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Interview Tips and Tricks: How to prepare for an interview

Posted by | November 13, 2012 | Tips and Tricks

If you want to be an exceptional candidate, then you need to do exceptional preparation. Preparation is the number one thing that will set you apart from other candidates. Want to be more impressive? Prepare more. If you are obsessed with preparing for every aspect of the interview, then you will be ready to crush it.

Know why you are applying for this job. Yes, you want a job so that you can pay for your lifestyle. But what are your underlying motivations? Why are you driven towards this job? Why are you passionate about this position? How do your values match the values you will need to do your job? This is a deep question and if you know the answer to it, then you will understand what drives a lot of the answers you will give during the interview. You’ll have a better idea of why you’re a good fit for the job … and that makes it easier for you to tell the recruiter why you’re a good candidate.

Research everything you can about the company. You want to know about the place you’re going to work not just so that you can sound intelligent in the interview, but so that you can figure out if it’s a place that you actually want to work at. Even if this isn’t a “career” for you, it’s likely that you’ll be in the job for a year or two. A year might not seem that long, but talk to anyone who hated their job for a full year … and they’ll tell you that one year is a long time. See what you can find on the company. You’ll want to know what you’re getting into.

If you’re applying for a job at a public company, then check out the financial statements and SEC filings. Go online and search for the Annual Report, Proxy Statement, and 10-K for the company that you’re interested in. These documents aren’t thrilling reads, but they have excellent information in them. Even if you only read the summary near the beginning of each document, then you will be well versed on the inner workings of the company. The corporate filings are also a great way to discover specific questions about the company and you can mention that you read these documents in your research.

10. Get to know someone on the inside. Employees can give you an idea of what “a day in the life” is like and can help you determine if this is a place you would like to work at. Plus, if you mention your meetings with employees during the interview then you will make an impression as someone who is serious about the job. If you don’t know where to start, then head over to LinkedIn or Google and do some searches for people at the company you are interviewing with. If all else fails, give them a call and talk to someone in the department that you want to work in. It shouldn’t be too hard to find someone willing to let you take them to lunch.

Show them that you are familiar with that culture and that you’re a good fit for it. Interviewers are looking for qualified candidates and people who fit in well with their community and culture. They want to be able to trust you, so show them that you display values that are consistent with their group. (Side note: if you really aren’t a good fit and don’t match up well with the people you talk to, then you might want to reconsider going there. There is no sense in spending tons of time with people you don’t enjoy being around.)

Describe the ideal candidate. Once you know a bit more about the company, spend some time writing out a full description of the ideal candidate. Try to be totally objective about it. What would the company want? See things from their perspective. If you were the recruiter, what would the perfect candidate look like?

Reframe your experiences. Once you understand what the company is looking for and what the ideal candidate would look like, you can reframe your experiences to meet those expectations. For example, if the job description requires a “proven ability to motivate others,” then it is basically asking for “effective leadership skills” … but one of those phrases might match up better with your background than another. Spend some time thinking about alternative phrases and how you can reframe your skill set to match the desired qualifications.

Create an “I can handle it” list. If you can convince the recruiter that you can handle the job, then you’ll have a much better chance of getting the job. Print out the list of required skills and experience that comes with the job. Next to each item, write down an experience you have had that is relevant. It doesn’t need to be a perfect match… just an experience that proves that you can handle the task. This is also a good place to look for stories from your personal life or previous work that match up well with the “I can handle it” list. It’s a great way to keep your stories relevant to the position. The hiring managers want to make a good call because their reputation is on the line. You need to ease their fears and show them that you can handle the position. (Hat tip to Julie Melillo.)

Develop a list of “sound bites.” Sound bites are short phrases or sentences that you want to make sure you say throughout the interview. These are phrases that highlight everything that is great about you as a candidate. The exact way you tell a story might change, but you’ll always want to include the sound bite. For example, “I once worked with a co-worker who constantly pushed her work off on me because Excel spreadsheets are a strong point for me and she knew this…” is a great sound bite to use at the start of a story about dealing with a difficult co-worker. It kicks things off and refers to one of your skills. You can tell the rest of the story naturally and still know that you included a solid sound bite. You should have a sound bite for each story you tell. (Hat tip to Stephanie Kiester)

Own your online reputation. Everyone going through the job process is going to have their name searched. You don’t need to be an internet superstar, but it’s a good idea to have an online presence that puts recruiters at ease. You either need to be comfortable with having the hiring manager reading your tweets and browsing your Facebook pictures or you need to adjust your privacy settings so that those areas are hidden. Some people provide a lot of value through social media, so perhaps they want hiring managers to see that. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, but make sure it’s a conscious decision. This is one area of the job process that actually is under your control, so it would be silly to not take responsibility for it.

If you know who is interviewing you, then search for them online. You can flip the script and search for your interviewers as well. Of course, you’re not looking for dirt, you’re looking for evidence that you might fit in well at the company, for areas of common interest, and for possible questions you could ask the recruiter.

Determine who the most appropriate people are that you can list as references. Then, tell them that you are listing them. It’s important to give your references a heads up. If you feel uncomfortable telling someone that you’re listing them, then what makes you think that they are going to be a good person to talk about you?

Do as many practice interviews as you can. It’s not fun — and it might even be more awkward than the real interview — but doing practice interviews with friends, family, or others is a critical piece of the puzzle. You need feedback not just on your responses, but also on body language, tone, and approach. You’ll never know how your answers need to change unless you deliver them a few times.

Use the STAR method to guide your answers. This simple formula ensures that you accurately describe your experiences and highlight the results they provided. The STAR method includes,

      S: The Situation – describe it


      T: The Task or problem – what dilemma or problem did you face?


      A: The Action – what action did you take?


    R: The Result – what was the result of your action?

Make sure that each experience you describe includes those four areas. (Hat tip to Fred Cooper.)

Devise bullet points for each question, not a full script. You will want to write out your answers to hard questions beforehand because the written word forces you to clarify your thoughts. However, you only need to know the main point or primary story that you want to tell for each answer… you don’t need to memorize everything word for word.


(source: Passive Panda)

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Tattooed Professionals: J.R. Hasty

Posted by | November 12, 2012 | Tattooed Professionals

Profession: Account representative, wholesale fuel business.

Artist: Various; Dan McGrew, Skin and Soul.

A story of sports: From the number he wore as a member of Bellevue High School football team, and later a scholarship athlete at the University of Washington, Hasty’s tattoos reflect growing up in Bellevue and Seattle and being an athlete. The waves of the Puget Sound and different sayings such as “Fortune favors the brave,” are inked on his upper body.

Misconceptions: While tattoos are more acceptable among jocks, Hasty says he’s still gotten negative comments about his tattoos from family friends. “People think you’re up to no good or you don’t have a good upbringing,” he says.


(Source: The Bellevue Scene)

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Facts Facts Facts

Posted by | November 2, 2012 | Tattoo Facts

It is untrue that white or lighter colored inks are more painful to use.

A tattoo is art, only, if the person doing the tattoo is an artist and a skilled technician.

President James Buchanon had a tattoo of a scantily clad woman on his chest with the initials BFL (bachelor for life).

In 2002, 18 year old hair dresser Lee Becks was shocked to find out the tattoo he thought said, “Love, honor, and obey” actually translated to, “at the end of the day, this is an ugly boy.”

New York City outlawed tattoos from 1961 to 1997 because of a tattoo related outbreak of hepatitis “C”.

In a 2002 study a group of male high school and college students viewed pictures of models with and without tattoos, and graded them in 13 categories. The models with tattoos scored much lower in 9 of the 13 ratings.

Some people experience pain or a burning during sensation during an MRI because of the metallic particles in some inks.

The US Navy prohibited tattoos of naked women during World War II, so many future sailors had to get their tattoos reworked to include cloths.

The first recorded instance of death following tattooing was reported in 1837 in France. The young woman, a prostitute, was covering up another unwanted tattoo and died from the infection that followed.

Apr. 30, 2009. To celebrate Barbie’s 50th birthday Mattel comes out with the new “Totally Stlylin’ Barbie, complete with a set of place able tattoos, one a lower back tattoo featuring the name Ken.

35% of all NBA players have tattoos. Michael Jordan has none and teammate Dennis Rodman has at least 22.

Lorette Fulkerson was the last woman to work the circus sideshows, retiring in 1995 at the age of 80.

Eyeball tattoos are not done with a machine, but rather, the ink is directly injected into the eye with a syringe.

Urine was sometimes used in early ink mixtures.

5% of Americans with a tattoo say they make them feel smarter.

The first case of a syphilis being transmitted by a tattoo came in 1853. The artists ink was drying up so he spit in it, transferring the disease.

Never go back to the person who gave you a bad tattoo to have it fixed, it will not get better.

The time to ask questions is before you get a tattoo.

Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.

Women are more than twice as likely to have a tattoo removed as men.

Over 50% of the tattoos created today will be removed by laser at great expense, intense pain and permanent minor scaring. Think before you ink.

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Interview Tips and Tricks: Mindset and approach

Posted by | October 30, 2012 | Tips and Tricks

1. It’s your job to sell yourself. If you don’t do it, then you can be sure that no one else will. Most of us understand this, but that doesn’t mean that we’re all comfortable with it. There is no need to bloat your accomplishments or make false claims, but there is every need to paint the best picture of yourself. If you’re feeling apprehensive about this idea, then remember: it’s not bragging if you did it.

2. Apply to fewer jobs. When you need a job, it’s easy to shotgun your resume in 100 different directions. And that is exactly why the stack of resumes is so high for that job you want. Everyone is sending out the same resume to every job they can find. Slow down. Focus on a few jobs that you actually want. Then tailor everything about your application to each specific job.

3. You’re interviewing them too. Your goal should be to find a job that you actually care about and a company that you want to be a part of. If you focus on jobs like that, then the interview will be much better. You’ll be genuinely engaged. You’ll ask more questions because you’re interested and not because “that’s what you’re supposed to do in an interview.” Plus — and here’s a crazy bonus — if you only apply to jobs that you look interesting, then you aren’t going to end up in a job that you never actually wanted. Sort of makes you wonder why you’re applying to a bunch of jobs that you aren’t going to enjoy, right?

4. Realize that some things are of minimal benefit. If you really wanted, you could write out a list of 1000 things to remember for a job interview. Of course, most of them wouldn’t really help you because some things just aren’t that important. Your focus should be on solving problems for the company, on proving why you’re the best candidate for the job, and on finding a culture and community that you naturally fit in with. If you do those three things, then you’ll find that the little things (like remembering to iron your shirt) are… well… little things.

5. Sometimes you may need to be persistent. If you want to make an impression, then you might have to find the courage to never say die. You might need to take ten people out to lunch before you find a contact that can help you. You might need to send a progress report to the recruiter every week for two months before they even care. You might need to start a project on the side and email a progress report to a recruiter every week for two months before they start to pay attention to you. You might need to ask one person to vouch for you. Then you might need to ask five more. Don’t lose hope and keep moving forward everyday. Keep walking and you’ll make it to the finish line.


(source: Passive Panda)

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Tattooed Professionals: Leah Maxwell-Schwab

Posted by | October 29, 2012 | Tattooed Professionals

Profession:Paralegal in downtown Bellevue, more than 20 years of experience.

Artist: Various; Dale Nester, Skin and Soul.

A positive addiction: When asked how many tattoos she has, Maxwell-Schwab has to count to remember. Is it 10 or 11? There’s four on her back, one on her wrist, a design encircling her thigh like a garter belt as well as tattoos on her big toe, ankle and lower abdomen. “Oh yeah, it’s 11,” she says.

Her first one: She was 22. It was the ‘90s and grunge was in. “I was obsessed with Orca whales at the time.”  What started off as a single Orca on her ankle became a whole anklet design.

Tattoo sisters: Maxwell-Schwab and one of her closest girlfriends got tattooed together when they went on vacation to Australia, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Cancun.  She says her tattoos capture moments she wants to remember.  

A portrait of the last 20 years: “My tattoos are my artistic expression and my individuality. They make me different.”

Carrying peace with her: “Three years ago, I was going through a really tough time, I wanted to feel like I had peace around me. I have the word serenity on one shoulder blade and peace and eternal love on the other. I carry the two things with me now.”

Law office: Maxwell-Schwab’s 74-year-old boss loves her tattoos. “When he introduces me, he says, ‘This is my paralegal, Leah. She’s got a lot of tattoos.’ He thinks it’s pretty cool.”

Identity: “My work isn’t who I am, my tattoos are who I am,” she says.


(source: The Scene)

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Fun Facts Friday!

Posted by | October 26, 2012 | Tattoo Facts

1: Tommy Lee of Motley Crue holds the record for highest altitude tattoo, having been inked in 2008 at 45,000 feet. The tattoo was said to cost $150,000 dollars.
2: 73 year old Isobel Valley, the world’s most tattooed women, has every square inch of her body tattooed, except her face, and also has fifty piercings, 15 of which are visible. The majority of the piercings are below the belt because she wants to jingle when she walks, she says.
3: An increasing number of people are having medical alerts tattooed to aid doctors in case of an emergency.
4: 43 year old former soldier Shawn Clark has the names of all 232 British soldiers killed in Afghanistan tattooed on his back.
5: At one time red ink was known to fade; not so with today’ inks.
6: The title of The “Hardy Boys” #47 is “The Mystery of the Whale Tattoo.”
7: When Cortez landed on the Mexican coast in 1519 he was horrified to find the natives practicing devil worshiping and had somehow permanently marked images of their idols on their skin. He called it the work of the devil.
8: A tattoo of an anchor on a sailor indicates they have sailed across the Atlantic.
9: One third of Americans with tattoos say they make them feel sexier.
10: Tattoo ink is injected into the second layer of the skin, the dermis, and become encapsulate by the body as a defense mechanism, leaving the image stable and intact.
11: Gabrial Carbona, an American teenage hit man for a Mexican cartel, has his eyelids tattooed so they never look closed. His idea is not working as well for him in prison.
12: Jimmy Buffet sings about tattoos in this song of the same name, “It’s a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling.”
13: In the 1920’s, American circuses employed more than 300 people with full body tattoos and paid them up to $200 a week, a lot of money during those times.

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Tips and Tricks: Ink at Inc.

Posted by | October 23, 2012 | Tips and Tricks

I have many tattoos. The number isn’t that large, but they take up a significant portion of the visible space on my arms and legs. I am the most tattooed person at Snagajob by a good measure, and usually when people I work with have questions (or commentary) about tattooing, they come to me. After eight years of gainful employment with tattoos, these are some things I’ve learned.

1. There is no such thing as privacy

When I got my first tattoo (a quote from a little known author, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare) on my forearm, it never crossed my mind that anyone would give a crap what I had placed there. Boy, was I wrong. To add insult to injury, my tattoos are almost exclusively words. Do you know what everyone’s natural inclination is to do with words? If you thought “ignore them,” you’d be incorrect. People want to read words. It goes against every fiber of our beings to ignore the written word. I wasn’t prepared for this. I’ve been verbally accosted by religious fanatics, grabbed by strangers, had my sleeves pulled up by crazy customers and fielded twenty-one questions from co-workers. If it’s on your body and they can see it; it’s public domain.

Because I am a non-confrontational person by nature, I can’t be rude. This is especially true in the workplace where you are being paid to be friendly and professional. I have friends with visible tattoos who aren’t so nice about engaging with complete strangers. I generally believe that most people don’t mean to be rude and aren’t familiar with tattoo (or social) etiquette. I have also been asked thousands of times, so at this point I just choose to let it just roll off my back.

2. With tattoos and job interviews, timing is everything

I made a conscious decision when I started tattooing visible portions of my body that I’d never get anything that couldn’t be covered up with professional business attire (for me that means a suit). I still stand by that philosophy, as you just never know where you’re going to end up. That doesn’t change the fact that in some settings, it will be nearly impossible to cover up your tattoos.

For instance, I worked at Best Buy for many years while I was in college. Anyone who has ever been to Best Buy knows that the uniform involves a short-sleeve blue polo shirt. Since my forearms are tattooed, it would have been impossible to cover these up at work. Because of this, and in the interest of full disclosure, I inquired about their tattoo policy after I was offered the position. I find that immediately following a job offer is a good place to bring up body art and piercings. It’s before you start (saves messy paperwork for them if it’s against company policy), but you’ve already shown you’d be a good employee (saves you the frustration of being discriminated against). I’ve been careful (and lucky) about the companies I’ve worked for, and it’s never been an issue.

3. The content of your tattoos matters

This is tricky. Lots of people have an “oh crap” moment with their tattoos, where you regret the moment you ever walked into the tattoo shop and said, “Yes, I’d like a permanent reminder of the girlfriend whom I will break up with approximately two years after I get this tattoo.” At least I hope I’m not the only one who was that big of an idiot.

With that being said, your tattoos are a diary of your life, and they give everyone you meet a pretty good idea of who you are (or were). Tattoos with offensive language, gestures, illustrations and the like are no exceptions. Even if they’re done as a joke, they likely won’t be tolerated by an employer or their customers. If you feel strongly about something that could be offensive, it’s best saved for a portion of your body not revealed in, say, a tank top and shorts.

4. One final note

I’ve been fortunate to work with Amanda Hite, the CEO of Talent Revolution. She recently built up the courage to commit to a visible tattoo of her company’s (and personal) philosophy: “Be the change.” Afterwards, she fielded questions like, “What will your clients think?” and “What if you decide to go back into the corporate world?” and “How are you going to hide it?” This was Amanda’s response on her blog:

“It’s not about a tattoo.

It’s 2010, it’s about being able to be who you are…If I’m not accepted in the workplace for a tattoo, I’m pretty certain there will be other more important parts of who I am that would not be accepted. Look, sometimes we have to work a job we don’t entirely like, but in this day and age, should we still have to work in places where we can’t express ourselves and be who we are? I’ve learned that only when you embrace your own authenticity, unapologetically, can you really explore your talents’ potential. By being true to yourself you attract the kind of people in your life who share your values. Including employers and clients.

You do have a choice.”

Amanda couldn’t be more spot-on. If an employer isn’t willing to hire you because of your tattoo, that’s okay. There’s no reason to get upset about it – it’s their choice. It’s their right (and responsibility) to represent their company and brand to their customers in a way they are comfortable with. Ultimately, you don’t want to work for a company who doesn’t embrace the way you identify yourself.



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Tattooed Professionals: Maegan Nielsen

Posted by | October 22, 2012 | Tattooed Professionals

Profession: Nielsen has witheld her position and the name of the corporation she works for in Bellevue at the request of her employer.

Corporate culture: “Some corporate industries just tolerate tattoos while others really get it,” Nielsen says. “As the baby boomers continue to retire and the up-and-coming workforce moves in, employers will be hiring from a younger crowd where it’s becoming increasingly more acceptable to be tattooed.”

Inspiration: In addition to her children’s astrological signs (she says she won’t get her husband’s until their 40th anniversary), Nielsen’s back tattoos are symbols that remind her of her own perseverance and resilience through the hardship she’s endured, including the word “strength” in Chinese and a phoenix design that will eventually take up her entire back (“It rises from literally nothing to become a beautiful, powerful bird.”)

Phoenix artist: Hooe at Easy Choppers. Nielsen says he wants to take the phoenix tail down to her thigh, but “I think I’ll stop him right here,” Nielsen says gesturing to her lower back.

Stereotypes about tattoos: “They’re only for people in prison or with an artistic lifestyle,” says Nielsen, who works with senior members of her company and never tries to hide the tattoos on her back that peak out from the top of her shirt.

Bellevue’s transformation: “Seattle is so forgiving, so creative and Bellevue is becoming that way, too,” Nielsen says. “There’s a cultural shift happening where tattoos are becoming more OK.”

Getting inked: She asked her artist, Hooe, why he didn’t go to Seattle, a more alternative city, for work. He told her that Bellevue is an untapped market. She agreed. “People say, ‘I’m not going to Bellevue to get tattooed, it’s snooty and pretentious. That’s just ignorance.”


(source: The Scene)

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Tattoo Facts #6: 13 Random Facts

Posted by | October 19, 2012 | Tattoo Facts

1: Blues singer Janis Joplin had a wristlet tattoo and a small heart on her left breast.
2: In Oregon, it is a felony to practice tattooing without a license or in an unlicensed shop.
3: Heiress and socialite Paris Hilton had one tattoo to her credit, the name of then boyfriend Nick Carter on her right butt cheek. It has since been removed by laser.
4: The traditional Samoan tattoo, pe’a, covering the body from mid torso to the knees, takes 3 months to complete and up to 1 year to fully heal. A typical session lasts from dawn till dusk, or until the pain becomes too great, and resumes the next day unless the skin needs a few days to heal.
5: In a 2002 survey, 8 of the top 10 voted, “most beautiful people in the world” had tattoos.
6: Tattoos done today don’t turn blue when they age, unless they were originally blue, the inks are much more stable.
7: The first occurrence of the word tattoo in the Oxford English Dictionary came in 1769 and is credited to Captain John Cook.
8: A rooster tattooed on one leg and a pig on the other is said to protect a sailor from drowning. Neither animal can swim.
9: Queen Kamamalu of Hawaii (1808-1824) was the first woman to have her tongue tattooed.
10: Most tattoo artists will not tattoo a pregnant woman.
11: Some tattoo artists claim that if you shield a new tattoo from sunlight for the first two years it will remain brighter and clearer for decades.
12: Over 40 million people in the U.S. have tattoos.
13: 26% of Americans with a tattoo say they make them feel more attractive, with women voting that way almost 2 to 1 over men.

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Tattooed Professionals: Katie-Jo Glover

Posted by | October 15, 2012 | Tattooed Professionals

Job: Veterinarian assistant at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine, which treats reptiles, small mammals, birds and other critters. “We basically don’t see cats and dogs,” she said.

Tattoos: The skull of a coyote on the underside of her forearm; a woman holding a burrowing owl on her thigh; a sparrow being stabbed by an antique hairpin on the other side of the forearm.

The skull on Glover’s left arm isn’t just any coyote: it’s Snix, one of the first ones she tracked while doing wildlife research on Cape Cod. The job entailed raising coyote puppies, monitoring them, even showering, sleeping and eating with them, part of an affection for the critters she developed growing up on a farm in Massachusetts.

By the time she started working as a vet for exotic animals, she decided to get another piece: a sparrow being stabbed by an antique hairpin, to symbolize the breadth of odd maladies she sees.

“You would not believe the things that people will come in and say happened to their pets,” she said. “I wanted something that looked bleeding, that looked like an accident.”

The office — where the current slate of patients includes a chameleon, an albino hedgehog and a chinchilla — attracts a certain breed of person who is more likely to be tattooed, she said.

“There’s a little bit of a subversive culture there,” she said. “The applications you get from reptile people who want to work there; they’ve got split tongues and things.”