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#JobTipTuesday: Understanding Company Culture

Understanding Company Culture

Understanding Company Culture

By Samuel Garcia

“This above all: To thine own self be true…”

was penned by William Shakespeare ages ago. But how can we be true to ourselves if we do not really know who we are and what we are about? How can we find jobs that match us unless we first, solve this riddle?

Knowing what you really want to do, and where’s the best place to do it, is the critical first step to job search success. Do the industry, the company, and specific job match you? For example, does the job match your interests? Does the company culture support those values most important to you? Is the company a good match for your work style or personality type? Is this a place where you can use your best and favorite skills? Will taking this job advance your financial position and career goals?

If you are not clear on answers to these questions, consider career assessments to help you profile your interests, values, skills and personality type. Assessment results provide job options that could match you best. In addition, research labor market information to identify what your chosen career field is doing and is projected to do in relation to the economy. Once you are clear about these matters, you will have taken the first vital step to job search success.

Researching Companies

Research helps you establish that the company has what you want. However, it is probably much more difficult to establish what the company wants, then developing the best means to effectively communicate that you are the ideal candidate for the position.

Job applicants are not likely to make a good impression and land the job by walking into a job interview oblivious about company culture and job requirements. Trying to “wing it” by engaging the employer in a “hit and miss” process or “playing cat and mouse” with the interview panel does not work. There’s an abundance of resources available to learn about most companies. These include:

  1. Job Postings: Employers usually provide information about the company in job postings. Job ads can serve as a springboard for further research. At the least you get the name of the company and contact information which may include physical address, phone number, email address, and company website. Some employers also provide a company profile, slogan or mission statement.
  2. Internet Search: Search engines, such as Google, can lead to lots of links related to the company name. There are many helpful websites such as www.glassdoor.com, www.yelp.com, www.vault.com, www.yp.com, and many more.
  3. Social Media: Employers advertise products, services and activities on social media platforms such as www.linkedin.com, www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, and www.youtube.com, to name only a few. Employers often use such platforms to recruit new employees. In fact, many employers no longer advertise: they enlist headhunters/recruiters to go through social media sites (such as LinkedIn), read profiles, and identify who the “movers and shakers” are for recruitment into the company.
  4. Networking: There are estimates that 60%-80% of all job hires are the result of networking which is considered by many experts as the best job search strategy. If there is anyone in your network that knows key players in the company or has any useful information about the company, this can provide great leverage, especially if they introduce or recommend you to the hiring manager.

Find Companies that match YOU, then show them how you match THEM

Knowing what you really want to do and where you want to do it makes it so much easier to answer the question, “Do I really want to work there?” Once you can answer “Yes”, you are still faced with the challenge of showing you are the best candidate for the position.

Estimates indicate there is an average of 100 job applicants for every job opening. Desperate job seekers tend to apply for whatever job they think can immediately put food on the table until something better comes along. Experienced employers can readily identify such applicants because they usually submit “one-size-fits-all” résumés that, usually, do not match job specifications.

On the other hand, what’s worse is that many qualified job seekers have difficulty communicating their fit for the job because they either failed to do their research or, just simply, do not know how to build a targeted résumé or create an impressive cover letter. Because such candidates are not effectively communicating their qualifications and fit for the job, employers may confuse them with unqualified, desperate job seekers. For all intents and purposes, their résumés and cover letters appear practically similar.

Some companies receive so many résumés they cannot possibly process all of them with existing staff resources. Some utilize Applicant Tracking Systems or farm them out to employment service agencies that screen, process and refer the best candidates to the employer.

Tell me about yourself

Employers don’t really want to know about you: They want to know the part of you that makes you the best candidate for the position. They want to know that you are qualified and have the right skills. They want to know you can deliver the results they expect and that you fit the company. But how can jobseekers tell employers what they need to know if they don’t know who they are talking to? That means you must know about the industry, the employer, and the job for which you are applying. Once you know who you are talking to, you are more likely to know what to say and how to say it. Simply connect the dots!

Increasingly, more employers have replaced, what is typically the first job interview question, “Tell me about yourself” with What do you know about our company?” Candidates without company knowledge are, thus, eliminated!

Knowing the Company Culture Helps

Investing time to learn about the company’s operating philosophy, mission statement, values, best practices, etc., provides insight by which you can gain a substantial advantage over the competition. You can leverage that knowledge in your cover letters, résumés and job interviews. Employers recognize your effort as an indication that you are already vested into the company. You are seen as a serious candidate who really wants to be part of the team. By then, you will have established that fact not only with the employer, but also with yourself, that you really do!

#JobTipTuesday: Does your expressions give off the wrong impressions?

body languageBy: Samuel Garcia, Workshop Facilitator

Two important elements at job interviews, as in any interaction with an employer, are information management and image management. Both must present a clear and consistent message: I can do the job. I fit in.

Employers expect clear, targeted information delivered concisely and confidently. A warm pleasant smile, for example, can immediately break the ice and facilitate a positive connection. Posture, eye contact, facial expressions, and hand gestures are just a few of the ways we transmit messages to others about ourselves.

Eye Contact

Most people we meet instinctively try to establish eye contact. However, breaking eye contact too quickly, especially in a job interview situation, could be interpreted as trying to hide something or dishonesty. Holding eye contact too long could be considered rude, aggressive or disrespectful behavior.

There is some correlation between eye contact and intimacy. Generally, the stronger the personal relationship, the longer one can comfortably maintain eye contact. There is no established rule on eye contact except that we must read the other person carefully and respectfully for clues as to how long to hold the eye contact before looking away.

Body Posture

Slouching on a chair will quickly earn disfavor. Leaning back could be interpreted as is tired, lazy or, perhaps, arrogant. Leaning too far forward could be seen as aggressive. It is best to maintain good posture by sitting upright in a neutral position or leaning slightly forward to demonstrate interest and attentiveness.

The Hands

What to do with the hands! Fold them? Place one on top of the other? Hide them under the table? Perhaps resting your hands on the table in a relaxed position may be a good solution. A few slight hand gestures could be effective in emphasizing points of verbal communication. It is, probably, best to avoid fast or exaggerated hand movements such as pointing, or waving with your arms, which could be seen as distracting or aggressive.

Crossing the Arms

People tend to interpret crossed arms as indicating the person is closed or unapproachable, while the arms opened at one’s sides tend to say you are open and approachable. It’s probably best not to cross one’s arms while speaking with an employer or at a job interview.

Head Movements

Looking around the room while someone is talking to you could cause a disconnect or give the impression your are disinterested in what the other person is saying. Excessive nodding can also be distracting. One nod, or perhaps two, showing agreement should be adequate as would also be the case when shaking the head in slight disagreement.

Nervous Fidgeting

Nervous fidgeting can be interpreted in many ways: Unfortunately, none of them very positive. Fidgeting is distracting and makes one appear unprepared or lacking confidence. Don’t fidget! Some folks try to conceal nervous fidgeting by hiding their hands behind their backs. It doesn’t work. Besides, it places ones body in an awkward posture which appears unnatural and less than flattering.

Mismatched Facial Expressions

Slapstick comedy and satire often use mismatched facial expressions and tone of voice/ words for added effect. It doesn’t work at job interviews. Saying you are passionate about something in a dry, monotone voice could send mixed messages, for example.

Mock interviewing is a great way to practice and receive constructive feedback. Do it often, stay sharp and focused and you will be better prepared to ace that job interview.


These are just some of the major non-verbal cues that are widely addressed. What other body language signals did we miss? Do you have any stories about how body language affect your perception of the person?  Tell us in the comments below!

We are pleased to announce the Job Club W.O.R.K. Group

Back by popular demand we are starting up a Job Club W.O.R.K group for all Center Members!

Join us for our first Job Club meeting on Oct 10th 2014 at 8:30am.

Its a great opportunity to network, build up your skills and learn new strategies and techniques to include in your job search.


SMCC Job Club WORK Group 10-03-14 Flyer

#JobTipTuesday: Rejection from a Job

Didn't get the job, here's how to deal with the rejection

Written by Sam Garcia, KRA Workshop Facilitator

Being rejected after a job interview can hurt your confidence. However, while not pleasant, rejection can be blown out of proportion and viewed as a sign of failure. By thinking objectively, you can use it to build core strengths, address areas requiring improvement and better targeting jobs that are a better match.

A good first step is to write a Thank You letter for their professional courtesy to notify you of their decision even though you were not selected. Thank them for their time and hospitality throughout the process. Let them know that, while disappointed, you appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the company and to meet some of the staff. Tell them you remain interested in for their organization and that you would appreciate them contacting you next time a job opportunity becomes available for which you might qualify.

Stay Positive

Take note of what you learned throughout the company’s hiring process. While not often possible, try to get feedback on how you might improve your candidacy for future jobs with that company or other employers in general.

Be More Selective

The job market is more competitive today than ever. That means that you should be more selective about where you apply, ensuring that you are a good match, and being very specific about the skills and qualifications you bring to the table. Employers want to know your benefits and there is not better way to do that than by providing examples of results and achievements performing the same key skills they value in previous employment situations.

Address the issues

One of the most common reasons for being turned down is a lack of technical knowledge. To improve in this area, you may adapt your answers for technical questions with more precision or pursue further education or training to bolster your qualifications. Whenever possible, get feedback from the company, headhunter or whoever referred you to the job opportunity.

Another common reason for rejection is presenting poorly at the job interview. Make sure your job interview skills are polished and practice out loud with a coach or even a friend before each job interview. Remember: Employers hire people they like because they have demonstrated that they can do the job and that they fit in.

Final Thoughts

It is helpful to write down as many of the job interview question that was asked immediately after the interview while they are still fresh in your mind. Make notes of how you answered each question to help figure out what worked and what didn’t. Record any impressions/messages you received from the interviewer(s) through facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, gestures, etc. If you pay close attention to such signals, you may be able to gain greater knowledge than what they may be willing to provide verbally after the fact.

Platform to Employment helps long-term unemployed

Platform to Employment (P2E) is an innovative, nationally recognized initiative that focuses on the need for long-term unemployed (LTU) individuals to return to work and employers’ need to build a strong workforce. First launched in 2011 by The WorkPlace in Connecticut, the P2E 2013 program in San Diego offered LTU individuals intensive and comprehensive training, and employers the opportunity to evaluate P2E participants as potential employees risk-free.

In 2013, SDWP enrolled 24 participants in its P2E pilot program:

  • 92% successfully completed training
  • 82% were placed in subsidized employment
  • 100% were hired on full-time

AJCC Business Service Representative Patricia Devereaux shared a success story from one P2E participant with whom she worked.

“Madeline, a Platform to Employment program participant, was a discouraged mature worker. Years of a brutal job market and endless job applications had left her frustrated and fearful about the future. We began with changing those attitudes through consistent focus on the possibility of a better future. Once Madeline truly realized and believed that she could succeed, we were able to concentrate on playing to her strengths and applying only to positions that matched her administrative skill set.

“Madeline had wisely kept those skills current during her unemployment by taking several San Diego continuing education courses. A more hopeful attitude and recent P2E job-readiness skills training made Madeline more likely to earn the employment we longed for. She was also excellent at staying in touch and responding to all job leads. I knew we were working well together and on the same page when I sent Madeline a job lead to review and she told me she had already applied for it—an opening as an administrative assistant at The Daily Transcript newspaper.

“Knowing how ‘the personal touch’ can make a difference to employers, prior to Madeline’s interview, I stopped by The Daily Transcript to drop off information about the San Diego Metro Region Career Centers and the P2E Program, especially the employer wage-subsidy opportunity. Guess what? Madeline was hired just a few days after she applied, and given the job permanently before the end of the wage subsidy period! Madeline reports that she is enjoying her work and doing well.”

P2E offers three prongs of service:

  • Coaching and facilitation: Workshops conducted four days a week for five weeks, including work-readiness counseling, skills assessment, interview preparation and self-marketing.
  • Employee assistance services and family support: The opportunity to meet with counselors for financial literacy training and behavioral health services.
  • Subsidized employment opportunities: P2E works closely with participants to match them with employers. P2E enables employers to have a risk-free evaluation of participants during a subsidized work experience.

For more information about the program, read “Long-term unemployed ready to work” from the U-T San Diego.

If you have questions about P2E or are interested in funding P2E, please contact SDWP President & CEO Peter Callstrom at 619-228-2906.

Note: We are not currently recruiting for a new class of P2E participants. Please check back for updates about future classes.


Source: http://workforce.org/news/platform-employment-helps-long-term-unemployed

KRA/San Diego Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary of Career Center Opening

On September 30, 2013, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) News headlined “Open – Bank of America Merrill Lynch Career Center, reporting, “The new San Diego Central Library…offers free career development services to job seekers…made possible through a $400,000 donation from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.”

On the 5th floor, the CDL (Central Downtown Library) site is managed by KRA Corporation for the SDWP as a satellite of its multi-site San Diego Metro Region Career Centers operation, providing individual and small-group career counseling, job-skills training, and specialized services for Veterans and bilingual customers.  Job-Readiness Workshops (JRW) offer computer orientation, resume development, interview skills, and other classes to prepare jobseekers for the workplace.

San Diego Central Library

Mary Jo Asuncion supervises the CDL site, reporting , “Our Career Agents make finding a job, or transitioning careers, a more successful experience for our jobseekers.  In addition to weekdays, we are open the first Saturday of each month for customers unable to visit us during the week.

We are averaging more than 40 customer-visits a day, so we increased our original JRW schedule from every-other-Friday to every day!  Business, for both our jobseeker- and employer-customers, is booming, and we look forward to another productive year—and beyond!”


Source: http://www.kra.com/company-news/krasan-diego-celebrates-1-year-anniversary-of-career-center-opening

A lesson on LinkedIn

“To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter to express my extreme gratitude for the commitment the KRA San Diego staff demonstrated during my job search. I had the pleasure of being assigned to Zuri Williams as my Career Agent. From my day one Zuri’s kind and caring personality allowed me to easily open up to her and express my exact career goals. She was able to successfully understand my interests and present several job opportunities. She also called and emailed me countless times to receive updates on my job search and offer any assistance. I also had the pleasure of working with Terrance Bowens and James Caraballo. Terrance graciously took the time to edit and completely revise my resume. On a different occasion, James committed almost two hours to assisting me in preparing for an in depth second interview in which I had to prepare written material and practice role playing scenarios. James edited all my material and successfully prepared me to answer the in depth questions. Terrance and James’ willingness to assist me without hesitation is a prime example of the dedication the KRA staff have to their clients.

After only a month of searching I was able to find employment a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families as a Refugee Employment Specialist. I am overjoyed by this opportunity as it matches my interests and career goals. This opportunity would not have presented itself without the help of Zuri nor would I have been as successfully prepared to interview without James and Terrance. Their commitment to helping me find an employment displays their passion, commitment and love for their work. They are truly an asset to the KRA staff and to the San Diego community. I am positive that any job seeker lucky enough to work with them will have a wonderful outcome. So to Zuri, Terrance and James thank you for all you have done for me and please continue creating life opportunities for those in need.



What’s not mentioned in this letter is HOW she got the job which is apart of this amazing story. Zuri Williams had created a LinkedIn profile and completed it with her photo, contact info and details about her passion for helping others. That caught the eye of the non-profit organization and they contacted her via LinkedIn and encouraged her to apply for the position since they found her to be a good fit. As honored as she was, she kindly turned the position down stating

‘When I received the request to apply, I replied that I have my dream job, and asked if I could please forward it to a qualified client. I did.; She got it “

Because of her proactive approach with her clients and using Social Media as a networking opportunity, Zuri was able to referred her  Sara to the position because she thought she would be a qualified candidate.

From businessnewsdaily.com

…and that folks is how networking works.

From serving time to serving food

Ryan walked into the South Metro Career Center in January 2014 with an uplifting and very pleasant demeanor about him. As he began a conversation with a one of the center’s career agents, Ryan expressed that he had some concerns as to whether he would be able to find employment due to his recent reentry after serving time in prison. The agent provided Ryan information about the center’s services and agreed to become a member saying, “Shoot, what do I have to lose?”

As soon as Ryan became a member, he hit the ground running, attending workshop after workshop and spending time in the center looking for work. One day, Ryan’s career agent, Vonnie Davis, asked if he would be interested in a training program. With his interest in culinary training, he did some research on the Eligible Training Provider List and found training offered through the National Culinary & Bakery School.

KRA Career Agent, Vonnie Davis giving some resume pointers to Ryan.

Davis and Ryan continued working together to get his life back on track. Ryan had no problem doing anything Davis requested to advance his career planning. He was approved for an Individual Training Account (ITA) to attend culinary school starting in March 2014 and from then on, he could see that he had another chance in life. Ryan excitedly called Davis on July 10, 2014, to tell her that he would graduate the next day—and that he would love for her to attend. She happily accepted the invitation.

With all the barriers that Ryan faced before coming to the South Metro Career Center, Davis says he never gave up and she always knew that he would succeed. “I’m so excited to see Ryan blossom into an enthusiastic young man,” she says, “He trusted in our program and our program WORKED!”

Ryan is working in the culinary field.

Article Source from San Diego Workforce Partnership: http://workforce.org/news/ryan-finds-culinary-career-path-help-ajcc

17 Business Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know

Originally posted on Journal of Office Workers:



Always initiate the handshake if you’re the higher-ranking person or host.

Professional social situations can be awkward.And, unfortunately, many people wind up making fools of themselves because theydon’t understand that etiquette rules in business differ slightly from those in standard social settings.

In her book?The Essentials Of Business Etiquette,?Barbara Pachter writes about the specific rules people need to understand in order to conduct and present themselves appropriately in professional social settings.

Here are the most important tips on how to introduce yourself, how to dress, and what to order at restaurants from Pachter?s book.

Always stand when you?re being introduced to someone.

?Standing helps establish your presence. You make it easy for others to ignore you if you don?t stand. If you are caught off guard and cannot rise, you should lean forward to indicate that you would stand, if you could.?

Source:?The Essentials Of Business…

View original 1,235 more words

“Live the Wage Challenge” in San Diego

We just published a blog about a New York senator trying to live off minimum wage and found it difficult if not humbling to experience the hardships that workers on minimum wage experience.

Well, San Diego has decided to join this trend to prove a point that minimum wage needs to be increased. According to the news article here (http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/Living-off-minimum-wage-for-one-week-273854591.html)

“San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria challenged himself, along with other San Diego residents, to try and survive off the bare minimum. Gloria started the “Live the Wage Challenge” on Wednesday for one week to convey how difficult it is to live off the current minimum wage pay rate.”

That’s great that there are people out there experience the hardships that many American’s, especially San Diegan’s are experiencing but what happens afterwards?

Not that I am against these causes, its great that they are being brought to the forefront of the American conscience but at what point does these challenges start making a difference than a thing that people do for entertainment purposes. Awareness is one factor in making a challenge successful, the other is impact. If there was no impact or change concluded from the challenge than what was the purpose of the challenge?

As San Diegians partake in the “Living the Wage Challenge”, I hope they will take their experiences, turn them into learning opportunities and take their newfound knowledge and take action in creating positive change.






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