremendous leaders and invaluable assets to any company that would be lucky enough to hire us.

How wrong we were.

Sure, corporations want great leaders.  Every company does.  They also want people who know their business or have a skill that the firm needs.  Therein lies the rub, and brings to mind a story from my days as a young and motivated Captain:

I once had an officer who was a student of mine at the artillery school.  He was a graduate of the Citadel, which is a renowned military college in South Carolina.  As a cadet there he rose to a high position of leadership in the Corps of Cadets, and he was without a doubt a fine leader.  That said, he was a lousy student.  When I asked him why this was so, he answered that he joined the military to lead men and learning about how to load and fire an artillery piece was interesting but not particularly relevant to his desire to be the next MacArthur.

I explained to him that leadership is not something that you have because of rank or position, but instead it is something that is earned through the respect of those you lead.  He would never be a good leader in the artillery if he did not show that he was a solid artilleryman, and to be a solid artilleryman he had to learn how to load and fire an artillery piece.  People who show up and start barking orders without knowing what they are talking about are idiots, not leaders.

That is the point that so many people in the military miss.  Sure, we all developed leadership styles that inspire young men and women to enthusiastically throw themselves into the crucible of combat, but those styles were largely based on our professionalism and mastery of our martial craft.  None of those same people would have followed us if we didn’t know what we were doing.

The lesson here is that if you, as a military leader, want to bring your talents to the civilian world you will need to more than just be a “leader”.  You will need to differentiate yourself and show that you can do more than just lead.  Can you read a balance sheet?  How about a profit and loss statement?  Do you understand marketing, or finance, or accounting, or any of the countless other things that make the business world run?

The corporate sector has lots of great leaders.  How would you feel, as an infantryman, if the CEO of a company was hired to become your battalion commander and take you into combat?  Would you follow him?  Of course not.  Why, then, do so many military folks drink their own bathwater and believe that they corporate sector is waiting for them to leave the service and take over their businesses?

To be competitive in the job market it is important for each and every person who transitions from military service to find something that they can offer a potential employer besides war stories.  Those who have learned a skill or trade, while maybe not being on the front lines and earning medals for valor, take those skills with them when the leave the service.  That is their point of differentiation that separates them from all of the other candidates for a job.

As a leader, what is yours?

Learning a new skill: Salary and benefits negotiation part 2

A couple of posts ago we started talking about the final step in the job search: negotiating your salary and benefits.  The company has already offered you a job, and in that sweet and exciting period of time between receiving the offer and accepting it comes the negotiation to determine your compensation package with the company.

We have already looked at many of the differences between military and civilian employment benefits, so we won’t go too deeply down that rabbit hole other than to point out that many of the benefits on the military side of the fence are not freely offered by civilian companies.  Take, for example, the military subsistence (meal) and housing subsidies.  You get them while in uniform, but they don’t come freely in the corporate sector.  All of those special pays and allowances that fattened up your military paycheck helped mitigate the comparatively low pay that comes with wearing the uniform.  An added benefit is that those pays are tax-free, which in the corporate sector is almost unheard of.

As a military man or woman you are also free to shop in the commissary, gas station, and PX, all of which provide subsidized food and goods that are free of state and local sales taxes.  While retirees can still enjoy shopping on base, for those who do not stay in for 20+ years or move home and have no base nearby it is no longer possible.  The subsidies, coupled with tax free shopping, are not offered by the corporate sector.  Once you get out you get to pay full price for your groceries and consumer goods, and you get to pay sales tax, too.

My point is that many of the monetary and non-monetary benefits that you receive whilst in uniform went a looooong way towards stretching your paycheck.  When you get out all you have to pay your bills, buy food, and fill your tank with gas is the salary that you are paid by your employer.  Since that is how the “real” world works, you need to make sure to get the best benefit package you can from your employer, and to get such a package you need to be able to negotiate.

Negotiation is a skill, just like any other.  You can get better at if you work at it, and the best way to improve is to practice and rehearse, just like you should for a job interview.

Before you start rehearsing, though, you need to do your research (as discussed in the previous post about negotiation) and then you need to craft a plan of action to prepare yourself.  Just like you would do in the military.

Unlike military plans, though, yours does not have to be intricate or complicated.

Your plan should contain those elements of compensation that you feel are important to you.  It should also contain those elements of compensation that are not important to you.

Why should the unimportant bits be included you ask?

Because they are all part of the plan.  The art of negotiation is based on meeting mutual agreement, and getting to a point where both you and the Human Resources manager agree on your pay and benefits is based on the give and take that you both engage in during the negotiation process.  If you only have those things that are important to you on the list then you are at a disadvantage because negotiation invariably requires you to give a little to get a little.  You can give a little by sacrificing those things that are unimportant to you and, in turn, get a little something back that you truly want.

Here is an easy example.

You feel that flexible work hours are very important to you.

You also feel that health insurance is not important to you because you are single and already covered by the VA and TRICARE.

In the world of civilian employment the cost of health insurance is high and by all accounts only going to get higher.  The fact that you are willing to give up employer-provided healthcare is a significant savings to the employer.  Even though you never planned to use the company’s insurance you can “offer” to keep your current insurance plan (and save the company a lot of money) if you can have a flexible work schedule.

If you don’t have a plan to give up those things that you don’t really want or need then you are giving up a significant amount of leverage.  Be smart and plan your negotiation out!

Here are some basic planning considerations that I recommend you think about as you plan for your pay and benefits negotiation:

1.  What do you want from the company?  (Sure, you want a job, but what do you want in return for your time and dedication?)

2.  What does the company want from you? (Sure, they want an employee but generally want to pay as little as possible for one —  you will need to show the company that you are worth whatever you identify in the first question)

3.  What is the absolute minimum that you are willing to accept from the company?  (This is very important.  The Human Resources person has a lot more experience negotiating than you do, and if you are not careful they may well negotiate you out of the things that you think are very important).

4.  What is your alternative?  In official negotiating terms this is known as the “BATNA”, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  In other words, what are you going to do if the company is unwilling to meet your absolute minimum?  (This is also important because you want to leave the negotiation with a job and not burn any bridges.  The best BATNA is to leave the negotiation on good terms that can be leveraged into another negotiation with the company that is ultimately successful for you both).

After you put together your simple plan you need to do a little rehearsing just like you did for your job interviews.  Find someone to conduct a mock negotiation with, and then listen to their feedback.  It will pay huge dividends.  I guarantee that you will be surprised at just how difficult negotiating can be!  By rehearsing you will learn if you are too brusque or direct or overbearing, all of which are very common traits that come with military service.  You want to be convivial and professional because it is what the company expects, and by rehearsing with another person you can fine tune your style of engagement.

Here are a few things that military people tend to do while they negotiate that end up working against them:

– Being too rigid and organized.  Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean that you need to unyieldingly stick to it.  Do not treat your plan as a checklist and start at the top and work your way to the bottom.  The negotiation is a conversation that will go in many directions before it is completed, and if you are too mechanical and inflexible it will hurt you.

– Being unwilling to engage in a dialog.  Often, military folks are used to just accepting “no” a bit too easily.  Remember, the Human Resources manager wants to hire you as cheaply as possible, and if you just roll over every time he or she says no then you are making his or her job pretty easy.

– Being ignorant of what benefits are available for discussion.  This goes back to the previous post about interview preparation: make sure to do your research!  If you do not ask for something I guarantee you will not get it.  At this stage of the game nobody is looking out for you except you!

– Being ignorant of how much money they really need to make.  A good rule of thumb is that you need to nearly double your base military pay to obtain the same level of compensation in the civilian world.  Taxes go up and tax-free benefits go away.   In the civilian world you get to pay bills that you may not have thought about: for example, if you lived in the barracks or in base housing you did not have to pay for electricity, water, natural gas, or trash removal.  Guess what- in the civilian world you get to pay for all of those things and more!

__________

Lessons Learned:

– Do some research on your own finances and see just how much money that you are going to need in the civilian world.  Remember- taxes take a big bite!  If you were in the civilian world you could count on 30-40% of your BAH and Subsistance Allowance to go to the IRS because it would be counted as income.  Find out how much money you really need.

– List out those benefits that are important to you and also those that are not.  You will use both lists during your negotiation.  Make sure that those benefits you want are offered by the company!

-Rehearse with someone — you need the practice.  Remember, the Human Resources manager does this a lot more than you do.

– Find out what your BATNA is and stick to it- it is OK to walk away from the negotiation if the result would be below your absolute minimum level of acceptability.

Learning a new skill: Salary and benefits negotiation part 1

In the military one learns a good many things:  How to stand at attention and march smartly about.  How to carry and shoot a rifle, and how to live out of a backpack for weeks on end.  How to fix a tank or fly a jet.  Lots and lots of things.

One thing that you don’t learn, however, is something that everybody else in the business world learns with their first job: how to negotiate.

Negotiation is a very important part the employment process.  When a candidate is offered a position with a company he or she begins the discussion of compensation with the hiring manager, where things like compensation, benefits, hours, vacation time, career progression, retirement plans, insurance, and countless other things that are part and parcel of employment.  In the corporate world all of these items are negotiable, and both job providers and job seekers know it.

In the military the situation could not be more different.  When a young man or woman joins the military they are provided a comprehensive pay and benefits package, but it is one that is set by law and regulation.  There is no negotiation for a better salary or more flexible hours — in fact, there is no negotiation at all.  The pay, allowances, and benefits for military folks are no secret, either.  The pay scale, which is based on rank and time in service, is readily available on the internet as are all of the other  benefits, special pay conditions (such as jump and dive pay), and housing stipends.  When you join the military you get what you get, just like everybody else in uniform.

As a result of the defined pay and benefits in the military those in uniform never engage in the process of employment negotiation, and that can place them at a disadvantage when they hang up their uniforms and enter the civilian world where everything is negotiable.

Everything from the salary you will earn to the amount of vacation you can take to where you can park your car is on the table.  It is up to you, the job seeker, to get the best offer that you can, and if you don’t know to engage in the back and forth of negotiation then you risk leaving valuable things on the table.  There is one guarantee in negotiation: you will never get things that you don’t ask for.

Fortunately, you can arm yourself for such a negotiation by doing a little research and preparing for it.

The research bit can make an enormous difference in the negotiation process because it can provide you with valuable information about the company and what you can and can not ask for.  You can surf the internet (at sites like www.glassdoor.com or www.payscale.com) and ask your friends and contacts (especially those in the industry you are entering or work at the company) about what the average salary for your desired position is as well as the benefits package that the firm offers.

As the job seeker you have leverage in the negotiation up until the point that you accept the job offer and the terms that it contains.  Once you say “yes” the negotiation is over, and you are highly unlikely to be able to change anything.  At that point anything that was left on the table will vanish like a thief in the night.

So what are the types of things that you can ask for?  Here is a quick list of twenty things that many companies will entertain and which may or may not be similar to military benefits:

1.  Performance bonuses.  Can you make more money if your performance merits it?

2.  Flexible hours.  Maybe a four day week with longer workdays?

3.  Work location.  Work from home?

4.  Overtime pay.  How much will you be compensated for working extra hours?

5.  Retirement plans.  What kind do they offer?  How much will the company match in a 401K?

6.  Vacation time.  You received 30 days a year in the military, and the base in the civilian world is two weeks, unless you negotiate for more.

7.  Travel expenses.  Can you get  company car?  Mileage compensation or a gas station credit card?

8.  Non-monetary compensation.  Can you earn stock options or fully valued shares of the company’s stock?

9.  Career flexibility.  Can you create a path that starts in one area of the company and then move to another?

10.  Time off.  How about personal days?  Sick days?

11.  Health care.  Is health insurance included?  What are the deductibles?  Is there an on-site clinic?

12.  Insurance.  You had SGLI in the military at a steeply discounted rate.  Does your employer offer life insurance?

13.  Meals.  Is there a company cafeteria?  Are meals subsidized?

14.  Child care.  Can you bring your child to work?  How about a nursing room for those who wish to nurse their infants?

15.  Tech equipment.  How about a company phone or laptop?

16.  Discounts.  If the company produces goods, can you purchase them at a discount?  Is there a company store?

17.  Memberships.  Will the company provide memberships to a health club or gym?

18.  Travel.  Will you be expected to travel in coach, business class, or even better when you travel?  How about upgrades?

19.  Education.  Will the company pay for you to pursue an MBA or other educational opportunitity?

20.  Relocation expenses.  Will the firm pay for you to move your family to the city where you will work?

These are only the tip of the pay and benefits iceberg.  If you don’t do your homework and come to the bargaining table knowing what you can and should ask for you will get less than you could have.

In my next post we will prepare for the negotiation by rehearsing and doing a little self examination to make sure we do the best job possible at the bargaining table.

__________

Lessons learned:

– Military benefits are set.  Corporate benefits are not.  To get the best salary and benefits possible you are going to have to negotiate for them.

– Not all companies offer all benefits.  You need to do some research to see what the company offers, and then be prepared to ask for them.

– Salary is usually the biggest aspect of the negotiation, but it is not the only element.  Unlike the military, many corporate benefit packages are tailored to the individual employee.

– Use your network of contacts and the internet to research what will likely be on the table during the negotiation.  Don’t look foolish by asking for something the company does not offer, and don’t forget to ask for something that they do.

After the interview: Now what?

So you have just finished interviewing with the company of your dreams.  As you walk out the door you need to remember, though, that even though the meeting part of the interview is over the whole process is not yet done.  You still have some work to do to finish it up.

Or, if you don’t want the job that badly, you can just get in your car, drive home, and have a cold one to celebrate the time that you wasted on the interview and the job opportunity you missed out on because your competition is going to go the extra mile and finish their interview properly.  The choice is up to you.

The smart thing to do is to continue to treat the job interview like a date.  Just as you want your relationship with a pretty girl or handsome guy to get more serious the same can be said about your interest in the company.  You are certainly curious as to how things went during the interview because you to want to step things up a notch and get into a meaningful relationship with the company.  Just like you want your date to call you back the day after dinner and a movie you desperately want the hiring manager to give you a ring with good news.

Even though you have left the building there are still several things you can, and should, do to increase your chances to land a job.  If you don’t do them the worst that will happen is that you won’t land an offer.  If you do the following things, though, you still may not get a job but you will come away from the experience with a stronger reputation and a better understanding of how to become a better candidate for employment.  Here, in my humble opinion (and in the opinions of many hiring managers) are the things that you should perform after the interview:

1.  Make some notes about the interview.  What questions were you prepared for?  What questions were you unprepared for?  What was the interviewer’s name and title?  You should have exchanged cards during the interview, and the back of the card is a good place to jot down the interviewer’s preferred form of address (“Mr. Smith” or “Bob”, for example).  You should take notes while the interview is fresh in your mind because otherwise you will forget those brain-hiccups that you had, and if you forget them then you are likely to repeat them again in future interviews.  I recommend getting a small notebook dedicated to the interviewing process and using it as a logbook or journal to record your post-interview notes.

2.  Send a follow-up note to thank the interviewer for their time and attention.  In the note make sure to use their preferred form of address (that you remembered to write down on the back of their business card as soon as you left the interview) and be sincere in your message.  You should be professional and courteous, but not overly familiar.  After all, you are still making an impression, and a poorly written note will do more harm than good.  Here is an example of a short and acceptable thank-you note:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on Tuesday.  I am very excited about the opportunity to join XYZ Company, and I learned a great deal about the firm during the interview.  Our discussion about the corporate culture and dynamic work environment reinforced my strong desire to join the company, and I think that my skills and experience are a great fit for the _________ position.  I feel that I can be a strong contributor to the firm.

If you need to contact me for any follow up questions or additional information I can best be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx or via email at mike@anymail.com.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Mike Smith

3.  As you close out the interview ask the hiring manager for the best way to contact them in the future.  This is important because it gives the interviewer an opportunity to establish expectations for future communications.  He or she may be open to a call or email or may prefer that you wait to hear from the company before you contact them.  Make sure to pay attention!  You can shoot down your chances at a job if you call them after being asked to wait.  Just follow their lead.

4.  Think hard about your experience at the interview.  Are you going to be a good fit at the company?  Did you learn anything that was unexpected or that is not in line with your goals?  If you did, then do some serious soul-searching in order to decide whether or not to continue pursuing a job there.  Don’t just take the first job that comes along if it is not a good fit.

5.  Be ready for the company’s call.  It may be a letter, an email, or a telephone call, but regardless of how the firm reaches out to you the news will be either good or bad.  This is where character really counts; if the news is good then it means that you have a follow on interview in your future or a job offer letter on the way.  If the news is bad then it means that you will need to look elsewhere for a job.  If the news is good then you need to be humble, respectful, and thankful for the opportunity to work with the company.  If the news is bad, then you need to be humble, respectful, and thankful for the opportunity to interview with the company.  Even though you did not land a job with that particular company it doesn’t mean that you can be a jerk about it; remember, you are building a reputation along with your resume.  If you are obnoxious because you didn’t get the job the word will get out.  If you are respectful, the word will get out too.  The hiring manager who did not hire you may know of a company that is looking for someone with your skill set, and if you make a strong positive impression it may help network you into a new opportunity.

Remember that the hiring process does not end with the interview.  It ends with either a job offer, an invitation for a follow on interview, or a rejection.  You can improve your chances for a job offer by following up on the interview.

__________

Lessons Learned:

1.  Write down your impressions of the interview as soon as possible so that you can learn from it.  You want to make your strengths even stronger and eliminate your weaknesses, and the only way to effectively do that is to learn from your experience.

2.  The interview is not over when you walk out the door.  Hiring managers are people too, and sending a thank you note for their time is a nice touch that will be noticed.  It is a normal part of the hiring process, and if you don’t send a note then you are behind others who do. Send the thank you note immediately after the interview.  If you had to travel to the interview, then write the note and drop it in a local mailbox to ensure that it arrives quickly.  As the saying goes: “Strike while the iron is hot.”

3.  Reflect on the interview.  Did it reinforce your desire to work there or uncover some negative aspects about the job or the company that make you have second thoughts?

4.  Be gracious when you finally get the results of the interview.  This may take a while because the hiring process at most companies takes time, so be ready to wait.  When you get the news, be respectful and courteous regardless whether it is good or not.  Remember, your reputation is always growing, and if the word gets out that you are a jerk it will hurt your chances elsewhere.