4/30/17 - The One Tiny Change That Could Open Up All the Doors in Your Job Search

By Jenni Maier 

Ever since I’ve started working at The Muse, I’ve gotten cornered by people at social gatherings who whisper in my ear, “Hey, I’m looking for a job, I heard you can help.”

I typically respond by pulling the person into a back alley, opening up my trench coat, and asking if the person’s looking for fully-tailored resumes, or cover letters with witty openers—or, for an extra cost, offer letters that only need their signature.

Just kidding. The lighting in back alleyways tends to be horribly unflattering.

Instead, I typically respond with something about letting their network know they’re looking, since that’s the best way to get their foot in the door. To which they almost always say, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m trying to keep this pretty low-key right now.”

I get it. When I started my last job search I did the same. I had this fantasy of waltzing into dinner and announcing the news to my friends and family that I landed this amazing new position.

They’d say, “I didn’t even know you were looking.” And I’d casually reply, “Oh, it just fell into my lap.” Then they’d all simultaneously think, “Wow, Jenni must be really good at what she does to leave one great company for another.” Then I’d say something fancy like, “Next round is on me, old chaps.”

How did that fantasy play out in real life?

I got a few interviews, zero offers, and eventually laid off. The good news is that being unemployed left me with no choice but to confront two truths:

I was unhappy in my current situation.
I needed help.

These facts are easy for me to type out now, but they felt so hard to admit when everyone else around me appeared to be thriving in their careers. No one else I knew needed help from their network, so why did I?

However, as soon as I started being honest about my situation, the opportunities started rolling in. Turns out people want to help you! But they can’t if you don’t clue them into what you need.

Think about it: Have you ever turned to a friend in the middle of a conversation about The Bachelor and said, “Hey, would you like me to proofread your resume?” or “My cousin’s company is hiring if you’d like me to connect you two.”

Probably not.

That means that rather than trying to pull this off all by yourself, tell your friends, tell your former colleagues, and tell your family. While you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops (mostly because that’s a wildly ineffective way to communicate), you should clue your network into the fact you’re looking. It’s honestly as easy as sending this “Help me find a job” email.

The majority of the interviews I went on after being laid off came from friends-of-friend leads. Leads I never got before I lost my job because no one knew I wanted them. And the position I ended up getting at The Muse? That “in” came from a former manager’s friend.

So, if you’re serious about looking for a new role, stop treating it like a stealth mission. You’re not in the CIA (unless you are, and in that case, you do you). You’re just someone who’s looking for a new opportunity—and who’s smart enough to know it’s a lot easier to find it when other people are keeping an eye out, too.

4/23/17 - How to follow up after an interview

By Pattie Hunt Sinacole 

Q: I have been told repeatedly to “follow up” after an interview. But how? Should I mail a thank-you note? Snail mail seems old-fashioned. Do I send an email? Or place a phone call? What do you recommend? I have had more than one recruiter ask me to “follow up” with them? But honestly I am not sure what that means. Thank you Job Doc.

A: Following up after an interview is essential. Candidates who follow up after an interview demonstrate interest and show a commitment to the process. Alternatively, candidates who do not follow up are perceived as less interested or less serious about the job opportunity.

I recommend candidates ask about how to follow-up before the interview ends. For example, Marie is interviewing with ABC Company on Tuesday, February 14th. Before she leaves the interview with Tamara, the hiring manager at ABC Company, one of her final questions should be: “Tamara, can you explain to me the next steps in the selection process?” Marie will hopefully learn more about the process. Marie might learn when they hope to fill the role, how many interviews are part of the process and how many other candidates are being considered at this point. This is helpful too because it can set expectations as to how long each step might take. If a company explains that they intend to ask candidates to interview two or three times at ABC Company, then that may take several weeks. If a company explains that they expect to have a decision by Friday February 17th, that is a very different timeframe. Marie can also ask “how do you prefer that I follow up with you?” Tamara may offer several options – by phone, with an email or she may offer a specific date. When we handle recruitment for our clients, I will often ask a candidate to email me by a certain date.

Additionally, always send a thank-you note. Email is typically the best way to send a thank-you note. Make sure you email it within 24 hours of an interview. In the email, you again want to reiterate your interest. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate professionalism and can serve as a sample for your writing skills.

4/16/17 - The most powerful action verbs for professional resumes

Your career history will pack an even bigger punch with these dynamic words.

Caroline Zaayer Kaufman 

Your resume isn’t a place for modesty; it’s a chance to show companies all the awesome things you’ve done—and what you can do for them if given a chance. Take the opportunity to liven things up a bit. Weak, vague or overused verbs can actually diminish the excellent work you did at your last job, so choose words that more accurately reflect what you do.

“It’s critical to choose active, industry-appropriate action verbs,” says Linda Hollenback, a brand and career strategist who owns Philadelphia-based Hollenback Consulting. “Well-chosen lead action words make the difference between highlighting your skills and undermining your contribution.”

To help your credentials pack the maximum punch, Monster created a list of strong action verbs to make your resume more powerful.

Action verbs for communication skills
Instead of: talked, led, presented, organized
Use: addressed, corresponded, persuaded, publicized, reconciled

You can present data and lead meetings all day long, but does that mean you actually got your point across to an audience? Simply saying that you talked to other people doesn’t prove that you achieved your goals.

Stir the interest of a hiring manager by using words that have a bit more personality than the usual suspects. That might encourage him or her to want to meet you in person.

For example, instead of saying you “organized” an off-site meeting, say you “orchestrated” an off-site meeting. And instead of “leading” the meeting, perhaps you “chaired” the meeting.

“‘Persuaded’ is another great verb to use,” says Christina Austin, founder of New York City–based ExecBrands, a career-branding firm, “as it highlights a candidate’s ability to influence others.”

More precise words can also add a touch of formality to your actions, she says. Words like “addressed” or “corresponded” can carry more weight than a generic “wrote” or “spoke.”

Action verbs for organizational skills
Instead of: organized, ordered, filed
Use: catalogued, executed, monitored, operated

Did you organize a project, then walk away? Probably not, so choose words that express how you organized and followed through with a project to completion. For example, “executed” says that you saw it through to the end.

“By focusing on the task rather than the purpose or significance of the task to the organization, a job seeker may limit the perceived value of his or her experience,” Hollenback says. Instead of “filed account paperwork,” she suggests something more descriptive of your purpose, such as “monitored client accounts.”

Action verbs for management skills
Instead of: led, handled, oversaw
Use: consolidated, appointed, delegated, established

Leadership experience is excellent for a resume. However, just saying you “led” a team is not nearly as powerful as saying you “established” a team, which indicates you took the lead to create something new.

“A word like ‘oversaw’ hints that someone is supervising work on a high level, but not necessarily participating in a project actively,” says Andy Chan, co-founder of Prime Opt, a Seattle-based career-coaching center. Pick words that reflect the true nature of your contribution. For example, “Established a nine-member productivity team and delegated operational tasks to three junior managers.”

Each of these verb choices combines to give the hiring manager or recruiter an impression of your work style—just be sure to avoid repeats. “Multiple repetitions of an action word reduces the word’s impact and makes for a boring read,” Hollenback says.

Grab your dictionary or thesaurus if you’re feeling stuck, and when you’re done, be sure to have a trusted friend or colleague read over your resume to make sure it reads properly. And if you need more help, get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's partner TopResume.

4/9/17 - 10 Ways To Stand Out In Your Next Job Interview

Caroline Ceniza-Levine 

Too many job seekers make the interview process more complicated than need be, thinking they need to do something special to stand out. Actually, you want to focus on the simple over the extraordinary -- nailing basic interview etiquette and typical interview questions. You want to treat the interview like a conversation, not an interrogation. You want to relate to the other person, develop a connection and have a back-and-forth dialogue.

Here are 10 easy-to-follow tips to stand out in your next job interview:

Start Your Interview In The Lobby

The interview starts before many job seekers realize the interview starts. When you check in at reception, your demeanor with the person at the desk is often reported back to the interviewer. If you’re ready with the name of your interviewer and time of your meeting, you appear organized. If you sit with good posture in the lounge area, you exude poise. Start your interview behavior as soon as you enter the building.

Be Excited From The Start

An important part of your interview demeanor is your level of enthusiasm. As a recruiter, I empathized if a candidate was nervous and I tried to put them at ease, but I was always impressed by the candidate that I didn’t have to care of, that was comfortable in a meeting and especially that seemed excited to be there. Many candidates will be qualified – you want to be qualified and excited for the job.

Be Poised From The Start

As you walk from Reception to the interview room, are you grasping for your coat, your bag, your phone, your portfolio, your water, and all with one hand so you keep the other free for a hand shake? You don’t want to look overwhelmed or clumsy at the outset. You know your interviewer is going to come out and call for you. Yet, many candidates are surprised when the time comes and then flail around for all their things. Don’t make me call a U-Haul to help you move your stuff! Hang your coat, and put as much as you can in your bag so you only have one item to carry.

Minimize Nervous Habits

When you sit down with your interviewer, ground yourself with your feet planted on the floor and your hands on your lap or on the desk. If you tend to shake your knee up and down, cross your legs. If you like to twirl or tap a pen, don’t keep a pen in your hand. You know what your nervous habits are, so seat yourself in a way that minimizes these behaviors.

Prepare Your Introduction

You know the interviewer will ask you about yourself – Tell me about yourself or Walk me through your resume or What are you working on currently? Set your introduction in advance so you focus on the most relevant skills and experiences related to this job. If you have multiple jobs, you don’t want to bury your interviewer in unrelated details – pick out what s/he specifically should know to realize your fit to the job at hand.

Prepare Your Stories

Similarly, you know the interviewer will want to check your qualifications for the job. S/he might pull out items from the job description and ask you to give examples of when you did these things. S/he might describe attributes or skills the company wants in this role and ask you to prove you have these. S/he might share a current project or responsibility the new hire will be tasked with and ask how you’d handle it. Prepare the stories from your career that you know are relevant to the job. Use the job description as a guide for what skills, experience, and attributes you need to highlight. Sure, the interviewer might add something that wasn’t revealed in the job description, but this doesn’t happen often. If you prepare against the job description, you’ll be ready for a vast majority of the questions.

Have Questions To Ask

The interview is a two-way exchange. Many interviewers leave time for questions, and use the questions you ask as an indication of your interest in and knowledge of the role. If you have no questions, you’re not interested or you didn’t bother to research the company or role. Next!

End Strong

At the end of your interview, thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the role. Ask about next steps so you’re clear on when and how to follow up. Don’t be so relieved that it’s over that you just run away without ending strong.

Place Cues For Yourself Where You Can Easily See Them

Given all the responses that you need to prepare (your introduction, various examples of your skills, experience and attributes, questions to ask, your strong close) and behaviors you want to model (sit up straight, don’t tap your pen), you might want to give cues to remind yourself so you don’t blank out on anything. Bringing a sturdy notebook or leather pad to take notes is always a good idea so you remember any helpful information you learn in the interview. This is also a good place for cues to remind yourself. If you think you may forget an example, say a financial analysis you did in your last role, write “Financial Analysis” in big letters so you remember to mention it. If you tend to rush out of an interview, write “End Strong” in big letters to prompt you to say, “Thank you, I want to reiterate my interest in the role. What are the next steps?” Placing cues is also something you can do during Skype interviews (position post-its strategically around your webcam so you can see your cues but still make eye contact).


Finally, don’t forget to smile throughout your interview. Smiling relaxes you and the interviewer. It also helps you appear friendlier and develop that connection. If you can even just remember to smile at the opening hand shake, smile at the first question and smile at the close, then you have built in at least three smiles for your interview.

Remember that the interviewer wants you to do well –when an opening is filled it means less work (no more interviews) and help is on the way (you’ll be taking on the work). In this way, you can relax knowing the interviewer is on your side. You can also relax knowing that a good interview is a few simple steps and well within the reach of any job seeker willing to do a bit of preparation.

I am the cofounder of SixFigureStart career coaching. I have worked with executives from American Express, Goldman Sachs, Condé Nast, Gilt, eBay, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. I'm also a stand-up comic, so not your typical coach.

4/2/17 - The best way to end an email if you want a response

An analysis of 350,000 messages found the best way to end an email if you want a response

Shana Lebowitz 

I've always thought of obsessing over your email openings and closings as a bit like obsessing over your outfit — not worth it.

As long as you don't do something outrageous — say, sign an email to your CEO with "xoxo" or show up to a job interview wearing a clown costume — you'll be fine with whatever you choose.

I was wrong.

According to a new analysis from Boomerang, an email productivity app, different email sign-offs yield different response rates. And woe to the unappreciative emailers among us: The analysis found that the best way to end an email is with gratitude.

Specifically, results showed that the most effective email sign-off is "thanks in advance."

For the study, Boomerang looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads from mailing list archives in which, they wrote in a blog post, many emails involved "people asking for help or advice, hoping for a reply."

Then they picked out the eight email sign-offs that appeared over 1,000 times each and figured out the response rate linked to each sign-off. Here's what they found:

"Thanks in advance" had a response rate of 65.7%
"Thanks" had a response rate of 63%
"Thank you" had a response rate of 57.9%
"Cheers" had a response rate of 54.4%
"Kind regards" had a response rate of 53.9%
"Regards" had a response rate of 53.5%
"Best regards" had a response rate of 52.9%
"Best" had a response rate of 51.2%
The average response rate for all the emails in their sample was 47.5%.

The Boomerang blog post also cites 2010 research from Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, which found that participants who received an email from a student asking for feedback on a cover letter were twice as likely to help when the email included the phrase, "Thanks so much! I am really grateful."

Interestingly, three separate etiquette experts previously told Business Insider that "best" is the most appropriate way to end an email. And one such expert said that "thanks" is "obnoxious if it's a command disguised as premature gratitude."

The Boomerang analysis didn't measure how recipients felt about the sender — just whether they responded. It also didn't measure the power dynamics at play. Maybe your boss signs their emails "best," and they always get an answer.

Bottom line: If you want a response to your email, it can't hurt to end it with an expression of gratitude. Thanks for reading!

3/26/17 - 9 Tips for Negotiating All Aspects of a New Job

Getting the best possible salary is important, but consider other forms of reimbursement.

By Hannah Morgan 

If you don't ask for what you want, the answer will always be no! This is especially true when it comes to salary negotiations. However, you can also negotiate other elements of a job offer, such as a signing bonus, training reimbursement and sometimes the amount of vacation time. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating, follow the tips below and build your confidence.

Research salary ranges. You should conduct company research before you walk in the door for your first interview. Technically, you should have researched salaries before you applied for the job to ensure your range was appropriate. Most job postings will not include salary information. In order to get an idea of what the job is worth and what other people in similar roles make, do you due diligence. This means using multiple sources. Use salary calculators such as,, or LinkedIn's salary tool. But don't stop there. Talk to recruiters in your field and geography. Network with people who are in your field of work to understand what the going rate is. Use as many of these options as possible to develop your desired range. Remember, your value in the marketplace is based on how much the employer is willing to pay, the value of your skills and what your previous employer paid you.

When to negotiate. You technically can't negotiate a job offer until you have one. You should avoid getting into a detailed discussion around salary or attempt to negotiate any condition until you have a job offer. Mentioning your desire to work from home during the interview could sour the deal. And don't try and negotiate on the spot. Ask how long you have to consider the offer and schedule a time to provide your answer. Remember, accepting a job is a major decision and you shouldn't feel pressured to accept an offer.

Negotiate with enthusiasm. If an employer doesn't think you want the job, it could hurt your chances of negotiating, or worse, could lead to the offer being taken off the table. Tell the employer you are interested in the job and why. And be sure to smile.

Negotiate with the right person. The person who extends the offer may not be the person with the power or authority to negotiate. Every company has a different set of procedures. It is important that you know who has final budget approval for the job. While human resources may be the ones who extend the offer, they may not have the ability to negotiate.

Use company research and inside information. During the interview and through networking conversations with company insiders, you may uncover some valuable information. Perhaps you learn that the company has negotiated vacation time for certain employees or lets some of the team work from home once a week. You might be more likely to negotiate those things if there is already a precedent in the company or department. Use the information you uncover to your advantage.

What things can you negotiate? There are many elements to a job offer. Here are some things you may want to consider:

Negotiate salary first. It's important to prioritize what you want to negotiate, and don't be greedy. Negotiate salary first and if you secure your desired salary, be willing to compromise on other items you want to negotiate.

Convey confidence. Your body language, tone of voice and words you use should convey you believe you are worth what you are asking for. And remember, the company has invested significant time and manpower interviewing you. They don't want to start over.

Get your offer in writing. Once you have reached a final agreement on the terms of the offer, be sure you ask for it in writing. You will want this before you begin your first day of work. Managers can change and policies can shift. You want to protect yourself in case anything changes.

Hannah Morgan provides actionable job search and career guidance. She is passionate about keeping up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies. Hannah has been featured in numerous national media outlets such at Money Magazine, Huffington Post and USA Today and is listed as a top resource by some of the biggest names in the careers industry. Hannah is the author of “The Infographic Resume” and co-author of “Social Media for Business Success.” Besides contributing to U.S. News On Careers, she also writes articles for her own site Career Sherpa.

3/19/17 - 7 Simple Tips For Beating Job-Search Burnout

Stop obsessively fine-tuning your resume and do this instead.

Job searching may be at the bottom of your "fun-things-to-do" list—but that might just be because you’ve hit the "job search wall." It happens to the best of us, and it’s pretty common. But it can be reversed!

"Looking for a job is a universal source of anxiety," says Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster. It’s also intimidating, he says, given that there’s a seemingly endless number of job postings at your fingertips.

That’s the irony: While you have great access to job openings, having too many options can make the job-search process seem overwhelming. Monster asked career experts for their advice to avoid job-search burnout. Here’s what they said can turn those feelings of fatigue back into excitement.

"It’s all about how you look at the job search," says Danny Rubin, millennial career coach and author of 25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know by Age 25.

Instead of thinking of applications as a total time-suck, he says, consider them the next (and necessary) step to scoring a job at one of your dream companies. With every application you submit, you’re that much closer to landing "the one," because it’s a numbers game.

So if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of job applications, focus on the end result instead—getting that killer job offer.

When you’re job searching, you spend a lot of time at the computer—like, some serious screen time. While looking for and applying to jobs online is important—and most likely the way you'll find your new gig, too much of it could drive anyone crazy.

Drag yourself away from your laptop to meet people who work in the field face-to-face. That way, you'll start meeting people who work in your industry, and you can start doing your homework to find the right fit for you. When you get home, research the companies where your new connections work to read employee reviews and get a deeper sense of what the company is about.

"You don’t always need to go to conferences or formal industry events to meet people," says Chip Espinoza, author of Millennials@Work: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something (and Their Manager) Needs to Overcome Roadblocks and Achieve Greatness.

He suggests starting with alumni networking events, which can be a fun way to reconnect with people you went to school with while talking about your job search—like mixing business with pleasure.

A well-honed elevator pitch can be a great way to explain who you are and what you do, but sometimes you’ve got to go off-script to shake things up. The key to building relationships is establishing trust and likeability; so don’t always feel pressured to sell yourself when you meet new people.

"Hearing an elevator pitch can make people’s defenses go up," says Dalton.

So instead of immediately answering the question, "What do you do?" try to see if you have shared interests outside of work, or any common links so that you can get to know the person you’re talking with on a less formal level.

Hiring managers have short attention spans. In fact, some only spend a few seconds looking at an applicant’s resume.

"They’re trying to get back to their real work as quickly as they can," Dalton explains.

Rather than devoting a ton of time to perfecting your resume (psst—there’s no such thing as a "perfect" resume), "put three to four hours into updating it, but make sure it’s error-free," Dalton says.

It’s okay to use a template for cover letters to help speed up job applications. However, you’ll still want to tailor each letter to the specific company and position. To do so, Espinoza recommends customizing the first paragraph, incorporating language from the job posting.

Keep cover letters brief. (In many industries, a half-page letter is sufficient.) "Tell hiring managers the information that they need to know upfront," says Dalton, adding that if you have an internal referral you should mention it in the first sentence.

Also, "the shorter the cover letter, the less chance there is for grammatical errors," says Dalton.

If you’re applying for jobs where you need to submit samples of your work (think writing, graphic design, or advertising), don’t waste time attaching multiple documents to each job application. It’s cumbersome, and hiring managers don’t like having to download multiple attachments, says Rubin.

One solution: Create a free or low-cost professional website on Wordpress, Carbonmade, or Contently, where you can house your portfolio, and include the URL on your resume.

During most job interviews, you have an opportunity to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions. The good news: You don’t need to exhaust yourself by trying to come up with unique questions for each interview. Dalton recommends these three:

What’s your favorite part about working here? "It doesn’t require the person to have to sum up the company culture," says Dalton. Simply asking "What’s the culture like?" often leads to a generic answer.
How do you think the market will be different three years from now? "You’re asking for the person’s expert opinion and that shows respect," says Dalton.
If you had to attribute your success to one skill or trait, what would it be? "You’re essentially asking the person why they’re good at their job, which is flattering," Dalton says.

3/12/17 - 5 Minutes Early Is On Time

5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable
Brent Beshore 

I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.

All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting - your punctuality says a lot about you.

Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming.

On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.

There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.

As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.

Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:

“5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.”

Brent Beshore is the founder and CEO of Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

3/5/17 - 5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event

5 Steps to Rock Any Networking Event
A great face-to-face connection can help you jump start the career you've always wanted.
Andrew Medal 

Not everyone loves bobbing in and out of a strange crowd with a bundle of business cards in one hand and a plate of cheese in the other. Approaching people you don’t know while trying to build connections can be awkward. Nevertheless, the fact remains: a face-to-face connection can help you to build professional relationships and, in minutes, jumpstart the career you’ve always wanted.

Whether you’re looking for a partner, a client or an employer, networking events can make a real difference. Not only can it help you grow professionally, it can also do good for your personal life.

However, as the saying goes, it only takes a second to make a bad first impression. Before you go out to one of the many networking opportunities available to you throughout the year, it’s important that you hone your approach. Here’s how:

1. Get there early.
You know that saying about being fashionably late? That may apply to house parties and bar excursions, but little else. If your biggest fear is getting stuck in a corner with your plastic cup and a business card while everyone else chats away, be an early bird.

Ditch any notions you have about being a cool kid and get there before the party starts. Networking events can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re going alone. You’re more likely to avoid getting lost in the crowd if you jump in while the group is small, and meet new people as they arrive, one at a time or in pairs.

2. Wear your conversation starter.
First impressions are everything. In just a quick glance a person can make an opinion about who you are based on your appearance and how you carry yourself. While a well put together look is key, consider heading into your networking event with a piece that will help you stand out.

Avoid drowning in a sea of black and navy blue outfits by adding a pair of fun shoes or unique earnings. Make sure you appropriately express your individuality within the context of your situation. If there’s a dress code or dress expectation, make sure you follow the rules accordingly. You definitely don’t want to leave an impression that you’re gaudy or unprofessional, but remember, this is supposed to be fun!

3. Don’t get sucked in by negativity.
Negative Nancies always have time to show up at a networking event. They’ll rag on anything from the economy and job market to your business and career prospects. While you should do your best to dodge these people as much as possible, know that running into them will happen.

Never feel pressured to engage with a negative person, especially at a networking event. Instead, do your best to turn the conversation around with constructive comments. If the person shows no sign of changing their attitude, politely move on. This may sound weird, but kids are the best networkers out there. Not only are they extremely upbeat when making new friends, but they also are unafraid and excited when they approach their peers. If our kids can do it, so can we.

Similarly, don’t go and be the one whose name tag reads, “I’m Nancy Too.” Be sure to hold positive conversations only. If you’re feeling down about work, consider this a prime opportunity to find new positions. Shift your lament onto hopes for a new position and the amazing skills that you have to offer.

4. Research, research, research.
Tactical networking practices work best when you’ve come prepared. Remember, networking events won’t go on all day. You’ll have a small window to make an impression on a large group, so help yourself out by doing research ahead of time.

Start by knowing who is hosting the event. They’ll likely have a limited amount of time to talk but remember they’re the ones who brought in all of the people you’re networking with. At the very least you’ll want to introduce yourself.

Your biggest priority should be having an understanding of the guest list. Typically, events will post the guest list online ahead of the function. Use the list as a way to make note of the people you will definitely want to make connections with. If your host has a team, reach out to co-hosts or assistants to help make introductions with guests beforehand.

Lastly, don’t forget to utilize social media. Learn to recognize the faces of those who you’re most interested in talking to, and make sure to target them first before you get lost investigating where everyone is getting the chocolate samples.

5. Pretend your business card is money.
You might have an unlimited amount of business cards, but there’s no way you have as much brain storage. Before you go and make your business cards rain on your networking event, consider that successful networking requires genuine connections. You wouldn’t go to Target and throw your money at every item you could buy. Don’t do that at an event. Don’t be Blackjack Betty.

Instead, take some time to evaluate where your card is going. Use the event to make real exchanges with others -- listen as much as you speak (ideally more) and really listen. Understanding a person’s passions will help you to build the relationships you came for. Aim to offer your card to people you’ve spent time talking with, whose passions you understand and whose goals align with your own, and vice versa. You’re more likely to have a successful follow-up with them later.

Andrew Medal is a street geek and entrepreneur. He is the founder of web and mobile development shop, Agent Beta, amongst a handful of other startups. Recently, he's been helping the California Education Department solve the student and job problem through technology.

2/26/17 - How To Ask "How Much Does This Job Pay?"

Liz Ryan 

It can feel awkward to ask a recruiter or an HR person "How much does this job pay?" There is no reason it should be sticky to talk about compensation.

The most responsible and talent-aware employers lay out the pay rate for their open positions. Either they mention the pay range in the job ad or they tell you as soon as they contact you about the job, "Here's what the job pays."

There is no reason to withhold salary information apart from a desire to be cagey with applicants.

If a recruiter, HR person or hiring manager can find out what you earned at your last job before they tell you how much they've budgeted for the position, maybe they can bring you on board at the bottom end of the pay range -- or even below it.

That is unethical, and it's bad business, but there is a lot of unethical behavior and a lot of bad business in the hiring process almost everywhere you look.

When a company recruiter or a third-party recruiter contacts you about a job opening that might be a good fit, it is always appropriate to ask them "What is the pay range for the position?"

If they say "I don't know" or "That is still being decided," get off the phone or end the email correspondence with them, because they are lying. Nobody recruits for a position without knowing the pay range -- it would be absurd to do so.

If you reach out to an employer and they invite you to a job interview, you can go to the interview without establishing the pay range because you contacted them. You can meet them and decide whether you want to continue the conversation. They will also decide whether or not to keep you in their interview process.

Don't go back for a second interview, however, until you know that your salary target and their salary range overlap. When someone from the company sends you an email message or calls you to set up the second interview, broach the salary topic this way:


You: Sally Jones!

Martin: Hi Sally, this is Martin Van Buren from Angry Chocolates. Our team really enjoyed meeting you last week and we'd like to invite you to come back and meet Margaret Hamilton, our Director of Quality, next week. Will Thursday afternoon work for you?

You: Thanks, Martin! I will have to check my calendar to see whether Thursday could work. In the meantime, is now a good time and are you the right person to sync up on compensation? I want to make sure we are in the same ballpark salary-wise.

Martin: I can talk about compensation with you. What are you earning now?

You: In this job search I'm focusing on roles in the $50,000 range. Is this job in that range?

Martin: Yes, it is. This position is budgeted in the high forties or low fifties so we should be in good shape.

You: Excellent! Let me check my calendar really quickly.

The talent market is shifting fast. Employers need smart and capable people like you. Candidates who know their value and who will stand up for themselves are more valuable to employers -- but only to employers who care about talent.

Some employers talk about talent but it's all talk and no action!

You get to decide which manager to work for and which organization to invest your time, energy and brainpower into. Choose wisely. Not every company deserves your talents.

Only the people who get you, deserve you!

Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

What do you want to do for a living?

Time for a change?

Are you looking to find the 21st century opportunities that will allow your career to soar?

Navigating job changes can be tricky business, and it can be overwhelming to try to keep up with the pace of change. The Department of Labor has a number of tools to support you through the process.

My Next Move is a web-based interactive tool from the Labor Department for new job seekers, students and other career-explorers to learn more about their career options. Users can:

Though My Next Move is intended to assist all jobseekers, it may be especially useful for students, young adults and other first-time workers as they explore potential careers based on their interests. The new tool complements the department's "mySkills myFuture" site, which is designed to help those with previous work experience match existing skills to new occupations.

This website allows users to search for jobs by occupation, by industry and using the "O*NET Interest Profiler," which matches an individual's interests with suitable occupations by asking 60 questions. Since 2001, the department's Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, has used a 180-question version of the profiler that can be printed out or downloaded to a personal computer.

Each occupation that a user selects has an easy-to-read, one-page profile, including information about what knowledge, skills and abilities are needed; the occupation's outlook; the level of education required; technologies used within the occupation; and similar jobs. In addition, each occupation page includes direct links to local salary information, training opportunities and relevant job openings.

2/19/17 - Why the first second of a job interview can make or break you

Marguerite Ward 

Making a great first impression in a job interview can be the difference between getting an offer and getting passed by. And according to research, you may only have a few moments.

People make snap judgments about each other within one tenth of a second, a Princeton University study shows. In a blink of an eye, hirers draw conclusions about your likability, trustworthiness, competence and aggressiveness.

And, the study suggests, those first impressions stick: Hirers quickly begin to expect you to conform to the ideas they've just begun to form about you. If you seem familiar and friendly, you could get an offer. If you seem sloppy or overly aggressive, you could be overlooked.

To make those first few moments of your job interview count, follow these rules career experts say are crucial:

1. Dress the part

"Your wardrobe should be clean, pressed and well-fitting," says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. "The goal is to look like you belong at the company."

The career expert suggests job candidates do some investigating into the job's dress code by asking around within your professional network.
"Do some reconnaissance online and with your professional network to determine the company's dress code," she says. "If the organization is laid-back, dress as you believe they would for an important meeting with a client."

2. Arrive on time

Nobody wants to look or feel rushed at an interview. Being punctual will help you relax.

"I recommend arriving 15 minutes before your scheduled interview so you have time to register with reception, complete any paperwork, use the restroom to freshen up," Augustine says. "Get your bearings before the interview begins."

3. Pay attention to body language

The goal in a job interview is to appear "confident, professional, and friendly," Augustine says. A firm handshake, a smile and eye contact are crucial to that.

Not making eye contact makes you appear nervous, says career coach Becky Berry. "Keep your head up."

4. Sound professional

When people are nervous, they have a tendency to raise their voices a bit, studies have shown. Resist the urge, experts say.

"We tend to tighten the vocal chords when we are tense, and the high, sometimes screechy sound does not sound powerful," says Patti Wood, a body language expert and author. "Bring down your voice."

For more tips on how to appear confident, check out body language tricks to exude confidence.

2/12/17 - 3 Ways to Get Yourself a Job Referral

By Sammi Caramela, Business News Daily Contributor 

As they say in the business world, it's all about who you know.

Sure, hard work and an impressive resume help, but having connections and possible referrals are often crucial to landing the job of your dreams. In fact, according to a study by recruiting software Lever, referred applicants are almost 10 times more likely to be hired than candidates who aren't referred. Of candidates who aren't referred, only 1 in 100 is hired for every position on average, compared with 1 in 16 for those who are referred to the company and 1 in 22 for those who are recommended by an agency. "For some time now, talent acquisition teams have been increasing their focus on proactively sourcing candidates and encouraging employee referrals," Sarah Nahm, CEO and co-founder of Lever, said in a statement. "[Our] findings prove that those efforts are worthwhile, and paying off." 

Other key findings Lever highlighted in the study include:

> The size of a company correlates with its hiring ratio. The smaller the company, the greater the hiring efficiency. For example, Lever found that companies with fewer than 100 employees have an average of 94 candidates for every open position, while companies with more than 1,000 employees have an average of 129 candidates for every open position.

> The average candidate goes through 4 hours of interviews. Although it depends on the position, candidates spend an average of nearly 4 hours interviewing for a job. Candidates for technical jobs spend the most time interviewing, at 5.5 hours on average, while sales candidates spend an average of only about 3 hours interviewing.

> It takes an average of 34 days for a candidate to be hired. However, larger companies tend to take longer. The average hiring time for companies with more than 1,000 employees was 41 days.

> Recruiters consider nearly half of candidates "underqualified." Cold applicants who apply without a connection are the most likely to be seen as underqualified (52 percent). On the other hand, just 22 percent of proactively sourced (referred or headhunted) candidates are considered underqualified.

Building your referral path

So what can you do to ensure you stand out as a capable applicant?

1. Create a soft referral for yourself.

You can take matters into your own hands by reaching out to others for help. Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at Lever, advised candidates to "think as broadly as you can about potential connections you have into the organization." Ask yourself if you know anyone, even just briefly, who can potentially offer a referral.

2. Search for first- or second-degree connections on LinkedIn.

If you find yourself empty-handed after considering possible connections, turn to the company's LinkedIn page, click "see all employees" and check if you have any first- or second-degree connections.

"If you have a first-degree connection, reach directly out to them, explaining why you're interested in working for the org[anization] and asking if they can refer you," Srinivasan told Business News Daily. "If you see a second-degree connection at the company, click on their profile to figure out how you're connected, and see if there's a mutual connection who might be able to give you a warm intro."

According to Srinivasan, many companies have referral programs and offer incentives to employees who refer candidates. You may be surprised by how eager your potential connections will be to refer you.

3. Establish a legitimate connection.

If all else fails, think about possible ties you can make with the company — for example, any positive experiences you've had.

"Try to establish a legitimate connection, even if it's experience-based," Srinivasan said. "As a candidate, your object[ive] is not to game the system. On the other hand, if you come to the table with authentic examples of times when you've exhibited a particular value that the company champions, those could come in handy during the process."

Additionally, it helps to show your curiosity about the company's culture and values. Don't be afraid to ask questions and show that you've done your research.

The Lever report collected data from more than 4 million candidates, across 999 companies that use Lever, from August 2015 to July 2016.

Sammi Caramela is a senior at Rowan University with a major in writing arts and a double minor in journalism and psychology. She is President of Her Campus magazine and I Am That Girl at Rowan, and contributes to other writing platforms on and off campus. She expects to graduate in 2017 and continue her freelance work with Business News Daily. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at

2/5/17 - The 2 Traits All Hiring Managers Look for During Interviews (Without Even Realizing It)

By Jeremy Schifeling 

How cool would it be to have an X-ray into the head of the person who controls your career fate? To understand exactly what a hiring manager at your dream company is thinking when she’s picking which lucky candidate she’ll bring on full-time?

Well, until CAT scans start to pick up hiring decisions, that day may still be far away. But in the meantime, let me at least give you a glimpse into the typical interviewing process so you can get a sense of the main criteria hiring managers use to make those decisions.

How Humans Evaluate Each Other

Even though your potential boss has the fancy title of “Hiring Manager,” at the end of the day, she’s just a human being. Which means that contrary to all that time you’ve spent obsessing about brainteasers, she doesn’t actually care how many tennis balls could fit in a 747.

Instead, she’s going to size you up the same way that all humans size each other up: By getting to know you for a few minutes and then making a snap judgment. It’s really not that different from meeting someone at a party, making some chit-chat, and then getting a gut feeling that either says: “Mm…I like talking to you. Tell me more!” or “Umm…I think I need to go to the bathroom. Will you excuse me for a second (a.k.a., the rest of your life)?”

But where does that gut feeling come from?

One Psychology theory suggests that these flash judgments are really based on two data points:

1. Warmth: Do I like you?
2. Competence: Are you good at what you do?

In other words, we ultimately reduce everyone we meet into four buckets:

1. Warm + Competent
2. Warm + Incompetent
3. Cold + Competent
4. Cold + Incompetent

Any guesses which of these buckets your hiring manager is more likely to pick?

Let’s look at her inner monologue for each:

Warmth Competence

How to Get Picked

So clearly, your goal is to get into that top-left quadrant: warm and competent. But how do you do that?

The trick is to not only focus on coming up with specific answers to questions that may be asked. But to also focus hard on how you answer those questions. Because, as you’ll see, warmth and competence judgments aren’t definitive evaluations but mere perceptions. And while you can’t change who you are, you absolutely can change people’s perceptions of you.

As an example, let’s take that old interview chestnut: “Tell me about a time you influenced a team.”

A standard answer might go like this:

“OK, so there was this time that I had to work with a bunch of people on a project. Some of them weren’t that easy to work with, so I really had to influence them to do a better job. Which was super tough because they weren’t that motivated. But after I talked with them, they started doing way better. So that’s how I influenced my team.”

The person listening would most likely think the following: This person is both cold (it feels like she’s throwing her teammates under the bus) and incompetent (wait a second, what did she actually do here—does she even know how to work with other people?).

While there’s a lot more to this person’s story, this snap judgment from a hiring managers
makes it clear just how quickly interviewers can rush to evaluate a candidate.

But it also illuminates the importance of how we tell our stories. Because now consider this same story told a second way:

“OK, so there was this time that I got to work with a bunch of people on a big project—the launch of a new website. I was nervous about it because we all came from different departments—sales, marketing, and engineering. So the first thing I did is I got to know my engineering colleagues better by setting up coffees with each person and learning about their backgrounds and goals. And then, when we ran into a situation where the engineers weren’t making as much progress as we had planned, I was able to reframe the new website around their own goals. Seeing the connection between their personal ambitions and our team mission really seemed to light a fire under them. And the result was that we not only hit our deadline, but we actually launched two weeks early.”

Again, same exact high-level story. But notice how the telling of it changes the candidate from cold to warm (“Nice—I’d want to grab coffee with her too!”) and incompetent to competent (“Wow—she knew exactly what to do and got the results to prove it”). All through subtle techniques like:

> Using specifics: Instead of focusing on the boring abstract, the candidate brings her story to life through details: a new website, falling behind, coffee chats, a clear result
> Being self-aware: Instead of needing to stroke her own ego, the candidate shows she’s human and likable by admitting to her nerves
> Going step-by-step: Instead of glossing over the meat of the story, the candidate draws a clear connection from the challenge to her response to a specific outcome

1/29/17 - The Recruiter Wants Me To Rewrite My Resume -- Should I Do It?

Liz Ryan 

Dear Liz,

I updated my LinkedIn profile and it's made a huge difference in my job search. I am employed but I'm looking for a better opportunity.

Two recruiters contacted me because of my new and improved LinkedIn profile. One of them was kind of a jerk. He demanded my salary information right away. I told him my salary target, but he said that wasn't good enough.

He said he needs to know what I'm earning now. I told him it wasn't a good fit and I got off the phone.

The other recruiter is awesome. His name is Mike. He has two job opportunities that may be a good fit for me.

We've talked on the phone twice and we're supposed to meet in person next week. Mike asked me to send him my resume and I did.

It's ironic because Mike told me he was very impressed with my LinkedIn profile, which I re-wrote in a human voice following your instructions a month ago. He liked the human voice in my LinkedIn profile well enough to contact me, but when he got my resume he said "It's too conversational."

When I sent Mike my Human-Voiced Resume he said his clients don't want to see resumes that use full sentences.

He wants me to re-write my resume in that zombie style that I just evolved out of a month ago. Should I do it? I firmly agree with you that only the people who get me, deserve me!

Thanks Liz,


Dear Nora,

Congratulations on your re-branding and your new partnership with Mike!

A recruiter is a partner in your job search. You get to decide which recruiters to partner with, if you partner with any of them.

If Mike has strong relationships with his clients, then I recommend that you revise your resume and send Mike what he's looking for.

He knows his clients. Some employers are on the ball and excited to meet a candidate with a human voice in their resume, and others are not.

If Mike knows that his clients would love to meet the real Nora but would be freaked out to meet you via your Human-Voiced Resume, then follow Mike's instructions. If you trust his judgment, then it makes sense to go along with his instructions.

You are smart to think about how far you are willing to bend to get a new job. It's one thing -- a relatively minor thing -- to revise your resume in accordance with a recruiter's wishes.

However, what if the next instruction you get from Mike is to lower your target salary expectations?

What if Mike tells you that you have to take online tests and supply his client with free work in order to be considered for employment?

I hope at that point you will say "I like you, Mike, but I don't like you enough to lower my standards!"

Every job-seeker has to have a floor beneath which you will not sink. If you do not establish standards for your job search (and for any recruiter who represents you), you will waste countless hours and brain cells.

You don't need to contort yourself into pretzel shapes to get a job. The right employer -- and the right recruiter -- won't expect or require you to crawl over piles of broken glass to get a job.

You can make your expectations and requirements clear to Mike right now, at the beginning of your relationship.

You can tell him "Mike, I'll be happy to revise my resume and send you a version that uses sentence fragments, even though I don't like that communication style.

"I will be as flexible as I can in meeting with employers when it works for them, but I can't be all that flexible because I am working full-time. I know that you are dealing with me on one side of the desk and your client on the other side, but I need to let you know right now that I am not desperate. I have a job already. My brand is important to me, and the way I am treated during the recruitment process is extremely important to me, too."

Way too many job seekers submit to horrendous treatment from recruiters and employers because they think that's just the way things work. That is not the way things work!

No one can mistreat you during your job search without your permission.

Listen carefully to Mike's response when you tell him that you will disappear from his life and his candidate roster the minute you feel the chill wind of candidate abuse blowing in your direction.

Not all employers deserve you -- and not all recruiters do, either!

All the best to you --


Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

1/22/17 - How To Evaluate A Recruiter In 30 Seconds


For years we’ve heard that hiring managers and recruiters will spend five to ten seconds reading your resume — and no more.

Of course, you cannot really read a resume in five or 10 seconds. I’ve read tens of thousands of resumes over the years and I still read resumes every day.

It takes time, and if you advertised a need for candidates, then you should have the time. If you don’t have time to read the resumes you receive, you shouldn’t be recruiting!

However, managers and recruiters are famous for “reading” resumes in a single glance. They may not even scroll down the screen to see the second page of your resume. That’s shameful, but it’s reality.

On the other hand, recruiters will reach out to you if they find your LinkedIn profile and think you might be qualified for a job opening they’re trying to fill.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. The recruiter needs you, or they wouldn’t take the time to contact you. When you talk to a recruiter on the phone, it’s your turn to screen them the same way they screen job-seekers like you.

Some recruiters will get you on the phone and immediately start asking questions about your background. You can stop them cold and say “Let me ask you this: have you seen my LinkedIn profile?”

If your LinkedIn profile is up to date, they are wasting your time by asking you questions your LinkedIn profile has already answered.

If the recruiter is pushy with you and says “Yes, I’ve read your profile but I have to ask you the questions on my list” politely hang up the phone.

Recruiters cannot earn a dime without candidates like you. If a recruiter reaches out to you — intruding on your busy day — and can’t take the time to prove his or her value to you by answering your questions before launching into a mini-interview, they cannot help you!

You must vet the recruiters who call you. You get to decide who will represent you to employers. Don’t choose someone who is rude or pushy! Choose a recruiter who respects you and your background, as well as your time.

When a recruiter contacts you, don’t start answering their questions about your background right away. They haven’t yet earned the right to ask you any questions.

You have questions of your own that need to be answered first!

Ask the recruiter whether they have a specific job opportunity they are working on — one that you might be qualified for. If they are simply trying to add people like you to their database, that’s a good reason to get off the phone quickly.

If they have a specific job they’re working on, ask them the basics: where is the job located? What is the general outline of the role? What is the rough salary range for the job? Every good recruiter can answer these three questions. If a recruiter won’t play ball, say goodbye.

Employers are having trouble finding great people to fill their job openings. On top of that, most medium-sized and large employers have broken recruiting systems.

Their recruiting processes are so slow and cumbersome that good candidates drop out of the pipeline. That’s one reason so many employers work with recruiters. The recruiters keep the process moving!

A good recruiter in your corner is a fantastic asset, but as in any profession, there are more unsuitable recruiters than top-notch ones around.

Invest the time and energy to screen every recruiter you talk to before agreeing to share your resume with them or to allow them to represent you.

You are not just a bundle of skills and certifications. You are a talented professional that employers would be lucky to recruit. Remember that only the people who get you, deserve you!

Liz Ryan is CEO/founder of Human Workplace and author of Reinvention Roadmap. Follow her on Twitter and read Forbes columns.

1/15/17 - 8 Free Training Tools That Will Help You Excel at Your Job

Not every employer will pay for training to get you ahead but they all notice when you're falling behind.
by John Boitnott 

To maintain a strong career trajectory, professionals need continuing education. Whether it means learning about the latest technology or mastering a new skill, with the right training, employees can boost their resumes and remain competitive. Thanks to the Internet, consumers now have access to an endless array of free courses, on almost any topic they need to learn. Here are eight free tools that can help entrepreneurs connect with the online learning opportunities they need.

1. YouTube videos
Consumers use YouTube to watch old TV commercials and cat videos, but they may not realize the site is filled with tutorials on a wide variety of topics. Prospective students can search for classes by topic or subscribe to specific channels like those hosted by Bloomberg Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Entrepreneur. YouTube is also a valuable resource for learning how to use software, from popular solutions like Microsoft Office to more obscure software specific to an industry.

ALISON brings free courses in everything from entrepreneurship to psychology, making it the perfect resource for pursuing various interests. Courses are self-paced, with assessments helping students gauge what they’ve learned. At completion, students can download a learner record that shows all of the courses they’ve passed. Courses are offered at both diploma and certificate levels to help students build a resume.

3. Coursera
With courses from the world’s top universities and colleges, Coursera can help entrepreneurs get certificates from respected institutions. Lectures and non-graded materials are free, with financial aid available for courses that come with graded assignments and certificates. Entrepreneurs can learn more about popular topics like data science and machine learning or study basic business skills.

4. Udemy
Udemy bills itself as an online learning marketplace, with more than 40,000 courses. Not all of the courses are free, but a search of free courses on the site reveals pages of free courses on topics such as web design, iOS programming, and SEO. For personal development, Udemy has free courses on painting, photography, goal setting, and more.

5. edX
With courses from Harvard University, MIT, The University of California Berkeley, and other universities, edX is the only leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider that is both nonprofit and open source. Students take free courses in subjects like supply chain management, data analysis, healthy living, and Linux. In addition to study materials and instructors, edX provides unique learning tools like game-like labs and 3D virtual molecule builders for hands-on learning.

6. MIT OpenCourseWare
Known for its research and education in science and engineering, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a top-notch reputation. MIT OpenCourseWare brings some of the school’s courses online, with free lecture notes, videos, and exams from the school’s instructors. Students can choose from thousands of courses in the fields of business, engineering, science, and more.

7. FutureLearn
In addition to providing courses, FutureLearn offers a community of learners, with students communicating with each other to enhance the experience. There are numerous free upcoming courses, including many covering business-related topics. The site’s workplace learning program gives businesses the tools they need to managing training for all of their employees in one place.

8. iTunes
For Apple device users, iTunes has a wide variety of courses available for download. Professionals can search iTunes for the subject they need or browse through this list of free courses offered through the platform. Through iTunesU, instructors put together their own classes and offer them to consumers, including participants like Harvard and Stanford universities. While some of these classes can be found elsewhere, Apple device owners may find it easier to search for the classes they need where they can download them directly.

Professional development courses can be a great way to improve efficiency and boost a resume. With so many courses available online, professionals can take these classes in their free time, often on their favorite mobile devices. Interested students should first determine the courses they’re interested in taking and search one of the above platforms for an affordable option that fits their unique learning needs.

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

1/8/17 - Are cover letters still worth writing?

Matt Lindner, Chicago Tribune 

Is the cover letter a lost art when it comes to applying for jobs?

"Electronic application processes make it easier for many candidates to apply, which sometimes means many more applications need to be sorted through before decisions are made," says Andrea Alaimo, director of human resources at Chicago based logistics firm Redwood Logistics. "That may be a reason that cover letters don't hold the same value they used to. Today, we see a small fraction of total applicants also include cover letters"

"Cover letters are becoming less of a requirement and more of an option," says Parker McKenna, a human resources disciplines panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management. "Many recruiters or hiring managers aren't reviewing cover letters if they feel they have gotten a full understanding of the applicant's background by reviewing the resume alone."

Not only are hiring managers glossing over the cover letter, job seekers in many cases are omitting it altogether.

"Only a small percentage of applications we receive include cover letters, perhaps 10 percent," says Tracy McShane-Wilson, executive director of talent acquisition at accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.

Nationwide, just over half — 55 percent — of all job applicants include a cover letter when applying for a position, according to a recent survey from job board CareerBuilder.

But those who omit a cover letter, or submit one with an obviously halfhearted effort, could be missing out on an opportunity to set themselves apart from the crowd.

"You can generally tell when a candidate is very interested in a particular position and/or the organization, as they will take more time to delve into why the role and/or organization fits well within their own professional goals and passions (in a cover letter)," says Valerie Keels, head of D.C. Office Services for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.

The cover letters that hiring managers are getting, by and large, aren't exactly blowing them away.

"Many that we see are generic and thus not that valuable," Alaimo says.

"Letters that only state the obvious, such as the position applied for and advising that a resume has been submitted doesn't generate much interest from the hiring manager," Keels adds.

But a well-written cover letter could be the difference between getting your foot in the door and getting one of those dreaded generic response letters from a company telling you that those in charge of hiring are impressed with your qualifications but have decided to pursue other candidates at this time.

A Grant Thornton spokesman says the company is on pace to hire an estimated 2,500 people this year, a figure that includes interns as well as entry-level and more experienced hires.

McShane-Wilson says she'll receive anywhere from 50 to 100 applications per job posting, on average.

"The number of applicants has increased significantly over time, due to the greater availability of information about open roles through job sites and social media, as well as the much greater ease with which candidates can submit applications," she says. These technology developments have allowed us to vastly expand the potential pool of talent and have greatly increased our candidate traffic."

Given the amount of competition, McShane-Wilson and other hiring managers say putting a little effort into composing a thoughtful cover letter could go a long way.

For one, it tells a hiring manager a lot about how passionate you are about the position you're applying for.

"If you are the type of person that is thorough, fully engaged and takes the time to write a cover letter, then you're probably also the type of person that cares about making sure it is well-written, informative and persuasive," McShane-Wilson says.

Alaimo says she's not the only person involved in the hiring process, and thus not the only one candidates have to impress if they want to make it to the next round of the hiring process.

Including a cover letter tells her and her team a lot about a candidate's most basic communication skills.

"In the end, each hiring manager determines how important mastery of the written word is for the role they are seeking to fill, but confirming good written communication skills can only help our review of a person's total communication skills, from traditional writing skills to our current-day, often-instantaneous technology-based communications methods," she says.

Matt Lindner is a freelancer.

1/1/17 - Three Job Hunt Misconceptions Debunked

Virginia Franco
Executive Resume Writer and Career Strategist at 

These clients come through my doors all the time: smart, achievement-laden professionals, rusty where job searching is concerned. Many have not been in the job market since before the recession and others have never needed to job hunt — until now. Most have heard through the grapevine what it takes to successfully land a job.

As an executive resume writer who has helped thousands to navigate the job search landscape, I can attest that while some of these job search truths are true to some extent, others are simply unfounded. Perplexed? You are not alone.

#1: I Must Apply Online To Get An Interview

The Reality: In my experience, the online application process may work for some, but usually does not work for most. This is because many things can occur between the time a posting appears and when you apply.

From budget freezes to managers going in another direction to someone having the inside track before the posting even gets published — it will be tough to get a response no matter how perfect you are for the role.
The Workaround: Regardless of whether a job posting is viable or not, online advertisements do serve a positive purpose. They can reveal which corporations appear to have budgets for hiring, and they provide a bit of insight into the corporate culture. They are an ideal starting point for networking — which in my experience yields a far greater return on your job search efforts than responding to roles via a portal ever would.

Use these postings to identify which companies to target and to locate decision makers or connections you may have within these organizations. Get started with outreach and see it where it leads you.

#2: My Resume Must Have Keywords To Get Noticed

The Reality: If you pepper your resume with a bunch of industry keywords your resume may make it past applicant tracking software but will probably end its journey as soon as it gets before a human. Why? A resume must tell the story of how you are a perfect fit for the role. No amount of keywords will accomplish this without context or an explanation of how you performed your role and how you succeeded.

The Workaround: Include a "Skills" section in your resume that allows a reader (and the machine!) to quickly scan core skills in which you are highly proficient or even an expert. Use the rest of the resume to tell the reader about your achievements and proud moments — which in turn will allow them to figure out what you can do should they hire you.

#3: Recruiters Will Find Me As Long As I Have A Completed LinkedIn Profile

The Reality: A LinkedIn profile that is at "all-star" status (check where yours is by going to "Edit Profile" and looking in the top right corner of the screen) will absolutely rank more highly in searches than one where key sections have been left blank. However, in a highly saturated or competitive industry, a complete profile alone will not likely give you the advantage you need.

The Workaround: In my experience of writing LinkedIn profiles and guiding clients on this platform during their job search, the more active and engaged a client is on LinkedIn, the more likely they are to be contacted and the shorter their job search will be.

This can be accomplished by reaching out to first-degree connections, connecting with second- and third-degree connections, and sending a note to those who have viewed your profile. Additionally, spend a few minutes each day liking and sharing content of interest within your targeted industry.

While Technology Will Continue — People Don't

There’s no doubt the job search landscape has changed — thanks in large part to technology. What hasn’t changed, however, is people.

At the end of the day, people still respond to people — whether through a strong case articulated on paper or in person. In other words, the powers of outreach and networking will continue to trump other forms of job hunting for years to come.

Happy Holidays 2016 - Check out our holiday wish for You!

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2017 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Holidays and a very safe and Happy New Years to you and yours!

Offer Evaluation Template

You have received a job offer, now what.

How do you evaluate the offer? Did the offer letter or email include everything you need to know to consider the offer...have you thought of all the items that you need to consider about the offer to make a good decision. 

The link below will open an excel spreadsheet that was put together by David S. (around 2008) when he was trying to make a decision to join a small company (about 35 employees). David had always worked for much larger companies. David did take and offer and was glad he did. The smaller company did not offer all the perks some of the larger companies that he had worked for in the past, but he was able to be more involved and do different things at the smaller company.

 Click here for the Offer Evaluation Template This will download the Excel file to your computer.

 Be sure to read the comments in the any of the excel cells that have a red triangle in the upper right corner.

Also the Excel file will have two tabs, both have the same information, just in case you mess one of the sheets up, the other will still be available, or just download the file again.

12/11/16 - Resume 101: Ditch the Objective Statement and Consider a Summary

Crystal Marsh
Career Coach | Speaker | Lawyer. If you’re ready to find your purpose and uplevel your career visit . 

If you’re navigating the job hunt, surely you’re taking some time to revamp your resume. If that’s the case, one of the questions that you might have is whether or not you need an objective statement on your resume. The objective statement is basically a few bullet points saying what you’re looking for — a short, targeted statement regarding your ideal job.

The long and the short of it is that no, you don’t need an objective statement. Most hiring managers find them too generic to add value. Your resume should be limited to one page for most people with less than 10-12 years of experience, and two pages for those with more. That means that means that every centimeter of that page is valuable real estate that you don’t want to waste with information that is not going to make you more valuable to a potential employer. Skip the objective statement!

What you may consider instead would be an resume summary. A resume summary is a good idea if you (a) have an extensive work history and want to put highlights front and center, or (b) you’re making a big career transition and need to create a clear narrative for the potential employer that they may not be able to discern as readily on their own. A summary allows you to present your personal brand in a clear way to potential employers. If you think that a summary may be a good fit for your resume, you’re going to have to do some introspection to make sure that you create a summary that is meaningful.

Here are a few steps to help you do that:

Step 1: Have a Clear Direction
You want your summary to be clearly directed towards the type of role that you want — you need to emphasize the skills and experience the most directly relevant for your ideal job. Ask yourself:

- Which skills do you most enjoy using?
- What results and/or accomplishments best highlight your strengths?
- What do you want to be known for?

Step 2: Research your target industry
You want to have a strong understanding of the industry that you want to be in so that you can better anticipate the top needs.
Ask yourself:

- What are the top trends in your industry?
- What problems are you best able to resolve?
- What would make you a unique asset?

Step 3: Paint the picture
Now that you know what your skills are and what is most vlued in your industry, connect the dots for the potential employer. Write 4-6 bullets with clear, specific, pithy statements with a focus on how you could add value based on results and accomplishments.
Ask yourself:

- What are your biggest selling points?
- What is needed in your target industry that you have?

Here’s an example:

Retail sales manager with 5+ years experience with strengths including customer services, sales, and negotiation. Successful in developing strategies resulting in over 30% increase in new customers over 12 month period.

The example above is great because its both clear and concise. As soon as the hiring manager picks up the resume with this at the top, they know the type of person they’re looking at. This can be persuasive and provide just the punch needed to put you at the top of the list of potential candidates.

Visit for more advice on how to best navigate your job hunt — because you deserve to earn money, doing work you love!

12/4/16 - Job Interview Tips: 5 Things Most Job Seekers Don’t Know

Sam Becker 

The internet is brimming with interview tips — those for the seasoned job market vet, and those for the young men and women entering the workforce for the first time. By now, everyone knows the basics. You need to show up on time, for example, and run a comb through your hair. Practice keeping your body language in check, and have your resume and cover letter in tip-top shape.

Everybody knows that stuff. Interviewers expect it. Show up late or look like a slob? You might not even get through the door for your scheduled meeting.

But what about some of the lesser-known tips and tricks? Are there some still scant talked-about job interview tips that you can use to gain an advantage over the toughest interviewer? There are, and you can see them on the following pages. Whether you’re in a powerful position with many employers swooning after you, or trying to gain the mental edge by figuring out when you should schedule an interview, these tips should help you get that job.

1. Everything is negotiable (sometimes)

If you’re a top-caliber candidate, employers are going to want you — and that means that they may be willing to bend and twist to get you on the payroll. Remember that everything is negotiable, given you’re in a position of power. Typically, you will go back and forth over salary, and leave it at that. But you can start making all kinds of demands — additional vacation days, ability to work remotely, free bus pass, etc. — and see what you can get. Of course, if your skill set is a dime a dozen, you could be laughed out of the office.

But it never hurts to ask!

2. Opposition research goes both ways

You can bet that your interviewer is digging up the dirt on you, so you better be damn sure you’re researching them, as well. With so many resources available to you these days (Glassdoor, PayScale, etc.), there’s no reason you shouldn’t have some valuable intel going into an interview. You can look up the person you’re meeting with on LinkedIn, for starters. And check out the company’s background and common gripes from past employees. Take the time, and go in with a mental dossier prepared.

3. Craft and use a narrative

“Tell me about yourself” is an invitation to take your interviewer on a journey. A journey they won’t forget, and that they’ll remember when it comes time to trim the list of candidates. Don’t just list off the things on your resume when an interviewer asks about your past. Use the chance to weave a narrative, or build yourself a story — a story about a guy or gal who is hungry, can pick up new skills, and who has many accomplishments under their belt. You don’t need to be Tolkien, but this is a method that will help you appear more confident and accomplished.

4. Take your nonverbal weaknesses seriously

You know that you need to dress to impress when you go in for an interview, but your nonverbal communication goes much deeper than what you’re wearing. Hiring managers are turned off by anxious, nervous candidates. Though you’re not going to be able to rid yourself completely of those feelings, the ability to manage and control yourself will get you a long way. Watch your body language, of course, and you can even take measures to help keep excess sweat at bay with certain articles of clothing.

5. Timing is everything

There actually is a perfect time to schedule an interview, and though you’re going to be subject to the whims and schedule of your interviewer, try and aim for a specific day and time: Tuesday, around 10:30. Seriously, there’s scientific evidence to back this up. If you can’t make that work, then try for a time that you know you’ll be the most alert and ready to go. If you’re a morning person, try for an earlier appointment, for example.

There are numerous ways to turn the table on a hiring manager, and using some of these tactics to the best of your ability can and will help you land the job.

11/27/16 - Start Networking with People Outside Your Industry

Dorie Clark 

Most professionals build their network over time through proximity — people from your business school study group, or colleagues from your current company or past jobs. You may have a few outliers in the mix, but unless you’ve been deliberate about your networking, the vast majority of people you know probably work in the same field or industry as you. It may seem innocuous, but that inadvertent myopia can put you at serious professional risk.

First, if your network has become too narrow, you limit your options in case of a career change, or a downturn in your company or industry. If coworkers are the only ones you know well, and you find yourself in the midst of layoffs, there’s no one to turn to for outside assistance.

Additionally, you’re more prone to groupthink if you’re not exposed to diverse perspectives and points of view. As Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has written, you need to have a balance of both “bonding capital” and “bridging capital” — i.e., relationships based respectively on your commonalities (bonding) and relationships built across differences (bridging). Relationships with those like you may feel more natural, but it pays to push beyond your comfort zone. Indeed, research shows that companies with more diverse boards enjoy better financial performance.

Dan, a senior professional I interviewed for my first book, Reinventing You, realized that he hadn’t invested enough in his own “bridging capital.” He had spent a decade at a large technology company, rising to become an engineering director. But it occurred to him that his entire professional network consisted of people from that company. Given the vagaries of industry disruption, he became concerned.

He embarked on a networking campaign that forced him to meet each week with people outside the company, including executive recruiters, venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, and more. His connections allowed him to move to an exciting new job, and immediately prove his value thanks to the industry insights he’d gained from meeting with so many people.

To diversify your own network, here are four strategies you can follow.

Inventory your existing connections. First, take an inventory of your current network. Who are the 5-10 people you spend the most time with? Next, make a list of your “outer circle” – the 50 or so people who matter the most in your professional life. Do a quick scan to evaluate the professional diversity of your network, noting whether they’re inside or outside your company, and whether they share your profession. If your network is weighted more than 70% in any direction (e.g., 85% of your closest contacts are fellow marketers), it’s time to think consciously about how to diversify. Identify past colleagues or friends that you enjoy who are in different fields or work at different companies, but whom you haven’t spent much time with. Take this as your cue to reach out and propose getting together; they’ll often welcome the invitation.

Put networking on your schedule. Part of Dan’s success in broadening his network outside his company was his decision to make networking a deliberate part of his weekly routine. As an introvert, he’d previously eschewed most networking events. But when he realized his circle had become dangerously small, he committed to regular breakfast meetings with new colleagues. Networking is never “urgent” and will often be the first activity jettisoned when things get busy at work, but it’s essential to prioritize it by putting it on your schedule.

Ask for recommendations. Almost everyone’s network is overweight with people like themselves – so take advantage of this fact, and if you’re looking to diversify your professional relationships, ask the people who are outliers in your network to recommend people they think you should meet. You could say to them, “I’d like to know more angel investors, and you’re really plugged into those circles – who else do you think I should connect with? Would you be willing to make an introduction?”

Don’t look for immediate returns. Some people end up with a narrow network because of inertia, but others don’t extend themselves because they just don’t see the potential for return. If you work in finance, it’s true that making friends with a filmmaker is less likely to add to your bottom line than spending time with someone in your own industry. But you have to play the long game. People — including you — may change careers, and that connection may prove helpful down the line. Additionally, you can’t predict who will be in someone else’s network; that filmmaker may have gone to high school with a CEO you’d now like to do business with.

The best reason to build a professionally diverse network, however, isn’t about what you’ll get out of those relationships. It’s to fulfill personal curiosity and develop yourself as a person; professional or monetary ROI is a happy coincidence. For several years, I’ve been hosting 8-10 person dinner gatherings of interesting people from a mix of professions. It didn’t seem relevant that one of my friends was a comedian, and another a comedy promoter, until I started doing standup performances and was able to access helpful advice that saved me time and frustration.

It’s easy to coast through life only connecting with people like ourselves — but by expending the extra effort to increase our “bridging capital,” we’re gaining access to new insights and creating more “career insurance” for ourselves by broadening the ranks of people who know, like, and respect our work.

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. 

Happy Thanksgiving 2016 - Check out what we give thanks for

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What do you give thanks for?

We give thanks for the career group leaders who give their time to help us.

We give thanks for the organizations that allow us to meet in and use their facilities.

We give thanks for the speakers who share their knowledge to help us with our job search for free.

We give thanks for the opportunity to network and meet new people.

We give thanks for the opportunity to help others in their job search.

We give thanks for the support our family and friends provide.

We give thanks for the opportunity to spend more time with our family during our job search.

We give thanks for the opportunities we have living in the USA.

We give thanks for the next great opportunity that awaits us in the future.

We give thanks.

What do you give thanks for?

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from CareerDFW and

11/13/16 - 8 Warning Signs You Need to Update Your Resume

Peter Jones, The Job Network 

While job searching, you want to make sure you’re coming across as the best and freshest person for the job. Here are 8 warning signs you need to update your resume.

1. Too much history

Get out of the past. You don’t need to list every single position you’ve ever had, just the most recent and relevant ones. This is the first thing hiring managers look at on a resume. Make yours sing. If you’re going back 10 or 15 years? Consider de-emphasizing that content and focusing instead on the good and grabbing most current stuff.

2. Too much text

Format your resume to be reader friendly and to give the hiring manager the information they need most as quickly and as pleasingly as possible. Avoid long paragraphs and big sentences. Keep it short and snappy and keyword heavy.

3. Too long

Keep it to a page, unless your field demands something different. Make sure that a potential hirer can see what you need them to see in six seconds—which is sometimes all the time you get. Tailor your resume specifically to the job you’re applying for, and leave the rest of the content on your standard or generic document for other positions where it might be more relevant.

4. Wasted address space

You don’t need to give out your personal snail mail address, unless otherwise specified. Current resume etiquette maintains that all you need in the way of contact information is your name, phone, and email. Anything more just wastes valuable space and could make you appear hopelessly retro.

5. Your home number

Business line or cell, please. Who even has a home number anymore? This isn’t 1990. Plus, you want to set up boundaries. Do you really want recruiters calling while you’re sitting down to dinner with your kids?

6. No links to social media

This is necessary nowadays. Add a link to your Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook profile. LinkedIn at the very least. But do make sure you’ve double-checked your profiles before linking them, and scoured for any inappropriate or inflammatory content!

7. Career objective

This is way out of fashion, takes up valuable space, and bores the recruiter to tears before they even get to the part where you list your qualifications. Write a brief professional summary instead—two or three sentences that synthesize your strengths and experience and show why you’d be a unique and ideal fit for the position and the company.

8. “References upon request”

This is a way outdated and redundant thing to include. Obviously you’ll provide references if requested. Take that sentence out and put something more valuable in its place.

11/6/16 - How to make people like you in 4 seconds or less

Shana Lebowitz 

Within seconds of meeting you, people are already making judgments about your personality.

Are you hireable? Or dateable? How about friendable?

And while it's technically possible to reverse a bad first impression, it's not easy. So you'll want to put your best face forward.

To help you out on that front, we checked out "How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less" by speaker and author Nicholas Boothman. The book highlights a key strategy for making a trusting connection with your conversation partner while greeting them.

The best part? The whole process takes just four seconds. Read on to find out how to become instantly likeable.

Step 1: Be open

Boothman says you'll want to open both your body and your attitude.

In terms of your body language, Boothman says you should aim your heart directly at the person you're meeting. Don't cover your heart with your hands or your arms. And if you're wearing a jacket, unbutton it beforehand.

It's equally important to cultivate a positive attitude. While you're greeting the person, Boothman says you should feel and be aware of that positivity.

Step 2: Make eye contact

Boothman says you should be the one to initiate eye contact, and let your eyes reflect your positive attitude.

If you feel uncomfortable making eye contact, he suggests a strategy for getting used to it: When you're watching TV, note the eye color of the people on camera and say the name of the color in your head. The next day, do the same thing with every person you meet.

Just make sure to look away at some point — one recent study found that most people preferred eye contact that lasted about three seconds. And no one in the study preferred eye contact that lasted longer than nine seconds.

Step 3: Beam

Boothman advises being the first one to smile. You'll send the message that you're sincere.

Research also suggests that smiling when you meet someone in a happy context is a useful way to get them to remember you.

But keep in mind: If you're employing this strategy in a job interview, consider letting your smile fade after the initial meet-and-greet.

In one study, researchers asked college students to role-play job interviews. They found that students who played candidates for the position of newspaper reporter, manager, and research assistant were less likely to get the hypothetical job when they smiled — especially during the middle of the interviews.

Step 4: Say 'hello'

Whether you say "hi," "hey," or "hello," or use another salutation, you should sound delighted to be making this person's acquaintance.

Next, you'll want to extend your hand. Make sure to give a firm handshake, which generally creates a more positive impression.

When the person you're meeting gives his or her name, try to repeat it a few times. For example, you might say, "Sara. Nice to meet you, Sara!"

If you're meeting multiple people and can't shake everyone's hand at once, Boothman says it's possible to conduct a "hands-free" handshake. Do everything you'd normally do while shaking someone's hand — point your heart in their direction, say hello, and smile — but don't extend your hand.

Step 5: Lean in

There's no need to fall over into the person you're meeting.

Boothman suggests an "almost imperceptible forward tilt" to show that you're open to and interested in what the person has to say.

10/30/16 - 4 tips to get around resume filtering

Are applicant tracking systems and resume-filtering technologies hindering your job search? Here's how to beat them.
By Sharon Florentine 

You've got all the right skills. Your resume shows a clear progression of advancement through your career, with a long list of accolades and accomplishments. You work well with others, but can excel independently. You've solved problems and increased revenue for your last few employers. You interview well -- or at least you would if you could get an interview.

So what's the problem? You might be at the mercy of an applicant tracking system (ATS) and resume-filtering module -- technology that scans incoming resumes for job-specific keywords and "grades" them on a scale of 0 to 100. If your resume isn't scoring high enough, you could be excluded before your application ever makes it before human eyes.

Tech tricks

There are a few ways to get around these solutions, the first one is aimed at circumventing the resume-filtering module that might be unwittingly screening you out, according to Rick Gillis, job search strategist, consultant, speaker and author of Job! and Promote! Your work doesn't speak for itself. You do. Gillis encourages his clients to use these "guerilla" tactics to give them a better shot at landing an in-person interview and a job by making just a few quick formatting tweaks.

"Yes, we're gaming the system. Really, we're leveling the playing the field. I know that my clients can land jobs if they can get past the machines and can prove themselves in person. That part of the job search and interview process is up to them. But as a consultant, it's my job to help them make the difference between getting that phone call, creating that touch point, and moving forward," Gillis says.

First, and most importantly, there are some hard-and-fast rules, even in these guerilla tactics, Gillis says. Do not lie, do not misrepresent yourself or your skills, and do not claim experience, traits or knowledge that don't represent you, he says.

"One thing clients ask me is, 'If I see a job and I meet most of the criteria, but not all, should I even bother applying?', and I tell them that a job description posted by a hiring company is a wish list. These companies would love to have 100 percent of these qualities and skills, but if you have 70 percent to 80 percent, go ahead and apply. But don't you dare put anything in your resume or your application that you can't speak to in an interview. Sure, you'll get past the machines, but you'll be branded a dishonest, deceitful and untrustworthy person, and you'll never land a job, there or anywhere," he says.

That said, most legacy ATS use a resume-filtering module that scans and grades resumes, with points given for each match in keywords and terms between a resume and a job posting, Gillis says. Because many recruiters and hiring managers are strapped for time, they'll often set the software to scan only the first page of your resume, so it's critical that all relevant keywords appear on that first page, Gillis says. The best way to do this is to keep a running list of keywords relevant to the jobs you're seeking, and that include jargon, lingo and industry-specific language and add to those the keywords from the job to which you're applying, and place them in 8-point font at the bottom of your resume. That's all there is to it.

"Keep a running list of your generic keywords that you use with your peers. Whether you're a journalist, an attorney, an IT professional or a plumber, there are terms and language that are specific to your industry; that shows you're an "insider." If the terms are not already on your resume, you must artificially insert them, and the best way to do this is putting them all in a separate section at the bottom of the resume. Remember, you're not doing this for the humans, you're doing this for the machines that will 'see' your resume first," Gillis says.

That includes keywords that aren't job-specific, Gillis says. Don't forget to include terms that might give you an edge, including your geographic location, your education and other more personal identifiers that are included in the job description; "college degree preferred" and "southwest Houston" are just as much keywords as "senior Java engineer" or "database administrator," he says.

Resume rules

Another trick: have a short-form and a long-form resume, Gillis says. The short-form resume should be accomplishments-based, and should avoid fancy charts, graphs or graphics, that can often be kicked back by legacy resume-filtering modules, Gillis says. It should include a header, a "seeking statement," and, if possible, you should use the name of the company in this statement. Why? Because within Taleo, one of the most popular ATS packages, the solution automatically gives applicants points for using the company name in the application, Gillis says.

"If you use the company name once, the Taleo system will give you a point. If you use it twice, you get two points in their system. If you want to see how it works, they're very open about the process; Taleo even has videos on YouTube that show how they eliminate candidates who don't know how to play this game," he says.

In addition, include your most current skill sets and four -- only four -- accomplishments, each with a net result: revenue generated, deadlines met or exceeded, money saved, for example. Each should include the name of the company for whom you worked, your title, dates and your role. And that's all, he says.

"All the extras, all the other details, should be saved for your long-form resume. That's where you can include charts, graphs, pictures and other elements. The short-form's the job-seeker's equivalent of when Oprah says, 'We're going to take a break, but when we come back, I'll teach you how to get $1 million!' You're not going to change the channel now, are you? This is what you're doing -- this is how you're playing the game. You want the hiring manager to call you and say, 'I am looking at your resume, but I would love to see more information,' and that's why you have a rich, robust long-form resume. Then you can say, 'Great! I will send you my long-form resume and some additional information, and we can set up an in-person conversation,'" says Gillis.

Culture clash

Of course, this assumes that you're missing out on interview and job opportunities based on resume-filtering technology's shortcomings, says Todd Dean, chief marketing officer and co-founder of mobile employment platform Wirkn. There's always the chance you're just not a fit for that role or within that company for cultural reasons.

"Sometimes, ATS and resume-filtering technology seems like it doesn't work in your favor because if you need to game the system, you might not be a good fit anyway. Sure, perhaps you can land an interview or even a job, but most companies' culture works like an immune system in that, if you're going against the cultural grain, the entire system can turn against you and you'll quickly burn out or be let go -- that's a waste of your time and the company's time," Dean says.

If you want to make sure you're landing in a job and at a company where you can thrive, you can work on beefing up your networking skills and generating referrals from friends, family and former colleagues at organizations that are appealing to you, Gillis says.

"The majority of jobs nowadays are found as a result of networking, so there's a great chance your professional network will be the source of that next touchpoint. Don't neglect networking and social media," he says.

Reverse recruiting

Recruiters and hiring managers do research on candidates before they reach out to gauge interest. Leela Srinivasan, CMO, recruiting and ATS software solution company Lever recommends that candidates do the same for hiring managers and recruiters. They should work to find out which ones work with companies and roles they would be interested in. You want to make yourself as enticing as possible to them and up the chances they'll see you as a fit and reach out for an introduction before you even have to deal with an ATS solution, she says.

"The best recruiters do a lot of research up front, before they even reach out to a candidate, to understand what skills, experience, passion and interests a person has as a human being -- not just a resume that matches. The object of the game is to make yourself a person of interest, a known entity. Once a recruiter has those data points, they are the most determined people on the planet, and they will politely and persistently reach out until they get a response, to start a two-way conversation," Srinivasan says.

Knowing how recruiters and hiring managers work can help you apply this strategy to your own job search, she says. Identify what companies you'd want to work for, what particular roles you'd be ideal for, and then what experience, skills, passion and interests match up with those available at the company, she says.

"You're looking for an in with an angle of relevancy. Then, within that broader scope, try and determine if there is a particular manager, recruiter or other person currently at the company you could get in touch with. If you have a specific company and/or role in mind, you should look at this as a long game, not a specific one-off shot at a job," Srinivasan says.

You also can try and engineer a referral, as most companies today find their highest quality hires come on the recommendations of their current workforce. LinkedIn is a great resource in these cases, Srinivasan says, because it shows you wider connections than just your first-degree friends, family and colleagues.

"So much of hiring today is about companies trying to bring in the best and brightest, rockstar talent, and in many cases, employees are incentivized for referring new hires. So, look around and apply the broadest possible lens to the connections you have at the company. Do you know someone who knows someone? Did you see a manager or an executive speak at a conference, or read a particularly eye-catching blog post? Anything that gives you a reason to connect is great," she says

This story, "4 tips to get around resume filtering" was originally published by CIO.
Sharon Florentine — Senior Writer,, Sharon Florentine covers IT careers, women in technology and diversity, as well as software, Agile, cloud tech, data center and security topics. She has written for CRN, eWEEK, Channel Insider and CIOInsight, among others. You can reach her at or on Twitter @MyShar0na.

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10/23/16 - The Huge Mistake People Make On LinkedIn's Mobile App

This little-known feature could help you connect with more people on LinkedIn through your phone.

BY J.T. O'DONNELL Founder and CEO, 

I was recently speaking to a group of 700 project managers at a conference. The title of the presentation was, "Your Network is Your Net Worth: The Power of Super-Connecting." My goal was to teach attendees how important it is today to make networking a daily habit. In a time when every job is temporary, we're all businesses-of-one that must pay attention to the direction and momentum of our careers at all times. Otherwise, we could get blind-sided with an unexpected life event (layoff/firing, dying industry, relocation, etc.), and find it hard to bounce back.

Customize those connections for a 60 percent lift in acceptance.
Since LinkedIn is currently the number one professional networking platform online, it shouldn't surprise you that a large part of my presentation focuses on how to leverage LinkedIn on a daily basis to build a powerful network. You don't have to spend hours on the platform. If you know how to use it properly, you can get a lot done in just a few minutes each day. I've personally grown my network and have over 1.3 million followers on LinkedIn as a result of maximizing my efforts. Now, I enjoy showing other professionals how to become "power users" of LinkedIn by teaching them some hacks for success. Specifically, one of the techniques I outline is the importance of customizing your connection requests. When inviting someone to connect with you on LinkedIn (especially, someone you don't know), it's vital that you delete the default text and replace it with something that will help the person understand and appreciate the reason for your invite. Nothing screams, "I'm a lazy networker," more than the auto-text. At my company, we've studied the impact and found that only 20 percent of the people you ask to connect with will respond to the default text. But that number jumps to 80 percent when you master this connection customization technique. Which means, taking that extra minute out of your day to tailor your invite can have a big impact on your ability to build your network. However, there is a glitch to this if you use LinkedIn's mobile app...

LinkedIn's mobile app trap.
At the end of my session, I invited all the conference attendees to connect with me on LinkedIn using the technique I taught them. Shortly after the session, I got stage-rushed by a bunch of attendees who said, "I went to connect with you on the mobile app and it didn't give me the chance to customize the request! It just sent the default one -- what did I do wrong?" They'd done nothing wrong. I'd failed to explain in my session that LinkedIn's mobile app works differently than the desktop version.

On a desktop, it's easy to customize the connection request. You can go to the person's profile page and use the "connect" feature. However, when you visit a person's profile on the mobile app and hit the same "connect" button, it automatically sends the default text invite. What most mobile app users don't know is before you hit "connect" in a person's profile in the app, you need to hit the three tiny dots in the upper right corner of your phone screen which produces a set of options that includes customizing the connection request. This little-known feature could help you dramatically increase your connections requests when using the app.

What to do if you sent the default text by accident.
If you're reading this thinking, "Dang, that's why that really important person didn't accept my request," don't worry. You can always message the person in the app and explain you sent the default invite by accident. Just be sure this time to use the opportunity to explain why you are seeking to connect. This will (hopefully) prompt the reader to check out your profile, which will invite them to accept your request to connect.

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool and its app makes it even easier for us to form good daily networking habits. But you must learn how to use it properly, or the ROI on your efforts may suffer. For me, it's all about teaching people to work smarter, not harder on LinkedIn.

Houston Texas Area Job Clubs or Career Groups

Is a group you attend missing? Send an email with all the details to

Between Jobs Ministry (BJM) is a free, Christ-centered support ministry of NorthWest Bible Church, open to all job seekers. We provide encouragement, information, networking assistance, spiritual guidance, and training sessions in a Christian setting. Meetings are on Wednesday mornings, 8:30am-12:30pm [Exceptions: We do not meet on/near major holidays, during our Vacation Bible School (June 22), or during “Camp In The City” (August 10)]. Check-In for first-time participants begins at 8:30am. Northwest Bible Church, 5503 Fellowship Lane, Spring TX 77379. For more info go to or check out the Yahoo Group at

FENG - Houston - Welcome to the Houston Chapter of FENG. The FENG is a very senior level "circle of friends". Members have typically been Chief Financial Officers, Controllers, and Vice Presidents of Finance, Treasury, Tax, or Mergers & Acquisition, as well as other financial disciplines. The basic purpose of our organization is to create the opportunity for you as a senior financial professional to network, share job leads and friendship with your peers in the financial community. Membership in this group is open only to members of FENG. Membership in FENG is approved by Matt Bud, Chairman of the FENG. Please be aware that the membership information on The FENG-Houston Chapter website is provided solely to facilitate networking. The dissemination of any business related information or the solicitation of members of The FENG by telephone, e-mail or regular mail for any purpose other than networking requires the prior written approval of Matt Bud, Chairman of The FENG. Matt may be reached at: or (203) 227-8965 if you have any questions about this policy.

First Colony_Sugar Land Networking Group - Working together with God's help to create a positive place for job search, and networking to attain gainful employment in the respective carreer fields, in an ever changing world. Together with the Love of God in our hearts and doing his will. Light your path with him and he will show you the way. Seek and ye shall find. For more info go to 

Houston Career Initiative - The Houston Career Initiative is a non-profit career support group meeting weekly on Monday mornings (with the exception of holidays) from 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Power Center, 12401 South Post Oak Rd., Houston, TX 77045. For directions or more information about the Houston Career Initiative please call 713-723-6837 ext. 8638. Membership in this Yahoo group is restricted to persons that have attended at least one free workshop. For more info 

JFS Employment ServicesFinding a job in these hard economic times can be stressful. Jewish Family Service offers free assistance and employment workshops to help displaced professionals seeking jobs. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Laura Alter at 713 667 9336 or Or go to - for more info go to

10/16/16 - 9 Ways To Prepare For Your Second-Round Job Interview

POST WRITTEN BY Forbes Coaches Council 

Getting a second interview means you’re perceived as having the right skills, but the company wants to get to know you better. They want to dig a little deeper into your background and also assess if you’d be a good fit culturally.

But this is also a perfect time for you to get to know them better as a potential employer and determine if they are the right fit for you.

How can you best prepare? Below, nine members of Forbes Coaches Council offer their professional advice:

1. Just because this is your second interview doesn’t mean it will be with the same people as round No. 1. This means you must keep the key points that have gotten you this far front and center — but add additional detail in the form of specifics and stories that bring these talents to life for your audience. - Virginia Franco, Virginia Franco Resumes

2. The first round is about technical ability: Can you do the job? Round 2 is about fit: Do you want to do the job and do they want to work with you? Find out in advance who you will be interviewing with. Connect on LinkedIn LNKD +0.05%; see who and what you have in common. Seek to build rapport and have a conversation beyond the job. Ask about their experiences at the company. Show them you will fit right in. - Michelle Tillis Lederman, Executive Essentials

3. The first interview is typically the “sniff” test and a further review of your resume. Now, be ready for behavioral-based questions from more than one person. Panel interviews are becoming increasingly popular, as it saves a great deal of time when all of the decision-makers are in one room. Write out specific scenarios, print multiple copies of your resume, and research “panel interview etiquette.” - Jada Willis, Willis Professional Services

4. Let’s assume you’ve done your research and prepared answers to possible questions. Now get ready to perform! Rehearse by yourself and with others. Have short, clear, compelling stories that illustrate what you’re talking about and link directly to what your employer needs. Be interested in your audience. And before you go on, relax, breathe and prepare to have fun. - Sally Fox, Engaging Presence

5. Prepare to determine if you want to “hire” them. Consider what you want out of the job, your work style, needs, etc. Ask questions to assess if their needs complement your needs and talents, which will also demonstrate you are a mature, reliable employee. It’s best to not accept a job for a boss that likes to be “very involved” (micromanage) if you like to work independently. - Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting

6. Create A Strong Foundation - A successful second interview builds on the foundation of a strong first one. Remember to ask meaningful questions about the role and abilities necessary as well as the culture and personalities of the team. Learn what has worked and what has not worked in the first interview. This will give you the opportunity to build on this foundation and share how you will enrich the team with your skills and adaptability. - Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC

7. Build A Greater Understanding Of What They Are Looking For - It’s not an audition. You’ve convinced them you can do the job; now show them you can create connections. Be curious. Deconstruct the questions that were asked in the first interview to find hidden messages about who they are looking for. With greater understanding of the role, do more in-depth research on current trends that will inform how you can take the role to the next level. - Tanya Ezekiel,

8. Help The Interviewers Visualize You In The Role - Research the company, team and role by requesting information from the recruiter, hiring manager and LinkedIn connections. Ask about the strengths and challenges of the team, the team culture, and three big areas that should be a focus for this position. Then, in your interview, communicate your 90-day plan to leverage strengths, tackle opportunities for growth, and how you will achieve the team’s goals. - Anu Mandapati, IMPACT Leadership for Women

9. Plan With Knowledge And Interest - A second-round job interview usually entails meeting with multiple people and possibly executive partners. Prepare by adequately learning who the interviewers are, garnering knowledge about the work they do, the projects they have led, and having a list of at least two questions to ask each interviewer. You want to be engaging and knowledgeable about the company to impart your keen interest. - Wendi Weiner, JD, NCRW, CPRW, CCTC, CCM, The Writing Guru

10/9/16 - Five Reasons Why Your Resume Is Being Overlooked


For job seekers, a resume is a vital tool to get them noticed by potential employers. This document is used to convince them that you’re perfect for the job on offer. But most resumes get a quick skim before they are tossed to one side, even if the job candidate may be the right fit. Hiring managers are often swamped with resumes so it’s impossible for them to carefully assess every single one and most of them are swiftly discarded. Here are five reasons why your resume may fail to garner a closer look.

#1 Your job titles are vague
You may have loved your job title of “code ninja” at your previous company but understand that the person who reads your resume first may not know what the heck that is; if you’re applying for a job as a developer, your resume might be placed in the reject pile.

Quirky job titles are fun but they have no place on a resume. Not only do they fail to adequately convey what you actually did in that role, but they may also have negative connotations that you’d want to avoid. It’s okay to change your official title at your old gig to something that is easier to recognise.

This isn’t just a problem isolated to whacky job titles. Even something like ‘Content Manager’ can be confusing to people who are unfamiliar with this type of role.

There is only one way to make your job titles sound less wishy-washy: add context. How do your previous roles relate to the one that you’re applying for now? Include a snappy sentence next to your title to explain this.

#2 You use a one-size-fits-all resume
Putting together a resume is hard work so it’s understandable why you’d want just create a generic document that you can re-use for every job application. Unfortunately, that simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Every company has different requirements and they can often be very specific. What you need to do is study the job listing carefully and tailor your resume to match the requirements. According to recruitment agency Staff Masters:

“This means writing an objective statement exclusively for the job, revamping your bullet points to highlight your applicable qualifications, and maybe even restructuring the format to ensure the most relevant information is at the top of the page.”

#3 Your resume is ugly
You can have the best experience and skills for an advertised job but if your resume isn’t visually appealing, you’re never going to get a chance to prove yourself.

Fonts and layouts matter. Word vomiting on a resume isn’t going to get you your dream job.

Here’s some advice from career expert Dena Bilbrew on how to make your resume look better:

“You have to make your resume visually appealing to get the employer’s attention. Print out your resume and hold it up at arm’s length. Are you drawn to your own resume? Would you read it? Would you call yourself for an interview? If you’re not drawn to your own resume an employer won’t be either.

“To make it visually appealing spread things out and take up the entire page so that there’s not a lot of white space. Enlarge your headings so employers can navigate through your resume quickly and find the information they need. Try putting lines in between each section also to make them “pop.” Also bold your job titles and degrees — not the company name or school attended.”
Recruitment agency Windsor Resources suggests using one font for your entire resume to keep the look of the document consistent. Please avoid using Comic Sans. Please.

#4 You didn’t include keywords
Hiring managers are usually inundated with resumes so they will often use specialised software to scan documents for keywords that are relevant for the role that is on offer. The software will automatically toss resumes that don’t contain enough keywords.

It’s in your best interest to include these keywords whenever you can in your resume, but how do you find out what they are? According to Staff Masters:

“Find these keywords by carefully reviewing the job description, highlighting terms and phrases used multiple times throughout the copy. Work them into your resume a few times in a manner that sounds natural and flows smoothly.”

#5 You don’t ask for help
It’s hard to spot mistakes or shortcomings in your own resume. You’ve probably spent hours slaving away on it and you’re completely over looking at it again.

It’s time to recruit help from a friend or somebody you trust to assess your resume. According to job advice blog The Muse:

“Send your resume to a friend, and ask what roles he or she thinks you’re applying to, based on what she sees. If she says something completely different, you know you have some work to do. And before you say ‘But wait — my friend knows nothing about my work!’ remember that the first person reviewing your application might be a recruiter, an assistant, or someone else who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your field. So a set of unbiased eyes might be even better than an industry insider.”

The World’s Longest List Of Sales Candidate Interview Questions

by Will Brooks 

The single biggest challenge in hiring salespeople is one that is both logical and emotional in nature. The logical part of the challenge is that having someone in place is better than having no one at all. This is a false position to take, however, when you take a look at what a bad sales hire can cost you:

The emotional side of the challenge lies in the danger of hiring someone you like regardless of their proven level of competency. Couple this with the often-used mirror test (the old method of being able to fog a mirror and you have the job!) and you can imagine the problems this causes.

Using thoughtful and thought-provoking sales interview questions is a way around this, though. That’s why I’ve come up with 30 sales interview questions you can use to determine if you’re next sales candidate is a fit for your organization, your product, your team and your culture.

Not all of these might be applicable to your specific open sales position, but I urge you to use them as inspiration to develop those that are. Enjoy!

Sales Interview Questions

  1. Give me an example of a time when a manager provided you feedback you didn't agree with. How did you handle it?
  2. How would you start developing a territory from scratch?
  3. Walk me through your process for developing a prospecting plan.
  4. What's more important: planning or action?
  5. Walk me through your sales process of choice.
  6. What was the last sales book you read?
  7. How do you evaluate the best way to invest your time in a typical day?
  8. What expectations do you have of your manager?
  9. Describe the ideal sales team you'd like to be a part of.
  10. Where specifically do you need to grow your sales skill set?
  11. Where do you see the world of sales prospecting going? What's the best place to find buyers in today's marketplace?
  12. How do you differentiate yourself personally?
  13. What separates a top sales performer from everyone else?
  14. Knowing what you know now about professional selling, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career?
  15. What's more important to sales success: selling skills or interpersonal skills?
  16. Walk me through your process for preparing for a face-to-face call.
  17. Give me an example of a time that you completely mismanaged your first face-to-face meeting with a prospect. What did you learn from it?
  18. How do you go about crafting a recommendation for a prospect or customer?
  19. What role does sales team alignment with the rest of the organization play in the overall success of the team?
  20. What makes a world-class sales manager?
  21. What's more important: profitability or volume?
  22. What tools do you use to learn about a prospect before making contact?
  23. Describe your biggest success as a salesperson.
  24. Describe your biggest setback as a salesperson.
  25. What are your longer-term career aspirations?
  26. What have you found to be the most effective way to open a face-to-face sales meeting?
  27. What’s more important, being decisive or slowing down to pay attention to detail?
  28. Describe a time you lost a longer-term customer? What happened? How did you handle it?
  29. Describe a time you had to over-service an account that didn’t mean much commission to you personally. How did you handle it?
  30. How do you handle situations when a prospective buyer insists you cut your price?

Use these questions to determine if your sales candidate is a future superstar…or simply someone who will fill a seat. Finding a candidate that is a perfect fit for the position will benefit all parties involved, and will result in an employee who is highly interested, engaged, and motivated to do their job well.

Will Brooks is COO of The Brooks Group, a sales training, sales management training and sales assessment company based in North Carolina. Contact Will at 336-615-8835 or by email at

Resources for Veterans

Here are organizations that help Veterans:

10/2/16 - 5 Questions to Ask Your Potential Employer During Every Interview

By Vicki Salemi 

You know it's coming. The interview is close to wrapping up and you sense it's on the tip of their tongue and then – just like that – the interviewer politely asks you, "What questions do you have for me?"

Cue the crickets.

Well, with the proper preparation and cheat sheet (yes, it's totally OK to refer to your notes as you speak), you can demonstrate you've done your homework while making the most out of this valuable question and answer session. After all, you're evaluating the company just as much as they're evaluating you as a potential fit. You absolutely must ask a few questions, but instead of asking throwaways like, "When are you looking to fill the position?" (Here's a hint: as soon as possible, as in yesterday), dig deeper and you'll get a stronger, clearer picture of the job and employer. Here are five questions to ask your interviewer that will give you valuable insights into the company and your prospective new role.

Why do you like working here – besides the people? This is a great go-to question to ask every single interviewer. Let's begin with the end in mind: They're all going to tell you they enjoy working there because of the people, so remove that from the table. Answers can be across the board – one person says great benefits, another loves the challenges and learning opportunities – you name it.

You may start sensing a pattern of similar answers or they could each be completely different; all you need to do right now is listen and enjoy hearing their answers. Feel free to dig deeper – for instance, if someone says they've enjoyed the opportunity to grow and get promoted, ask about their previous roles and how their boss noticed they were ready for that next level.

Is this a loud or quiet office? Granted, you should observe this facet of office culture as you're walking the halls, but go ahead and ask the question – chances are the interviewer will provide specific anecdotes about the office environment that will tip you off about whether or not it's a fit for you.

It's also a unique way to ask about how social the office is. Hopefully you identified the best type of environment for your working style prior to the interview, so their answer will have value to you. Perhaps you like a hybrid – a quiet office can bolster your diligent, focused side, but perhaps a midday dance party is just what you need – occasionally.

Why is this position available? While you don't need to necessarily ask this question of every single interviewer, you can ask the recruiter or hiring manager. They probably won't reveal if someone was terminated due to poor performance, but if they say the position is available because the department is expanding, that's an excellent indicator of growth. Or if someone was promoted internally, that's also a great sign of movement. If the position was created because two people were overworked, that too will give you insight into the inner workings of the operation and more importantly, what your future will potentially hold. Again, feel free to ask a follow-up question. If someone was promoted internally, for instance, you can ask, "How long were they in this position before they were promoted?"

This will provide you with insight to see if the person stayed in the role for eight years or only eight months. While it may be indicative of the individual performer, sometimes the interviewer will give additional information – say the person before them also got promoted internally – showing that yes, there's turnover in the group but there's also upward mobility.

How long has this position been open? Be selective about who you ask this to – again, the recruiter or hiring manager is fine. Your goal is to find out if it's been open for only a few weeks or a long period of time like six months – or more. If it's the latter, they may not necessarily be swift in making a hiring decision. This could also mean they just haven't found a suitable candidate yet (and if so, why not – are they being too picky?), meaning colleagues in the group are picking up the slack for quite a while until a new employee is hired.

I want to be rated excellent at year-end. Does your office have performance reviews? If so, how will my performance be evaluated and what do I need to do to exceed expectations? And if not, how will my performance be evaluated and is that directly tied to annual raises? It's critical to ask this set of questions for a variety of reasons. First, it shows you're ambitious and goal-oriented. Second, it shows you value performance as it relates to compensation and hope that they do, too. It also provides you with knowledge you need to truly succeed if you do start working there. Remember, a job interview is a conversation, and right now it's like you're a pre-employee. If you get hired, your role involves continuing the conversation – get on your boss's calendar and say something like, "During my last interview you mentioned interesting information about the three specific goals and action items I should aim to accomplish within my first six months. I'd like to schedule 30 minutes with you to flesh them out further so I can keep them top of mind."

Asking these questions will demonstrate your interest in the company, and will help you understand if it's a good fit for you moving forwards.

Vicki Salemi is an author, public speaker, columnist and career expert for Monster, a global leader in successfully connecting people and job opportunities. Utilizing empowering insights from her more than 15 years of experience as a former corporate recruiter, Vicki advises job seekers through regularly contributed articles to publications like, and in interviews with many top media outlets, such as NBC News and USA Today. More information can be found on Twitter @vickisalemi and @monster.

9/25/16 - Why You Should Always Go Off-Script in a Job Interview

by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson 

You’ve just landed an interview for your dream job. If you’re like most people, you’ll spend hours, perhaps days, preparing for that interview. You’ll research the company and industry, anticipate the questions you’ll be asked, and rehearse the perfect answers. You’ve probably followed all the interviewing best practices: be yourself, dress appropriately, focus on your strengths, don’t interrupt, and prepare questions in advance.

But, in spite of your careful preparation, your interviewer might not evaluate your skills, ability, and potential using an equally thorough process. Rather than carefully analyzing your resume and engaging in deep conversation, a busy interviewer might rely on split-second impressions. Indeed, psychologist Ellen Langer shows that just as people shift to “autopilot” during routine tasks such as driving to work, they may go through interviews and other spontaneous social interactions in a similarly automated fashion.

The problem occurs when people process information through what psychologists refer to as the peripheral route. When they follow this route, they go on instinct and use tidbits of information rather than the full arsenal of data they have in front of them. In fact, the vast body of research suggests that all of us are vulnerable, at times, to taking the peripheral route when our attention is somewhat compromised — perhaps because we’re rushed, tired, hungry, overwhelmed, stressed, or simply engaging in a well-rehearsed routine, like an interview.

How can you ensure that an interviewer sees you for who you are and your unique characteristics are noted? Through our research on how people form impressions about experts and how people manage envy, we identify four strategies to help you turn around an interview.

Disrupt the script. Although an interview may appear to be a spontaneous conversation, both the interviewer and the interviewee are often following preprogrammed scripts. The interviewer may have a standard protocol that they’re following — in fact, this is a best practice that ensures that each candidate is screened through the same process. They might ask standard questions such as, “Tell me about your previous experience” and “What you are looking for in a job,” or they might use a walk-through of your resume as the basis of their script.

As the interviewee responds with carefully prepped answers, they can quickly go from charming to robotic. When we’ve observed MBA students, their responses are almost too smooth. Sometimes, they answer too quickly, without even a pause to think about what was asked — revealing that they’re delivering a rehearsed answer rather than engaging in a conversation that feels genuine and interactive. Instead, pause after the interviewer asks a question — even if you’ve practiced a response. Listen for and reuse a few key words from the interviewer’s question in your own answer to signal that you’re building on the interviewer’s statement. By interrupting your own scripts and building on the discussion, you can make the conversation flow more organically, allowing the interviewer to process information more deeply. One of our managers shared another technique he used to disrupt the script by stating, “Let me tell you what’s not on my resume.” That got the interviewer’s attention, since the interviewer stopped mindlessly looking at the resume.

Make a personal connection. Whether it’s discovering that you attended neighboring small town high schools or both visit the same vacation spot, these off-script moments are more likely to lead to an interpersonal connection. This is due to the mere connection effect: If you can find even one point of commonality in few moments of interacting, you can shift from outsider to insider in the interviewer’s mind. As an insider, you’ll receive the benefit of the doubt, as compared to an outsider who’s quickly judged and dismissed. One manager described how she scans an interviewer’s office for any photos or pictures and asks about them: “So, you’re a Blackhawks fan?”

Then, try to get beyond surface similarities. Demonstrate that you share their higher-order goals. Leigh once hired someone because her question was, “What does it feel like to have written a book?” That question showed that she was passionate about research and writing — the very same goals that motivated Leigh. If you’re in tech, you might ask how the interviewer felt leading a cutting edge project; if you’re in sales, ask how they managed to win over a particularly tough customer.

Become a partner. If you’re dealing with an antagonistic interviewer who has automatic negative assumptions about you, a “connection” may be nearly impossible. In our research, we’ve observed how psychological threat, like people’s insecurities and envy, affects their judgment. Perhaps they just don’t like the people who’ve typically held your position. Or maybe they’ve read your vita and view you as competition. The threatened interviewer focuses only on your weaknesses and perceived slights, leaving you to meet impossible standards.

In response, try this strategy that we’ve drawn from the research of Dr. Abraham Tesser. Rather than focusing on common goals that could elicit a threatened response, highlight your distinctive talents — skills in unique areas that don’t undermine the interviewer’s expertise. Then, show how your expertise benefits them, opening up the potential for partnership. For example, when one junior consultant works with potential clients who are industry experts, he’d frame his expertise in a nonthreatening way: “I clearly do not have the decades of experience in the industry that you do, but I am a supply chain expert, and this has allowed me to achieve cost savings for each of the companies I’ve worked with as a consultant.” Rather than suggesting that he knew more than the client, he framed it as knowing something different — which could help the clients showcase their existing expertise rather than replacing it.

Call out the elephant in the room. A benevolent but busy decision maker might have formed negative beliefs about your potential for reasons that they are uncomfortable talking about or, perhaps, are not even aware of. We suggest surfacing these unconscious perceptions and making it comfortable for people to address the taboo issue. Communicating about the potential objection reveals self-awareness and courage, and it also creates an opening so you can provide the clear evidence to dismiss it.

For example, one of our colleagues was from Korea and had a strong accent. “Will they notice?” she worried. Our response: “They’d have to be deaf not to notice.” We told her to be forthcoming and say, “I have an accent. I’m aware of that. Still, I’ve received top teaching evaluations. Here is what I’ve used to be successful in the classroom…” She got hired for the job.

Good jobs are few and far between, and you’re paying both a financial and emotional price if you have the credentials but aren’t getting opportunities because of quick judgments. The toughest interviewer to crack is not the one with the tough questions but the one who’s operating on automatic assumptions. The recommendations we’ve suggested will help you get past the quick impressions, and steer the interview in your favor.


Tanya Menon ( is an associate professor of Management and Human Resources at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Her book with Leigh Thompson, Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits (Harvard Business Review Press), is forthcoming this year.

Leigh Thompson is the J. Jay Gerber Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management. She is the author of Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration (HBR Press, 2013) and coauthor of Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits (forthcoming, HBR Press, 2016).

9/18/16 - How To Prepare For A Phone Interview

Peggy McKee 

If you’re like most people, you either (a) hate phone interviews or (b) don’t take it as seriously as a face-to-face interview. The truth is that phone interviews are incredibly important, because without doing well there, you’ll never get the chance to interview in person. With the right preparation, you can learn to hate them a little less and practically guarantee yourself the invitation to interview on-site.

Follow these 7 phone interview prep tips to ace any phone interview:

1. Set up your call at a good time for you.

You often have choices about when to schedule your call. It only makes sense to schedule it when you’re most alert—if you’re a morning person, schedule it early. If it takes you a good few hours to become your best, schedule it for the afternoon. If they call you and it isn’t a good time for you, let them know that it isn’t the best time (no need to tell them why) and ask to reschedule. Just don’t wait too long to make that happen.

Hint: Make sure that when you do set it up, you leave yourself a cushion of time after the call, in case it goes especially well and runs long. Some phone interviews stick with a time limit of 10-15 minutes, but others go 30-45 minutes or longer.

2. Pick a quiet spot to talk.

There’s nothing like being on the phone in a noisy public place to signal that you aren’t taking this call seriously. Instead, do the interview at home, in a room by yourself. You want no distractions.

3. If you can, use a landline.

Bad reception can ruin your call. I say play it safe and use a landline.

4. Research the company.

Some job seekers think phone interviews are basic information sessions, but you’ll make a much stronger impression if you already know everything you can about the company before your call. You’ll ask better questions and give more impressive answers to their questions.

5. Dress for the interview.

It’s easy to be tempted to stay in your pajamas for this call, but it’s better to wear work clothes. Our clothes do affect how we behave, and you need to be all business.

6. Make sure you’re physically comfortable and relaxed.

Eat, drink, take a bathroom break, and take a few moments to breathe and relax before your call.

7. Prepare ‘cheat sheets.’

Since they can’t see you, this is the perfect opportunity to have out in front of you a printed out resume, notes on the company, questions you want to ask, and words and phrases you want to use in your phone interview answers. This is one of the few advantages of a phone interview, so make the most of it. Just spread them out in front of you so they can’t hear you shuffling papers. Make sure you also have blank paper with a pen to take notes.

It’s important to do as much pre-interview prep as you can. You will never get another chance to make a first impression with this company. How you do now will affect whether or not you get the face-to-face interview, and it can bias them to like you even more before you set one foot on site.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.

9/11/16 - How to Determine What Your Potential Boss is Like in an Interview

Three questions worth asking to get a sense if the job, and manager, is right for you.

By Marcelle Yeager 

Most people assume that a job interview serves the sole purpose of being an opportunity for the employer to evaluate a potential employee. They see it as a one-way street, but it's really not. The interview is not only a chance for an organization to get to know a candidate better; it's an opportunity for a prospective employee to become more familiar with a company.

You may think that simply means you should be listening closely and looking around to see what the office environment looks and feels like. But you can and should take a much more active role in the process. Even as a prospective employee, you are allowed to ask difficult questions that will give you a better idea of the place you may end up working in. It's not just a test of you; you are permitted to test them. What kinds of questions should you be asking?

How did the position come to be open? This is extremely important. You may learn something that you were not expecting. On the other hand, the interviewer may dodge the question by saying something generic like, "Steve got a unique opportunity he couldn't pass up." If you're having separate interviews with more than one person, ask each person the same question. When you get different answers from people, you'll know that something may be up, and this is a pretty clear red flag. Even if everyone gives you the same generic response like the one above, try to obtain more information. Ask, "Where did this role end up taking him?" You can either infer something from the answer you get, or it may just become clear that there's more to the story than they're letting on.

You don't want to find out after you start working that your manager is extremely difficult to work for. Asking this question of the people who work for your prospective boss may yield different answers than what human resources or a recruiter tells you.

What is the best part of working here, and what would you change if you could? This open-ended question could go in many directions. You'll get an even better sense of the company if you ask several interviewers this question. Whatever their answers are, you should come away with a fairly good idea of how you align with their organization. You may hear about a benefit the company offers that you weren't yet aware of, or something positive about your potential manager. By digging in for a negative aspect of working there, you'll get a sense of what you may be up against, and from there you can decide whether that's okay with you or not. It could be a deal breaker for you, or what they say may not bother you at all.

There are certain aspects of a job that would annoy some people but not others. Everyone is different. This gives you a snapshot of what is going on there and whether you are okay with it or not.

What does success look like for someone in their first year in this role? This should give you an idea of your manager's or colleagues' expectations. Bonus: It shows you are confident and results driven. It's an important question because you may learn quite a lot from the answer. Perhaps you'll be able to figure out if you are expected to work ungodly hours. It also may give you a sense of what your boss is like and how they manage their people. If their answer is vague and disengaged, it may be a sign that it's not of the utmost importance to them, and you may have trouble down the road achieving the milestones and promotions that you expect.

While you may get a hot air answer, you will likely be able to tell if success and development is important to your potential boss. If the answer is specific to the job, you're probably in good hands. If it's generic, that could be a negative sign.

Unfortunately, many people will put a spin on answers to these questions. However, interviewers do not always expect these types of questions, so you may get some good, honest or inferable insights into the job and your boss's character. Beyond the answers, look for other positive and negative signs during the interview.

Did your potential boss answer the phone or respond to an "urgent" email during your interview? Unless it was a family emergency or they are a doctor who needs to save someone's life, it could wait. Did they politely listen to your questions and actually respond to the questions asked? If so, that's a sign that they're in tune with the people who work with and for them. If not, you may want to work for someone else.

Marcelle Yeager is a blogger for On Careers. You can follow her companies Career Valet and Serving Talent on Twitter (@careervalet, @servingtalent) and Facebook (Career Valet, ServingTalent). You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

How To Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile To Get More Jobs

by Natalie Severt - Resume Expert at Uptowork


As a job seeker, having a LinkedIn profile is no longer a matter of choice. It’s a necessity.


Well, for starters, everyone is on LinkedIn - job seekers, recruiters, CEOs, that weird guy next door, your mom - everyone.

Okay, but what if you're not looking for a job right now.

Well, you don’t have to be actively looking for a job to use LinkedIn. In fact, if you optimize your profile and engage with the platform a job could come looking for you.

And that job could be THE job.

People are getting great job opportunities on Linkedin every day. Some of the opportunities are not available anywhere else.

So, if you want in on all of the job goodies, you need to get on LinkedIn, max out your profile, and engage with other users.

This guide will help you optimize your profile so that it becomes an easy and exciting find for recruiters in your field.


NOTE from CareerDFW: To go to any section of the guilde go to


Table of Contents:

  1. Why Do I Need to Worry About LinkedIn?
  2. Here’s How to Max Out Your Profile 100%
  3. Create a Persona That Sticks With Recruiters 
  4. Make a List of Strategic Keywords for Your Profile
  5. Here’s How to Make the Most of Your Headline and Summary
  6. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, So Make It Professional 
  7. Here’s How to Further Personalize Your Profile
  8. Here’s How to Add Your Experience Section on LinkedIn
  9. Boost Your Profile with Skills and Endorsements
  10. How to Ask for High-powered Recommendations
  11. Intro Videos Are the New Novelty on LinkedIn
  12. No One Likes Using LinkedIn, But That’s Not an Excuse
  13. Key Takeaway  
9/4/16 - Transferable skills from non-paid positions can enhance your resume

On the Job with Dana Plowmnan 

There are lots of reasons a person could have trouble putting together a descent resume. You may have a gap in employment; you are trying to switch careers or professions; or you have been a stay-at-home mom the past few years.

The good news is that resumes are changing to reflect skills more than job history. Your skills that apply to the job can be just as valuable as experience. Resumes are now reflecting non-paid positions such as volunteerism, continuing education classes, parenting, hobbies and sports. These newly non-paid positions help fill the gap between employers. By adding skills that transfer from daily life to a new job position give employers a better understanding of who they may be hiring, as well as your interests, values and experiences.

Here are examples of five transferable skills you may want to include in your resume:

Communication: writes clearly and concisely, speaks effectively, listens attentively, openly expresses ideas, negotiates/resolves differences, leads group discussions, provides feedback, persuades others, provides well-thought out solutions, gathers appropriate information, confidently speaks in public

Interpersonal Skills: works well with others, sensitive, supportive, motivates others, shares credit, counsels, cooperates, delegates effectively, represents others, understands feelings, self-confident, accepts responsibility

Research and Planning: forecasts/predicts, creates ideas, identifies problems, meets goals, identifies resources, gathers information, solves problems, defines needs, analyzes issues, develops strategies, assesses situations

Organizational Skills: handles details, coordinates tasks, punctual, manages projects effectively, meets deadlines, sets goals, keeps control over budget, plans and arranges activities, multi-tasks

Management Skills: leads groups, teaches/trains/instructs, counsels/coaches, manages conflict, delegates responsibility, makes decisions, directs others, implements decisions, enforces policies, takes charge.

Dana Plowman can be reached at

8/28/16 - 10 Phone Interview Tips to Get to the Face-to-Face

10 Phone Interview Tips to Get to the Face-to-Face
Best telephone interview tips
Peggy McKeeLeave 

Before you get to go to the face-to-face interview, you’ll probably have to go through a cheaper, easier (for them) phone interview to prove you are worth the time, trouble and expense of a longer conversation. Here are the top phone interview tips to make sure you get your chance to prove your worth in person.

1. Concentrate on your voice. Sound confident, express yourself clearly and think about sounding like someone who looks and acts professional. Without body language, professional attire and your physical demeanor, the interviewer only has your voice to judge you by and how you handle yourself verbally.

2. Have all of your notes in front of you. You should always have your resume, cover letters, names of references, and key points you want to add right there at your disposal.

3. Prepare for interview questions. Know what kind of questions you will be asked in this short format interview before they call. Remember, this is not the same as a face-to-face interview and the questions are likely going to be more general. They are probably looking at your resume as they speak to you and verifying the information through questions like, “Tell me a little about your experience.” (However, you still have to prepare for this interview to avoid making interview mistakes.)

4. Watch your language. Avoid using sarcasm or making jokes in which your body language and facial expressions are required. They cannot see you and what may seem funny to you with your quizzical expression may not go over well at all with the person who cannot see you on the other end of the line.

5. Stand up while you talk. Your posture and movement will affect your enthusiasm and your voice will project better.

6. Focus on the interview. Don’t busy yourself with other things in your environment. Just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean they won’t be able to tell you’re distracted.

7. Use a landline to avoid having any issues with poor reception. If you have to use a cell phone, be sure the phone interview is set up for a time when you know you will have access to a quiet place that is guaranteed to have a good signal. There should be minimal distractions and outside noise such as barking dogs, nearby construction or the beeping of car horns.

8. Never use your speakerphone. We often talk on speakerphone to keep our hands free to drive or do other things. This level of distraction is not what you need during an interview that is your gateway to a face-to-face meeting with a hiring manager.

9. Don’t get too chatty or talk yourself in circles. The interviewer is likely taking notes as you speak and may not be focusing on responding to all your points. These silent moments are not your cue to continue babbling on. Be comfortable with the silent moments and allow the interviewer to make the next move after you have finished answering the question completely but concisely.

10. Ask for the next step, just like you would in a face-to-face. When the interview is wrapping up, let them know what times and dates you are available for a face-to-face interview. You will be able to get an immediate impression about how you stand at the end of the phone interview if you ask this. It commits them to deciding if they want to proceed with the process or not and will give you idea about how they felt about the conversation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.

8/21/16 - 4 Warning Signs About A Company (That You Can Spot During The Interview Process)

Jennifer Malach 

Congratulations! You got the interview for your dream job. You’ve researched and prepared and feel ready to meet the hiring manager, discuss your resume, and learn more about the position. Remember, you need to ask just as many questions to the interviewer about the role, team, company, and organizational structure in order to have the best understanding of the opportunity. And more importantly, you can determine if the organization, office environment, and company culture are the right fit for you just by walking through the door and looking out for these four warning signs during the interview process:

1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not prepared to interview you.

It is evident that he or she has not even reviewed your resume yet or prepared any relevant questions to learn more about you and your background. If he or she is just printing your resume as you both sit down for the interview, you should be extra ready for the question, “Tell me about yourself.” Also, meetings and conference calls do run late, but if the hiring manager or interviewer is serious about speaking with you, he or she should not keep you waiting for more than five to ten minutes to start your conversation.

2. Employees, including management and leadership, are not interacting with each other in the office.

Are the majority of people behind closed office doors? For those individuals you can view in open spaces, are they all solely focused on their laptops and tasks or are some having friendly conversations with each other? Check out how the hiring manager or interviewer engages (or not) with others while walking with you to and from the interview room. Is he or she friendly to everyone (from the CEO to the receptionist)? Does he or she know people by name? Or is he or she barking orders and acting rude or unprofessional?

3. Take a look around the entire office space.

Can you see yourself sitting there every day for over eight hours a day? Does it feel warm and inviting? Or does it seem cold and unwelcoming? Is the décor modern and hi-tech or is it unclean and have stained furniture and carpeting? Are there visible advertisements for company social events or volunteer opportunities to promote community and networking? Is there a noticeable place for people to informally gather for lunch or coffee? Or is everyone eating at his or her own desk?

4. You cannot begin to imagine yourself commuting to and from this particular office.

If you can’t imagine spending 40+ hours a week working there, for that hiring manager, in that job, with this company, then that is the biggest warning sign of all. This may be your dream job, but you also need to be totally comfortable with all aspects of your “life at work” while you are in the office and not just the work you are doing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jennifer Malach is a Certified Executive & Career Coach with over 20 years experience in the professional services and software development industries including 17 years with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology, and outsourcing company. She has extensive experience in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, coaching, training and developing talent to promote their learning, retention and advancement. Jennifer has also led, managed, and mentored teams across North America.

8/14/16 - The Secret to Resume Success

Romy Newman 

Did you ever apply for a job that you were certain you were perfect for...and then hear back nothing? The lack of response may have nothing to do with your experience, and everything to do with how you’re presenting it on your resume.

These days, recruiters receive thousands of resumes for desirable positions. Because of these enormous numbers, 98% of job-seekers don’t make it past the original resume screening, according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts.

So what is the secret to getting your resume to be the needle in the haystack that gets discovered? It’s all about keywords.

Here’s how keywords work: To manage the vast troves of responses they receive, recruiting departments build databases of resumes using their Application Tracking Software. They navigate through their database by searching for specific terms that relate the job they’re hiring for. These terms are known as keywords.

Since Fairygodboss is committed to helping our community get ahead and land the jobs they’re seeking, we reached out to two experts to get the inside scoop on keywords and help you understand how you should use them on resume.

“Keywords are an essential part of how we sift through the thousands of resumes we receive,” said Jenna Mucha, Talent Community Manager for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“Keywords bring up your ‘relevancy score’ in most HR/recruiting software programs,” says Christy Childers, Global Employer Brand Manager for Dropbox.

So how can you use resume keywords to your advantage to land the interview and the job? Here’s some advice from Jenna and Christy:

1. Adapt your resume for each company you’re applying to

“You should absolutely adapt your resume for each job you’re applying to,” said Jenna. “Review the job description and incorporate keywords directly from it.”

What kinds of keywords should you include? Well, of course you want to use ones that are essential to the role - such as “quantitative” or “customer service.” Choose keywords directly from the job description, especially those mentioned more than once. “But also check out similar job postings from other companies,” suggests Jenna. “That way you can anticipate or include terms that go beyond the posting. You should even check out the LinkedIn profiles of other people who are in similar roles.”

Here’s a great tip from Christy: Don’t overlook things that you think are obvious or implied in your background. “Some people think Microsoft Excel is a given in today’s environment. However if the job description lists Excel one or more times (and you indeed have substantial experience with it), you need to include ‘Microsoft Excel’ on your resume. Also keep in mind that a computer doesn’t know that ‘Microsoft Office Suite’ includes Word, Excel, Access, etc., so you must use these keywords exactly as you see them in the job description.”

That said, you should definitely not incorporate keywords if they don’t accurately describe you. Honesty and fair representation must come first.

2. Use keywords throughout your resume

The box for keyword relevance is not checked when you simply add the keyword to a “skills” section on your resume. Your keywords should be thoughtfully woven into your background bullets, ideally in several places throughout your resume.

“This provides credibility, but also increases the relevancy based on the way the software performs searches,” according to Christy. Also, she told us, “remove company jargon….While staying true to your past experience, it’s okay to change the specific job title to ensure you’re using one that is used more widely.”

3. Ditch the objectives statement

While a “summary statement” is key for your LinkedIn profile, both our experts agree there is no need for a summary on your resume. Jenna told us that the summary statement really isn’t useful to recruiters. If you’ve built your resume coherently, it should be crystal clear to recruiters what skills and traits define you.

4. Substantiate

“Keywords are important,” says Christy, “but quantifying your experience alongside those keywords to add credible context and to differentiate yourself is equally as important.” This is not just an exercise in copy/paste. You’ll need to substantiate why your background represents the skills that the keywords call for.

Some great advice from Christy on how to quantify your experience:

Instead of listing ‘excellent negotiation skills,’ try adding some context to prove it such as ‘demonstrated excellent negotiation skills which resulted in an 80% close rate and #1 Account Executive in the Western US Region.’ Or for those who aren’t in obvious data driven environments, use the results of a project to demonstrate your skills: in lieu of ‘attention to detail,’ you could instead include an example such as ‘demonstrated attention to detail in launching the first-ever global leadership development program from start to finish improving internal promotions by 35% across 3 continents.’
5. Apply “beyond” the job

Once your resume ends up in a company’s database, Jenna tells us that it can often surface for other open positions. That means you should incorporate keywords that come up in verbiage about the company itself. For example, some companies pride themselves on “innovation.” For others, “team-player” or “collaborative,” is important.

And there are some keywords that work well for almost any job or position.. “Results-oriented,” “motivated,” “launched,” “team-player,” etc. There are some great online resources for these types of keywords. Note: there are also some keywords you should stay away from, such as “synergy” or “go-getter.”

Of course, great resume keywords are not a substitute for a great work background. Ultimately, though, if we can all have a better understanding of how our resume is being evaluated, we have a much better chance of getting to present that background in an interview. Huge thanks to Christy and Jenna for helping give us the inside scoop.

Career Assessment Tools & Tests: Assessments for Students, Job-Seekers, Career-Changers

Career Assessment Tools & Tests: Assessments for Students, Job-Seekers, Career-Changers


Help envision and plan your career, job, work future with these self-assessment and career discovery tests.

What if you’re not sure of what kind of job or career you want? Not sure what to do with your life? Need some career direction? Spend some time here and take one or more of the following self-assessment tests to give you a better idea of your attitudes and interests as they relate to possible career choices.


Click on the link for the article

The Ultimate Guide to Building a CV

The Ultimate Guide to Building a CV


When applying for a job, it is vital that you have prepared a professional Curriculum Vitae (CV) that conveys your academic qualifications, employment background and key skills to your potential employer. Many candidates underestimate the value of a strong CV and, as a result, they significantly hinder their chances of acquiring their preferred job. Irrespective of whether you have just finished your academic studies or whether you have worked in your preferred field of industry for several years, your CV needs to present a bold and clear message to your potential employers. This is where the following guide can help. From explaining the key elements of your CV and learning how to explain a gap on your CV, to demonstrating a step-by-step guide on how to write a competent CV, this valuable resource will equip you with all you need to know in order to successfully represent yourself via your CV thereby substantially improving your employability prospects.


Clck on the link for the full article

The Ultimate Guide to Building a CV

5 Salary Negotiation Tips for Women


When it comes to compensation, salary negotiation is the one area women often neglect. Though if you have ever effectively negotiated a salary in your favor, you know how exhilarating it feels to receive what you are worth. If you have ever found out that a colleague is receiving a higher salary than you, as a result of negotiating, then you know how terrible it feels to know that you possibly undermined receiving a higher salary.

Salary negotiation is difficult for women because it is often seen as an uncomfortable conversation. For many women, the process of negotiating is as unenjoyable as “going to dentist”, whereas men tend to describe it as “winning a ballgame” or a “wrestling match”.


Read the entire article at

8/7/16 - 8 of the Worst Things to Say When Networking

8 of the Worst Things to Say When Networking
Most networkers try to be on their best behavior and be compelling. Many fall short or worse offend with phrases like these.


In some ways, networking has recently changed. It used to be reserved for gatherings and parties, but today networking can happen online as well. With all the increased communication and casual aspects of the Internet, knowing the safe and effective things to say is challenging at best.

At worst, people can miss the mark with a comment and even offend the very people they are trying to impress. Ignorance, confusion, and nerves often lead people to make major verbal mistakes that cannot be undone. If people slow down and think about their comments, they probably can avoid committing an unnecessary faux pas.

In case you don't have the time to think carefully before opening your mouth or typing that next message, you might want to memorize eight of the worst things to say during networking that you should avoid at all costs.

1. Profanity.

Swearing used to be for bars and sports arenas, but these days it is tolerated more in business. That said, don't be so quick to throw off your favorite four-letter word at every chance you get. You have no way of knowing how the other person will react. Some people might find the use of such words as aggressive, especially if the delivery is not well-handled. Moreover, it might make you look unprofessional and lacking in discretion. Keep the swearing limited, unless you really know the audience or live in New York City like me.

2. "I'm struggling..."

The moment you start talking about how things are not going your way, you project a sense of insecurity. Networking is about opportunities for growth and value, not desperation. People don't want to engage with more needy people. Rather than discussing your failures, engage people with your aspirations and desires. That will transmit a sense of drive that is very attractive to others.

3. "Can you get me a job?"

Unless someone offers right away, requesting employment puts others in an uncomfortable, awkward position. They may not know you well enough and you are asking them to put their reputation at stake. Use networking to begin conversations and relationships that will show off your value. If you are truly worthy, the time will come to discuss how to get you aboard.

4. "What's in it for me?"

It's good to have self-interest, but leading with it shows you to be selfish and uncaring. Look for mutually beneficial opportunities and show that you can put others first in a way that brings value to all. People want to work with partners, not hoarders.

5. "Here's my card."

By pushing your card, you are imposing yourself on others with the expectations of continuing the conversation. Most of the time they will simply be polite and forget you. Instead, ask for their card and if you can contact them. Then send them something relevant and of value so they have reason to re-engage.

6. "That idea doesn't make any sense."

The last thing most people want to hear is that their idea sucks. If you don't agree with it and think they are down the wrong path, ask them questions that will help lead them to the same conclusion. This will allow them to reflect on the conversation and feel that they have obtained value from talking with you.

7. "I'm drunk" or "I'm a little tipsy."

People may like to party, but they trust those who can show self-control. If people are privy to your state of inebriation, they will take you less seriously and you will wind up making a mockery of yourself in an environment that you were hoping to conquer.

8. Nothing.

A little silence can make you look smart. Total silence will make you go unnoticed and unmemorable. Try to engage people in pleasant conversation at the very least. Failing to inspire people will at least give you the opportunity to analyze what works and doesn't work in a social setting so that you can inspire the next person that you meet.

The Go-To Guide to Understanding Your Job Offer and Benefits Package

Here is a link to a a very good article about "The Go-To Guide to Understanding Your Job Offer and Benefits Package"

7/31/16 - Creating An Elevator Pitch: The Do’s And Don’ts

Margaret Buj 

If you’re looking for a job, you might want to create an ‘elevator pitch.’ It is a brief explanation that summarizes who you are, what you do and why you’d be the perfect candidate – you’ll want to be able to reel off your pitch at any time, especially with people who might be able to help you get your dream job.

However, it can be really hard to condense all your experiences into a 30-60 seconds speech!

Let Me Give You Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Writing A Great Elevator Pitch:

1. Decide what kind of work you’re looking for

Unless you can clearly explain to someone the type of a job you’re interested in, nobody will be able to help you find it. You need to know what your goals are. And if you’re looking for a job that is different to what you’re doing right now – you need to tailor your pitch accordingly. E.g. if you want to be a web designer, emphasize the web design work you’ve done, rather than talking about your current job which might have nothing to do with what you’re looking for.

Also, write down your skills and accomplishments relevant to your target position. Then delete everything that’s not relevant to what you’re looking for – be specific.

2. Structure your pitch and tailor it to the audience

A good pitch (and this relates to your resume and cover letter, too!) should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?

Here is an example of what your pitch might start with:

“Hi, I am Karen Smith. I am a Brand Marketing Manager with 10 years of experience in the travel industry – I’ve worked for companies including Expedia and Thomas Cook – and I am looking for opportunities in London.”

You’d then use the next several seconds to briefly mention some details about what makes you stand out – and what your specific skills are that could help a potential employer.

Also, focus on the needs of your audience, not yours (just like in a job interview:-) You’ll only be successful if the person you’re talking to understands it. So don’t use a lot of jargon when talking to someone from outside of your industry but also don’t explain simple terms to a professional in your industry.

3. Practice

It is important your read your pitch out loud and practice. You want to sound conversational, not like if you’ve memorized it by heart. Release your pitch and ask someone for feedback. If your friends don’t understand what your key points were, your speech still needs work.

4. Prepare a few variations

It is a good idea to prepare a few variations of the speech – if you only have 20 seconds, your speech would be different to when you have a couple of minutes. Make sure you master a few key talking points and you can then tailor your speech for particular occasions.

What About The Don’ts Then?

1. Don’t sound boring or make people wonder about what is it that you do

Ask yourself what problem you solve rather than what you DO. For example, instead of saying I am an interview coach, I could say I help professionals get hired, promoted and paid more faster than they would on their own. You might want to include some number and concrete details – this will make you more memorable.

2. Don’t undersell or oversell your skills or experience.

If you undersell yourself, people won’t know how you can help them so they won’t be able to recommend you to people who might be able to offer you the job. On the other hand, if you oversell yourself, people then won’t take you seriously.

3. Don’t sound too salesy

Yes, you want to sell yourself – but you don’t want to sound like a typical used car salesman.

Hope these help!

If you need help in creating your elevator pitch and getting clarity on what your unique selling points are, apply for a complimentary consultation to see if working together is right for you:

About the author - Margaret Buj is an interview coach who has been helping professionals get hired, promoted and paid more for over eight years. She is also a qualified Personal Performance & Corporate and Executive Coach and can help you with developing confidence and the attitude that will make it easier for you to get any job you want.

7/31/16 - 5 Ways To Make The Right Impression In A Group Interview

Kitty Boitnott 

1. Demonstrate that you have done your homework on the job and the organization/company.

More often than not, if a candidate failed to show that he or she had done their due diligence and knew more than the passing person on the street about who we were, what our values were, and what our mission was, they were eliminated early. I can clearly recall one individual who was the perfect candidate for the open position on paper—but he blew the interview because he had failed to research us so that he could speak plainly to the challenges we were facing. Failing to do your homework on the company or organization and the position for which you are applying is unacceptable.

Want to make the right impression? Know the names of the decision makers in the company. Understand the job beyond the job description. Demonstrate that you have taken more than the 30-minutes before the interview to learn about the company or organization, and you know what it does along with what it values. That extra effort will make the right impression on the members of the group who are sitting before you.

2. Dress the part.

I am an admitted a bit of a fuddy-duddy about appearance, so it will come as no surprise that I think we live in a day of casual attire that has run amok completely. Don’t fall into the false trap of feeling that you should show up for your interview the way you might be expected to dress for the job. Gentlemen, please wear a clean suit or nice dress trousers with a conservative blue blazer. Your tie should be understated, and your shirt should be clean, crisp, and either white or light blue. You can dress with flair after you get the job, not before.

As for ladies, wear a suit or nice dress that isn’t too short and doesn’t have a low neckline. Pumps are optional, but shoes should be well polished and not overly worn. Open toes and sandals are not recommended. Stockings may be optional depending on the time of year, but I would recommend that you err on the side of caution and wear them. Makeup and hair should be done but not over-done, and the same goes for jewelry. Got a nose ring? Leave it off for the interview unless you are applying for a job where such an accessory would be an asset…and you know what that might be, I suspect. Understated and professional, however, is the look I would recommend for most junior executive positions or even entry level business openings in a more traditional company.

3. Arrive on time with the right materials in hand.

Being late is not acceptable. Don’t know where you are going? Then go early and find the building. If you get there an hour early, then go to a Starbucks or local eatery to hang out and prepare a little more. Don’t arrive for the interview itself any earlier than 10-15 minutes. Be prepared to wait. There may be others ahead of you, and the panel may be running behind. The materials you should bring with you include extra hard copies of your resume on nice paper, business cards, and a portfolio carrying a legal pad upon which to write notes as you need to.

Bring your questions written out, as well, for later in the interview. Otherwise, you run the risk of forgetting the questions and wishing you had written them down. If you are asked to prepare a presentation, make sure ahead of time that all of the equipment you might need for it will be available. Don’t assume anything. Ask to make sure that you will have what you need to make your presentation shine.

4. Demonstrate good manners and excellent interpersonal and social skills throughout the interview from the moment you walk in the door until you leave.

Social grace is something you may need to practice, but you cannot afford to underestimate its value when you are in an interview, especially when it is a group interview. In a group or panel interview, you are trying to impress anywhere from 4 to 10 or 12 different people who will have different expectations and will be looking for various things. You need to handle the pressure with as much poise and grace as possible. Look everyone in the eye but use eye contact appropriately. Being too intense can be off-putting as much as letting your eyes flit all over the room and above the heads of the members of the panel.

The same goes for an appropriately firm handshake. Practice if you aren’t sure about the quality of your handshake. Use the pressure you would use on a doorknob of a closed door. Grip slightly, but not too hard. Release and move on. Shake the hand of every person—man and woman—in the room. Make eye contact while shaking their hand. If you are good with names, try to remember them as they are introduced to you. If not, don’t fret. They really won’t expect you to remember all of them, especially if it is a large group. You do want to remember the names of the most prominent leaders in the group, however. While answering individual questions, don’t just look at the person who asked the question (although you want to look at them while they are asking it), but look at each member of the group around the table while you answer the question.

5. Be prepared to ask quality questions at the end.

Believe it or not, it isn’t just the questions that you answer that are important in your job interview, but it is also the quality of the questions that you ask that can separate you from the pack. Demonstrate that you have done your research, and you understand exactly what the job entails…or ask about parts of the job description that you aren’t quite sure about…to show that you are a cut above the average candidate. From back in my days as a member of the interview panel, we were always most impressed with the candidates who asked us excellent questions, and that does not include when are vacations and what is the salary range. Questions about the more challenging aspects of the job or what qualities or characteristics a successful candidate would need to demonstrate to be successful in the job are the types of questions that will make you different. Those questions demonstrated that we were talking with someone who had done their homework.

Group interviews are hard on you because they can be nerve racking. You will feel that you are juggling many balls in the air at once, and the truth is, you are. Some jobs require them, however, so you need to learn how to manage your nerves—and your social skills—during a group interview. You want to leave a lasting impression, after all, and you want to make sure that it is a good one.

Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. She also works with mid-career professionals from all walks of life who find themselves at a career crossroads either by chance or by choice. Learn more about Kitty at or at Boitnott

7/24/16 - Know when to stop talking during the job interview 

Clients often ask me how they can improve during interviews. That’s a pretty big topic!

Certainly we need to be mindful of our body language, our tone of voice and all that goes into presenting ourselves as an enthusiastic solution to the employer’s needs.

We practice our answers to standard interview questions just like we studied for tests in school. And while it’s important to come up with good wording for our answers, today I want to focus on a tip for creating a more positive verbal presence.

It’s knowing when you may be talking too long. Hey, we’ve all been in conversations where you just wish the other person would run out of breath and be quiet. We all know that person — the one who never shuts up. Some of you remember the television show “All In The Family.” Don’t be an Edith Bunker!

During interviews, it’s easy to talk too long. After all, you’re probably a bit nervous. You want to make sure you’re giving the employer the best and most thorough answers you can.

In our culture, during everyday conversation we cut each other off all the time. While doing so too soon can sometimes be perceived as being rude, it is a very common occurrence. After all, when we’ve heard enough, it’s time for the other person to talk.

The problem is, during interviews the employer will often remain silent until you’ve completed your answer. And you, expecting to be cut off, fill that space with more and more verbiage.

So how can you get a sense for when to wrap up? Try these tips in everyday conversation so they’ll become second nature during stressful interview situation.

Look for the other person to nod their head as you’re talking. This probably signifies they are following what you’re saying. If they sit like a statue without facial expression, try pausing for a couple of seconds. That’ll usually encourage them to acknowledge they’re dialed in to what you’re saying.
The second level of response is when you pick up on an audible sound, such as “Hmmm” or some other sound. This tells me to begin wrapping up because the person is more strongly signifying they get my point.

The final level of response is when the employer speaks by saying such words as, “OK, I understand, that makes sense, right, sure, I’m with you.” By the time you’ve heard any of those words, there’s a great chance the other person has shut down listening and is ready to speak. You may feel you have plenty more to say, yet they’re not ready to listen. Same thing happens when talking in detail to young children. You have all this “wisdom” to impart, but you’ve already lost ’em.

Therein lies a problem. Sure, you know you need to wrap up quickly, lest you talk yourself out of the interview and job. But how can you anticipate when they’ll start with the, “OK, right, sure, etc.?”

My advice is to keep an answer short, then conclude by asking a question. For example, if I’m asked about an accomplishment, I’ll want to state the situation, my actions/activity, and the result in a concise manner. Then say something such as, “As you might imagine, there’s much more that went into that project. I’m happy to give you more detail if you’d like.” By asking such a question, it allows the employer to redirect you to a specific portion of the accomplishment. As well, if they’ve heard enough, and they simply say, “No, I’m good. Thanks,” then you should be glad you stopped when you did.

Perhaps later in the interview you can go back to provide some of that additional detail you didn’t get the chance to earlier on.
Remember, sometimes less is better. Especially when you’re getting clear signals the employer understands you and is ready to move on.

As always, if you’re a professional and could use some help with your job search, my center’s services are free. Contact me at the address below. Good luck!

Randy Wooden is a longtime Triad career consultant and the director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s Professional Center, in partnership with the NCWorks Career Center. You may reach him at or at (336) 776-6822.

7/17/16 - 8 Careers You Can Have Without A Bachelor's Degree

By: Piper Kerrigan

There are so many career options and everyone has different skill sets and interests. If you do not have a bachelor's degree, don't sweat it. There are plenty of opportunities and thoughtful careers to be had. Hopefully these eight professions can get you thinking about possible opportunities that will fit you and your lifestyle.

Home Care Aid

Being a home care aid is a career that encompasses many different skills. As an aid you perform tasks like cooking, cleaning, driving/transportation, and more. This career is a good choice if you are interested in helping people who are unable to perform their day to day tasks. You will have the chance to get to know and assist people who are sick, disabled, or elderly, with a gentile and personal touch.

Security Guard

This is another career choice that has many different options and directions you can go in. Whether you want to work in a large business, a casino, a hospital, or pretty much anywhere that requires additional security personnel. To be a security guard you do need to acquire a license. There are different requirements to get licensed as a security guard in different states. Some are more stringent than others, but most require little education, or even just a high school diploma along with some specialized training. As a security guard you need to be able to understand the law, as well as the company policies and be able and willing to enforce both.

Massage Therapist

By becoming a massage therapist you will be able to treat clients by soothing muscles and relaxing tension. You will be able to relieve pain, help heal injuries, and just provide an overall relaxing and serene atmosphere to heal and improve your client's body, and muscles. Massage therapy is another career that in many places requires a license or certification.

Administrative Assistant

If you enjoy working in an office setting and are good with organization and communication then becoming an administrative assistant could be a good fit for you. One of the benefits of this career is that you can choose a field that you enjoy and immerse yourself in what you find interesting. Your job may vary based on where you are working, but overall you will be assisting people and answering questions and concerns that arise from the client or patient.

Web Developer

If you have always had a knack for technology and computers then you can definitely become a web developer. There are many classes that instruct you on the dos and don'ts of coding and web development. If you are overly enterprising, you may be able to learn all of these skills from youtube and forums, but there are also classes you can take that will teach you the many different facets of the internet and gain knowledge and experience in the web development niche.

Cosmetologist or Hair Stylist

Everyone has a favorite hair stylist, if you are into cosmetology then you can be the person giving people their awesome new looks. To get started you can take classes from a cosmetology program or beauty school. This career is ideal for outgoing people who are good listeners, because everyone like to confide in their hair stylist, but there are also many other career options available to cosmetologists.

Sales Representative

If you want to consider being a sales representative, your job would be to persuade prospective clients to buy your product or service. Sales is a key component for most companies, so you can choose what field you enjoy the most and learn and grow within that area. A lot of the way a company performs comes down to how well their sales representatives operate.


Becoming a nurse requires a diploma from a nursing program. You can start with an associate’s degree, or even a certificate, and always have the option to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree later. One of the many benefits of becoming a nurse is that there are always job opportunities. If you like caring for people and don't have a problem with a hectic schedule, becoming a nurse could be the best choice for you.

What other awesome careers can you think of that do not require a bachelor's degree? Let me know at .

About the author: Piper Kerrigan is a professional baker and freelance writer. She enjoys researching current affairs, the outdoors, and snuggling her kitten.

7/10/16 - 5 ways your thank-you note could lose you the job

LILY ZHANG for The Muse 

Let's be honest: When it comes to applying for jobs, the "it can't hurt" benchmark is often the deciding factor over whether or not to do something. Sending a cover letter? It can't hurt. Finding your interviewer on LinkedIn? It can't hurt. Sending a thank-you note? It can't hurt.

Or can it?

Actually, yes, it absolutely can. Here are just a few scenarios in which sending a thank-you note might hurt your chances of landing the job.

1. It's full of typos

If you're really serious about a job, you probably had your resume and cover letter reviewed by a couple other people before you hit submit. But even the most careful job seeker can make mistakes during the high that comes after a successful interview. Don't blow your carefully crafted image, and double-check to make sure that your thank-you note is typo-free.

2. It's a week late

Another good impression killer is sending your note in late. Thank-you notes are the most effective when you send them ASAP or at least within 48 hours of your interview. If you want to leave the impression that you're only mildly interested in the position, then go ahead and take your time. If not, then send it immediately. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

3. It's generic

You might think that going through the motions and sending a generic thank-you note is better than sending nothing, but you'd be wrong. Hiring managers get excited when they find exceptional candidates who are really excited about the job. And sending a boring thank-you note that could have been addressed to anyone? That's an easy way to shatter your image.

Oh, and don't think you can just write one spectacular thank-you note and send it to all the different people you interacted with during the interview. Many companies request that thank-you notes get forwarded to HR so they can be attached to a candidate's file. Having the same five notes on file probably won't help you land the job, so take the time to actually personalize some aspects of your message. It's worth it.

4. It's just a way to talk about yourself more

Did you forget to mention that one time you did something that was extremely relevant to the job you're interviewing for now? Think the thank-you note is the right place to share this relevant experience? It might be okay to mention it briefly, but it's definitely a mistake for you to transform your thank-you note into a second take of your interview. Thank-you notes shouldn't be long, so you don't really have a lot of space to, you know, thank your interviewer — let alone share another story. If you must do it, make it brief.

5. It's inappropriate

You don't have the job yet, so don't get too chummy in your note. No matter how sure you are that you nailed the interview, your best bet is to remain professional throughout the process. (That means no nicknames, no sarcasm and definitely no cursing.)

I've gone on and on about the various ways sending a thank-you note can hurt your chances of getting the job offer, but naturally the biggest thank-you note blunder would be to not send one. So, please send a thank-you note after your interview — just make it great.

About The Author

Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.

7/3/16 - 5 Reasons to Keep Your Job Hunt Alive in the Summer

Use these months to get a leg up on the competition.

By Vicki Salemi 

Just like that, the year is already halfway over.

Instead of trying to figure out how it's already June, let's face the facts: In January you probably decided this was – check that, is – your year to make a significant change in your career – whether it's a leap to the next level or boost in your income. Yet here you find yourself midyear, still toiling away in the same position, barely tolerating things like a toxic environment, boring projects and stagnant pay.

It may feel tempting to postpone your job search endeavors until Labor Day because you think there are less open positions in the summer, but that will likely become Thanksgiving, then the December holidays and before you know it, another new year. Don't let this be you! Countless job offers are indeed extended at this time of year. And if you need more convincing, here are five specific reasons why you should keep your job hunt thriving during the summer months.

It's the perfect time to re-assess your job search efforts. While you shouldn't convince yourself that it's okay to spend the whole summer "thinking," the slower pace of things provides a great opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your efforts since January. What has been effective? What hasn't been working? What can you tweak? Take stock of your elevator pitch, update your resume with any new titles or skills you've developed and ensure your social media profiles are crisp and professional. By conducting a self-audit, you'll be able to make slight changes that will enhance your search through the rest of the summer, and year.

You're getting ahead of the competition. Consider this: There's a significant decrease in online application submissions between June and Labor Day. For recruiters, this is tough, but it's great news for job seekers! During the summer, recruiters have less resumes and cover letters to review. Simply put, you'll have less competition for the jobs you want.

Sure, it may feel challenging to keep the job hunt going while you're planning a vacation or enjoying those summer Fridays, but you need to keep your eye on the prize. Instead of waiting until September to resume your job search, this is the perfect time to refocus on your New Year's resolutions. As long as you stay on top of your job search – even if it's just with coffee meetings or informational phone interviews – you'll keep developing your prospects and in turn, be ahead of other qualified job seekers. They snooze, they lose – and you ultimately win.

Scheduling interviews can feel easier. During the summer (depending on your industry and when your busy season is) you may notice a slight decrease in your workload. When the weather starts to warm up, lighter dress codes and more opportunities to work remotely can lead to a more relaxed feel in the office.

As a result, you may have more freedom to take those informative networking phone calls and meetings on your personal time. Instead of feeling like you're sneaking out of the office, you can confidently pursue conversations about the next step in your career. That way, you can focus on impressing whoever you're meeting with instead of feeling paranoid about your cover being blown at the office.

Networking may feel more casual. If you tend to find traditional, professional networking situations like conferences challenging, the summer presents excellent opportunities to ramp up your job search. Barbecuing with neighbors? Great! Most of them probably have useful advice and several contacts they can share with you over a burger. Playing in a summer softball league? Excellent! Grab a beer afterwards and get to know your teammates – and their professions.

Plus, summer conversations in general tend to lend themselves well to breaking the ice – whether you're talking about the local weather forecast or summer vacation destinations, striking up conversations may feel less forced and more organic when they're simply that: casual conversations between regular people – that just so happen to lead to talking about your professional goals, of course!

You can gain perspective on your current job situation. If you were anticipating a promotion this year, has it happened? What is the timeline and what are the skills you need to hone before it can become a reality? Also, evaluate your compensation. What are your financial goals – with your current salary, will that increase be easy or difficult to achieve over the next three years? If you're feeling a little too comfortable now, remind yourself why you were steadfast in your decision to leave your job in January. Revisit those underlying reasons and instead of tolerating a mediocre raise, force yourself to face the facts.

The longer you stay in your current role, the longer your financial goals will fall short of your desired compensation. As you're searching for a new job, think about the challenging situations you continue to face. Instead of just accepting them, use them to come up with talking points for your next interview. For instance, perhaps you encountered a new colleague who seems to constantly undermine you. Stressful, yes, but it will serve as a robust example to share during interviews when you're asked how you navigate working with difficult people!

Look at the summer as a time to re-evaluate your job-searching efforts and kick the hunt into high gear. Stay the course and you'll create momentum that lasts well into Labor Day and beyond.

Vicki Salemi is a career expert for Monster, a global leader in connecting people to jobs. She utilizes her more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers with insights and firsthand knowledge from the halls of HR. A public speaker and consultant, Vicki is the author of "Big Career in the Big City,” and former creator/host/producer of MediabistroTV's "Score That Job."

6/26/16 - Top 10 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Job Search

Melanie Pinola 

When you’re looking for a new job, there’s a lot that can go wrong, from formatting your resume improperly to being tripped up by questions during the job interview. Watch out for these 10 common mistakes job applicants often make.

10. Not Starting Your Job Search Soon Enough

The biggest mistake is not looking for a new job soon enough. You should keep looking for a new job, even if you have one you like and perhaps don’t want to quit. Start your job search at least 18 months or so after starting your new job. Gone are the days of pensions for decades of employee loyalty or people staying at one job for more than a few years. Whatever your job, stay on your toes so you’ll be ready for your next job search.

9. Responding to Want Ads and Job Boards

Online job boards can help you find the keywords for your resume and criteria companies are looking for. But for landing a specific job? They’re not usually so helpful, and are more often a waste of time. Be careful, because sometimes they’re not even legitimate job ads. You’re better off reaching out to your network—perhaps using LinkedIn—than spending a ton of time applying to online job listings.

8. Sending Unsolicited Resumes

If you’ve found a company you’re interested in working for and the contact information for someone who works there, that’s a great thing. But don’t just send your resume out of the blue (“Hey can you find me a job at your company I’d be a fit for?”). It’s one of the most common job search mistakes you can make. Ask your contact for advice before applying for a position normally there—if they offer to pass along a recommendation or your resume, that’s great. But let them decide to do it or not.

7. Not Keeping Your Job Search a Secret

In some cases, it might make sense to tell your boss you’re thinking of leaving—if your manager might be willing to change the things that are bothering you. But this depends highly on your boss, and in most cases, you should keep your job search under wraps. You can make your search private even if the company checks up on employees. Make sure you change this LinkedIn setting before you start updating your profile for the job hunt.

6. Not Cleaning Up Your Online Profiles

Most people are aware that potential employers check candidates’ social media profiles, and yet many applicants still get rejected because of their poor online profiles. Sometimes it’s not over inappropriate content, but other things like poor communication skills or sharing information about previous employers. Spruce up your social network profiles, and make sure there’s nothing posted there that might put you in a bad light.

5. Sending Generic Resumes

It might seem like too much work, but you should tailor your resume for the job and your profession. Remember that both hiring managers and computerized screening systems look to see if your resume matches the position. Use the keywords from the job listing in your resume. A service like Resunate can help or just create resume templates to avoid sending out the same resume everywhere. Know the key words that are best for your field.

4. Showing Up to the Interview Unprepared

You’ve got to ace the interview to get the job, but according to hiring managers, too many job applicants aren’t prepared for things like describing situations where they’ve succeeded or failed—or don’t even look interested. Watch your body language, come prepared with questions for the company, and be ready to respond to the most common job interview questions. Here’s a job interview sheet that can help you prep. Also, get to the interview about 15 minutes early, not too early.

3. Not Researching the Company

This was a biggie when I asked hiring managers what they wished job applicants knew. Know the company’s narrative before you apply: their pain points, values, and industry trends. This will help you figure out if the company is a cultural fit for you, and it will also show your interviewer that you really care about the job and your potential future at the company.

2. Not Using Your Network

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rings true to a great extent. Your contacts—and the people they know—are your best source for a new job, since the majority of jobs aren’t even advertised. In some industries, such as computer security and management consulting, networking matters even a great deal more. It’s awkward to reach out to people when you’re looking for a job, but someone in your network could be a great referral. You could use a trade show to network your way into a new job, the LinkedIn “back door” method, or just, you know, pick up the phone or send an email. If you haven’t talked to a reference in a long time, just be transparent about why you’re reaching out.

1. Underestimating Your Worth

Even when the job market is tough, you shouldn’t automatically accept any job offer (unless, perhaps, you’re in dire need of a job right now). The only way to make sure a job offer is fair is to know how much your skills and experience are worth. Know what salary to ask for in a new job by using a salary search site like PayScale or Glassdoor. That way you can avoid lowball offers and negotiate your salary. You should have a minimum salary you’d be willing to accept, and aim for getting a higher salary and/or better benefits than you’re currently getting. The biggest salary negotiation mistake is not doing it, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. Remember that you have and will be earning your income.

6/19/16 - How I Learned To Stop Hating Networking Events (Mostly)

Networking events can be awkward but are still the best way to meet people who can help your career. Here's how to make them less painful.


"Would you like the opportunity to network with some of the most influential professionals in your field?" asks the latest invite to hit your inbox. Of course you wouldn’t—networking totally sucks, you remind yourself as you scroll down looking for that minuscule "unsubscribe" link.

It’s true that networking events are often pretty unpleasant. But it’s also true that if you’re looking for a new job or trying to pitch your business, there’s still no substitute. Getting a bunch of professionals in the same room for a couple hours, handing out drinks, and letting them mingle is still one of the surest ways to make the connections you need to get where you’re trying to go.

If you can accept that fact, you can network effectively—even if that’s something you usually hate doing. These five tips can help you make your next networking event a minimally painful and actually useful experience.

Some people at networking events will literally shake your hand with one hand and proffer their business card with another. Don’t be that person. This is not a baseball card convention, and you don’t win a prize by collecting the most business cards.

Instead, when you meet someone, say hello, shake hands, then mention something that has nothing to do with your work—leaving your business card in your pocket. The point isn’t to become a walking version of your resume, it’s simply to start getting to know people.

As Mary Olson-Menzel, the head of an executive search firm, tells Fast Company, having three solid conversations is better than walking out with 30 cards in your pocket from people you barely met.

Eventually, most networking-event conversations will swing back toward something work-related anyway, even if you start them off more casually. But handled the wrong way, that’s exactly where they might end:

Your new connection: So what do you do?

You: I work at a small branding agency, [name of the agency that your new connection hasn’t heard of]. What about you?

Them: I’m a sales VP for a pharmaceutical company.

You: Oh, how long have you been there?

Them: About four years. You?

You: Coming up on two.

Them: Cool, cool . . .
Wow, scintillating. You could’ve found that out on LinkedIn. Worse still, you’ve just confirmed that your professional roles have apparently nothing to do with each other. Now you’re scanning the room for other people to go talk to.

Instead, when someone asks you what your job is, tell them that and also what you did previously. You don’t need to recap your entire career trajectory. For instance, I might say, "I’m an editor at Fast Company, and before that I worked in book publishing and later covered the industry." This way you won’t just be talking about your jobs (sharing data), you’ll be talking about your careers (swapping stories).

That makes for better conversation, which is an upside all by itself. But there's another benefit, too: People now change careers, not just jobs, more rapidly than ever, so there’s a decent likelihood that you’ll discover more overlapping experiences this way than if you just stick to discussing what you currently do.

People love to talk about themselves, including you. So try and pull back, giving others the floor. To do that, Stand Out author Dorie Clark says to ask open-ended questions. "'How long have you lived in New York?' is a decent question," she writes, "but 'Why did you move to New York?' is likely to yield a much more interesting answer, and new conversational directions."

Not only does this leave more room for the person you’re talking with to talk about themselves, it also gets back to moving from facts to narratives. To do that, you need to guide conversations toward cause and effect—toward understanding someone’s motivations. Ask things like, "How did you get into that role?" or "What made you decide to leave?"

Arriving solo to a networking event can be intimidating. Chances are you’ll have to break up an existing conversation in order to find somebody to talk to. So show up with a friend or colleague, just don’t drag in half your office.

Trios, at least in my experience, are more flexible in networking situations. You’re free to approach somebody on your own while two friends chat nearby (but can retreat to them if need be), or else a pair of people can easily strike up a group conversation with your circle. If it’s just you and a friend, though, now you’re the duo that someone else needs to interrupt.

Whatever your exact numbers, one obvious benefit of being part of a small group is that you wind up meeting more people, but another is that it spares you from getting locked into fruitless one-on-ones that are hard to excuse yourself from.

It’s important to know when to leave—and when to not go at all. There’s such a thing as networking malaise. Many such events take place after a long workday, and summoning the energy to socialize with strangers at that point can be a real chore. Dud events—and there will be duds—can feel like a real letdown, especially if you’re actively looking for a new job. That’s a frustrating process all by itself, so a string of what turn out to be pointless networking experiences might leave you feeling pretty dejected.

If you can tell after the first 15 minutes that there probably aren’t the right type of connections here for you, don’t stick it out. And if you get an invitation to something that looks only sort of maybe a little interesting, think twice. It’s okay to be equal parts discriminating and optimistic in terms of the kinds of get-togethers you choose to attend.

The flip side, of course, is knowing when to go the extra mile and turn what might be a regular event for other people into a networking event for you. Early in my career, while I was trying to work out an exit from book publishing, I hopped on a bus from New York to Washington, D.C., for a media company’s holiday party that a friend had invited me to. It was much more fun and relaxed than a purpose-built networking event, and I had two or three great conversations I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

That helped secure me a few more writing gigs, which at the time were worth their weight in round-trip bus fare. Best of all, not a single business card changed hands.

6/12/16 - How to Destroy Your Chances of Landing a Job Even Though You’re a Great Fit

By Sara McCord 

It’s a job seeker’s worst nightmare: You have the right experience and you’ve found the right role, but somewhere along the way, you make a mistake that disqualifies you.

Now that you’re sufficiently scared by that scenario, you should know that most of these impossible-to-recover-from mistakes are also totally avoidable.The trick is knowing about these costly—but all too common, and often well-intentioned—errors in advance, so you can be sure to sidestep them as you go through the process.

1. You Show Up Unprepared for a Networking Meeting

You don’t prepare anything because your game plan is to simply chat and connect so you can demonstrate that you’re not using your contact. However, if you have nothing to say about your job search, the other person will actually be really disappointed.

Here’s why: Coffee meetings cost your contact more than $4. And even if you treat him, they’re still not free. That’s because the other person has to build out time in his schedule to meet up with you (and if we all had free hours floating around, people wouldn’t be so obsessed with productivity hacks).

I’m not saying he’d rather be somewhere else: My point is that he made an effort to find the time to discuss your job prospects. (Translation: He believes in you and wants to help!) If you have no questions about his industry or work or not the slightest idea what you’re interested in, it’s a waste of his time.

So, while you can lead with small talk, also be ready to make the most of the meeting. This means bringing several questions about the other person’s work or career trajectory and at least one idea of a career path or skill you’re interested in exploring.

2. You Send Out Generic Job Applications

Compiling your materials is time-consuming. So, once you have an error-free resume and a cover letter that expresses your skills and interests, it’s understandable that you might not see the issue in sending that one perfected document out for every role you’re interested in. After all, could the tasks assigned to an engineer at one company really be that different than they would be at another? If you’ve already found the perfect way to sum up your sales experience, why shouldn’t you just stick with what you have?

While you can use one, killer template as a starting point, you’re not saving any time by skipping the customization step. That’s because generic apps are many hiring managers’ pet peeve—they figure that if you don’t have 30 minutes to create a specific application, they might as well not take 30 minutes to interview you. Or, even worse, because you’re not tailoring and using the right wording (even when you’re describing the exact right skills), you’re taken out of consideration because the person skimming this document doesn’t see what feels so obvious to you.

Along these lines, fake-personalizing (i.e., using find-replace to swap out the company and position name but otherwise keeping your letter the same) should also be avoided. Hiring managers can typically see right through this—and even worse you risk messing it up and including the wrong company name in your application!

So, take the time customize your application. If a job doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort, that’s OK. It may be a sign that it’s not the right role for you anyhow.

3. You Act Like You’ve Already Been Hired in Your Interview

You hear so much about the importance of fitting in that you want to show you’re a match for company culture right away. So, you lean way back in your chair and crack jokes about the office, the perks, the people you’ve met already—really, everything’s fair game for a casual conversation.

You’re totally blindsided when you don’t receive an offer, because you thought you had developed a great rapport. The truth is that you may have, but at the same time, acting too comfortable comes off as cocky. It can worry the interviewer that this is how you’d approach all stressful or important situations. From there, she questions whether you’d be up to meeting with key stakeholders and representing the company in a serious light as well.

So, don’t act like a team member. Instead, act like a candidate who would be a good team member. And never make comments—no matter how offhand or how well things have been going—like you know you’re just going through the motions until they hire you. Treat it like an interview the whole way through by keeping your tone a tad deferential.

4. You Obsessively Follow Up

This one’s kind of a heartbreaker, because you could have done everything right and be the number one candidate at the end of an interview, but if you mess this up, you’ll undo all of your hard work.

It’s not fair when people characterize an overly aggressive follow-up strategy as sheer impatience. There are lots of well-meaning reasons why you might overdo it: You want to show how much you care; you need to know if you should put in two weeks notice; you have another offer on the table.

But, you have to remember that you don’t actually have the job yet, and so if you start pestering the hiring manager, you could lose your top spot. Remember, the application process is an audition, and there are times when you’ll have to play by the rules (even if the rules kind of suck).

Avoid any of these lines that scare hiring managers and use this template for following up on a job opportunity instead. Finally, if you don’t hear back right away, be sure to wait one week before checking back in.

Looking for a new job takes work, so the last thing you want to do is get in your own way. Along with focusing on what you should do, spend some time thinking about what you should be sure to avoid. That way, you can rest easy that you’re setting yourself up for success.


About The Author - Sara McCord’s column “Impress Me” explains how to make a better professional impression step-by-step. Her career advice has been published on Forbes, Mashable, Newsweek, TIME, Inc., and Business Insider. A Staff Writer/Editor for The Daily Muse, Sara has experience managing programs, building strategic partnerships, advising executive directors, and supporting a national network of volunteers. Catch up with Sara on her blog Grab A Latte or on Twitter @grabalatte.

6/5/16 - Sure-shot ways to Nail a Job interview over the Phone


You received a call confirming an interview with X company you applied for just two days back. Before you think that all you need is a knockout resume and a killer outfit, think again.

Nowadays, there's a step before the in-person interview: The Phone Interview.

Employers are increasingly opting for phone interviews to screen potential new hires. They want to be as sure as possible that you're a worthy candidate before they ask you to pay them a visit. It saves them time and energy.

So there you have perhaps five minutes to impress the hiring manager enough so that you get on to the next level, whatever that maybe - another phone interview, a Skype interview or an office interview.

And if this thought has your heart racing and palms get sweaty more often....

1) The biggest lesson for you — Getting nervous is only normal

Getting nervous is good. It means you care. So don't beat yourself up about it. Learn to channel your nervous energy into showing positivity and healthy levels of enthusiasm on the phone.

2) Look up on LinkedIn to learn more about the hiring manager

Find an online photograph of the person who is interviewing you. Search on LinkedIn or on the company's website. It's much easier to talk with someone when you know what he/she looks like. Also, at a time when you are not only anxious about talking to a stranger, but also stressed about trying to impress him enough to get hired, several questions can plague your mind - How will they act on the phone? Will they be friendly, or stern? Will they make small talk or talk strictly business?

You have to be able to quickly assess, within the first few spoken words, the interviewer's personality and adjust your demeanor accordingly. Here, it helps to know little about their interests, hobbies, work experience and fish out if you have something in common with them, so that at the time of the call, you are able to pick up the relevant conversation with him.

3) Prepare
The day before the interview, practice asking your questions aloud and, while you're at it, rehearse your answers to some potential questions that the interviewer might ask you. ("What are your strengths?".... "Tell me about yourself... "How do you see this position contributing to the continued success of the organization?"

Google to find out everything you need to know about the company. This will demonstrate your interest in the company, and the job, and show that you're a highly qualified applicant. Also remember, phone interviews are great opportunity to find out more details about the job, the company, the work environment and the team, as job descriptions on public portals are often notoriously vague.

4) Take care of the basics

It's not a good idea to hear barking dogs, crying children or blaring car horns when you are giving an interview. Get everyone out of the house, or make sure to have an isolated room where you can lock the door. Your cell phone should be fully charged!

5) Treat it as an office interview

Researc says you're more likely to feel and sound professional if you look the part, so dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. Put a mirror on your desk to see your facial expressions when you talk. Remember to smile: You can't sound bored or uninterested if you have a smile on your face.

6) The best part - The invisibility factor!

Phone interviews are a lot like open-book tests. You can have all the information you need to know (about the company and the person conducting the interview right in front of you). Keep tabs open in a browser like company information, statistics, competitors etc in case you may need it.

7) Crisp and Concise answers are a MUST

You have less time to make a good impression. Avoid long-winded answers. Keep your responses to no more than three sentences.

And if you are not able to make it still, life doesn't end. This is what you need!

5/29/16 - Ace your next job interview by not selling yourself at all 

Most people head into job interviews prepared to sell themselves. Entrepreneur Dave Kerpen says that’s their first mistake.

“If you’re going into a job interview thinking I’ve got to prove myself, you’re forgetting that it’s not really about you—it’s about the other person,” Kerpen, founder and CEO of the social media marketing software company Likeable Local and author of the new book The Art of People, tells Quartz.
The Art of People functions as a kind of manual for professional friendliness, offering offbeat yet practical tips on topics like offering constructive criticism (he recommends sneaking negative feedback into a “praise sandwich”) and standing out at a networking event (he favors orange sneakers). Kerpen’s operating theory that it’s easy to form connections with people—so long as we’re considerate about who they are and what they want.
To that end, Kerpen advises job-seekers to flip the script in interviews: Spend less time obsessing about how you come across, and more time directing your energies outward. Here are some concrete tips to try out at your next big audition.

Before the interview

Practice gratitude.

According to the psychological theory of emotional contagion, good moods really do spread. So going into your job interview in an upbeat state of mind increases the chances that your prospective employer will respond to you enthusiastically.
Kerpen suggests two ways to get the good vibes started. The first is to practice gratitude, which has been shown to increase people’s optimism and sense of wellbeing. One 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, for example, found that subjects who kept track of things they were grateful for tended to be in more positive spirits than both people who focused on negative events and people who kept more neutral records.

So on the morning of your interview, try jotting down a list of five or ten things you’re grateful for, or write a thank-you note to someone who’s recently done you a good turn.
“Gratitude is really powerful,” Kerpen tells Quartz. “It’s an almost drug-like concept that will put you in a better state of mind, and that will help your chances of getting what you want.”

Do something nice for someone else.
Performing a small act of kindness on the day of your interview will also help put you in a good mood, according to Kerpen. This could involve anything from giving money to a homeless person to making pancakes for your kids to helping a stranger carry her stroller down a flight of stairs.
Research shows such gestures make a big difference in our outlook. A 2015 study published in Clinical Psychological Science, for example, found that adults who performed minor kindnesses such as holding open a door or helping someone with homework experienced lower levels of stress.
Offering help to others also keeps the job hunt in perspective, Kerpen says. “They remind us that in the grand scheme of things, the interview is not so important,” he tells Quartz. “That takes the pressure off.”

Wear a memorable accessory.
Not everyone has to follow Kerpen’s lead and buy 29 pairs of orange sneakers. But he does recommend wearing a distinctive accessory to the interview that will set you apart from the other applicants. That could be anything from a colorful scarf to an unusual pair of eyeglasses. “It adds a nice touch to your personal brand,” he says. And if you happen to be up against a host of other applicants, wearing something unique could make it more likely that your interviewer will remember you later.
First impressions

Always take the water.

People tend to form first impressions quickly, drawing on a variety of factors—some of which, such as our faces and voices, are beyond a job applicant’s control. So it’s important to do what you can to make a good impression, no matter how small.
One simple way to do this is to accept your interviewer’s offer of coffee or water before your meeting begins, according to Kerpen. “We often don’t want to put the other person out, so we say no thank you,” he says. “But when you have someone to your house and you ask for a drink of water and they say ‘No, I’m fine,’ that makes you feel uncomfortable and like you’re a bad host.”
The same principle applies in an interview, he says. “It’s a way for you to put the other person at ease.” And while it’s unlikely that a job applicant has ever been rejected simply for rebuffing a beverage, Kerpen points out that “there’s no downside.” At a minimum, accepting the water will give you a prop: you can gather your thoughts during the interview while taking a long sip.
Say the magic word.

Chances that are your first exchange with your interviewer will involve some variation of the question, “How are you?” Rather than opt for the usual response of “Good” or “Great,” Kerpen recommends going a step further with the word “Fantastic.”
Why the ultra-enthusiastic response? “Everyone wants to be around someone who’s fantastic,” Kerpen tells Quartz. “No one wants to be around someone who just says ‘I’m okay’ or ‘I’m tired.’” And the answer is bound to get your interviewer’s attention.
During the interview

Remember: it’s not about you.
Your goal in the interview should be to identify your interviewers’ vision for the job opening and figure out what you can do to the company accomplish its goals, Kerpen says. “People think they’re going to job interviews to talk about themselves, and that’s valuable,” says Kerpen. ‘But if you can get the person talking and getting inspired about their own visions and dreams, they’re going to love you.”

Practice mirroring.

Mirroring is a psychological phenomenon in which people mimic speech patterns, gestures and nonverbal behaviors of others. Research has shown that people who use mirroring effectively tend to be seen in a positive, persuasive light.
The key, Kerpen says, is to do this naturally. For example, you might try picking up on a turn of phrase that your interviewer uses and repeating it in your question. This can demonstrate that you’re listening closely and validating your prospective employer’s perspective.
“That makes the other person feel like they’re being heard,” Kerpen says. And it’s particularly important in a job interview, when prospective managers are on the lookout for employees who have the ability to pay attention to (and remember) what they say.
Be transparent about your failures.
Kerpen admits that this is one of his more controversial recommendations. A lot of people head into job interviews feeling nervous that their employers will press them about a gap in their resume or a history of job-hopping. But Kerpen says that in his own hiring practices, he values people who are willing to discuss such matters straightforwardly.
“I want someone who is going to have made mistakes and learned from it,” Kerpen tells Quartz. He often sets the tone of the conversation by opening up about his own story of falling in love with a married woman. “We all make mistakes, and that’s not the problem. The problem is making a mistake and not learning from it, or covering it up, or pretending it doesn’t exist.”
While other interviewers may react differently, Kerpen says that transparency and a willingness to be vulnerable tend to be rewarded in the long run. “They’re really moving in their ability to help us connect with others,” he says.

After the interview

Offer heartfelt praise.

Don’t underestimate the power of authentic praise at the end of an interview, Kerpen says. “Letting people know how much you appreciated their questions and their company makes them feel good,” he tells Quartz. In fact, research has shown that receiving praise activates the same area of the brain–the striatum–that lights up upon receiving cash. So be sure to tell your interviewer a few specific things that you enjoyed discussing as you wrap things up.
Write a thank-you note right away.
Kerpen recommends bringing a blank card with you to the interview. When the interview is over, he says, you can just jot down your thanks in the lobby and leave the card with the receptionist.
“Extending a handwritten thank-you note afterward is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and stand out in a memorable way,” Kerpen says.

Once you’ve got the job

When the holidays roll around, you may find yourself stumped about what to give your new boss—or any other important professional contact, for that matter. Kerpen says you can’t go wrong with a bonsai tree.
“It’s thoughtful and memorable, and it lasts forever,” he says. But any unique, fairly inexpensive gift will do: A jar of honey branded with his company’s logo has also been one of his go-to gifts.
“It also lasts potentially for years, so whenever the person uses it they’re reminded of thoughtfulness and sweetness,” he says. “So it’s not a huge investment, but it makes a big difference in building your relationship.”

5/22/16 - 9 Expert Tips for Landing Your Dream Job

By Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily Staff Writer 

We all grow up with dreams of what we want to be someday, but landing that dream job isn't easy. Applying to jobs and going on interviews can be time-consuming and stressful. Plus, the companies you have your eye on may not even be hiring in the first place — or the right job for you might not even exist yet.

The good news is, it may be a challenge, but the stress of the job hunt doesn't have to stop you. If you go into your search fully prepared, you might just be able to turn your dream job into a reality.

Ready to take on the career of your dreams? Here's how to land the perfect job for you, according to business owners and career experts.

Know exactly what you want.
"Get extremely specific about what you're looking for. Instead of taking personality tests that provide broad [or] general career advice, get really specific about the type of career niche and respective job function and job title you want within a particular industry. So, for example, if you wanted to work in the travel industry, your career niche would be hospitality, [your] job function would be marketing and [your] job title would be hotel sales manager. This is important because hiring managers that are related to the job of your dreams will not hire someone who will 'take anything.' They want someone who is qualified, but also, they want someone who truly wants the particular vacancy they're trying to fill, not someone who lacks a clear career goal. Remember, if you don't know what you want, you'll probably never get it." – Kimberly Ramsawak, travel career strategist and founder, Tourism Exposed

Reach out to companies directly.
"Forget job postings. Find a fast-growing company whose mission you believe in. Reach out directly, and tell them how you can help. There is a whole layer of hidden job opportunities that never make it to a job posting. When a company is growing fast and staying busy, they might not even know they need you until you tell them." – Derek Szeto, CEO, Wirkn

Do your research.
"Research the company, research the interviewers [and] research the job. Really understand what this role is, what the company fit is and what the company niche is. Be able to showcase this research in the interview through strategic questions and specific details in the dialogue. It's the job of the candidate to fully understand the position, and then be able to explain why they are the right person for the job. Research has to be all-encompassing, and should include looking at the company Instagram or Facebook for pictures of company events, to take note of the dress code. Research as many people in the company as possible to observe their career paths and job functions." – Nadine Varca Bilotta, founding partner, CompleteCandidate

Rethink your skill set.
"Even though you may be interested in a complete career switch, many of the skills that you've built up in your current field will still be useful in your new one. Think about how you can position yourself to prospective employers by using these skills as indicators of your future capabilities and success. Don't forget to think about softer skills, like leadership, communication and teamwork; these are often just as valuable to companies as harder skills like programming and media management." – Sam McIntire, founder, Deskbright [See Related Story: 10 Dream Jobs You Won't Believe Actually Exist]

Use social media.
"Your personal brand is an incredibly powerful tool in landing the job of your dreams. While your résumé and cover letter are great places to tell hiring managers all about your abilities and past work, they're a little black and white. With social media and building your personal brand online, you can show instead of tell. Your personal brand can help distinguish you from others, showcase your personality and talents, and help you be seen as a credible and trusted resource in your industry. Building out your social presence can also help you grow your network and make it easier for relevant people to find you." – Lauren Friedman, head of social business enablement, Adobe

Build your network.
"Once you find something you are enthusiastic about, don't run to the want ads. Start talking to people in that world. This is easier now than ever because of the abundance of virtual communities. Getting near the people who love, and are enthusiastic about, the same things as you is the doorway to accessing opportunities and supporters who've been where you are — on the outside wanting to get in — and who know about the inside opportunities. In these communities and around these people, you'll learn the language, behaviors and idiosyncrasies that are particular to the profession or industry that interests you, which communicates to people you talk to that you've made an effort to learn their world." – Courtney Kirschbaum, career and life coach and founder, Original Experience

Show how passionate you are.
"Tell the hiring manager that this is the job of your dreams. If you act like this is just an interview or role like any other, the recruiter won't know how strongly you feel about the opportunity. Let them know why you're excited about this role using specifics. Your energy will likely be infectious, and your reasons could make you stand out from the crowd." – Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager, WinterWyman Contract Staffing

Send a thoughtful follow-up.
"Follow up after an interview. While it's good practice to send a thank-you email after an interview — though most people still don't do this — it's even better to follow up with a well-thought-out email thanking the interviewer as well as addressing some of the topics that came up during the interview. For example, was there a question about your skills that you couldn't answer well, because you just didn't have the experience? Or did you come up with a great idea that didn't hit you until after the interview? If you send a follow-up showing you spent the time to learn and improve, it would go a long way in landing the job." – Josh Rubin, owner, Creative California

Create the job yourself.
"Sometimes, the best way to land the job of your dreams is to try to create it right where you are. Take on passion projects at your current place of employment; find ways to learn new skills to incorporate into your work. Shine wherever you can, and people will take notice. Once you get the ear of top-level management, start to share your vision of how you see your career developing within the organization. They just might listen and give you the chance to go after your dream." – Michele Mavi, director of internal recruiting and content development, Atrium Staffing

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. 

Kansas City Area Job Clubs

Kansas City Area Job Clubs / Job Support / Job Transition / Networking Calendar as of 4/12/17

Career Skills & Connections: Coffee Club
9:00-10:00 a.m. Meeting & 10:00-11:00 a.m. Networking, Mondays
5801 West 115th Street (Jewish Community Center), Overland Park, KS 66211
Board Room
Cari Boasberg (913-730-1449),

Catholic Career Roundtable
8:30-10:00 a.m., Saturdays
(CCR also holds weekly workshops for all those in transition, and conducts a monthly Panel Roundtable with representatives from local companies who support our mission . Call for more information)
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
12800 West 75th Street, Shawnee, KS 66216,
Phillip Morgan (816-582-1809), Dave McClain, Judy Bond

Church of the Resurrection: Job Seeker's Job Club
8:30-10:30 a.m., Fridays
13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS 66224
Building C, Room C-136 
Matt Dantzler, Jennifer Creagar (913-544-0739), 

Church of the Resurrection: Job Seeker's Prayer and Support Group
7:00-8:30 p.m., Thursdays
13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, KS 66224
Building B, Room B-213 (2nd Floor)
Elizabeth Allen,,

Cornerstone Presbyterian: Job Search Support Group  
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Thursdays 
Colonial Presbyterian Church, 12501 West 137th Street, Overland Park, KS 66221 
2nd Floor - Room 201
Larry Lee, 913-897-2229,

Holy Trinity Catholic Church: Career Transition Ministry (CTM) Group
Noon - 1:00 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month
7:00-8:00 p.m. every fourth Thursday of the month
9201 Summit, Lenexa, KS 66215 - Quigley Center, 2nd floor Cafe Rooms
Judy Ambler, 816-225-8610,,

Kansas City - Area JD’s in Career Transition - A job search group for lawyers
7:00 p.m., Meets 2nd & 4th Fridays - Contact Faith for meeting location.
Faith Brennan,

Kansas City Metro Networking Job Club
Online Job Club,
Maureen Reintjes, 816-591-9559,

Kansas Works / Workforce Partnership: Mature Workers Roundtable (50+ years old)
1:00-2:00 p.m., 3rd Wednesday of the month
9221 Quivera Road, Overland Park, KS 66213 (There are also offices in Leavenworth & Wyandotte)
Molly Turney, 913-577-5919,

St. John LaLande Catholic Church
9:00-11:00 a.m., Wednesdays
805 Northwest R.D. Mize Road, Blue Springs, MO 64015
LaLande Room
Rose Scanlon, 816-229-3378 (Church),


You can also go to or to see the latest information, but you have to log in to the website to see many of the pages.


Additional Resources:  - published each week by Mark Van Baale with a listing of job search resources, networking events, and job listings (Internships, Marketing / Social Media, Web / Graphic Designer) in the Kansas City area.  - Find your nonprofit opportunity. Nonprofit Connect is your career headquarters offering one of the premier nonprofit position information portals on the web. On any given day, over 200 openings are posted on JobLink, InternLink, VolunteerLink, and BoardLink, which receive an average of 150,000 page views per month.  - 1 Million Cups is a free national program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:00 (CST), two local entrepreneurs present their startups to a diverse audience of their peers, mentors, educators, and advisors.

You can either attend the meeting in person at the Kauffman Foundation (4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO), or attend a video conference at the KU Edwards Campus (Regnier Hall, Room 155, Overland Park, KS).

5/15/16 - The #1 Thing That Employers Are Looking For In A Resume

Michelle Dumas 

The #1 thing an employer is looking for on your resume…

Can you guess what it might be?

A title that matches the position they need? A certain school? Perhaps their alma mater? The name of an impressive past employer?

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. Sorry. The most important thing an employer is looking for on your resume, whether they’re the recruiter or the hiring manager, is…


More specifically, return on investment.

No matter what industry you’re in, or where your expertise lies, every hire is an investment of time and money. Every employer wants to see a return on that investment and they want it to far exceed the amount invested.

If you think this only applies to hiring sales people or executives, think again. Every position brings value to the company that can be measured monetarily. How else would they be able to determine your salary or justify you on the books?

To make sure you show ROI on your resume, you have to understand the bottom line returns the employer is seeking for the posted position.

How Do I Affect The Bottom Line?

It’s easy to see how sales positions affect the bottom line simply because that role is to literally bring money in to the company. But every position plays a role in generating revenue.

For example:

A Facilities Admin keeps track of utility bills, orders supplies, and sends bills to Accounting.

Accounting pays the bills, the electricity stays on, and the office supplies get delivered to employees.

Having electricity and supplies enables those employees to do their work.

That work includes sales, distribution, fulfillment, consulting, and all the other functions that actually bring cash into the company.

So, the admin’s work is necessary for the company to have revenue.

How Do I Show ROI On My Resume?

Most often an employer is filling a position in order to solve a problem, make money, save money, and/or increase efficiency. Making sure you can show your value in that area requires a few steps:

1. Understand the job description
2. Research the company
3. Identify the “pain point” the position needs to address
4. Create a compelling case that you solve that pain point.

Understand The Job Description

Reading the job description carefully is key to presenting yourself effectively. Not every job description is created equal.

Beyond the basic requirements, look for clues as to what the underlying need might be. Do they ask for expertise in specific systems? Chances are they’ve invested in an enterprise system but don’t have the right people to manage it. Does the description highlight a specific ability? They may want to grow their business in that area.

Understanding the job description goes beyond seeing the basics. Look for clues that identify the real need.

Research The Company

You know you need to research a company when preparing for an interview, but you should actually research before you submit a resume.

Questions you should be able to answer include:

What does the company do?
What industries do they serve?
Are they subject to government regulations, and if so which ones?
How large is the company? How many offices, employees, and/or customers do they have?

Identify The “Pain Point” The Position Needs To Address

A “pain point” is a buzzword in marketing used to describe finding your customer’s pain or the problem they need to solve. Your resume is essentially a marketing document, so understanding the pain point makes sense.

Look at the job description and your company research. Think about what you know about the job and the industry, and try to figure out what the real problem is that needs a solution. What is the thing that the hiring manager will tell the boss that they’ll get with this hire?

And don’t cheat and say, “We need to replace Bob.” Figure out what problems “Bob” was responsible for solving. What are the reasons for re-filling that position after Bob leaves?

Create A Compelling Case That You Can Satisfy That Need

Use what you’ve learned to understand what the job description requires and what the company’s true pain point is.

To get attention and win you the interview, your resume must make the persuasive and compelling case that you can solve the problem and produce an ROI that is higher than your competitors for the same position.

Update your resume with quantified accomplishments, action-verb descriptions, and clear and relevant experience. Create powerful number-backed examples of how you’ve satisfied the need in your past experience and produced results for past employers.

And show me that ROI.

5/8/16 - How To Answer Interview Questions About Why You Left Your Last Job

Peggy McKee 

Because people typically don’t leave jobs they are happy with, potential employers want to know what your reason was for leaving your last (or current) job. Is there an issue with you that will cause them to regret hiring you?

Overall, it’s important that you keep this answer positive. Anything negative that you say will make it seem like YOU are negative. So, say what happened, but with as positive a spin as possible.

The Ideal Answer

Of course, the ideal answer is that you were very happy and successful where you were, but this opportunity was just too good to pass up (because it’s a perfect fit, because it is such an exciting opportunity, and so on.)

If You Were Laid Off In A Group

All layoffs are not the same, and employers are well aware of this. If your layoff was part of a mass layoff (as in 30% of the company/division/department), then say so. They will understand. The same thing goes for a smaller number of people, if it was an impersonal selection (such as a cutback of 10% and the last hired were chosen to leave). Any way you can show that it wasn’t a personal thing that targeted you is something you want to clearly point out.

If You Were Laid Off In A Smaller Group Of People (Or If It Was Just You)

If there’s any way to show that your layoff had very little to do with you or your job performance, then say that. Otherwise, your best bet is to offer references that can speak to your skills and character. The best reference is always going to be your most recent boss, but any past managers, supervisors, or bosses are wonderful to have. Other good references are past co-workers or managers you didn’t report directly to but worked with. (Don’t say this about your references in the interview.)

If You Were Fired

It’s never a good idea to act as if you weren’t fired if you were. Getting caught in a lie will be worse than being fired. Many, many people have been fired and recovered from it better than before.

Here’s how to be honest (yet positive) when answering this question:

“That was a bit of a bad situation that I’m embarrassed about. It wasn’t a good decision to take that job—[insert something here like, ‘it wasn’t a good fit’ or ‘I took it for the wrong reasons’]. I can only say that it was a brief, regrettable bump in the road of an otherwise great career. I hope you will speak to some of my references, including my former boss, Ann Smith, who can speak to my qualifications and my character.”

Never forget that references are powerful, and former bosses are the best references of all.

Always be sure to coach your references by telling them about the job you’re interviewing for, and even reminding them of some things you did or stories they could tell that you know would help your cause. This is a help to them, because it reduces the time they need to dedicate to it, and it’s a help to you because it will be a better, more targeted reference.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.

5/1/16 - No Correct Answers

No Correct Answers
The best tool you bring into a job interview is comfort with yourself, not a set of practiced responses.
Stephanie K. Eberle 

Experienced interviewers can tell within a few minutes of knowing you if you are delivering, verbatim, pre-prepared answers to their questions. It’s not just that memorization often results in a monotone, rushed answer. It’s that thinking about your fit ahead of time, instead of rehearsing answers, allows a more genuine, passionate answer in the moment.

The equation for getting your career of choice is simple: your interests, skills and values, plus the alignment of an employer’s desired skill set and cultural values and interests, equals fit. Communicating this fit begins early in the cover letter and CV/résumé portion of the job search process. Early on, employers want to know if you can do the job -- that is, are your skills and experiences close enough to those they seek. The interview, then, may delve more deeply into your skills, but it primarily assesses whether or not they want you to use said skills at their organization. In short, do they want to work with you?

The best way to get to know your future supervisor and colleagues is to have an honest conversation with them to assess fit on both sides. Yes, you are assessing fit, too. Most people do not approach interviews with such openness. As interviewees, we are constantly trying to guess which questions will be asked, aiming to come up with the “correct” answer. But, as with any new connection, there is no correct answer, only fit.

If we relate this to dating, it makes sense. If, on a first date, for example, the person sitting across from me asks if I want children someday, what do I say? If I like the person, and I sense that she wants children, I could lie and say yes, but our entire relationship from there on would be based on a lie and she will definitely find out eventually. So, the correct answer actually is the truth: “No, I don’t want my own children, but I adore my three-month-old niece.” The same applies to interviews. Being honest about where you see alignment gets you the job when the employer agrees with this alignment. If they don’t see the same fit as you, then -- as with dating -- it was never meant to be.

Of course, relaxing into a fit approach means you must accept that you may not get the job. But the difference between finding a job and your career of choice is huge. I propose that focusing on the latter throughout your job search yields better results. For example, applying to every job conceivably possible is likely to land you moderate fit interviews and, thus, a job. Applying to jobs you are mostly to very excited about from the start, however, increases likelihood of high-fit interviews and, in turn, your career of choice. In other words, you can spend your time searching for and applying for jobs or you can maximize your time and effectiveness by assessing your skills, interests and values; researching those of various organizations; and applying only to those places where you genuinely want to work.

The old adages still apply: if you aren’t sure, apply; if you are only about 50 percent qualified but passionate, apply. Who knows what could happen? Excitement about the position really can push you to the top, and interviewing does confirm if you want the job or not. But when you know you are not qualified or you don’t want the job, you do not put as much energy into preparation (so it is not even good practice). Excitement is hard to fake, and even if you successfully do fake it, neither you nor your employer will be happy for very long after you start.

I do not espouse letting it all hang out in interviews, per se. Rather, set a goal of being your best self. You do not need to tell your interviewer of your habit of wiping cheese dust on your pants after your Cheetos lunch. But you do need to consider who your best self is, what part of the self is relevant to your future employer and how to appropriately express it.

Take the example of the weakness question. Many employers stopped asking, “What is your weakness,” because they kept getting fake answers. Suddenly, everyone was a perfectionist with a compulsory need to walk the elderly across the street on their lunch break! The myth surrounding this question is that you have to give a fake fault. That’s not fair. As your future supervisor, I want to know what you are working on and, more important, that you are working on something. By the way, as my future employee, you want to know if I will be able to help you grow in that respect, as well. As an aside, being a perfectionist is not necessarily bad if it’s true. But please be honest about how it affects your work, and let me know how you are managing it. The latter part -- the managing it part is key.

People try to rehearse answers to possible interview questions for myriad reasons. One significant reason is a fear of being caught off guard and not knowing what to say. Naturally, that could also happen if you have not rehearsed the same questions they asked. Those situations can cause more anxiety, in fact, because interviewees have come in with a false belief that they have thought of everything. Further, it leads to not answering the question well because interviewees try to cram a rehearsed answer into a similar but different question. Somehow rehearsing answers keeps us from actually listening, and thus connecting, to our future employer.

When practicing interviewing with trainees, I recommend the following techniques:

Listen for the metaquestion. Interview questions have two parts: what is actually asked and why. The weakness question is not about your weakness. Interviewers want to know how you define weakness, how self-aware you are and if/how you actually manage failure. Keep this in mind, and after each question, take a moment to consider what the interviewer is really asking.

Consider themes. While you cannot predict which questions will be asked, you can assume that your future employer will ask an introductory question (e.g., “Tell me about yourself”) and a closing question (e.g., “Is there anything else we should know?”). He or she will also ask questions that address the themes of: teamwork, work ethic, supervisor style preference, field-specific skills application, personal/professional goals and work preferences. It pays to know trends in your field well, because these themes change by sector. Instead of memorizing answers to specific questions, clarify your ideas along these themes and practice articulating them to various audiences (your career counselor or coach, your parents, your dog, etc.)
Remember stories. One of the best techniques for getting out of a tangential rant is to give an example. Instead of memorizing answers, try coming up with several stories to illustrate your ideas and expertise along the themes above. These are easier to remember and allow you to be flexible when and in the way you tell them.

Practice getting stuck. Ask your practice partners to come up with crazy, sometimes irrelevant questions. This hones your ability to improvise and to be comfortable with yourself in the moment. This will also prevent the monotonous tone and rushed speech that memorized answers give. Instead of practicing specific anticipated questions, you are practicing answering questions in general -- an important distinction.

In fact, above all else, comfort with yourself is the best tool you bring into an interview. Bringing in shame from failure or defensiveness because of it builds walls between you and your future employer, and most people can tell when you are trying to fake your way through. Knowing what the interviewer across the table wants to know is very simple: they want to know you. To maximize your chances of landing your career of choice job, try spending time getting to know yourself first.

Stephanie K. Eberle is director of the Stanford University School of Medicine Career Center, which serves Ph.D.s, postdocs and M.D.s in the medical and biosciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco.

4/24/16 - 5 Phrases That Will Kill Your Chances When Interviewing

by Don Goodman 

All the prep work you do in advance of a job interview won’t help you come off as the best candidate for the job unless you can communicate effectively too! There are certain words and phrases that have a negative connotation when spoken. Know what they are before walking into your next job interview.

Here are tips on what you should avoid saying and how to keep communication positive regardless of what may be discussed or asked of you during the job interview.

1. “I’m A Perfectionist”

In the typical job interview, you’ll likely be asked about a weakness you have. While you probably don’t want to point out a weakness when you’re trying to impress, the answer isn’t to say: “I’m a perfectionist.” Everyone has a weakness, so think ahead about this and be ready to point out how you’ve overcome it or how you’re taking steps to improve on it. Employers want to see that you’re proactive and willing to overcome difficulties and challenges that come your way.

2. “I Don’t Know”

Your effort to come off confident is shot when you say “I don’t know” at the job interview. Yes there are tough interview questions that may come your way or questions that may require a bit more thinking, but that’s okay. Rather than saying “I don’t know” as the easy way out, set yourself up for more time to think through it in order to provide a smart response. You can repeat the question, then say: “That’s a great question! Give me a moment to think through this.” That’ll give you a little more time to come up with a quality answer than to just say: “I don’t know.” It also helps to demonstrate to the interviewer that you remain composed and in control of any pressure that may be put on you.

3. “My Boss Was A Micromanager”

You may be asked what you dislike about your current or previous job, but the job interview is not the time or place to talk bad about how you’re boss is a micromanager or how the company treats its employers unfairly. The focus needs to be on a challenge under the work environment and then how you improved the situation and overcame the challenge. This may be a point where you can also tie in how you’re looking to expand your knowledge and experience in a way your current employer is unable to help fulfill.

4. “I’ll Take Any Job I Can Get”

Coming off desperate is not appealing in many situations, especially for a job. Employers are looking for candidates who are confident and have the experience and skills to do well on the job. They are not hiring based on who is in most need of a job, so don’t play up the point that you’ll take any job you can get or that you were just fired and you’re desperate. That won’t sit well in terms of setting an impression that you’re the best candidate for the job.

5. “What Does Your Company Do?” Or “Where Are The Other Offices Located?”

Yes you want to express you’re interested and have questions for the interviewer, but please don’t ask anything that you should have already researched before you applied for the job. Asking questions like “What does your company do?” or “Where are the other offices located?” only informs the interviewer that you didn’t do your research to understand the company. Much of the information you’re looking for to these questions likely already exist on the company’s website.

As you can see from some of the examples above, a good interview can easily turn bad when the wrong things are said. Always stick to positive communication to help demonstrate your level of confidence and desire to improve as well as your ability to help the employer succeed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job.

4/17/16 - What to do after a company unexpectedly wants to recruit you

By Megan Santos 

The hiring process is a collaborative effort for both the job seeker and employer. Typically, people are accustomed to seeing applicants initiate the conversation. They find the job posting, they tailor their applications, they reach out to hiring managers and hope to hear back.

But what happens when conversation is started from the employer’s end? Meaning, you receive the red-bubbled notification in your LinkedIn inbox, or you’re handed a recruiter’s business card and told to “be in touch.” To say the least, it’s a feeling that’s pleasantly unexpected and flattering.

Below are three next-steps to consider after you receive that “we want you” message from a recruiter.

Don’t make rash decisions

Remember the life lesson we were taught in elementary school: Think before you act. Although it may be tempting, don’t prepare your interview attire, or toss the recruiter’s message in the trash just yet.

When something happens unexpectedly, it’s natural for people to respond without thinking it through. Hearing from a recruiter for a job you never applied to can have the same effect, whether you’re steadily looking for employment or not.

Weigh out your options. Before you say yes or no, research the company and position — read reviews and get a sense of the culture from the company’s website. You can even consider setting up a preliminary phone call with the recruiter (before the real interview) to flesh out all of your questions about the role.

Let the recruiter do the selling

Remember: The recruiter contacted you, so the ball is in your court. Your skills intrigued them enough to reach out, so allow them to win you over. At this point, listen to what the recruiter has to offer and, by the end of the conversation, be clear on the company mission, job description, flexibility, culture and any other qualities you find important.

While you can expect the recruiter to do most of the talking as they convince you to get on board, be prepared to also speak about yourself. They discovered enough talent in you to pick you out of the crowd, so be sure to also give them some validation.

Leave a lasting impression

If you don’t see a good fit between your wants as an employee and their needs as an employer, don’t worry. Not all recruits are successful. However, if the role isn’t a match right now, it could very well be in the future.

As a candidate, ensure you do your part in ending the conversation on a high note. Adding another professional connection is the least that can come out of this experience, so show proper etiquette when you close the conversation to secure the relationship.

Acknowledge the recruiter. Express that it was a pleasure meeting them, kindly pass but thank them for the opportunity, and show your enthusiasm in potentially working with them in the future. Given your initial appeal to them, they’ll be happy to keep in contact with you as you develop professionally.

This article was written by Megan Santos of, Canada’s largest student job network helping post-secondary students find their internships, co-ops and entry-level jobs to launch their careers. Follow them @Jobpostingsca

4/10/16 - How to answer: What is your greatest weakness?

by Jack Leeming 

This classic question has been tripping prospective employees up for years – whether they’re applying for jobs at the local greengrocers or at Apple. There’s no 100% guaranteed-to-land-you-the-job answer to this question, but there are certainly wrong ways to answer, and ways that will maximise your chances. The first step, as with many interview questions, is to understand why you’re being asked the question – what is the interviewer looking for? After that, we’ll examine how you shouldn’t answer, and end on how you should.


Generally, an interviewer is looking to see a few things when they ask you about your weaknesses – first, they’re looking for self-awareness. Are you knowledgeable enough about yourself to understand and appreciate where you’ll fit well within a role, and where you might need to develop? And are you comfortable enough with yourself to admit those areas?

This is one of the most well-known interview questions out there, so an interviewer may also be looking to make sure you care enough to have prepared to answer this question. If you don’t have something ready for them, that could be taken as a red flag.

How shouldn’t you answer?

First of all, you certainly do have a weakness – so never say “I don’t have any weaknesses.” It’s not bold or confident; and will be exactly what an interviewer is looking for to eliminate someone from the process. Part of the strength of your answer will be your honesty – having the guts to admit that you may not have every single skill you need to dive into the job straight away. Employers aren’t looking for someone to do the job perfectly immediately – they’re looking for people who are able and willing to learn and grow into the role.

You also shouldn’t be blunt – lines like “I’m not very good at keeping the lab clean,” or “I’m not very organised” without further justification are not going to do you any favours. Keep your answer honest, but make sure to explain it well and lead into how you’re going to combat it.

Finally, don’t pick a weakness that is obviously a strength. Working too hard or giving too much attention to detail aren’t weaknesses unless you explain why – because, for example, you find it hard to switch off when the time comes, or because you find it difficult to see the bigger picture.

How should you answer?

The best answer to this question has two parts. First, the admission – state your weakness, explain why it’s a weakness, and keep it realistic and surmountable. After that, you have to explain how you plan to overcome that weakness, if you haven’t already. Use the question as an opportunity to explain how you hope to grow and develop in this new role.

Here’s an example:

“I tend to focus too much on the details, which means I sometimes get curious and distracted by the finer points of a project – I can end up spending three hours reading something that’s only very slightly relevant to the project.

I think one of the best ways to combat this, though, is to be aware of it in the first place – when I notice myself getting dragged away from what I should be doing, it becomes a lot easier to pull back. In a job like this, I think it’s very important to be organised and prioritise and I think that’s something I’ll be doing a lot of, so that will help with making sure I only focus on the finer points when I’m able to.”


There you have it – an honest admission that’s swiftly overcome by a solid plan that ends up demonstrating further value. This doesn’t have to be a question that might trip you up – think about it as an opportunity to explain how you’re hoping to learn and grow in a new role.

4/3/16 - The only 6 things you need to bring to a job interview

Kathleen Elkins and Natalie Walters 

Job interviews are stressful because so many factors are out of your control — like what the hiring manager will ask or whether your personality matches what they're looking for.

But there is one thing you can control that can make all the difference: How prepared you are.

Career experts and hiring managers say to be (and appear) fully prepared, you really only need to bring six things with you to the interview.

Here are the essentials they say you should show up with:

1. Directions
Don't risk a technology malfunction by relying solely on your smartphone for directions.

Whether you're taking a car, train, subway, or bus, go ahead and print out a set of directions as a backup, writes Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, on

In addition, Ryan suggests doing a test run of your directions the day before or a few days before so you know how much time to set aside for your commute.

2. Copies of your résumé
Despite the transition from the traditional paper résumé to more dynamic social-media templates, such as LinkedIn, many hiring managers still expect candidates to arrive with a few hard copies.

Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert and spokesperson for TopResume and a career consultant for Amanda Augustine LLC, says if you happen to know the exact number of people you'll be meeting with, bring at least one copy for each of them, plus a few extra to be safe.

"You'll need one for you to reference while you talk, and one copy for each interviewer, just in case they aren’t prepared," she says.

3. Pen and notepad
A number of career experts and hiring managers we reached out to emphasized the importance of bringing a pen and paper.

Jotting down a few notes during the interview can come in handy as you write your post-interview thank-you note later that day. (But remember to listen closely to the hiring manager, and don't get distracted by your note-taking!)

Also, if you're interviewing for a consulting, finance, or engineering position, you will likely have to answer impossible brainteaser questions. It can be helpful to have a pen and paper as you attempt to work through these questions.

4. Questions
You're not the only one in the hot seat on the big day. In nearly every interview you will have the chance to ask your own questions.

Use this part of the interview to your advantage. Ask smart questions to impress the hiring manager and to figure out if this place is a perfect fit for you. The career experts recommend having a few written down ahead of time rather than having to come up with them on the spot.

While questions may vary depending on the company you're interviewing with, here are some impressive ones that will work in any situation:

1. How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
2. What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easy decision?
3. How will the work I'll be doing contribute to the organization's mission?

5. Portfolio of sample work
Depending on the job you're applying for, it is a good idea to bring samples of your work. "The medium needs to match up. You should not bring a binder of print material to a digital publication," explains Business Insider's director of talent, Stephanie Fogle. "And be prepared to talk about it."

6. A positive attitude
"Most importantly, come with your A game," Augustine says. "Confidence, a positive attitude, and a genuine interest in the role and the company will set you apart from the competition. When you and another candidate have comparable skill sets, the only thing that will set you apart is your passion."

3/27/16 - Here's what to say when a hiring manager asks, 'Have you ever been fired?'

Jacquelyn Smith 

If you've ever been fired or asked to resign from a job, chances are it's not something you enjoy talking about ... especially with prospective employers during job interviews.

But if there are any gaps or red flags on your résumé, hiring managers will likely ask you about them — and it can be uncomfortable.

"Employers are often so swamped with job applicants, they're programmed to use a process of elimination mindset," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, leadership coach, and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant." "And this can easily be one of the questions that keeps you off the shortlist — unless you plan ahead."

It's a classic query because your answer meets multiple objectives, she says. "So it's helpful to consider the reasons behind the question."

She says interviewers are often trying to determine four things:

1. Are you a risky hire? Hiring managers don't expect you to answer "no" to this question — unless you're at an entry or very junior level in your career. "They're trying to piece together 'the fit,' but also the risk factors of hiring you. For instance, have there been several terminations that suggest an issue or pattern? Do the reasons behind a termination underscore one of their fears — especially one that could be a deal breaker based on the requisite job duties?"

2. How you handle adversity. Your job interviewer is also trying to determine if you're able to shrug off setbacks and move forward. Nobody is immune from job challenges, Taylor explains. "In other words, do you view negative experiences as failures or learning opportunities?"

3. Your real time response to pressure. Do you become defensive or upset when they ask this question, or are you poised and confident when responding? "It can help a hiring manager evaluate how you handle real-time stress, presumed to be a predictor of how you'll handle job challenges," she says.

4. How honest are you? This is one of those interview litmus tests of how forthcoming you are, Taylor warns. "Savvy hiring managers can typically read job seekers. They may consider how long it takes you to respond, your intonation and body language, and whether you're being vague, evasive, or honest to a fault."

"So this question reveals much more about you than the answer itself," Taylor adds.

Here's how to answer this tricky query:
Be honest.
Most people experience at least one termination in their career, and it's not always a result of poor performance, Taylor says. "There are restructurings, shifts in corporate strategies, financial losses, increased automation, outsourcing, conflicts in perspectives or work style — and much more that can contribute to a parting of the ways."

It's best to be truthful, without dwelling on the topic. "You don't need to offer a soliloquy akin to 'The saga of my career demise,' with self-effacing or regretful details," she says. "But if you come across as disingenuous, that will be much more damaging than admitting to a termination."

Also, your mutual network may overlap — meaning you could be caught in a lie.

Be concise.
Most hiring managers are not trying to drag you through the mud. A couple of sentences on what occurred should suffice — although you may be asked to elaborate, she warns.

Show how and what you learned from it.
Alan Henry of LifeHacker writes: "The key to getting past the question is to frame it up in terms of what you've learned — not what happened."

Taylor agrees. She says this is one of the primary objectives behind this question. "Demonstrate that you left with positive lessons from the experience."

Perhaps as a result, you were able to take greater initiative in communicating with your team, or incorporate a better time management system.

"By focusing on the positives, you're illustrating that you're capable of self reflection and are interested in advancing your personal development," she explains.

Don't place blame — and remain upbeat.
You definitely don't want to fall into the trap of speaking negatively about your former employer or blaming them for what happened. "The interviewer will be listening carefully to whether you describe interpersonal conflict — always a big red flag," Taylor says.

One of the best ways to handle this question is to explain that, despite the "different objectives or mismatch" that ultimately occurred over time, you enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from it.

Hiring managers typically identify with the employer, so you don't want to ever convey that, should you ever part ways with the new employer, you might speak poorly of them, too, she explains.

Be thoughtful in your answer.
This is a question worth planning for." Commit it to writing and rehearse it, ideally with someone else," Taylor suggests. "You don't want to be caught off guard and derail your momentum — or resort to a last minute panic quip, like 'Well ... hasn't everyone?'"

3/20/16 - How to impress in a tough job interview

It can be easy to lose your nerve when faced with difficult interviewers. But there are steps you can take to win them over and land the job 

Even if you’ve prepared thoroughly, a tough interviewer can really knock your confidence and have you doubting your abilities.

So when you’re faced with a barrage of difficult questions from a seemingly stone-faced interviewer, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your skills and experiences shine through.

Remember, they called you in
An employer wouldn’t waste time interviewing you if they didn’t think you were a good fit for the role. If they’ve invited you into their office, they are interested in hiring you and that should be a huge confidence boost. They have clearly been impressed by the strength of your CV, so you are just there to confirm what they’ve read and remove any doubts they may have.

No matter how bored the interviewer is acting, you should always bear in mind that they have invited you in with the intention of hiring you. Often a tricky interviewer is just putting on a false persona to judge how you react under pressure, so don’t let that make you forget how valuable you are.

Counter your weaknesses
Most employers will have their reservations about you, as sometimes the strongest candidate won’t have every single attribute that is required. Even the kindest of interviewers will ask about your weaknesses, but a tough interviewer will really grill you on them. This is where preparation really pays off.

Before attending the interview, you should review the job specification and identify any requirements where your skills don’t quite match up. Once you understand your shortcomings for the role, you can begin to plan how to answer any difficult questions around them.

Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate what actions you will take to minimise the impact of your weaknesses and also what you are doing to build your skills in that area. For example, if you don’t have a particular qualification that’s being asked for, you should explain how your work experience provides you with a similar or greater level of knowledge. Also show that you are taking steps towards gaining that qualification. By taking this approach you are meeting the issue head on and quickly minimising any worries the interviewer might have about you.

Control the pace
When faced with an aggressive interview style it can be easy to become flustered and rush your answers. However, this is exactly the sort of thing the interviewer doesn’t want to see. As a potential employer, they want to ensure that you can keep your cool when the going gets tough. If you feel rushed and pressured by the interviewer, then take the control back by setting your own pace for the interview.

One of the easiest ways to maintain your composure is to repeat the question back to the interviewer slowly and confidently. It calms the tone of the interview and gives you a few extra seconds to think about your answer.

Stroke their egos
Even the scariest of interviewers are human – they have feelings just like the rest of us. If you want them to drop their guard, try showing a genuine interest in their work. At an appropriate opportunity, ask them questions about the work their team does or how many staff they manage. People enjoy talking about themselves and their achievements, so if you can get the interviewer to open up, you will start to build a rapport with them and create a more relaxed atmosphere. Try to keep the questions relevant to the role you are applying for to avoid going off topic.

Prove you’ve not been shaken
A lot of candidates will be discouraged by a gruelling interview – they assume that it didn’t go well or even decide they no longer want to pursue the job. For this reason, most hard-nosed interviewers do not receive follow up emails from their interviewees. So break the mould and send a friendly, professional note thanking them for their time and saying that you enjoyed meeting them.

This will reassure them that the pressure of the interview didn’t scare you off and that you’re still keen. An email will also give you a chance to cover any topics that were missed in the interview and dispel any doubts the interviewer had about you.

Tough interviews can be stressful and challenging, but if you can make it through unscathed, you will prove your resilience and professionalism. Remember that a job interview is also a chance for you to assess the company and your future potential colleagues. So if you truly believe an interviewer was being rude and arrogant, rather than just acting tough to test you, then maybe he or she wouldn’t make such a great future boss after all.

Andrew Fennell is a recruiter and founder of CV writing company StandOut CV



The interview is arguably the oldest and most persistent institution in the job search process. Even as other customs and admonitions—wear business attire, send a handwritten thank-you note afterward—fall by the wayside, the interview itself shows few signs of disappearing.

So it's no wonder that there's no shortage of popular advice about how to behave and what to do during job interviews—or that much of it is outdated or baseless. Here are three of the most common recommendations for candidates in a job interview that need to be retired, based on insights from modern psychology.

While we live in an age that worships "authenticity," job interviews are a high-stakes situation, so you should adjust your behavior to the context. Most people know this intuitively but don't always know how far to go. Which is why being told to just "be yourself" can backfire: It encourages us to do not as we "should" (that is, to act strategic), but as we feel (to act impulsively). To borrow a Freudianism, it means giving our superegos a break and being informal, spontaneous, and careless.

Sure, interviewers may tell you that they're interested in your authentic you—and it isn't wise to completely deceive them—but what they really mean is that they want you to come across as genuine and trustworthy. The challenge for candidates is to convey those traits tactfully, which (cynical though it may sound) means selectively.

What interviewers really want to see during an interview is your bright side—not an artificial one, just who you are when you're at your best. Inevitably, that involves at least a little bit of staging. Think of a job interview like a first date: Don't show all your flaws up front as you try to give an (otherwise) honest account of who you are.

We often mistake confidence for competence, but that doesn't mean showing off. Walking the line between sounding self-assured and arrogant can be tricky. But if you really do believe deeply in your skills and talents, fake modesty. And when you're a little uncertain of them, try sounding a bit more competent than you may actually believe yourself to be.

Most job interviews allow for a fair amount of bluffing, not least because an interviewer is necessarily an imperfect judge of your potential. What goes for resumes usually goes for interviews: Some exaggeration is expected, so if you don't do that a little bit, the interviewer may assume you're exaggerating anyway and mentally discount 20% or 30% from your claims. Still, that's a limited license to boast.

So the advice to show off your accomplishments isn't so much misguided as in need of a major caveat: Only overclaim if you're able to back it up later. Maybe you don't exactly know that programming language inside and out, but you're learning it, and in a month or two, you'll have it down. Just don't come across as arrogant, deluded, or overconfident, particularly when you actually know yourself to be competent.

Too many people go into a job interview well-prepared but wind up underperforming because they focus too much on themselves. It's hard to find fault with that; most people are interested mainly in themselves. As the great Dale Carnegie noted, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."

Of course, job interviews tend to put the interviewee in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean you have to monopolize the conversation, or that you can afford to stop paying attention to your audience. We're usually counseled to frame our skills in a cover letter in terms of how they'll benefit the company, but it's more difficult to translate that into one-on-one conversation.

Not only is paying close attention to others a mark of good social skills, if you focus more on your interviewer and less on yourself, you'll be better able to monitor your own performance. It’s through their reactions and gestures that you'll get a feel for how much more you should say—and when to shut up.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in psychological profiling, people analytics, and talent management.

3/6/16 - Job Seekers, Know These Email Signature Do's and Don'ts

Consider including your professional title, phone number and LinkedIn account information in your email sign off.
By Hannah Morgan 

One of the first things you are instructed to do when starting a new job may be to set up your email signature using the official company template. But have you set up an email signature for your personal email account?

Email is a frequently used communication tool in the workplace, with approximately 36 emails sent per person per day in 2014, according to The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm. ​It is also a powerful marketing tool. Each one of those 36 emails is an opportunity to market and promote the company. You should be using this same logic to promote yourself, especially if you are an active job seeker.

Rather than typing in your information every time you send an email, or cutting and pasting the information into the body of the email, simply set up your email signature. These are the vital pieces of information you should include.

Email signature do's:

1. Name. People often don't have any email signature, which can make it difficult for the recipient to know who the message is from. Include your first and last name.

2. Telephone number. During a job search, recruiters and hiring managers will want to communicate with you over the phone. Make it easy for them to reach out to you by including it in your email signature. And be sure you have set up your voice mail with a professional and pleasant greeting.

3. LinkedIn profile. Including a link to your LinkedIn profile makes it easier for people to learn more about you. You can't make them click through, but it is there in case there is interest. Rather than inserting the full Web address, which can look long and messy, hyperlink your LinkedIn URL to a small LinkedIn icon or simply the word "LinkedIn."

4. Profession, title or tag line. Depending on your employment situation, use some combination of professional identifiers. If you are changing careers, don't list your current occupation, instead use a tag line or branding statement that conveys your value to a potential future employer.

5. Personal website. If you have an online portfolio, blog or personal website that you want people to know about, include the link. It's always helpful to describe what you are linking to. For example, hyperlink to a short description, such as "Online Portfolio," "Personal Blog – Customer Service Musings" or "My Infographic Resume." You can link to almost any online source you want to draw attention to.

On the other hand, there is information you don't want to include in your email signature because it's irrelevant, makes you look silly or could flag your email as spam. Here's what to avoid including in your personal emails.

Email signature don'ts:

1. Mailing address. Protect yourself. No one needs to know your physical location. Businesses may use this information, but it doesn't pose the same type of privacy violation.

2. Email address. Including your email address in your email is redundant. If you've sent someone an email, he has your email address. Limit the information that you include in your signature to keep it uncluttered and provide only the most important information. (NOTE from Jeff Morris - I disagree with this statement, include your email in your signature so that if someone copies your info into their outlook, all the details are there. Your email address is not shown on most email programs, just your display names...MAKE IT EASY for someone.)

3. Photos or logos. Using logos or icons sparingly isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, images add to the size of your email and may make loading your email slow and difficult for email systems. Using large file sizes could also result in your email ending up in the spam folder and most people do not regularly look at their spam.

4. Default mobile signature. Don't overlook the signature on your mobile device. Often the default signature is an advertisement for your phone's manufacturer. Instead, change the setting to promote your name or delete the automated signature all together.

One last word of wisdom. Test how your email will look to others by sending to Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook accounts to see how your signature looks on these different email providers.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career guidance; keep up with the latest job search trends and social networking strategies by reading her blog Career Sherpa and following her on Twitter @careersherpa and Google+.

2/28/16 - These are the Biggest Mistakes People Make During Interviews


According to a new poll, half of employers say they can size up a candidate within the first five minutes of an interview and determine whether they’d be a good fit for the job.

What happens during those first five minutes doesn’t have much to do with what the job seeker says. Indeed, as many interviews start with pleasantries or small talk, it’s often something the candidate does rather than says that’s a deal breaker. That said, there are plenty of ways for a job seeker to stick his foot in his mouth during the interview.

What to watch out for if you’re among the thousands of workers looking to change jobs in 2016? A brand new Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder surveyed 2,595 hiring and human resource managers, the majority of whom work in the private sector, reveal the biggest job interview faux pas candidates have made, and how their body language blew any chance they had to move forward in the interview process.

Let’s start with the overt mistakes. Survey respondents listed five factors that immediately nixed the candidate from their talent pool.

White Lies. Sixty-nine percent said that if they caught a job seeker lying about something, it was a deal breaker. Honesty can encompass everything from where you went to school or whether you’ve been fired, to the more subtle, such as a disingenuous response to the question; "What is your greatest weakness?"

For the latter, Russell Reynolds, Jr., author of Heads: Business Lessons from an Executive Search Pioneer, recommends eschewing the tried-but-not-quite-true, "I’m very hard on myself," and offering a response that shows self-reflection. "Be confident in the fact that this weakness does not make you any less of a great candidate, and show that you are working on this weakness and tell the recruiter how," he suggests.

Texting, Arrogance, And Swearing. The majority (68%) of hiring managers found that when a candidate interrupts the interview to take a call or text, it was irritating enough to be a major strike against them, while 60% reported that candidates appearing arrogant or entitled was enough to disqualify them. Half of hiring managers surveyed said that inappropriate attire and swearing were equal deal breakers.

Wearing The Wrong Thing. Keeping tabs on your tongue if you frequently deploy the F-bomb should be a given going into an interview, but clothing is a bit trickier. Traditional advice to dress for the job you want doesn’t necessarily translate to some company cultures. That’s not carte blanche to don a hoodie and sandals, either. It is important to offer visual cues that you do have it together, and one way to do that is the way you dress. Not only will it send subliminal vibes to your prospective associate, but science says certain clothing can also boost your confidence.

"Preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling answers to common interview questions," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, in a statement. "Candidates have to make a great first impression appearance-wise, have a solid understanding of the target company, know exactly how to convey that they’re the perfect fit for the job, and control their body language."

Body language can signal confidence or spell disaster if a candidate isn’t aware of how their physical presence is being received. And experience isn’t enough to save you if you’re not paying attention to visual cues.

Hiring managers polled in the survey found 10 body language traits that derailed candidates’ chances of getting the job. Most (67%) agreed that failure to make eye contact was the biggest problem, and not smiling was cited by 39% as problematic. Other questionable physical behaviors they cited include:

Playing with something on the table
Having bad posture
Fidgeting too much in their seats
Crossing their arms over their chests
Playing with their hair or touching their faces
Having a weak handshake
Using too many hand gestures
Having a handshake that was too strong
It’s easy to picture a nervous candidate fidgeting and failing to look their interviewer in the eye, but the survey respondents did recall some truly out of the ordinary things that people did while they were being interviewed. Among the weirdest:

Candidate took a family photo off of interviewer’s desk and put it into her purse.
Candidate started screaming that the interview was taking too long.
Candidate said her main job was being a psychic/medium and tried to read interviewer’s palm, despite interviewer’s attempts to decline the offer.
When asked what his/her ideal job was, candidate said, "Painter of birdhouses." (Company was hiring for a data entry clerk.)
Candidate sang her responses to questions.
Candidate put lotion on his/her feet during the interview.
Candidate started feeling interviewer’s chest to find a heartbeat so they could "connect heart to heart."
Candidate had a pet bird in his/her shirt.
Candidate took phone interview in the bathroom—and flushed.

Studies show that interviews don’t necessarily prompt the best hiring decisions. One indicates that it’s because the interviewer is often trying to make sense of anything the interviewee says, and tangential information can weaken the value of quality information.

Until we find a better substitute, CareerBuilder’s Haefner advises researching the company before the interview to learn about its services, customers, and competitors. "That will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company's needs," she says.

In addition to doing the homework, do some role playing. The CareerBuilder survey found the following questions to be among the most commonly asked:

Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want this job?
Why did you leave your last job?
What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
Keep in mind that an interview with a prospective employer is no place to bash the previous one, no matter what the circumstance was that caused you to leave. "Know why you’ve made the decision to move on from your past employers, and communicate that to your interviewer should he or she ask," said Jason Niad, managing director at Execu|Search, a recruitment firm headquartered in New York, in a recent interview with Fast Company.

Talking through this particular part of the interview can be tough, and it’s normal to cross arms and look at the floor. Keep the body language in check and maintain an upbeat voice. After all, "Working in multiple jobs in multiple companies can be a great way to develop a wide range of both technical and soft skills," said Niad.

Lydia Dishman is a business journalist writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, commerce, and innovation.

2/21/16 - Why You Should Ditch The Career Objective on Your Resume

by Joe Flanagan 

Until fairly recently it was common practice to include a career objective at the top of your resume when applying for work. Best practice has since changed however, and this is no longer the standard protocol when it comes to designing a contemporary resume. It’s by no means the only thing to leave off your resume, there are a few others, but it’s up there.

Why? Let’s take a look at various factors that come into play.

Generic objectives

Many candidates fail to tailor their objectives and employers got bored reading the same old stuff over and over…and over, again. You’d be surprised how many applicants claimed to seek a challenging position in which they could be a team player and demonstrate a proactive approach to their work. Yawn!

What employers really want to know is how much value you as a job seeker will add to their business. They don’t have time to waste reading generic statements that apply to the majority of the population. By carefully tailoring your resume, you can create a powerful marketing tool that will strengthen your application no end.

Short on time

Employers today are inundated with applications for each advertised position. Let’s face it, at this stage of the recruitment process they’re not overly consumed with what you as the job seeker wants, but are more focused on what they as an employer seek. Given the average recruiter spends a grand total of six-seconds glancing at each resume, it’s critical that you make those twenty-seconds count and remove any generic statements that don’t contribute to strengthening your story.

Choose a professional profile

In place of the antiquated career objective, some people are now strategically crafting what’s commonly referred to as a professional profile. Here you can include information that demonstrates your strong candidacy and directly relevant skills to those outlined in the job advertisement. Highlight 2-3 key skills as well as any major achievements. Use the remainder of your resume to support this profile and prove how you’ve utilised this same skill set to accomplish a myriad of achievements throughout your career. Your goal is to leave the reader with no doubt that you possess exactly what they’re looking for.

Or a tagline

Another alternative is to include a tagline at the top of your resume, stating what you do and/or where you expertise lies. This should be short and punchy, making a very clear statement and used as a means of grabbing the readers immediate attention.

A strategist with the ability to increase productivity through lean methods in the manufacturing industry and over profitability – Manufacturing Consultant”

A professional profile can be used for any industry but is most suited for professional positions. These are usually the type that require further study beyond that of high school in order to apply. A tagline is a great method for creative positions such as those in the marketing, sales, design and fashion industries for example.

Leverage your cover letter

If you’re still keen to inform a prospective employer of how this advertised position is the perfect next step for your career, use your cover letter to do so. Your cover letter is another powerful marketing tool so use it wisely to demonstrate your suitability. A cover letter should be submitted with all applications no matter your industry or profession, make use of this tool to clearly relay why this position is the natural next step for you.

Joe Flanagan is the Senior Resume Consultant at the Velvet Jobs resume builder. He enjoys helping people get their resume ready for that dream job and providing career advice. Joe has been a contributor to a variety of publications such as HRZone and 

2/14/16 - How to get your résumé read by a human

First you have to get it through the applicant tracking system.

By Matt Krumrie 

Like it or not, in today’s job market a software program will read your résumé before a human ever sees it.

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software system that employers use to handle a variety of recruitment needs, including the uploading and screening of résumés. And if you’ve ever applied for a job through an online system, you have likely submitted your résumé and information through an ATS.

So how do you get your résumé past the screening process and read by a human? Start by tailoring it to each specific job you apply for, says Tim Mayer, director of talent acquisition at Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. in Minneapolis. Do not send in a one-size-fits-all résumé for each job and expect to pass the ATS customized criteria for that job.

How do you do this? Start by spending some time reviewing the job description for key words and themes and include them prominently in your résumé. But don’t just create a bulleted list of key accomplishments, such as an area of expertise, and key word-stuff your résumé. Instead, list key words, backed up with proof of accomplishment and concrete examples of successes.

Here’s an example of how to highlight project management, sales and process implementation successes from Kevin Donlin (, author of the book “51 Ways to Find a Job Fast – Guaranteed!”

First, here’s what not to write. These nonspecific achievements prove nothing:

• Managed numerous projects to success.

• Provided sales and customer service to house accounts.

• Wrote reports and correspondence for busy executives.

Now, here’s what to write. These specific achievements prove your skills:

• As project manager, managed 100 percent of 27 projects to successful completion in 2014, finishing an average of 10 days early on budgets ranging up to $256,850.

• Top sales achiever: Increased sales $456,000 in one year by managing and penetrating 34 house accounts.

• Process implementation: Saved $52,000 after writing three employee manuals that standardized operations.

The ability to tailor and match your résumé to the specifics listed in the job description is especially important for job seekers changing careers, or transferring skills to a new industry.

“A résumé for a print advertising salesperson, no matter how great the performance history, is not likely to impress a recruiter or hiring manager in the medical device, biotechnology, software and many other industries,” says Rick Deare (, president of Bloomington-based Deare Search Partners and someone who literally receives hundreds of résumés daily.

And even if you aren’t in IT, you need to include a “Technology Skills” section highlighting all programs you have used, focusing on the past five to 10 years and, more specifically, on the skills requested in the job description.

If the job description asks for a cover letter, include it. If it includes a request for salary requirements, add it.

And finally, if you know someone at the company and can get a referral, do so. Many ATS systems have the ability to flag an application that is submitted with a referral and send it right to the next step — where it will be viewed by a human.

Matt Krumrie is a professional résumé writer based in Minneapolis.

2/7/16 - How to spot a crappy boss during a job interview

Taylor Leddin 

Don’t get stuck with a bad boss

Starting a new job is very similar to starting at a new school. There are new people to meet, new rules to learn, and new friends to make to have lunch with.

And, much like in the classroom, your enjoyment of work is directly affected by the person in charge. While we were able to leave not-so-stellar teachers after nine months, we are not always so lucky in the workplace.

Having a bad boss can cast a dark cloud over your workplace performance. It can cause discomfort, stress, and, most commonly, resentment.

Sorting the good from the bad

It would be great if we could live in world where people were actually classified on a “naughty or nice” list. Unfortunately, we have to work to make that determination ourselves.

However, there are ways to speed up the process of that determination. Reading people can be a difficult task upon your first meeting. But, it is possible to get a read on whether or not someone will be a good boss during your job interview.

All of this begs the question, how are we able to weed out the bad from the good? According to Sara Stibitz at the Harvard Business Review, there are a variety of ways to see if someone will be a good boss during a job interview.

Think of your needs first

First and foremost, you need to know what you want in order to know what to look for. What this means is, you must first answer what kind of boss and environment you want to work with.

You need to evaluate the level of comfort you would like with the boss, in addition to the relationship. Are you looking for someone to collaborate with? Someone to be your mentor? With these items in mind, you can get some intel based on their personality and demeanor as to how you two will mesh.

Trust your gut

Another important aspect, which is important in many other facets of life, is that you need to trust your instincts. If you get the vibe that he/she is putting on a face and is someone you may not enjoy working with, odds are that will only build up over time. And, as that builds, your workplace happiness decreases.

This can be determined from two different angles. The first is to note how you are being treated during the interview. This lies in their communication skills. Are they asking cookie-cutter interview questions, or are they actually attempting to engage in a dialogue? The second is to see how the process is handled after the interview is over. If they take six months to get back to you, they may not be the person you want to work with every day.

Do your own research

Prior to the interview, it is always a good idea to do some prep work. Check out the interviewer (or boss)’s LinkedIn page to see what their qualifications and job history consist of. This allows you to see their commitment to past/present jobs and can provide schema for the interview. Odds are they are probably Google-ing you, so why not do the same?

Lastly, a good step to take is to ask to meet some of the staff. This allows you to not only get a feel for the culture of the workplace, but also allows you to see interaction between the boss and existing staff members.

For your next interview, prepare ahead of time by researching the company’s manager, make sure you are aware of how they treat you during and post-interview, and always trust your instincts.

Taylor Leddin is a staff writer for The American Genius and is currently pursuing an interpersonal communication degree from Illinois State University. When not writing, she can be found obsessing over movies and TV shows.

1/31/16 - 16 psychological tricks that will help you ace a job interview

Shana Lebowitz

Although in the moment they might seem larger than life, interviewers are people just like you.

That means they’re susceptible to the same psychological preferences and cognitive biases that affect the rest of us.

To help you get into your interviewer’s head and learn what they want to see in a candidate, we rounded up a list of science-backed strategies to make yourself seem more likable, competent, and ultimately hirable.

1. Schedule your interview around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.
According to Glassdoor, the "best" time to arrange an interview is the time that's best for the interviewer — not the time that's best for you.

So if the hiring manager offers you some flexibility in choosing an interview time, ask if you could come in around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. That's likely when your interviewer is relatively relaxed.

In general, you should avoid early-morning meetings because your interviewer may still be preoccupied with everything she needs to get done that day. You'll also want to avoid being the last meeting of the workday, as your interviewer may already be thinking about what they need to accomplish at home.

2. Don't interview on the same day as the strongest candidates.
Research suggests that interviewers base their evaluations of individual candidates on who else they've interviewed that day.

One study found that applicants who interviewed at the end of a day after a series of strong candidates were rated lower than expected. On the other hand, those who interviewed after a series of weak candidates were rated higher than expected.

It's not clear whether this is an unconscious phenomenon, or whether interviewers are consciously rating the last candidates higher or lower than they should because they don't want their supervisors to think they're giving everyone the same ratings.

Either way, if you have any knowledge of who else is interviewing and when, choose to come in after comparatively unqualified candidates.

3. Match the color of your outfit to the image you want to project.
A CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers and human-resources professionals found that different clothing colors convey distinct impressions.

Twenty-three percent of interviewers recommended wearing blue, which suggests that the candidate is a team player, while 15% recommended black, which suggests leadership potential.

Meanwhile, 25% said orange is the worst color to wear, and suggests that the candidate is unprofessional.

Here's what other colors indicate:

Gray: logical/analytical

White: organized

Brown: dependable

Red: power

Green, yellow, orange, or purple: creative

4. Tailor your answers to the interviewer’s age.
You can learn a lot (but not everything) about your interviewer and what she wants to hear based on her generational age.

In their book "Crazy Good Interviewing," John B. Molidor, Ph.D., and Barbara Parus write that you should conduct yourself a little differently based on which generation your interviewer belongs to. Here's their breakdown:

Generation Y interviewers (between 20 and 30): Bring along visual samples of your work and highlight your ability to multitask.

Generation X interviewers (between 30 and 50): Emphasize your creativity and mention how work/life balance contributes to your success.

Baby Boomer interviewers (between 50 and 70): Show that you work hard and demonstrate respect for what they've achieved.

Silent Generation interviewers (between 70 and 90): Mention your loyalty and commitment to previous jobs.

5. Hold your palms open or steeple your hands.
According to Molidor and Parus, your hand movements contribute to the impression you convey in a job interview.

Showing your palms generally indicates sincerity, while pressing the fingertips of your hands together to form a church steeple indicates confidence.

On the other hand, you don't want to hold your palms downward, which is a sign of dominance. You'll also want to avoid concealing your hands, which looks like you have something to hide; tapping your fingers, which shows impatience; folding your arms, which indicates disappointment; and overusing hand gestures, which can be distracting.

6. Find something in common with your interviewer.
According to the "similarity-attraction hypothesis," we tend to like people who share similar attitudes.

So if you know your interviewer really values community service and you do, too, try to work that topic into your conversation.

7. Mirror the interviewer’s body language.
The "chameleon effect" is a psychological phenomenon that describes how people tend to like each other more when they're exhibiting similar body language.

Body language expert Patti Wood says that, ideally, it should look like you're "dancing" with the other person. Otherwise it can seem like you're not interested in what they're saying, you're not a team player, or even that you're lying.

So if your interviewer is leaning forward in his chair and putting his hands on the table, feel free to do the same. Chances are he won’t notice that you’re copying him.

8. Compliment the interviewer and the organization without self-promoting.
In one study, cited on PsyBlog, researchers found that students who ingratiated themselves with their interviewers, without coming across as self-promotional, were more likely to be recommended for the job. That's likely because those students seemed like a better fit for the company.

Specifically, the students who ingratiated themselves praised the organization and indicated their enthusiasm for working there, and complimented the interviewer. They didn't play up the value of positive events they took credit for or take credit for positive events even if they weren’t solely responsible.

9. Show confidence and deference simultaneously.
Success in business is often a matter of competing and cooperating, say the business professors who wrote the book "Friend and Foe."

In a job interview, that means showing deference to your interviewer, while also demonstrating self-confidence. One way to do that is to say something like, "I love your work on [whatever area]. It reminds me of my work on [whatever area]."

You're confident in that you’re taking the initiative to guide the conversation, but also deferential in that you're admiring your interviewer's work.

10. Emphasize how you took control of events in your previous jobs.
Other research cited on PsyBlog suggests that, to impress your interviewer, you should talk about past work experiences where you took initiative.

In the study, retail salespeople heard hypothetical scenarios (e.g. A customer comes into the store about to go on vacation, and she doesn't know what to take with her, so you talk to her about different products, and the customer purchases suntan cream and sunglasses.) and were asked to indicate how responsible they would feel for the positive outcome.

Employees who implied that they were responsible for the purchase generally received higher performance ratings from their managers.

The same idea likely applies in the case of job interviews. If you can show how you contributed to a positive outcome at your company, your interviewer will likely be more impressed with you than if you act like you had little to do with it. (But be careful not to overstate your role in the outcome — see No. 8.)

11. Be candid about your weaknesses.
In answering the question "What's your greatest weakness?" your initial impulse might be to craft a strategic response that really emphasizes your strengths. For example, you might say, "I'm such a perfectionist" or "I work too hard."

But recent research suggests that "humblebragging," or boasting concealed by a complaint, can be a turnoff in interviews. It's wiser to say something genuine like, "I'm not always the best at staying organized," which sounds more honest, and could make your interviewer more inclined to recommend you for the position.

12. Prime yourself to feel powerful.
A growing body of research suggests that you can easily make yourself feel and appear more powerful in business situations.

In one study, participants who wrote about a time when they held power over other people were more likely to be cited as influential during a group-work task — and that impression remained even two days later.

In another study by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, some students practiced two "high power" (expansive and open) poses for one minute each before giving a speech about their dream job, while others adopted "low power" (contractive and closed) poses. Results showed that students in the high-power group were rated as more confident and were more likely to be recommended for hypothetical jobs.

It's definitely not a good idea to adopt a power pose while you're interviewing, but you can certainly take one before you enter the building or the conference room. For example, you can stand with your feet hip distance apart and hold your arms up over your head.

13. Speak expressively.
If you want to sound smart, avoid speaking in monotone.

According to Leonard Mlodinow, author of "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior," "If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent. Expressive speech, with modulation in pitch and volume, and a minimum of noticeable pauses, boosts credibility and enhances the impression of intelligence."

Over at Inc., Geoffrey James suggests that you "slow down and speed up depending upon the importance of what you're communicating at the time. If you're summarizing or going over background, speak more quickly than when you're providing new information. When you're introducing an important concept, slow down to give listeners time to absorb it."

14. Make eye contact when you first meet your interviewer.
Don't be bashful — when your interviewer comes to greet you, look them in the eye.

In one study, researchers asked participants to watch videos of strangers talking to each other for the first time and then rate how intelligent each person seemed. Results showed that the people who consistently made eye contact while speaking were considered more intelligent than those who didn’t make eye contact.

15. Be friendly and assertive at the same time.
One fascinating study sought to address the reasons why candidates who seem anxious are less likely to land the job.

Turns out, at least in mock interviews, it's not nervous tics like fidgeting that hurt your chances. Rather, it could be that being anxious makes you seem less warm and assertive, and makes you speak slowly.

"If you're not naturally extroverted, you need to make sure you sell your skills," study coauthor Deborah M. Powell told Forbes. "Don't be afraid to take ownership of your contribution to a project."

Powell told Forbes that slow talking hurt candidates' chances because interviewers may have assumed that the candidates were having a hard time answering their questions.

16. Showcase your potential.
You might be tempted to tell your interviewer all about your past accomplishments — but research suggests you should focus more on what you could do in the future, if the organization hires you.

In one study, participants received information about a hypothetical job applicant. Some participants learned that the applicant had two years of experience and had received a high score on a test of leadership achievement; others learned that the candidate had no experience and had received a high score on a test of leadership potential.

Results showed that participants thought the candidate would be more successful when they learned he had great potential.

According to social psychologist Heidi Halvorson, our brains pay more attention to uncertain information because they want to unlock it. That means we end up spending more time analyzing that information and, if the information is positive, we're left with a more favorable view of a person's competence.

1/24/16 - The Biggest Mistake To Avoid Before A Job Interview

Ashley Stahl

If a hiring manager were to Google your name right now, what would come up?

According to a recent study by Domain.Me, more than half the population can’t answer that question.

That’s a pretty alarming statistic, considering that 77 percent of recruiters Google their candidates before they even decide to call them in for an interview.

Whether you’re actively seeking a job or looking to climb the corporate ladder at your current company, proactively monitoring your digital footprint could mean the difference between whether or not you land your dream job or get that promotion.

Stop Googling celebs and cat videos… Start paying attention to the search results populated by your own name.

Here are a few ways to clean up your digital footprint and maintain a professional online image.

1. Google yourself right now

You can’t know where to start if you don’t know what you’re up against. But chances are you’re going to find something that needs to be fixed. Only 22% of those who Googled themselves found that the information that appears is exactly what they want people to know. In fact, 20% found outdated or inaccurate details about themselves, and 8% actually found reputation damaging information about them on the internet. Pretty scary, right?

2. Set up professional profiles

If you don’t have a LinkedIn or Twitter account, now is the time to hop on the bandwagon. Both of these social sites are SEO giants that will populate to the top of your name’s search results. This gives you an opportunity to present yourself in a professional way, and allows you to have some control over what potential employers see when they Google you. Use your Twitter account to share content pertaining to your professional field, which will help to position you as a thought leader in your discipline. Make sure your LinkedIn includes your most up-to-date information, and connect with past and present colleagues who can endorse your skills and write recommendations on your behalf.

3. Triple check your privacy settings

A whopping 68% of employers check the Facebook pages of job applicants. When was the last time you updated your privacy settings on Facebook? Even if you’ve done so recently, the change might not be retroactive to your posts and photos from years ago. If the thought of untagging and deleting all those less than savory college photos is too much to bear, update your privacy settings, then have a friend unfriend you to see how your account appears in order to make sure all is hidden.

Bonus points if you check your privacy settings on Linkedin—remember, if you’re not listed as “anonymous” in your privacy settings for Linkedin, people know when you’ve been creeping on their profile.

4. Monitor your footprint

Even after you’ve done a major cleanup of your online presence, it’s still important to keep an eye on what’s being associated with your name. For example, 1 in 3 people who searched themselves discovered that other people share their name, and therefore influence the content associated with them. Meaning, some middle schooler with your same name and a blog about One Direction could be influencing your name’s search results. To keep tabs on this, sites like BrandYourself give you a glimpse into how you appear in the eyes of an employer.

Over 40,000 Google searches are done each second — on every topic imaginable. So why have more than half of us failed to complete the one search that could change the course of our lives?

Your digital footprint has the power to bring you a step closer to your career goals—and your reputation shows up in your bank account… So next time you’re on the job hunt, remember: your reputation is just a Google search away.


Ashley Stahl is career coach who empowers 20somethings to find their purpose and land more job offers. To get a career success kit, visit her website at

1/17/16 - 5 Things to Understand About Phone Screen Interviews

Before you can interview with a hiring manger, here's how to succeed in a phone screen.

By Arnie Fertig

Often, after submitting an online job application, you may get a request from the company for an initial phone screen interview with someone in the human resources department. While you are happy to get a response, you might at the same time feel frustrated and think to yourself: “If only I could just talk to the hiring manager! Why do I need to speak with some junior HR person who doesn’t have a clue about all the technical aspects of the job and how well I can do?"

The reality is that except when you can access a hiring manager directly through networking, you’ll likely have to jump through the hurdle of a phone screen interview conducted by someone in the HR department.

When preparing for a phone interview, consider these points:

Phone interviews begin to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hiring managers rarely, if ever, have time to sort through all the resumes that are submitted. It makes sense for them to review the “must haves,” “would be good to haves” and disqualifying factors with an HR person who will begin the process.

It’s likely that the HR person will be well-trained in avoiding the pitfalls of discriminating against people in any protected class. And they can do an excellent job of separating those clearly not appropriate from the people who deserve more in-depth consideration.

Don’t expect to get into great detail about what you’ve done or the job at this time. Remember that there is a lot of ground to cover, but these interviews typically last only 20 to 30 minutes, so don’t spend too much time on any one question or answer.

Interviewers sell the company to the candidates. Companies are concerned about their own employer brand. There is always stiff competition to make it into one of those “Top X Places to Work” lists. And given the current dip in unemployment, employers are now in a position where they need to compete to get the top talent to join their workforce.

When you are given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview, this is a great time to inquire about the corporate culture, why the interviewer enjoys working at the company and what kinds of personalities tend to be the most successful at the company. You can then respond by drawing parallels to your background and actions that show you are that kind of person.

Phone screeners need to figure out if you are on a fishing expedition. Employers don’t typically want to go through the hiring process with a candidate, and then find out that they need to compete with alternate offers, or even worse, have you pull the rug from under them by taking another offer when they have finally figured out that you are the perfect person for them.

Make sure you answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?” before it is even asked. It’s not advisable to answer the phone call inviting you to interview by asking, “What company are you from again? I’ve applied to so many, I can’t keep them all straight.”

Also be prepared to say something that explains your rationale for applying to any job that is particular to that company.

Phone screeners evaluate your communication skills. Even if you have a stellar resume, employers may wonder if you wrote it yourself and how well you can expand on any of its content. What is the quality of your English, your ability to think on your feet, listen to questions and respond appropriately? Can you make complex or technical aspects of your job understandable to someone who isn’t at your level?

Never refer an interviewer to your resume for the answer to a question. They’ve already read it and likely have it in front of them. If they ask you to explain something that is there, chances are they just want to see how well you speak about what you’ve written.

Talk clearly, don’t ramble and answer the question that is asked rather than pivoting to make some other point. Check in along the way to ask if this is the kind of information, with the right level of specificity, that the interviewer wants to hear about.

Compensation discussions begin at the beginning. As much as you might want to defer the salary question, it invariably comes up sooner rather than later. Don’t be taken aback. Of course it is an attempt to elicit a low number from you, given that you are at your most vulnerable at this early stage of discussion.

But it does more. It enables an employer to benefit from the knowledge of how your current or recent employer valued your contributions. It probably doesn’t mean much if you are a couple thousand dollars higher or lower. But it’s hard to convince a perspective employer that you deserve an executive compensation level when your current or recent salary is that of a mid-manager level.

Do your best to avoid naming a specific salary target. Instead, offer to share your current or recent salary, always with a caveat: “This is a different role in a different company. Of course I’d like more, but what is most important to me is that I’m a good fit for the position.”

Happy hunting!


Arnie Fertig, MPA, is the founder & CEO of Jobhuntercoach. He coaches clients nationwide on the nuts and bolts of job hunting. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @jobhuntercoach, or circle him on Google+.

1/10/16 - Resumes Win Interviews, but References Win Job Offers

By Martin Yate, CPC

Resumes win interviews, so like most people your job search has probably focused on writing your and tweaking your resume and landing job interviews. You probably haven't given your references much thought, but in a tough job market references win job offers. You must be certain that your references will seal the deal, not blow it away.

A primary reason that one candidate will win a job offer over another is the quality of that candidate's references. Human resource professionals say that about half of all checked references fall into the mediocre to poor category. Some of the comments they've heard when checking references include:

"Company policy prohibits us from saying anything. We can only verify dates of employment and title."
"All I can suggest is that you check his references very carefully."
"Are you certain she gave my name as a reference?"
"We miss him very much. Too bad he was let go."
"After we settle our lawsuit."
"He's still in health care? Well bless his heart."

The better the job and the higher the pay, the tougher the competition you'll face for that job and the more stringent the screening process. If you're being considered for a responsible professional job, it's likely that your references will be checked.

Take Control of Your Destiny

Talking with potential references long before their services are required gives you the opportunity to screen both the message and the messengers you will use. When you know exactly what former managers and colleagues will say about you, you can use the references you choose with greater confidence, because you have much greater control over who gets to say what about you.

Identify Potential References

Start by making a list of your prospective references. Begin with your most recent/relevant job and work backwards from there. Usually references only get checked with immediately prior employers, but the more elevated the position the further back your references are likely to be checked. Identify people who have seen you in action, ideally performing well in adverse conditions. This list will include:

Managers and supervisors
Project managers for special assignments
Suppliers and clients
After completing your list of potential references, track them down and talk to them. If a reference is local, a personal meeting over coffee or lunch can be nice touch; a phone call is usually sufficient, but an email request is too impersonal.

Help Your References Help You

Start the conversation by catching up on each other's lives since last you spoke. Be sure to cover what you have been doing professionally, especially any new skills you've developed, the projects you've been engaged with, and how you've added experience and turned old weaknesses into new strengths.

Explain that you are in transition and ask if s/he would feel comfortable acting as one of your references "when the time comes." Share a few details of the job you're targeting. Finish by saying you'll be in touch again when an offer is close.

When a Specific Offer Is on the Horizon

When an offer is made and references requested, tell the employer that you will be in touch the next day with names and contact information. Choose the references you will use and reach out to each one again. Share the company's name, the job title, and the responsibilities. Tell each reference that company checkers are likely to ask for a rating of your skills in the following areas:

Written and oral communication
Time management and organization (multitasking)
Short- and long-term planning
Analytical/critical thinking/problem-solving
Teamwork/interpersonal skills and leadership
Creativity in tackling the job's ongoing challenges
Personal integrity and overall performance

If the job is in management, a reference may also be asked about:

Managerial and employee-relations skills
Crisis management
Financial skills
References may also be asked if they would enthusiastically recommend you, what their thoughts are on the circumstances of your separation from your previous jobs, and whether they would like to provide any additional comments.

If they're willing to take the time, it can be helpful to review your references' response to these topics. When you take the initiative to make this happen, you are arming your reference with all she needs to give you a stellar recommendation.

Make it clear that in this security-conscious and harshly competitive world, the quality of your references is critical to winning the job offer. Once you land a new position, be sure to call your references and let them know the details. And don't forget to offer your services if there is anything you can do in return!

Yoga Interview

Yoga Interview

Unemployed Since March

Unemployed since March

Think Outside the Box

think outside the box

Spending Too Much Time

Spending too long in the bathroom

Shower Caddy

Shower caddy

She Made Me Put That

She made me put that

Severance Package

Severance Package

Psychic Network

Psychic Network

Pirating Software

Pirating Software

Good at Multitasking


Bubble Gum

Gum in the interview

Full Moon

Full moon

Free Range

Free Range



Child Labor

Child labor

Certain of His Job Status

Certian of his job till spring

Build Your Office

Build your office furniture

Does Not Handle Stress Well

BC Does Not handle stress well

Bad Bad Bob

Bad Bob Bad

1/3/16 - 4 Things You Need to Tell Yourself When You Feel Like Quitting Your Job Search

By Abby Wolfe

We know. The idea of job searching doesn’t really do it for you. It can be tedious, agonizing, and sometimes really discouraging. After spending hours upon hours perfecting resumes, customizing cover letters, and receiving “Thanks, but no thanks” emails, you probably feel like throwing in the towel.

Look, I’ve been there. Suddenly the job I was so desperate to leave seemed appealing after a few weeks of hearing nada. Well, that’s not true, the thought of coming home after a long day of work and doing nothing felt appealing. So, even though I was tempted to give up my dream of finding a career I loved, I kept at it.

Remember: There’s a reason why you started searching for a job—probably multiple reasons—and if you stop now, those reasons will all still be there. Every. Single. Day.

So, rather than settling for what you have now—push yourself a little bit further. I know your next amazing gig is just around the corner. And if you don’t believe me that it’ll all be worth it, read a few reminders below.

1. You Can’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

It’s really easy to feel discouraged when you see someone around you land an awesome new gig while your search has been, well, fruitless. But the reality is, you don’t know what his job search was like. All you’re seeing is the end result—he got a new job and he took it.

You probably have no clue how much time he spent looking, who he knew at the company, how long he spent crafting cover letters, or how many informational interview coffee dates he endured.

But even if you do know all of the above, the fact remains that, just as you and he are different people, your job searches will be different, too. So, rather than beat yourself up when you think people are moving faster than you—focus on your own career goals. And if you don’t have those literally written out, do that now. Seeing them clearly will help you remember that you’re on a personal mission here—and it can’t be completed by accepting any old position.

2. You Can’t Lose Confidence in Your Abilities

When your efforts continue to be met with silence and rejections, it’s easy to start doubting yourself and your skills. But once you start believing you’re not qualified for the positions you’re going after, the search will only get harder.

Give yourself credit for the experience you do have, the things you know, all your past accomplishments, and your shining strengths. And if you’re struggling to remember these as the “no” emails pile up, make a list. Not only do you know so much more than you realize, but you’ve also accomplished so much since you walked out of college however many years ago.

It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind and forget just how much you’re able to do now that would seem inconceivable back then. From completing complicated reports to using industry tools to knowing the difference between CC and BCC, you’ve come a long way.

3. You Can’t Take Your Eyes Off the Goal

I bet you’ve heard the saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” more than enough times. And yes, Wayne Gretzky may have been talking about hockey when he said this, but little did he know he was giving career advice, too.

Yes, there are times a recruiter or professional contact will reach out to someone with a job opportunity and just place it on the person’s (lucky, lucky) lap. That does happen. But you certainly can’t count on it.

If you quit applying for jobs, you’re not going to get one. And then you’ll be right back where you started when you decided you wanted to look for a new job in the first place. So keep that personal mission mind every time you think about quitting this process. You’ve got this!

4. You Can’t Let This Process Consume You

We hear a lot about work-life balance these days—and while this means different things for everyone, the same principles apply to your search, too. Looking for a new gig is work in itself, and you shouldn’t let it take up all of your free time.

Sure, you may have to spend some of your weekend hours submitting applications, but if you spend every waking minute working at this, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Remember that your job doesn’t need to be your life—so neither does your job search.

Next time you find yourself growing frustrated or antsy, take a deep breath, and move onto a new activity. Treat yourself to a good meal, a good movie, or even a good splurge. It’s unlikely that the job of your dreams will be posted and snatched up within the 24 hours you took a break. Trust me—your email will all still be there when you’re ready to get going again.

So, if you are really ready to go somewhere new, keep at it. When you land the next job, you’ll be glad you didn’t quit. And while these four reminders won’t make the hunt for a job fun, per se, they will hopefully make it a little less painful.


About The Author - Abby is a reporting and evaluation manager at an employee wellness company in Washington, DC. In addition to calculating the health risks for different companies, she also manages and contributes articles to her local gym’s blog. When she’s not crunching numbers or posting content, you can find her taking selfies with her cat (Mildred Meow Meow), hunting down the perfect café, or zipping through the city on her new bike, named Libby. 

Happy Holidays 2015 - Check out our holiday wish for You!

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2016 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Holidays and a very safe and Happy New Years to you and yours!

12/13/15 - How to Follow Up on Your Job Application

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW

You've invested a lot of time in your job search – researching job openings, identifying companies, perfecting your resume, and sharpening your interview skills.

Now, you're ready to take the first big step. You've found a perfect role just opened at your dream company. Meticulously, you complete the online application, attach your cover letter and resume and send everything off!

Now what?

You should proactively follow up while keeping in mind that dozens — even hundreds — of other resumes also are flooding the same HR department, making it difficult to personally respond to each applicant.

This doesn't take away the value of sending a courteous and concise follow up. In fact, following up (the right way) may be just what's needed distinguish your application from the pack.

Consider these steps to follow up after submitting your online application.

If a contact email is provided, make note of this along with the date you submitted your application.

Approximately one week after submitting your application, plan a brief courteous email check-in to confirm they received it. Use this opportunity also to reinforce your enthusiasm for the role.

If another week passes and you still have not heard back, then another short, one- to two-paragraph note is in order, indicating genuine interest in the position and inquiring about next steps.

You may also use this second follow-up to reinforce how you envision using your skills to solve a potential challenge you suspect — or even know — the company is facing. Keep this "solution" very brief (1-3 sentences). The power of this "future impact" proposal is to trigger a connection between your value proposition and their pain points.
If a contact email is NOT provided during the application process, then you will need to be a bit more creative.

Search the company site to locate contact names that are related to the particular role or division for which you applied. If you find a name but no method of reaching them, then make a note of the name.

Next, research that person and company name online, and when you locate them, hunt for an email address. Using the email address, conduct the follow-up similarly (but not exactly the same) as mentioned above – brief, polite and enthusiastic notes indicating you have applied to a role in this person's company.

Communicate that upon researching further, you discovered this person may be a person of influence, and perhaps even is the one vetting resumes for the open job. As such, you wanted to reach out with a brief status inquiry while further expressing your interest. Be careful not to imply an expected response, and that your intentions are simply to express further interest in the role.

If you have a name but cannot locate an email, then perhaps a call into the company reception desk will help. Indicate whom you are trying to reach and simply request the best way to email them. Search Facebook or other social media sites to unearth more information.

Applying for jobs at smaller or mid-sized companies may provide a more direct route to following up as often key leadership/ownership are listed, along with contact information, directly on the site.

Whether emailing or phoning, keep your tone upbeat and professionally passionate, indicating that you would love to explore working for this company. Be specific to prove your sentiments are credible. And always be prepared to walk away from the conversation and move on to the next potential opportunity, without leaving a trail of angst or pressure in your wake. Stay positive, which will not only serve your job search well, but will also help you move more confidently throughout the process.

12/6/15 - Responding to bizarre job-interview questions

By Lisa Quast

A young man I’ve mentored since he was in college called me. “Chris” is now five years into his career and had been interviewing at various Seattle companies in search of a more challenging job. He had received a strange question during an interview and hadn’t been sure how to respond.

“The question was really odd because it had nothing to do with the job requirements and I wasn’t expecting it,” he explained. “Now I’m worried that my answer might have cost me the job opportunity.”

The question was: If you were asked to unload an airplane full of jelly beans, how would you do it?

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

“I’m serious. How would you have answered that question?” he asked.

My response was: “That depends.”

On what?” he asked.

“On all the variables affecting the situation,” I said, smiling into the phone.

“Like what?”

“Well, like timing and quantity – how quickly the jelly beans have to be unloaded and how many there are. The resources available for unloading them. If there are any budget restrictions, because different methods would cost different amounts. Whether the jelly beans are in containers or loose inside the airplane. The size of the airplane would also matter — is it a little Cesna or a huge 747?” I answered.

“Oh, good grief,” he sighed.

To get Chris to laugh, I purposely started rambling: “The location could also matter. Is it in a hot climate where the jelly beans will quickly melt? Is it on a runway at Sea-Tac airport or sitting in the middle of a war zone?…” I let my voice trail off.

“So you’re saying the recruiter wasn’t looking for a perfect answer. He just wanted to see how I’d think through the situation,” Chris replied.

Exactly! The good news is that Chris made it through the hiring process and was offered the job. What he encountered in his interview isn’t uncommon — some recruiters and hiring managers will purposely ask somewhat bizarre questions, just to see how a candidate will respond.

In most cases, there isn’t a perfect answer. They’re trying to learn about the candidate’s thought process, creativity and problem-solving skills. They want to gain a better understanding of how the person analyzes difficult situations. If this happens to you, take a deep breath, relax, and then share how you would think through the problem and the variables you’d need to consider (such as cost, timing, budget, location, resources, etc.).

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at

11/29/15 - How Job Interviews Are Like First Dates

By Larry Bonfante

A first interview can be very similar to a first date—you want to leave the other person with enough interest that they want to get to know you better.

Being in the industry for more than 30 years and being a hiring manager for about 25 of those years, I’ve had the opportunity to interview many candidates for a myriad of different positions at several companies. Some of these experiences have been indelibly etched in my mind for all the wrong reasons. Here are some things that stick in my mind as some of the worst mistakes that potential candidates have made in meeting with me.

The first time you interview someone is a lot like a first date. You want to establish a rapport and leave the other person with enough interest that they want to get to know you better. However, you should assume a posture of professional engagement in this process and not be overly familiar. I once had a candidate who interviewed with me who walked into my office, moved the papers from my desk, propped up his elbows on my desk and asked me “so what’s going on?” I can tell you what wasn’t going on…me hiring him!

Turning the tables, I once was a candidate for what was at the time one of the big six (I believe they’re down to four at this point!) accounting/consulting firms. On my first interview, I was kept waiting for more than half an hour and then was taken into a room where literally a dozen people performed the Spanish Inquisition on me! This approach was never communicated to me nor was I necessarily prepared for this tactic. While they were (supposedly) very impressed with me and wanted me to come back for another round of conversations, I quite frankly was not impressed with them or the approach they took to our first meeting. Remember, like all good relationships, both parties have to be excited about the relationship.

Of course, the classic faux pas was a candidate that came in to visit who, when asked why he was considering leaving his current employer, regaled me with a 30 minute tirade on how his current management were all the spawning of Satan! Never, ever, ever bad mouth anyone.

Another common mistake is to turn the interview process into a monologue (this might work for Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert but not so much in an interview setting). I once had a candidate who took 40 minutes to answer my first question without coming up for air. An interview should be an exchange between interested parties regarding the needs of the organization and how the person’s competencies and experiences can address those needs. Interviews, like first dates, don’t go well if one person dominates the conversation.

Perhaps the worst mistake I’ve seen both job candidates as well as sales professionals make is to visit with me without having a clue about who I am, what the organization is all about and what we are looking for. In this day of Google searches, when you can find out my favorite song and hobbies with a 30 second search, it’s absurd to walk into a person’s office without knowing a little about them, the organization and their focus and needs. 

See more at:

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

turkey05               pilglobe               cornucopia01

What do you give thanks for?

We give thanks for the career group leaders who give their time to help us.

We give thanks for the organizations that allow us to meet in and use their facilities.

We give thanks for the speakers who share their knowledge to help us with our job search for free.

We give thanks for the opportunity to network and meet new people.

We give thanks for the opportunity to help others in their job search.

We give thanks for the support our family and friends provide.

We give thanks for the opportunity to spend more time with our family during our job search.

We give thanks for the opportunities we have living in the USA.

We give thanks for the next great opportunity that awaits us in the future.

We give thanks.

What do you give thanks for?

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving from CareerDFW and

11/15/15 - 30-60-90-Day Plan: Your Key To Getting The Job Offer

Peggy McKee

Are you getting interviews but not job offers?

As a career coach, every week I speak to job seekers like you…they are amazing, talented people with resumes good enough to secure interviews—but they don’t stand out enough in the interview to get the offer. This is a problem for everyone, from brand-new graduates to seasoned executives.

In a sea of qualified, talented people, how can you stand out and get the offer? It’s easier than you think.

The key to standing out in any interview and getting the offer is to create and use a 30-60-90-day plan in your interview.

Using a 30-60-90-Day Plan got me five job offers the last time I was in the job search. When I became a recruiter, I insisted that my candidates create and use a 30-60-90-day plan, too—because I knew it would get them hired. My coaching clients who use it now regularly get job offers in minutes, or even receive offers for more senior roles at higher salaries. Once you try it, you’ll never go to another interview without one.

What Is A 30-60-90-Day Plan?
A 30-60-90-Day Plan is an outline of what you plan to do in your first 90 days on the job.

Why Is A 30-60-90-Day Plan Powerful Enough To Secure A Job Offer?
They take away the risk of hiring you.

Think about this: Hiring is a risk for any boss. If they make good choices and build a solid team, they are seen by their upper management as a smart leader who can choose good resources—and they are rewarded. If they choose to hire people who aren’t a good fit, it drags them down. Their judgement is suspect, and maybe their job is in jeopardy. If you help them know you and how you work, and they can visualize you in the job, they become much more confident that they know you and what will happen when you get there. When it comes to hiring, bosses never want a coin toss—they want a clear winner.

They elevate you above all other candidates.

When you discuss your plan with the hiring manager in your interview, it dramatically boosts your communication with him or her about the job. You end up discussing it in detail, and have a much more substantial conversation. Because you must do your research in order to create a plan, you appear very polished and confident to the interviewer. All of these things make you stand out.

I encourage you to learn more about these plans and create one for your next job interview.

Find more information here:

How to Write a 30-60-90-Day Plan for Job Interviews -

11/8/15 - 9 Smart Habits of Highly Effective Networkers


If you've ever felt awkward at a meet-and-greet networking event, here's your 9-step strategy for success.

I've written before about the guy who started swearing within seconds of meeting us at a networking event. Most of us are more professional at events than that, but it's not uncommon to feel uncomfortable--like you've gone back in time to an awkward junior high school dance.

Fortunately, there's a solution. The people who really excel at networking events often follow a similar strategy--one that you can use as well. It allows them to enjoy themselves, make good contacts, and leave feeling that their time has been well spent.

In the Wall Street Journal recently, Sue Shellenbarger interviewed experts and networkers who were trying to improve their performance about their best practices. Here's the plan they described, organized in nine easy steps.

1. Do your homework.
There are two main ways to prepare for these kinds of events. The first is to research who will be there ahead of time, so that you have specific people in mind whom you want to meet.

The second is simply to be sufficiently informed and in the frame of mind to make interesting small talk--whether it's about local issues, business, sports, or maybe a great article you read recently. You want a go-to conversation that won't seem forced.

2. Read the room correctly.
There are a number of things to consider here, but in short, look for groups of people in which you can be a positive contributor.

"A tight circle of three to five people standing face-to-face in a closed O, maintaining eye contact and talking intently, might look intriguing," Shellenbarger writes, "but they may be solving a pressing problem, making them too busy to greet someone new."

3. Be helpful.
You know how they say that when it comes to your professional network, you have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals? That applies to in-person networking events as well. So, take the opportunity to help others by making introductions and sharing information before you try finding ways to benefit yourself.

4. Be ready to shake hands.
You're there to meet people--not to tie one on or load up on food. So, Shellenbarger advises, it's a good idea to make sure you always have at least one hand free. Sure, have a drink, eat some hors d'oeuvre, but make sure you can carry it all in your left hand.

5. Study body language and eye contact.
People will tell you even without realizing it whether they're open to being approached or interested in talking.

Those "who are genuinely open to new relationships adopt an open stance, shoulders apart, and hands at their sides, turning slightly toward newcomers to welcome them," said one of the networking experts, Kelly Decker, of Decker Communications.

6. Focus on quality over quantity.
The person who walks away from a networking event with a fistful of business cards but no meaningful connections has achieved little. It's often better to have a few good conversations that you might actually follow up on, versus a bunch of fleeting introductions that nobody even remembers the next day.

7. Love the one you're with.
When you start talking with someone, you make a short-term commitment to engage in conversation. Don't "look over the shoulder of the person you're talking to in case someone more interesting shows up," Shellenbarger writes.

8. Be humble and authentic.
This one always amazes me--people who try to suck up all the oxygen in the room in the hope that they'll somehow "win" the game by being the center of attention. A vanity contest like that doesn't benefit anyone. Instead, be smart and confident but modest enough to allow others to have their turn to talk as well.

9. Talk with people who aren't talking to anyone.
Have a little compassion, for one thing--but more than that, recognize that people who are having a hard time striking up a conversation are likely to be even more receptive to your introduction. As Shellenbarger puts it, don't assume "anyone standing alone is a loser and should be avoided."

11/1/15 - How To Close The Job Interview To Get The Offer

Peggy McKee

Many job candidates make a huge mistake in their interviews—and you need to make sure it isn’t happening in yours.

Even though qualified, talented job candidates do a great job of preparing for the interview, researching the company, putting a lot of thought and effort into answering interview questions, and all that…at the end of the interview they fail to ask THE key question that could get them the offer.

What’s The Question?

It’s about closing. Closing is a sales term. Every sales rep must close, or they may very well lose that business—but guess what? The job interview is a sales process. You are selling you to that hiring manager for that job.

Closing allows you to gauge what’s happened in that interview, and react accordingly. How many times have you left an interview not knowing how it went? Or thinking it went well—but not getting the job offer? Closing helps you avoid those problems.

How Do You Close?

If you are closing, you are asking for the next step. Please note: this does not necessarily mean asking for the job. Asking for the next step is easier for you to do, and requires less commitment from the hiring manager—so it’s easier to grant you that next step.

In the phone interview, you can say,

“Ms. X, I’ve got to tell you that I am very excited about this position and I know that I could excel at it because of A, B, and C. Can you see me being successful in this role?”

“Is there any reason why you wouldn’t move me forward?”

“Can we go ahead and schedule time for us to meet next week in a face-to-face interview?”
In the face-to-face interview, when you can tell that it’s wrapping up (you know your time is up, or the hiring manager starts looking at his watch, for example), you can ask,

“Mr. Manager, I’ve enjoyed this time with you today. I hope that you can tell that I’ve put a lot of time, energy, and effort into preparing for this interview. I can tell you that I am super-excited about this role—even more so now that I’ve learned more about it today. Can you see me being a fantastic addition to your team?”

“Can you see me being someone who would thrive in your environment?”

“Can we move me forward to the next step?”
These are all closing questions that allow you to gauge where you are in the interview so you can react to it. If they say ‘no,’ you can ask why not and possibly correct a misconception or add more information that would change their mind. You’ll never leave another interview wondering if they liked you enough, or if you said everything you needed to say. If you get a ‘yes’ answer, you know you’ve done well. And, because they’ve said yes, they are more likely to offer you the job.

What Will You Do Now?

A lot of people won’t do this. It requires a lot of courage and a lot of determination—but who is worth this effort more than you?

Learn to use these closing lines in your interview (this closing podcast will help), because it will really improve your interview performance and make it much more likely that you will get the offer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.

10/25/15 - More proof that when it comes to hiring, it’s who you know that matters

Alice Truong 

There are a number of reason why white men dominate the technology industry, including the fact they tend to invest in or hire others that look like them. Paul Graham, the venture capitalist who founded tech accelerator Y Combinator, received his share of backlash in 2013 when he told the New York Times magazine about an investment that went sour: “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. There was a guy once who we funded who was terrible. I said: ‘How could he be bad? He looks like Zuckerberg!’”

Job referrals undoubtedly feed into this less-than-virtuous cycle, and a new report from Jobvite, which makes software for tracking job applications, shows this is the method recruiters primarily rely on when filling open roles. According to the firm, 78% of recruiters hiring across all industries say they find their best candidates through internal referrals. Many companies incentivize their employees to tap their networks for potential job candidates, rewarding them with bonuses if their referrals are hired.

It's who you know that matters

Recruiters' favorite source for job candidates
Referrals - 78%
Social Network - 56%
Intern Hires - 55%
Direct Applications - 46%
Outside Recruiters - 38%
Internet Job Boards - 37%
Mobile Career Sites - 19%

Having informally polled tech companies about their referral rates, Quartz has found that as many as three-quarters of new hires come in through referrals, as is the case with social media platform Hootsuite. CEO Ryan Holes told Quartz in December that referrals are a way to find employees aligned with the company’s values—but the company does not offer referral bonuses to its employees.

It’s understandable why companies rely so heavily on the method. Studies have found referred employees are more productive and stay with their firms longer. And they also come pre-vetted by someone at the company. Effective or not, though, it’s a tactic that largely overlooks underrepresented minorities and helps perpetuate a homogenous workforce.

Some companies are trying to find interesting ways around the problem. Intel, for example, said it would double referral bonuses, up to $4,000, for minority candidates.
But for now, Silicon Valley, which bills itself as a meritocracy, is still a place with a startling lack of diversity, suggesting not everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed there.

10/18/15 - 10 Reasons Why I Ignored Your Resume


This article is part of DBA, a new series on Mashable about running a business that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management.

A lot of people want jobs in marketing, which is great news for those of us currently hiring. However, after a decade of screening, interviewing and onboarding marketers, there are still some mistakes that I constantly see. Here are examples of some mistakes you should avoid.

1. You use a Hotmail or AOL email address
Marketers should see into the future, not live in the past, so unless you're applying for a job as a historian for 1999, I would suggest updating your email address, perhaps to a Gmail address. Bonus points if you use an email address associated with your own custom domain because it shows you know something about using the web and technology.

2. I can't find you on Google
You don't have to be popular like Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson, but you should be present enough on the web that I can easily find your LinkedIn profile, content you have created, your Twitter account, or your personal web page just by typing your name into Google.

3. Your last tweet is from 2011
Don't tell me you're a digital guru if you haven't tweeted in the last three years. You don't have to have a million followers (though I'll pay closer attention if you do), but you do need to be participating in the conversation on a regular basis by sharing other people’s content and staying current. A few tweets a week is enough; a month long lapse is unacceptable. I’d rather see you using one network well and not have accounts on the others, than have accounts everywhere and use none of them effectively.

4. Your public Facebook photos resemble "Frank the Tank"
Doing keg stands when you're young is cool (believe it or not, I did a few back in the day) but there is literally no excuse for any of them to be in your public Facebook profile. Shirtless or bikini photos have no place in your public-facing profile on any network, so plan accordingly unless you’re applying to be Will Farrell’s stunt double; in which case, best of luck to you.

5. Your LinkedIn photo is a selfie
LinkedIn is, by definition, a professional network. To that end, I think it’s fair to expect your photo there to be professional-looking. Do you need a glamour shot or Annie Leibovitz-quality image to get hired? Absolutely not. But you should be looking straight to the camera, show your entire face (emo, shadowy portraits are cool for Instagram but not for LinkedIn), and be appropriately sized for the channel.

6. The only number on your resume is your phone number
Marketing is no longer arts and crafts — you need to be measurable and efficient to succeed. As a result, if your resume doesn’t include a single quantifiable metric to show your accomplishments, you’re likely not going to be a good fit on a marketing team today.

7. You speak exclusively in business babble
Tell me what you're doing and what you have done in a clear, concise manner — limit the business babble. No one wants to read about how you "leverage responsibilities to meaningfully impact the organization’s directional strategy." Tell me what you marketed, sold or championed within your company and how it moved the needle — no gobbledygook required.

8. You haven't written anything since college
Your writing sample should not be a college term paper. Now there are countless channels to publish your work, so whether you self-publish through LinkedIn, post to Medium, or just keep your own blog current, you should be able to provide a current work sample that doesn’t have your college professor’s edits all over it. Every single person on our marketing team does some form of content creation, so we need people who are exceptional and committed to publishing or producing content early and often.

9. You applied for 15 positions on our team
Being eager to join a company is a good thing; being desperate is not. Invest the time to craft a cover letter and resume tailored to the job you truly want rather than trying to boil the ocean by applying to dozens of jobs in the same category. Not sure which position is a fit based on your skill set? Shoot a quick clarifying email to the hiring manager or recruiter before applying: Doing so may help you choose the right fit based on your experience and interests.

10. You forget to use Ctrl + F
Everyone knows spelling errors are unacceptable, but it’s amazing to me how many cover letters we get addressed to the wrong people or referencing another local company instead of HubSpot. Finding the time to create 100 different cover letters is nearly impossible, but you should have tailored cover letters and resumes for the types of positions you are applying for and invest the time and energy to ensure the company name, hiring manager and position are correctly spelled and positioned throughout your application materials.

Job hunting is hard, so don't make it harder that it has to be. Do yourself a favor and don’t give a company a reason not to hire you before you even get to the interview. Marketing has changed, adapt your job search strategy accordingly!

Mike Volpe is the CMO of HubSpot, a marketing and sales software company in Cambridge, MA. Follow him on Twitter @mvolpe.

10/11/15 - Avoid These 3 Resume Mistakes

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW 

According to, the definition for resume is "a summing up; summary;" and, "a brief written account of personal, educational and professional qualifications and experiences, as that prepared by an applicant for a job."

With this somewhat broad definition in mind, job seekers often get consumed by understanding the details of what to do when building a career summary. However, the conundrum is that you're not sure which details to consider, and which to toss so your resume lands on the hiring manager's desk.

In these instances, it may in fact be best to begin with just a few rules of thumb regarding what 'not' to do when building your new resume (versus getting bogged down in a bunch of rules).

To get your resume jumpstarted, consider these three things:

1. Don't marry your resume to a template.

As with anything personalized, when you put your stock in a template—mirroring format, words and content strategies—your results will look like a me-too story. A shiny, pretty, buzzword-polished resume may make your eyes light up and feel good about 'you' initially, but over time, lackluster responses from hiring decision makers will dim that light.

Instead, if you are determined to use another resume as inspiration, leave it at just that, using the other resume (or template) as a launch pad for yours. Other resumes and design strategies may serve as guides but should not be the primary premise for your unique resume story.

2. Don't make your resume all about you.

The bottom line is this is YOUR story, so initially, you want to focus on what your goals and dreams are. Once you have nailed those down, however, you want to identify the types of companies and roles that will leverage your talents in a way that you can reach your destination.

Uncover your target audience's needs. What types of products or services do they provide? What types of clients do they serve? What types of problems might they typically encounter?

Next, weave together career stories that imply your greatness through results that benefited your future company and your future boss within that company. Make sure the results pop not only with metrics but also with your strategic thinking and solutions-building skills. Show your 'how' and your 'why,' and get the reader emotionally engaged to you, feeling that you understand their needs and can resolve their areas of struggle.

In other words, the next boss you are appealing to must feel you are their champion, their hero who can come in and help THEM look good to their bosses and reach the next level of their career.

3. Don't worry about the rules.

Read 10 articles on resumes, and you will get 10 different opinions. Some say never to exceed two pages; others instruct never to use first-person; some say never to go back further than 10 or 15 years; and some indicate that employing a chart or graph in a resume is an absolute no-no.

Scrap those rules for a moment, and just begin writing, with this primary rule in mind: FOCUS. Focus on your goals wedded with your target audience's wishes. At first, you may find that a brain-dump resume unfolds, one that appears leggy and lumbering. Of course, you won't want to stop there. Instead, take a scalpel and begin editing your story down, layer by layer, until you unveil the targeted message – a pithy short story that draws your reader in, hungry to know more.

10/4/15 - How To Answer The Question 'Why Should We Hire You?'

Liz Ryan 

If you’re job-hunting these days you’d better think about your answer to the question “Why should we hire you for this job?” because it is one of the staples of the traditional interview script.

I hate the question, because it commands a job-seeker to dance and prance for the king’s pleasure. It’s a stupid question.

You, Mr. or Ms. Interviewer, are going to meet the other job candidates — I won’t!

You know what the company needs. Your job ad didn’t convey much in the way of helpful information about what’s really going on in the department.

If it had, or if you had the confidence to talk frankly about your problems right now in the interview, I could tell you how I’ve solved similar problems before. But you’re not saying a word about your problems.

So how on earth could I tell you without having spent more than 45 minutes in your building, without ever having worked here and without meeting the other applicants, why you should hire me?

A lot of people in interviewing capacities don’t realize how obnoxious the traditional interview questions are. They don’t think about the fact that they’d be affronted if you turned around and asked them the same interview questions back.

They’ve been reading the same interview script for years without giving it much thought, if any.

You can shake your interviewer out of his or her stupor and make him think about your answer. You can step outside the standard Good Little Sheepie Job Seeker frame and give an honest answer to the question “Why should we hire you?”

Interviewer: Why should we hire you?

You: Honestly I can’t say that you should hire me — I haven’t met the other candidates and I won’t, while you’ve met them or will meet them and you know a lot about what the company needs — intangible elements that don’t translate well into a job ad. I can say that if you and I are meant to work together, we’ll both know it. What do you think?

Not every hiring manager will like your non-cookie-cutter answer to the question, but so what?

If they don’t like the way you answer the question, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe you’d be miserable working for a person who can’t move an inch outside the lines.

What if you went to your next job interview as yourself, rather than a cartoon character who looks like you but says goofy kiss-ass things you’d never actually say? Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

Professionally and personally, it might be the best career move you ever made.

9/27/15 - How to Overcome Job-Search Misery

How to Overcome Job-Search Misery
Escape the cycle of being sad because you can't get a job, and then not getting a job because you're too sad.
By Laura McMullen 

Say you're a boxer who's been taking some serious beatings lately. You show up to each match still swollen and sore from the last. You feel slow and scared and start expecting to get your butt kicked. The more pressure you feel to win just one stupid match, the more bummed you get when you don't. And you start thinking maybe you should just give up the whole cruel sport.

The job hunt is pretty brutal, too.

A long, arduous search can leave psychological bruises and hurl you into a self-defeating cycle. "It's a blow to your self-esteem," says David Reiss, a psychiatrist based in San Diego. The more confidence you lose, the worse you perform in the job search. This process "takes a half a step off your game," Reiss says.

Here's how to toughen up, cheer up and knock out those job-search blues:

1. Have fun. Do you remember this concept of fun [pronounced: fuhn]? You're still allowed to have some, even if your job search has been unsuccessful. Think about what makes you happy, and do it. "What do you usually do for fun, and what have you given up?" Reiss asks. If money's tight, find cheaper variations of those activities, he adds. Say you used to love going to dinner and a movie with friends. Keep the sentiment, and nix the expense by inviting folks over for an at-home movie and potluck.

2. Vent. You're right – that hiring manager is a jerk for never confirming he received your application. Yes, the job search is cruel and unfair. It's true, the whole process does make you feel like an insignificant, unwanted, tiny speck of a person. But – but! – carry an ounce of that negativity into an interview or any correspondence with a potential employer, and you may be the one coming off as a jerk. Those bad vibes also have the tendency to drain your happiness and derail your productivity.

It's normal to feel upset. "You can't stop the feeling; there's no button to push to make it go away," Reiss says. But you can push some weight on the bench press, or push yourself up into the crane yoga pose. Try turning to exercise and meditation to vent your negative feelings, Reiss says.

3. Get some perspective. "When you're in a prolonged job search, you start doubting everything you have to offer an employer," says Lea McLeod, career expert and author of the 21 Days to Peace at Work email newsletter. Then, come time to interview, apply or network, "you're not putting your best foot forward when your primary motivation is about how you're failing versus how you're succeeding," she says.

You're not failing. You're just doing your best in the job search process, which – let's face it – sucks and is full of rejection. It's not personal, Reiss adds, although it may feel like it. Plus, "there are realities that the system isn't always fair," he says. "The deck may be stacked against you for reasons that have nothing to do with your abilities."

It may help to curb your expectations. "People go into a job search with incredibly unrealistic expectations about what it's going to take," McLeod says. Here's the reality: The process is going to be long and take more than staring at job boards, particularly for folks without years of experience or who are transitioning to a new industry or role, she says.

Now that you're square with the reality of job searching, it's time to toughen up. As Reiss puts it: "Look at the grief and the anger in the eye without letting it own you."

4. Seek support. Of course, being grounded and motivated through an arduous job search is difficult without someone in your corner of the ring. Discuss the job search with a friend or family member – "someone who can help you snap out of the doldrums," McLeod says. He or she may let you complain for five minutes, and then give you that perspective and encourage you to plan your next steps.

Not just anyone can fill this important role. "You need someone who can keep a level head and be objective but compassionate," Reiss says, adding that this person can also help with mock interviews and tell you if you're coming off as desperate or grim.

Sometimes this support should come from a professional. If you're turning to drugs or alcohol?, or if the job search is disrupting your sleep, appetite, concentration or relationships, Reiss recommends seeing a mental health professional.

5. Find a part-time job. If you're unemployed and struggling financially, McLeod suggests getting a side gig like a part-time job or contract or temp work. Not only will the job help you pay the bills, but it will chip away at the financial stress that magnifies the pressure you feel to find a job, she says. "It doesn't have to be your career job," McLeod says. "But have it be something that gives you a focus for your energy other than your job search."

6. Change your strategy. Scrolling through job boards and applying online as you come across postings is a recipe for a lengthy, depressing job search. "If you keep staring at this environment that you can't interact with, that you have no control over and that you don't get any feedback from, your job search? is going to get very long very quickly," McLeod says.

Her mantra? "Stop applying, and start targeting," she says. Brainstorm companies you want to work for, and then find ways to build relationships with their employees through your first-, second- and third-tier connections. This networking is more likely to snag you a job than sending your résumé? through a company's applicant tracking system.

And it's more energizing, too. Say you make a point to reach out to 10 people a week, and a few of them agree to meet up or take your call. That positive response – hearing someone say "sure!" instead of nothing at all after you apply to a job – is motivating. "That can keep you going when you have a long, arduous search," McLeod says.

She adds that you can even join or create a group of fellow job seekers, who would meet regularly to ask each other questions, share connections and hold each other accountable for staying on top of his or her hunt. McLeod stresses that the point of the group isn't to ?kvetch, but to give and receive support. Plus, she adds: "It gives you a sense that you're not out there alone."

Laura McMullen is the Careers editor at U.S. News and was previously a Health + Wellness reporter. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, circle her on Google+ or email her at

9/20/15 - A Woman's Most Powerful Salary Negotiation Tool? Silence


Salary negotiations fill many people with fear, but studies show that women find them particularly challenging.

"You have to remember that women are newer to the workplace," says Katie Donovan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, a consultancy that helps women get the pay they deserve. "Sure, we've been secretaries, teachers, and nurses forever, but in terms of executive positions that require negotiating a salary, we're on relatively new ground. In my own life, my father taught my brother to negotiate, but my mother taught me to how to wear lipstick. Many of us did not have role models giving us the inside scoop."

Donovan compares women's struggle with negotiating their salary to the struggles of first-generation college students navigating a college campus. Students whose parents didn't go to college may not fully understand the resources that are at their disposal and, as a result, not take advantage of them. Similarly, women may not realize that many companies set aside money with the expectation that employees will ask for better compensation packages—although, of course, they will not volunteer this extra money. The data back this up: found that 84% of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate salary during the interview stage. Yet only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, while 46% of men negotiate.

"I kept hearing about how women hardly ever negotiate their salary, while men almost always do," Donovan says. "I set up this company because I didn't want to see my nieces, who at the time were between 14 and 22, having the same conversations in their 40s about how much money they had left on the table that so many of my friends were having." (That figure, over the course of a lifetime of not negotiating, could add up to as much as $2 million in lost earnings.)

Donovan gives talks, runs workshops, and does online seminars to teach women the basics of negotiation. She even offers an app that takes into account the gender income gap so you can learn what men typically make for a particular job. She also coaches clients one-on-one as they walk through a salary negotiation with their prospective employer. In her years of experience, she's gathered some pearls of wisdom for people who have just received a job offer and are ready to negotiate their compensation passage. (While Donovan has deployed this advice in helping women to narrow the gender pay gap, she points out that her advice applies to job candidates of both genders; women just tend to be less aware of these issues going into a negotiation.)

"You would never go into an interview without a resume," Donovan says. "In the same way, you should never accept your offer without negotiating your salary."

One of the first lines that a prospective employer will give you is that the compensation package is non-negotiable—but that's likely not true. Salaries are almost always negotiable.

Employers have many savvy ways to convince you not to negotiate. Sometimes, it will come across as flattery: "You're such a great candidate that I didn't want to bother with negotiating—so I went to bat and got you the highest salary you could possibly start with." At other times, it might be something less positive: "We offer entry-level employees a fixed package," "You're not as good as you think you are," or "Your information is wrong."

"This is just their starting line," Donovan says. "Most of us accept what they are saying at face value, but really, it's just part of the game. The biggest mistake you can make is falling for it."

Donovan points out that many women are very good at following rules, which is why girls consistently outperform boys in school. But sometimes succeeding in the workplace means breaking perceived rules; men often don't take a "no" from an employer to be the last word. Women going into negotiations should always assume that there is always some wiggle room in the compensation package. "If increasing salary doesn't seem to be working, try negotiating on things like vacation time, bonuses, or benefits," Donovan says.

Donovan says that one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation is learning to become comfortable with occasional bouts of awkward silence. "In sales, this is something that people are constantly trained in," she says. "You need to stop selling against yourself. That's what happens when you keep talking. You need to ask a question, then shut up and give the other person a chance to respond."

There are several places where women might be tempted to cave into the silence and say things that work against their best interests. For instance, employers might ask you what your previous salary was. Donovan strongly asserts that you should never give out this information; it's simply not relevant. "Your salary has to do with your performance and the market rate," Donovan says. "It has nothing to do with what you were making before or what your current cost of living is." If you are asked this question, she recommends saying, "It's confidential," then not saying anything. It is important not to let the discomfort of the silence push you to give up information that you don't want to share.

Another point when a job candidate is likely to cave is when the prospective employer brings to the table a compensation package that is lower than expected. This does not mean that the negotiation is over. Donovan recommends responding enthusiastically about the job, but making it clear that the financial offer is not acceptable. As a first step, she suggests asking for time to review the entire package, to identify all the areas that are worth negotiating over. Then, you can go back and say, "Thank you, I am so excited about the job. However, that offer seems low based on my research." Then, let the employer come back with a response. Don't back off from your stance, even if there is initial silence.

Before entering a negotiation, Donovan tells her clients to think about all the ways they might be coerced not to negotiate or to believe that they are asking for an unreasonable salary. Then, the key is to come armed with hard data about market rate salaries based on sites like,, and Glassdoor, or information from trade associations. "Then you can shift the conversation away from the salary that you want to focusing on what you are owed based on your performance and the market," Donovan says.

A common way an employer will shut down further communication is by saying they cannot afford more. In this case, be armed with research about the employer's finances. If they are publicly traded, you can find information about them on Bloomberg, Nasdaq, or NYSE; if they are private, scour their website and press releases. Then, an appropriate response would be to say, "I'm surprised to hear that. I saw you had X% increase in profits last year."

Another response might be that you are already getting the highest salary in your pay grade. Here, you rely on your knowledge of current market rates. You might respond by saying, "That is interesting to know, but not the issue. The concern is that the pay is not on par with the current market."

You might be told that the salary you are asking for is for more experienced workers. In this case, you can respond with facts about your performance. You could point out that pay should reflect more than just time spent on the job, but education and results as well. Then point to quantifiable achievements that have resulted in increases in revenue or decreases in cost.

In each of these scenarios, the potential employer may respond with silence, as he or she processes what you are saying. Again, you should focus on sounding confident, which means being comfortable with gaps that are bound to emerge in the conversation. "Before you go into a negotiation, you will want to practice by role playing these conversations over and over," says Donovan, "until they stop feeling uncomfortable to you."

ELIZABETH SEGRAN - STAFF WRITER , FAST COMPANY - Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and The Nation.

9/13/15 - 4 Signs You’re NOT Acing the Interview – And How to Fix It

Heather Huhman 

You stand up, shake the interviewer’s hand, and head home happy that you nailed the interview. A week later...still no call.

What went wrong? The interview went so smoothly, didn’t it?

In a December 2014 survey of 2,100 hiring and HR managers, CareerBuilder found 50 percent of hiring managers know enough about a candidate to make a hiring decision within the first five minutes. Wait 15 minutes, and 90 percent of interviewers will have you pegged.

In other words, that “smooth” interview could just mean the hiring manager decided from the very beginning you’re not the right fit and is going through the motions.

How do you know for sure? Here are four telltale signs your interviewer isn’t interested and how to turn your performance around:

1. You’re only getting easy questions.

It may seem like a dream come true, but when an interviewer pitches you only the easy questions, odds are you’re not seriously being considered for the position. Harder questions -- the ones that challenge candidates to think on their feet and solve problems they may encounter on the job -- are a way for interviewers to gauge how prepared candidates are for the role and determine if they are a good fit for the organization.

If you find yourself continuously answering simple questions that don’t give you an opportunity to connect your experiences with the skills required for the job, it could mean the interviewer doesn’t think you’re a strong enough candidate to explore deeper.

What to do about it: Be assertive. Tell your interviewer you have a question and say something like: “In my last position, I was often required to do XYZ. I’ve noticed this position requires similar experience. How does XYZ play into the daily responsibilities of the role?”

2. The interviewer doesn’t ask about your availability to start.

The company you’re interviewing with has a spot to fill, and they’ll want to fill it as soon as possible. To do so, it has a number of things to prepare: pay schedule, new hire paperwork, employee orientation, and more. All those things take planning, so an interested interviewer will want to know when you can start.

If the interviewer doesn’t ask about your availability, it may be a sign that your resume isn’t near the top of the pile.

What to do about it: Turn the tables on the interviewer. Instead of waiting until you’re asked about your availability, mention how interested you are in the position and how you excited you would be to get started right away (or in five days, a week, at the end of the month, etc.). You never know, your confidence and interest may change the interviewer’s opinion of you.

3. The interviewer doesn’t discuss the rest of the hiring process.

Today, most organizations have prolonged hiring processes that may include multiple interviews, pre-hire assessments, writing samples, portfolio submissions and more. If you’re a good fit for the position, the interviewer will talk with you about their hiring process and what you can expect in the days to come.

If you hear, “Thanks for your time, good luck with the rest of your job search,” you’re probably not on the short list.

What to do about it: Be confident and proactive (do you see a pattern?). Take a moment as the interview is wrapping up to summarize why you’re a great fit for the position. Then, ask the interviewer what the next steps in the hiring process are and when you can expect to hear from them.

4. Your interview is shorter than scheduled.

Your interview is scheduled for 30 minutes, but between the interviewer’s questions and yours, you’re out of there in 15. That’s a good thing right? Not really.

Sometimes, a short interview is the result of poor scheduling that leaves the interviewer strapped for time. Most of the time, however, it’s the result of an interviewer making an early decision about your fit and trying to move on to the next candidate sooner rather than later.

These interviews are often characterized by a one-to-one question-to-answer ratio. In other words, the interviewer asks a question, you give an answer, and the interview continues -- there isn’t much back and forth.

What to do about it: Create your own back and forth. Make sure you have a list of questions before the interview that you can refer to if you think you’re not getting the consideration you deserve. Then, find ways to ask your questions as follow-ups to engage the interviewer and help yourself stand out.

Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

9/6/15 - The Best Way To Request And Receive LinkedIn Recommendations

by William Arruda 

We all know that testimonials can be powerfully persuasive. And we’ve all experienced the effect of one of the newest forms of testimonials – LinkedIn recommendations – but the protocols for obtaining them can be confusing. In this post, I’ll share my proven process for requesting and receiving recommendations on LinkedIn.

Let’s start by understanding why they are so important.

Your Digital Profile

Your virtual brand has become crucial as the world has moved online. Thanks to a concept called Digital First (coined by Mitch Joel in his book Ctrl Alt Delete) your online profile almost always delivers your first impression. So when someone wants to learn about you, they will put your name into Google (Google has 67% of the search engine market share) and see what comes up. That digital first impression of you is hard to change, even after they meet you in person.

Measures Of Online ID

Those who are researching you will evaluate your Google results based on the five elements of digital branding: volume (how much content is there about you?), relevance (is the content consistent with what they expect/need?), purity (can they determine what content is about you vs. others who share your name?), diversity (is all your content text-based or is there multi-media?) and validation (do others confirm your self-pronouncements?).

The Importance Of LinkedIn

Great news! When someone googles you, your LinkedIn profile will likely show up at the top of the search results. This is great because your audience will read your profile even if they don’t look for it directly on LinkedIn. And even better news! Thanks to recent significant feature enhancements, your LinkedIn profile supports all five measures of online banding.

Recommendations Are Powerful

Your LinkedIn recommendations support the fifth element of digital branding – validation. They confirm what you say about yourself in your profile. Most of your profile is you talking about you – who you are and what you have done. Recommendations give you the opportunity to have others reinforce your claims.

An excellent bonus is that your recommendation shows up on the profile of the person who provided it (under Recommendations: Given). Plus, the content of those recommendations becomes searchable text – connecting you to people who need what you have to offer.

The Four-Step Process For Requesting Recommendations

Now that you’re inspired to enhance your profile with recommendations, it’s time to strategize so that you can make the most of them. Because recommendations are so visible, you can’t afford to take a scattershot approach. Here’s my process for asking for recommendations and adding them to your profile:

1. Develop Your Plan

Before reaching out, you need to prioritize. Look at all the things you have accomplished, examining the roles you have had through internships, boards, and even volunteer work (essentially all the content blocks in your LinkedIn profile). Make a list of all the people who witnessed your work. Seek to identify those who meet these criteria:

They are thought leaders, known in your industry or function
They work for companies or organizations that are respected and revered
They have an impressive title (CEO, SVP, Founder, etc.)

Then prioritize. You will want at least one recommendation for each LinkedIn Experience entry – paying the most attention to your most recent roles.

2. Ask

When you are ready to reach out, don’t do so directly through LinkedIn. Instead, send a message from your email account asking if it is OK to request a LinkedIn recommendation. This will:

make it more likely that you will get a recommendation. Often people ignore the messages that come from LinkedIn.
give you the opportunity to influence what your reference says. In your email, tactfully include the words and concepts you would like them to include, and offer to supply a rough draft.
Here’s an example of what this email might look like:

Hello Ellen,
I hope all is great with you. I would like to reach out to you through LinkedIn to request a recommendation for the work I did when I was when I was on your team. The projects you assigned me allowed me to be the most creative I have ever been in my career. I am so appreciative of the opportunity you gave me to lead and manage others – it was a valuable growth experience for me.

I know you are really busy, so I’d be happy to send you a draft recommendation you can edit (or of course, just ignore).

Thanks in advance for your support.

Of course, be authentic. Don’t suggest phrases that are not accurate or that your reference would feel uncomfortable saying. As with all things related to personal branding – authenticity is essential.

3. Send The Request

When you receive a “yes” to your email, reach out through LinkedIn.

In your profile, scroll down to Recommendations and click on “Ask for a recommendation.”
Choose the role for which you want to be recommended.
Identify the person you want to recommend you (from your connections). You can add up to three people, but it’s best to only include one person, customizing each request.
Identify your relationship to them and what their role was at the time.
Write your message. In the message you send, include your draft for them to edit (unless they ask you not to send one). Even if they ultimately decide to start from scratch, reading your draft will likely influence their content.
After you receive the recommendation, you can decide whether accept it and add it to your profile. Repeat this process for the people on the prioritized list you prepared in step 1.

4. Send Thanks

For many recommendation providers, your request is a big ask, so it’s important to express big gratitude. When we sign our name to something that becomes public, we spend time on it. And many senior leaders are inundated with requests like these. I suggest going beyond an email thank you. Send a snail-mail note or an e-card, or a small gift that will be appreciated.

That’s all there is to it. When you get the right recommendations from the right people and add them to your profile, you’re putting yourself in good company – while sharing compelling evidence of your talent.

8/30/15 - 6 signs that you should ‘nope’ right out of that job interview


There are a lot of articles covering things you should or should not do during a job interview. You should dress nice, answer questions confidently and have the right body language. You should not fidget with your pen, ask about vacation or compensation policy or even sit without being offered a chair.

Some are obviously more valid than others, you can’t expect to make a good impression if you show up unshowered, put your feet on the interviewer’s desk while lighting up a cigarette. But what about your interviewer? What are the signs that indicate that perhaps this isn’t a very healthy company? Jobs are a two-way street; you want to contribute to a good company culture, but it might not always be there to begin with.

Your interviewer behaves insecure and dismissive
The role of the person who interviews you can vary greatly. It could be that the most relevant people are unavailable or there’s an HR person who takes care of it all. It’s likely that this person could be a part of the team you’ll be joining. In rare cases, the person interviewing you might perceive you as a threat and act unprofessionally as a result. This can hint at a very unpleasant work environment and should be considered a warning sign.

Your interviewer seems hostile or disinterested towards the company
It’s a no-brainer. If your interviewer shows even the slightest hostility towards the company, there’s a chance there’s a reason for it. You can find out the hard way and wait for the cause to emerge or you can ask the interviewer why he or she has a less than positive opinion about his or her workplace. It won’t hurt to show that you picked up on something being wrong. It could just be that she or he is having a bad day, or it could be a giant red flag.

Your interviewer hints at fear and stress as work incentives
“We run a tight ship here.” There’s nothing wrong with being performance focused, but be wary of joining a company with extreme expectations, penalties as work incentives and a high turnover rate. This is not to say you shouldn’t put in that little bit of extra work, but when motivational techniques are all stick and no carrot… reconsider whether this company is a good fit for you. If possible, find out what you can from former employees.

Your interviewer seems desperate and vague
Say the interview is going well, you did a good job of making a first impression. At this point you might want to ask a few questions about the company and its strategy for the future. To your surprise, the interviewer starts dodging the questions and/or becomes very vague in his or her answers. Not a deal-breaker, but definitely push for more clarity. Be skeptical of companies that seem a little too eager to hire you on the spot.

Your interviewer is unable to properly explain the role and responsibilities
“We’re looking for a motivated, independent go-getter who’s willing to give it everything to take our company to the next level!”. This is not a good description of a role. If your interviewer is unable to properly inform you as to what your responsibilities will be within the company, make a point of asking for a bit more clarity. If this is met with anything other than a more specific explanation, it could be a sign that the company might be dishonest and perhaps even exploitative.

Your interviewer comes across as self-absorbed or arrogant
Sometimes you walk into an interview and find yourself across from the Kanye West of interviewers. They’ll let you finish, but first you’ll need to hear how their efforts at the company were the best of all time. Inflated egos can be the norm in certain industries or sectors like fashion, advertising or finance. In the end it’s your call, and you’re the one who’s gonna have to deal with it. Choose wisely.

8/23/15 - Job Seekers: Use A Work Portfolio During Job Interviews To Gain The Hiring Manager's Attention 

Client: “I’ve been receiving call backs and going to interviews, but I always seem to lose the hiring manager’s interest half way through the interview. How can I hold their attention?”

“Sarah” was in her mid-30s and had worked as a graphic designer since graduating from college. She had also just finished her master’s degree in communications at a prestigious local university. She had the skills, the experience and the education, so what was her problem? Sarah hadn’t created a work portfolio – a collection of examples that she could use to show hiring managers how her projects had benefited previous employers and clients.

Not everyone needs a portfolio of work examples for job interviews, but it can be helpful if you work in a career field where you’ve created tangible items and/or achieved measurable results that display your skills and expertise. This could include graphic designers, interior designers, communications specialists, marketing managers, project managers, advertising specialists, public relations specialists, social media experts, architects, painters, writers, etc.

After explaining the concept of a portfolio and providing a few examples, Sarah chose to create a simple website to showcase her work. One section of the website provided a brief background about Sarah, another included her contact information and the other sections featured examples of client work, such as: logos, business cards, posters, banners, ads, sales promotions, web graphics, branding identities, monthly newsletter graphics and so on.

For each example, Sarah included a brief paragraph about the client’s needs and a paragraph explaining the solution she provided. After creating the website, Sarah updated her resume and LinkedIn profile, adding the URL so prospective employers could view her online portfolio. She also began including the URL in her customized cover letters and adding a “teaser” page that showed the best eight items she’d created. Then Sarah printed out a selection of the projects (in full color) and put them into clear protective covers that she clipped into a three-ring binder to take with her to job interviews.

In preparation for interviews, I helped Sarah practice explaining examples by briefly sharing the customers’ needs and how the solutions she created benefitted them. This gave Sarah the boost of confidence she needed, and she never lost the attention of a hiring manager again. She actually ended up receiving three different job offers – a nice problem to have!

To benefit from a portfolio, you don’t need to work in a job that is typically considered “creative” like Sarah’s. You could pull together a portfolio with accomplishments and accolades to help you stand out from other job candidates. Include certifications earned, awards won, and positive letters from customers/clients or previous managers. Put all of these into individual, clear protective covers, clip them into a three-ring binder and bring it with you to job interviews.


Lisa Quast, author of the book, Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach: A Foolproof Guide to Getting the Job You Want. Every Time. Join me on Twitter @careerwomaninc

8/16/15 - 5 Smart Approaches to Take When You're Asked to Name Your Salary

5 Smart Approaches to Take When You're Asked to Name Your Salary (Besides Just Writing All the Zeros)
By Lily Herman 

You’re interviewing for a pretty great gig, and things are going really well. Until, well, they ask you what seems like a trick question: How much money do you think you deserve?

While most of us have been at the negotiation table before, throwing a salary out there with no context is an entirely different playing field. On one hand, you want to ask for “one million dollars, please.” On the other hand, you know that’s wildly unrealistic. (Though, does it hurt to ask for something wildly unrealistic—since the number can only go down from there?)

It’s normal to be scared that you’re asking for too much (or, heaven forbid, too little). Luckily, a user on Quora had the same issue—and several other members came to the rescue. As always, we’re lucky to have the internet at our disposal.

1. Look at Competitors

I would look at comparable companies…and comparable salaries on Glassdoor for similar positions within those companies. Then add 10% more than what you find there and explain to the recruiter/hiring manager that you are worth more than the average person fulfilling that position for x, y, z reasons.
Alex Popp

Another pro tip: Make sure you look at competitors in the same city. Understandably, there’s a huge discrepancy between what a marketing manager makes in New York versus Oklahoma City.

2. Find the Ceiling and the Floor

Ask for them to write down a figure that is the maximum they’d they’d be willing to pay. It will be a figure based on what they think you are worth to them now, what they can afford to pay, and what they think is the highest reasonable [salary] given their business and how much they pay their other employees. This is not what you will be asking for; it’s just the ceiling.

Sean Lucent - Once you have the salary “ceiling,” Lucent recommends putting together the floor: What’s the minimum amount of money you need to pay the bills, afford rent, have enough food, the works? (And don’t be modest with the works—you know what matters to you.)

When you have both a minimum and maximum to work within, the process of figuring out your pay gets easier. Obviously, if you find that the company’s “ceiling” is much lower than the “floor” you’ve calculated, it might not be a good fit.

3. Flip the Script

There’s an old adage in negotiation that goes something like this: He who speaks first loses.

Anthony Gold - This was a general theme throughout the Quora thread: If at all possible, find a way to get the company to give you some sort of offer for reference. You can do this by being vague about the fact that “your total compensation package is flexible and depends on the specific package offered.”

4. Think About Other Benefits

You should talk directly with the owner of the business if you have this much leverage, and you should center your “package” around getting close to that individual.

Jason McCabe Calacanis - Salary is just one piece of the puzzle, so spend time talking to the company to figure out the other benefits and perks on the table. For example, as Jason McCabe says above, will you be able to hang out with leadership at all? Also, what does your vacation time look like? Are there stock options? Free lunches? All of these things add up.

5. Figure Out Your Seniority

Negotiate your seniority level with the company, not the salary! Mention your extraordinary skills and your big successes and show them the confidence that you reached that seniority level that they are looking for.

Motea Alwan - It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. But building on the point about the overall package, don’t forget that negotiating your seniority is important to not only getting a salary you want, but also the respect you desire.
Being asked to discuss your salary requirements can be daunting, but just remember the end goal: Ka-ching! A.k.a., making enough money to feel valued and satisfied at your new job.

About The Author - Lily is a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect, the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her writing with The Muse, she also serves as an editor at HelloFlo and Her Campus. Recently, she was named one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women for her work helping underserved youth get into college. 

8/9/15 - How to Stay Cool and Collected When Your Interviewer Is Being a Jerk

By Caris Thetford 

It’s exciting to get a job interview, but it can also be nerve-racking: hours of preparation, trying to appear calm and confident when your knees are knocking, remembering a plethora of names and titles, answering tough questions, and remembering to follow up appropriately once the torture is over.

Can it possibly get more stressful than that?

Unfortunately, it can—if you add to the mix a less-than-kind interviewer, who doesn’t crack a smile, throws pleasantries to the wind, picks apart your resume, cuts you off, or talks while you’re talking.

In such a situation, it might be tempting to say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and immediately exit stage left. After all, an interview is a two-way street, right? And you don’t want to work for a tyrant.

However, that’s not always the best strategy. If you encounter this unfortunate situation, keep the following tips in mind.

Protect Your Reputation

Never give anyone—no matter how mean he or she is—a valid reason to harm your reputation.

Here’s the reality: There are horrible human beings in every industry. There always will be. In a perfect world, these people wouldn’t be employed—or at least, they wouldn’t be employed in positions with any kind of power or influence.

In the real world, there’s a jerk around every corner. And since the person who’s interviewing you probably has some sort of influence in your industry, you don’t want to give him or her a reason to say anything negative about you to his or her network (which could include interviewers or managers from other companies you’re applying to). If you lose your head or rudely cut the interview short, you’ve done exactly that.

Instead, aim to protect your reputation and stay calm and collected, giving your interviewer no ammunition to talk about you in a negative light. (Plus, just imagine how fulfilling it will be if he or she offers you the job and you get the distinct pleasure of saying—in a professional way, of course—“hell no.”)

But Don’t Sacrifice Your Dignity

While you want to maintain your professionalism even in the face of tacky behavior, you don’t have to simply smile your way through abuse.

How do you know when it has crossed the line into abuse? Some unprofessional behavior is annoying, but manageable: the interviewer doesn’t smile, asks rapid-fire tough questions, occasionally cuts you off, or maybe even makes off-color comments.

It crosses the line, though, when an interviewer attacks you personally, asks invasive questions irrelevant to the job, or gets into illegal or unethical territory. (Think: “What church do you attend?” “I see you worked at Big Box Superstore in college. That’s the best you could do?” or “Is that a wedding ring you’re wearing? You know there are some odd hours in this job. Is your relationship going to be a problem?”)

Hopefully, you won’t ever run into behavior that falls into the extreme category—but if does reach that level, then it’s game over. Simply state, “That question has no bearing on my qualifications, which is what I came here to discuss. I’m not really comfortable continuing the interview.”

Stay calm, keep your voice level, and avoid getting drawn into any type of argument. Then, get out.

In this type of extreme situation, don’t let yourself worry about what your interviewers might say about you. In reality, they should be far more worried about what you might say to your network about them. A company that allows such behavior in their interviews probably has high turnover and is one you want to avoid.

Consider the Level of Jerkiness

Some people are caustic and capable of destroying an entire team or department with their vile behavior. Obviously, those are the personalities from which you want to stay far, far away. On the other hand, some people are simply a little rough around the edges or have a dry sense of humor. (I recall an interviewer who asked tough questions and never smiled, but she also answered everything I asked and was professional despite being dry. She’s now a trusted ally.)

It can be hard to tell within the first few minutes of an interview if a “jerk” is truly toxic or just cut-and-dry. So, don’t rush the interview; give yourself a chance to feel the person out. For a more accurate picture, observe the way he or she interacts with others and how those people react. Ask to speak with some of the people who would be your colleagues to learn more about the day-to-day operations of the office, the best and most challenging parts of their jobs, and who in the company they turn to for support.

From these conversations, you’ll start to get a sense of the work environment and the team’s interactions with your less-than-kind interviewer. You might figure out that this wretched person is actually very competent and well-liked, but simply doesn’t waste a lot of time on pleasantries. (Reality: Not everyone is warm and fuzzy!)

Understand that I’m not trying to justify boorish behavior; just know that you can’t always tell from the first few minutes of interaction whether a “jerk” is actually that way day-in and day-out. You have to dig a little deeper.

Weigh Your Information Carefully

Let’s say you figure out your interviewer isn’t really all that bad, she’s just on the dry side. You may still find that off-putting, but is it enough of a problem to walk away from the potential job? Really think this through before making a decision.

It’s important to bear in mind that kindness itself doesn’t make a good manager. Rather, consider: Is your would-be boss competent? Is she productive and accomplished? If so, it’s likely that Stone Face Magoo is actually a good manager who knows when and how to push her team, even if she does so sans high fives.

Another important question I consider before accepting any job is, “Will my boss go to bat for me?” I’ve known some nice managers with backbones like cooked spaghetti, and I’ve witnessed the damage it caused when they failed their teams. For the long-term health of your career, you may not need a boss who’s nice—but instead, someone who supports you when it matters, pushes you, and will fight for you. Even if he or she is occasionally a little gruff.

When you do land a job—sans a jerky manager—keep these things in mind. When it’s your turn to conduct interviews, you will know how do to so in a way that is respectful of your candidates while still getting the necessary information to make a solid decision. You’ll be the kind of person that people want to work for!

About The Author - Caris Thetford is a counselor who is fanatical about personal growth and development. She is particularly interested in encouraging women to reach their full potential. She encourages student development through various roles at Tarleton State University.

8/2/15 - 9 steps for figuring out which skills to include on your résumé


If you're sitting in front of your computer, wracking your brain trying to come up with skills to add to your résumé, fear not.

With the help of some career experts, you can easily — and honestly — pad out your résumé with key skills recruiters look for.

Here's how:

1. Consider some of the most common skills recruiters search for.
"The most common skills people forget to showcase are the transferable skills that recruiters use general search terms to find — things that can be measured," says J.T. O'Donnell, a career and workplace expert, founder of career advice site,, and author of "Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career."

These include:

Software you are proficient in (MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Office)
Project Management
Customer Service

2. Specialize your skills.
The skills recruiters look for when they scan through résumés depend on the type of position they're trying to fill, says Rita Friedman, a Philadelphia-based career coach.

For example, if you're applying for a position that requires technical knowledge, include specific examples of technology or equipment you use, even if it could be reasonably assumed you must know these things, Friedman suggests.

3. Scan through a ton of job postings.
"To ensure that you're including relevant information on your résumé, carefully review job postings and highlight the parts that make you say, 'Oh, I do that all the time!'" Friedman suggests. "When you're writing your own resume, it can be hard to be objective, and you may forget about things that you're so good at doing they come to you automatically."

4. Research people with the jobs you want.
Friedman and O'Donnell both suggest checking out the LinkedIn pages of people whose jobs you'd like. Check out their "Skills & Endorsements" section and identify which ones you could justify putting on your profile too.

5. Diversify your list of skills.
"When evaluating a résumé, recruiters are looking for two big qualities: hustle and curiosity," says Kate Swoboda, creator of the Courageous Coaching Training Program.

She says employers today are looking for résumés that demonstrate the person takes initiative and is motivated by curiosity.

"These days, coders are now expected to interact with clients, and the person in charge of crafting the company's next great tweet might also be called upon to help with some aspects of visual design," Swoboda explains. "Recruiters are looking for people who are curious enough and motivated enough to go beyond their technical job description because that adds more value for a company."

6. Don't be afraid to make it personal.
"I'm very much in the camp of not hiding your personal life, skill set, and interests from a prospective employer," says Michelle Ward, a creative career coach and co-author of "The Declaration of You!"

She suggests including skills you've learned from outside passions, whether that includes owning an Etsy shop or planning your best friend's wedding.

"I think, more and more, companies want to see a well-rounded, inquisitive, personable candidate that is right for the job and would be someone interesting to have in the office," she says. "Just make sure to relate that experience back to how it'd be value for the company/position you're applying for."

7. Consider what you're proud of.
Friedman suggests you make a list of the things you're especially proud of accomplishing in your jobs and then think about what skills you used to accomplish these.

"If you reduced the amount of time it takes to complete a task, you may have strong skills revolving around process improvement or automation," she says. "If you got back the business of a former client who left, you may have a talent for repairing damaged relationships."

Ward adds that you should ask yourself, "What do people thank me for? What do I get complimented on, repeatedly?"

8. Quantify your skills.
Before you add any skills to your list, O'Donnell suggests you ask yourself a number of questions like:

How many projects have I led?
How many people were on the team?
How many customers were affected by my work?
How many people did I train?
How much money was involved?
What kind of results/savings did I get?
"If you ask yourself enough of these, you find your way to validate and quantify your experience in a way a recruiter can understand," she says.

Friedman agrees and says it's always better to show rather than tell on your résumé.

"For example, if you're in sales, you don't just need to hit keywords like 'business development' or 'consultative selling;' you need to have quantifiable examples of your skillset in action: 'Increased sales over previous year by 63%.'"

9. Talk it out.
In determining if you have the skills necessary, when creating a résumé, talk about your experiences out loud with someone, preferably a professional or someone who has work experience," suggests Alyssa Gelbard, founder and president of Résumé Strategists.

"They hear things differently and can help you translate your internships, jobs, extracurricular, and educational experiences into important skills for a potential job."

7/26/15 - How quickly interviewers decide if they'll hire you or not

By Tyler Stahle 

While it's important to prepare thoroughly for an interview, it may be even more important to make an enduring impression.

Recent research suggests that the majority of hiring managers tend to take a little more time to judge an applicant before reaching a final conclusion than many might think.

The study, conducted by researchers from Old Dominion University, Florida State University and Clemson University, analyzed more than 600 job interviews of 30 minutes or more with college and graduate students. Interestingly, only 4.9 percent of interviewers said they made quick decisions about an applicant’s suitability and reached a conclusion within the first minute.

Nearly 60 percent — or more than half — of hiring managers said they made their decisions within the first 15 minutes, about halfway through the scheduled interview time. That’s encouraging news for most job-seekers. While a good first impression is something to aim for, an early interview slip-up probably won’t be a deal-breaker.

Typically, longer job interviews are believed to be better for the candidate and the company, according to Jacquelyn Smith of Business Insider, who said it's a bad sign if an interview ends abruptly.

For the applicant, more interview time means more chances to demonstrate abilities, competencies and more opportunity to prove why he or she is the right fit. Similarly, longer interviews give the interviewer chances to learn more information and get away from making decisions off of initial impressions.

Joe Weinlick, vice president of online career network Beyond, agrees. To him, long interviews also mean a hiring manager is strongly considering hiring the applicant.

“When interviews run long, it means that they were so interested in what you had to say that they forgot their other priorities and wanted to talk longer,” he said in an interview with Fast Company, although this may not always be the case.

The order in which a candidate is interviewed can also influence interview length. According to the study mentioned above, “Being the fourth person interviewed seems to offer the best chance of having a substantive interview.”

The research also found that interviewers who followed structured interview guidelines, asking each applicant identical questions and measuring each candidate against a consistent rubric, were more prone to take more time to make a decision.

7/19/15 - For Job Seekers, the Black Hole Persists


Frank N. Stein had a stellar resume—he was an Ivy League graduate, with stints as a corporate recruiter at Johnson & Johnson and Russell Reynolds, and his CV was loaded with the keywords needed to float to the top of today’s automated job-applicant software.

He was also not a real person, a fact noted at the bottom of his one-page resume.

Even so, recruiters at only two of the 100 companies where he applied for jobs read far enough to discover that Stein was a fiction designed to “mystery shop” the job-seeker experience. The ruse was created by recruiting consulting firm CareerXroads, according to a report released Monday.

What does that tell Mark Mehler, a founder of CareerXroads?

“Recruiters read the first three paragraphs of a resume,” he said. “That’s all the job seeker is going to get.” And that only counts those whose resumes pass through the automated keyword screening that winnows a set of applications from hundreds to a few dozen.

Every year, Kendall Park, N.J.-based CareerXroads submits a fake resume through the career websites of the companies on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, to assess the recruiting practices of some of the most well-respected employers in the country, including Google Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Deloitte LLP.

The results are generally dismal, as they were again this year. Job seekers’ main complaint—that they shoot their applications into a black hole—was confirmed.

Out of the 100 companies, 64 never sent Stein any notification that he was not being considered for the job for which he had applied. Months after submitting his resume, he “was left hanging in the breeze,” said Mehler. Overwhelmingly in job seeker surveys, candidates tell CareerXroads “they just want to know, ‘am I in or out?’ They don’t want to keep chasing and wondering.”

Six of the employers followed up with Stein wanting to schedule interviews, two uncovered the ruse, and 28 eventually notified him that the position had been filled, or at least that he wasn’t in the running.

Worst of all, 28 is the highest number of companies extending that courtesy in the twelve years CareerXroads has conducted the Mystery Job Seeker survey.

There’s no excuse for those oversights, Mehler said, given that those communications can be automated easily in today’s applicant tracking systems, the software that stores job applications.

Most systems have the capacity to do this, but major corporations don’t use those features because they’re scared that opening the lines of communication will lead to lawsuits, too many phone calls to recruiters, and too many questions they can’t answer, he said.

There were bits of good news from Frank N. Stein’s experience. Nearly all employers now send an email acknowledging receipt of a job application. In addition, career websites are easier to navigate than in previous years, and employers have gotten better at streamlining the application so that it takes less time to complete – in most cases, 10 minutes or less.

Another pleasant surprise, according to Mehler: Stein had been unemployed by choice for a year (he had rejected six job offers as poor fits for him, then took a 6-month sabbatical to bicycle across the country), and still received interest from six of the 98 employers who thought he was a real person. “That’s huge,” said Mehler. “It shows that if you write a good resume and have great experience behind you, you can still find a job.”

7/12/15 - How To Introduce Yourself When You’re Unemployed

by Wendi Weiner 

That awkward moment in a conversation when someone says, “What do you do?” can feel almost as painful as the day when you lost your job.

However, it is not necessary to bend your head in dismay and unload your negative job talk on a listener. Instead, there are many ways to handle this question (and avoid feeling down on yourself) at networking events and in everyday conversation.

Here are some helpful ideas and tips to reassure your comfort and confidence when the question is pose to you:

“I am transitioning.”

Advising others that you are “transitioning” into a new career or industry can open a lot of eyes and ears for you. It may also possibly new open doors as well. You never know if that person you are speaking to may know the right person to put you in touch with.

Say it with confidence and show your excitement that you are taking the leap of faith into uncharted career territory. Expand on the career path you are now transitioning into and do not be afraid to ask if the person you are speaking to knows anyone in that field or industry.

“I am a resume writer who specializes in executive resumes.”

Announce your industry or field with confidence and certainty. Let the other person know what you do without feeling the need to advise them of your employer. Start discussing your experience and the type of work you do. Say it with conviction and enthusiasm.

Intrigue your listener. Make him or her want to know more and also ask the listener if he or she knows anyone who may need assistance in that field or industry.

“I recently decided to pursue a longtime goal of mine in forming my own business.”

People are captivated when others follow their goals and dreams. It takes courage to leave a company and to start your own. There are many people who have the desire to be a business owner but are afraid to take the plunge.

Don’t be afraid to share in the lofty goals you have of being a successful business owner and working for yourself. That listener may be able to put you in touch with a business coach or give insight into forming your own business. Perhaps he or she has a relative or a friend who has also recently become a business owner. Or, perhaps he or she is interested in a joint venture.

“I am currently volunteering with a non-profit organization that has a mission or cause close to my heart.”

Volunteer work is an excellent way to build philanthropic connections to other professionals and community members. It is also a creative job gap filler because employers like well-rounded candidates who are givers not just takers.

Giving back to your community through service is a diverse method of highlighting skills you have developed in your career path. It will allow employers and other professionals to see you in a different light. It will also allow you to broaden your skill set and acquire new skills through different events and projects.

Being unemployed does not need to be awkward or disheartening. It can be a great time in your life to rebuild your confidence, recreate your purpose, and can ultimately bring you closer to the next best career move.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Wendi Weiner, creatively known as The Writing Guru, is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW) and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with over 15 years of expertise in resume writing, essay writing, and professional editing.



You had the interview. You’re pretty sure you aced it. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the offer, right? Wrong.

According to Kim Isaacs, Monster Résumé Expert, most applicants don’t follow up with a thank-you letter. "Even if you think an offer is in the bag, you can always improve your chances of getting the job if you send a thank-you letter," Isaacs writes.

But it’s not enough to whip out a card or an email and consider it done. There’s an art to expressing thanks after an interview that can boost your chances of being considered for the job.

Consider this draft of a note that Donna Svei, veteran recruiter and résumé expert of the AvidCareerist, recently got from a client who was looking for feedback before she sent it.

Hi [Name],
I’m so grateful for your generosity this morning in spending time speaking with me and sharing your insights about the new position on your team. Thank you.
Near the end of our talk, I mentioned my excitement about having a chance to help create systems and processes that will allow [Company Name] to better manage [the challenge] and seize opportunities.

I hope I’ve also conveyed well to everyone on the team my eagerness to receive your/their mentorship, on [Company Name’s] culture and how to succeed as [Position Title].

There’s nothing I’d rather do with this next chapter of my [position type] career than serve one company in such depth that I become woven into its fabric. It’s plain to see you are on that path and enjoying it very much. Meeting you and hearing your story affirmed my decision to make this jump.
Whatever happens, let’s please keep in touch!
P.S. See attached photos of dogs.
Though brief (not a bad thing in an age of dwindling attention spans), Svei says the client hit several key points with her note, namely:

Illustrated soft skills such as self-motivation and commitment
Built on the newly established rapport with the hiring manager
Touched on a shared interest
Svei says this client got the job.

Before you press send (or lick the envelope closed), experts recommend that you take a second or third look at what you have—just to be sure you are cementing a good impression.

This may sound counterintuitive, but Alison Green, career expert and author of How to Get a Job, points out, "The reality is, most interviewers don't really care if you thank them for the interview; they're not interviewing you to be charitable but rather because they might want to enter into a business arrangement with you—one that they'll benefit from."

Instead of simply expressing gratitude, a successful note builds on the interview by illustrating what the candidate can offer in addition to what was discussed.

It’s tempting to simply cut and paste what Svei’s client wrote and change the names. Alternatively, Google will furnish over 1.4 million other thank-you email templates for job interviews that provide fodder for gratitude.

f you’re really stumped and starting to panic, remember that hiring managers are usually quite accomplished at spotting a generic effort. It’s their job to weed out the good from the gaffes. Don’t underestimate the power that comes from screening recruits all day, every day. Make your thank you personal.

Green says that even if some candidates are crafting their responses themselves, they sometimes write them ahead of time. She’s seen job seekers draft emails in advance and press send right after they walk out of the interview, or, worse, hand a note to the receptionist before they exit the building.

It’s a lost opportunity to personalize the content, as well as to build the relationship. But that’s not the only fatal flaw. "When it's obvious that you wrote the note ahead of time and planned to drop it off as you left, it drains much of the significance of the gesture and turns it into one that conveys only, ‘I'm checking a thank you off my list,’" Green says, referring to her first point.

Svei points out another instance in which a client was a perfect fit for a particular job (her dream assignment), got good feedback during the interview process, and followed up with a sincere note of thanks. But she didn’t get the position because of one small but critical mistake. She misspelled the person’s name in the note.

Svei recalls, "I got a call saying she was out of contention for the position solely because of this mistake. No appeals allowed. He felt as though it said something about her lack of attention to detail that mattered to him."

Svei’s advice to ensure this doesn’t happen to you: Exchange business cards during the interviews. "No one walks around with business cards that misspell their name. No one," she says.

6/28/15 - What to say when the hiring manager asks, 'What motivates you?'


We recently solicited readers to submit their most pressing career-related questions.

With help from Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," we've answered the following: "What should I say when a job interviewer asks what motivates me?"

"This is a common interview inquiry that can easily catch you off guard," Taylor says. "Why? Because it's so broad that the way in which you respond speaks volumes about you on so many levels — including your personality, ambitions, skills, enthusiasm, expectations, and how you generally think, just to name just a few."

Knowing in advance what drives you and how to articulate it will not only enhance your performance in the next interview, but it will also force you to better refine your search and discern whether a job truly aligns with your passions and goals.

"If you don't have a plan, you might inadvertently offer a vague answer — making you appear unmotivated or disinterested, or you'll simply look like a deer in the headlights," she says.

Consider these tips when developing your response:


"Commit to writing what gets you up in the morning when you think about work," Taylor suggests. "What types of projects have given you the greatest job satisfaction, and why? When in social situations, what do you talk about when you're inspired about your job?" Analyze what aspects make it so rewarding. Your interviewer wants to evaluate your level of self-awareness, so give this ample thought.

Avoid generalized responses.

A sweeping statement can seem like a nonanswer: "I love people, and really enjoy making the job fun for everyone." While that's noble, hiring managers want to delve further, she explains. "They want to see a convincing case that you'll be excited about their requisite tasks, so try something like, 'I love building a sales team: sharing the vision, establishing goals, training the team, and watching the results.'" Relate your motivational drivers to the job; this is your opportunity to connect the proverbial dots for the interviewer.

Be true to yourself.

You will be best served in the short and long term if you present your genuine "self" and interests in the interview, Taylor says. "Savvy interviewers can detect your level of sincerity through your body language, tone, and inflection. Landing the job, but ultimately disliking the nature of your work or lacking the necessary mindset is very unmotivational." If you're happiest behind a computer and love being analytical, but the requisite PowerPoint presentations are keeping you awake at night, don't sweep that under the rug.

Have concise message points.

This is one of the broadest questions you could be asked, so know your top motivators and prioritize them. "There might be a bunch of things that make you tick. But how you answer illustrates your ability to focus, organize thoughts, and offer concise support statements," she says. So be concise.

Be upbeat.

If there’s ever a time to respond with enthusiasm, this is it. "Employers want you to display high energy and a positive approach, so be sure to show a little excitement," Taylor suggests. "You don't have to be giddy, but it's hard buy into your passions if you say in monotone, 'I really, really like working with a team,' but look like the sky is falling."

Tie in your successes.

As you talk about what incentivizes you at work, you have a great opportunity to also tout your accomplishments. "It's assumed that you enjoy what you excel at — who doesn't like something to show for what they love doing?" she says. "Just keep this part brief." For example: "I love building brand strategies because I like to see a company maximize its marketing dollars. It's been exciting to increase revenues with a powerful brand architecture. Last year, we were able to generate a 20% increase in our XYZ product line as a result."

Whatever you do, don't say it's money.

"One surefire way to abort an otherwise flowing conversation is to say something like, 'Frankly, the big motivator for me is money,'" says Taylor. "Compensation is important to everyone, but making it your number one focus will turn off employers." Address the bigger picture of your career fulfillment. Even if your career is in sales, you're better off discussing the appeal of building business.

Still not sure what exactly to say? Here are some motivators that might resonate with you. "Just remember to give examples," Taylor says.

Building success with a great team
Coaching others and watching them succeed
Meeting or exceeding project goals
Meeting deadlines through organizational abilities
Securing or building business
Handling challenging projects where I can apply my XYZ skills
Offering excellent customer service and commitment
Developing innovative ideas that come to fruition
Streamlining projects
Saving the company money

6/21/15 - 5 things you MUST do after a job interview

By Sarah K. White, CIO 

You rocked the interview, but your work isn't over yet. Here are five things you need to do after an interview to help close the deal.

After a great interview, you’re bound to feel confident about the next steps. But just because the interview went well, doesn’t mean you should lose your job search momentum. "A lot can happen between an outstanding interview and a job offer,” says Peter K. Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers.

There are a lot of factors you can’t control, even if you rocked the interview. A company might interview internal candidates, who often trump external candidates. Or the company might wind up in a hiring freeze and decide to hold off on filling the role. The only aspect of the process you can control, is what you do in the time between the interview and the final offer.

We interviewed job search experts to glean these 5 things you should do after an interview.

Take notes on what worked, and what didn’t work.
A great interview might tempt you to put your job search on a shelf and move on with your personal life. But Studner says you should take some time to write down what did, or did not, go well in your interview. Evaluating yourself after an interview -- even a great one -- can help you learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses.

For example, did you know enough about the company and what they do? Did you ask enough questions? Maybe next time you need to do more research on the business, or perhaps you were unprepared to ask the hiring manager more about the job. Any insights you can glean will only help you perfect your interview skills for the future.

Key in your references
When you’ve reached the point in an interview process when it’s time to supply your references, Studner suggests taking time to contact each person and discuss the position with them. At the very least, you can send them your resume and any key skills you have, so they can prepare to speak to the hiring manager. The last thing you want is for your references to be caught off guard and unaware by a hiring manager’s call.

Thank you notes
Sending a thank you note is one of the most important things you should do after your interview concludes. According to Erik Bowitz of Resume Genius, following up is “not an option; it's an expected courtesy.”

You don’t need to pull out a formal thank you card; a simple email will suffice. Thank the hiring manager for their time and include something specific, so it doesn’t feel like a generic thank you note. Include any details that will reassure the hiring manager you were engaged in the interview and are enthusiastic about the position. "In addition to expressing your appreciation, you might include a follow-up thought based on a particular interview question," says Studner. "And be sure to state that you look forward to the next step in the process."

But how soon should you send a thank you note? John Turner, CEO of UsersThink, says you should send the note within 24 hours, but wait at least 1-2 hours until after the interview. “Even if they don't hire you, it will help them remember you, and you never know when they might recommend you to someone else,” says John.

Engage the competition
Studner suggests investigating the hiring company’s competitors to see if they have any job openings. Even if they don’t have openings, try drafting up a cover letter and resume to send to the head of the department you would fit into best. "Your letter should not ask for a job, but should tell the reader about your key accomplishments and inform him or her of your availability," says Studner.

The bottom line is that job seekers shouldn’t throw in the towel after one good interview. To ensure you land the best job you can get, it’s important to keep your momentum strong throughout the entire process. The search isn’t over until you’ve signed a contract. Studner suggests using networking to keep your job search going. If you find a job that you aren’t right for, he says to pass it along to someone in your network. Chances are, they’ll remember you helping them out, and will do the same for you down the line.

Don’t stop searching
Job searching can take up a good amount of your time, but a promising interview isn’t a reason to stop searching. Starting from scratch after a job falls through can be demotivating, but if you continue your search through the interview process, you will have a chance to line up other potential offers.

“Corporate shifts are often unexpected and repercussions can shock even the most skilled employee. Remember that a career change is never truly finished until you are at your new desk,” says Jack Martin, CEO of Technology Jobs NYC.

Studner suggests using networking to keep your job search going. If you find a job that you aren’t right for, he says to pass it along to someone in your network. Chances are, they’ll remember you helping them out, and will do the same for you down the line.

Sarah K. White is a senior writer for

6/14/15 - 8 Ways to Stay Optimistic When Your Job Search Drags On


A job search often begins with unblemished optimism. The perfect job has to be out there waiting for you.

But as time passes, it’s easy to get upset over what feels like a hundred job applications submitted to countless companies, and endless hours spent updating your resume at least a dozen times. And you haven’t heard back from a single potential employer.

This frustration is common if you’re a job seeker. In fact, a Workopolis survey found it took about 16 weeks for the largest portion of the group (50 percent!) to get their most recent job.

During that time, most respondents sent out at least 10 applications. Thirty percent went on four or five interviews, and 44 percent didn’t even hear back from the employers they interviewed with.

It’s clear you need thick skin to survive today’s job market. Opportunities might not be as easy to obtain as you hope. But if you hang in there, you will find your perfect job.

In the meantime, here are some tips for building resiliency in your job search and hurdling those unemployment walls: 

1. Get to Know Yourself
Spend time getting to know your strengths, skills and motivations. Take a few personality tests online like DISC or Myers-Briggs to help identify what makes you tick. Make a list of what you liked most and least about previous jobs, for better judgment during your job search.

2. Sharpen Your Skills
Use this transitional time to build your knowledge on a subject or sharpen soft skills like communication, leadership and social graces. Pick up a book like Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Not only will this studying benefit your personal development, but you’ll also have a couple of impressive sources to mention during networking conversations and interviews.

3. Change the Stories You Tell Yourself
Consistently remind yourself of your achievements and strengths. Patrol your thoughts for negative self-talk — statements like, “They’re probably never going to call me,” and “I bombed that interview.” No matter what’s happening in the present, train yourself to think positively about your future. Keep a picture of your ideal career situation in the back of your mind.

4. Build a Support System
If you’re having trouble staying positive and believing in yourself, recruit friends, family, and even a career coach to act as a support system. Ask them to remind you of your best qualities and encourage you. Meet with them regularly to help keep you motivated in your job search.

5. Find Opportunity in Failure
Look at challenges as opportunities. A challenge could lead you to thinking about alternative job search strategies or new ways of networking.

When you experience rejection, channel those negative emotions into an energy that propels you to move forward. Take with you what you learned from the experience, and charge on.

6. Give Yourself Permission to Feel
Sometimes you just have a lousy day. Maybe you received a job rejection email or found out the company you want to work for filled the position before you had a chance to apply. It’s OK to feel disappointed or upset. Give yourself permission to experience those emotions, but don’t let them paralyze you in your search.

7. Step Away and Recharge
Take time out to recharge and regain perspective. Spend a few days visiting a friend in another city, attend a conference, or join an outdoor adventure group on a hike. When you step outside of your normal pattern, it allows you to look at your life from a more objective point of view, giving you the insight you might need to make your next career move.

8. Focus on the Next Step, Not the End Goal
Facing your big career goals may be overwhelming, as if you’re looking at the top of a wall, just wondering how you’re going to get there — or if you can. Instead of focusing strictly on your big goals, define and focus on the smaller, more manageable steps you can take to bring you closer to the top.

Career transitions are often filled with doubt, despair and existential crises. That’s why it’s so important to build resiliency through keeping the right mindset, supporting yourself, and allowing others to support you.

Don’t let your current state keep you from achieving your career goals. Remember, transitions are only temporary. Keep your head up, tear the walls down and you’ll be a much stronger person coming out of it.

What is the hardest part about being in between jobs? What strategies do you use to stay positive and persistent?

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers.

6/7/15 - Seven ways to slay the competition in your next interview

Special to The Globe and Mail

Congratulations! You did it: you landed an interview for a sought-after position at a top-notch company. You know the competition will be fierce. Who knows how many people will be competing for that coveted slot. It’s more important than ever to be at your best so that you can trounce your competitors.

In a field of star applicants, here are seven ways to ace your job interview.

1. Work your network

If you know someone who works at the company – or even know someone who knows someone – get in contact and pick that person’s brain for the inside story. Find out everything you can about the company – new management, new initiatives, general morale, even the personality of your interviewer. If you don’t know anyone at the company, scour your network for someone in a competitive or similar business. Having a deep knowledge of both the industry and the company where you are interviewing will help set you apart from those with only a superficial understanding.

2. Interview early

If you are given a choice, choose a morning time slot for your interview. Studies show that people who interview in the morning are offered the job more often than those who take afternoon interviews. (A side benefit: you will get the interview over with earlier in the day, too.)

3. Aim for the midweek

Midweek days are better interview days than either Mondays or Fridays. On Monday, everyone on staff has too many meetings to give an interview with you the attention it deserves. On Friday, most interviewers are ready to leave the work week behind.

4. Brush up on trends

Become an industry insider by going deeper and wider with your research. Read everything; you never know which research paper or annual report will reveal information for a thoughtful interview sound bite. Even if you aren’t asked the question you’ve briefed for, such as “Where do you predict this industry is going in the next three years?,” you can weave your new knowledge into other responses.

5. Don't skip the dress rehearsal

Interview yourself. Prepare your responses to any typical and outlier questions you can imagine. Then, rehearse in front of a mirror, a family member, or an honest friend. Learn your answers so thoroughly that they almost seem spontaneous. (However, in any follow-up interview, be sure to change your answers a bit so they won’t seem canned.)

6. Dress for the job you want

Dress appropriately, that is, professionally, for the interview. Depending on the corporate culture of the company, you may want to dress more conservatively than if you already worked there. Choose one item, perhaps a tie or belt, that expresses your personality. You’re better off being remembered for your winsome repartee than for your neon-colored jacket.

7. Have questions for the questioner

Never show up for an interview without preparing a list of well-thought-out questions of your own. Most often, once the interviewer exhausts her questions, she’ll ask if you have any. This gives you another opportunity to shine if you can present insightful observations on the industry or offer kudos for recent company successes as lead-ins. You can also ask questions that will help determine if the company will be a good fit, such as: “What type of employees tend to succeed here?” Make sure never to ask questions pertaining to salary or personal days until an offer is made.

Vicky Oliver (@vickyoliver) is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions and Live Like A Millionaire (Without Having to Be One). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets.

5/31/15 - How Introverts Can Network Without Changing Their Personalities


Introverts are making a lot of progress at work. Companies have begun recognizing the advantages introverts bring to the table and introverts are starting to recognize they no longer needed to pretend to be extroverts in order to excel.

While there are certainly many reasons to celebrate introversion, a new book by writer Emily White called Count Me In: How I Stepped Off The Sidelines, Created Connection And Built A Fuller, Richer, More Lived-in Life warns introverts about shying away from social life altogether. Although extroverts are known to have large social communities, White says even introverts need a community.

"[A community] enriches our lives to the same extent that it enriches the lives of an extrovert," says White, speaking as a fellow introvert. "Extroverts may have an edge on us there, but introversion doesn’t mean you don’t need a community." White says the difference between the two groups is that introverts need to do more to find their community.

We all have a need to belong. The need to belong to either private relationships––which is what introverts tend to have––or to larger public groups is the same for both introverts and extroverts. "It’s like saying introverts don’t need to eat," says White. "We all need that sense of being part of something, but for introverts, we find it in a slightly different way."

Extroverts have an easier time tapping into a wider social community because they enjoy reaching out for new experiences and introducing themselves to new people. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to loathe this type of outward networking and often struggle to find social networks.

For an introvert, their community may only consist of a small group of friends and family. But, White argues, introverts need to move beyond this small private circle and into the community. While introverts may rather eat a mouthful of hot peppers than be forced to join community events, White says introverts often avoid community activities because they fear they won’t fit in. "Broader community ties can offer us socialization or ways of being with people that are actually in sync with out personalities if you find the right group," she says.

A community garden, for example, can provide an introvert with the opportunity to become part of a community without having to change their personality. "Introverts aren’t antisocial," says White. "We’re anti-constant conversation." "What community groups offer is a chance to be with other people and a chance to learn new things and have fun in ways that aren’t socially demanding."

How can introverts find their community?

A trick White uses to get around this reluctance is to tell herself that she only has to attend one session, and if she doesn’t like it, she never needs to return. "If you tell yourself you’re going to go out there and build a huge community network, that’s going to be overwhelming," she says.

"If you tell yourself you’re going to go to one group and see what it’s like, that can help build momentum." Giving yourself permission to leave if you’re not having a good time can also help overcome a reluctant attitude.

While standard networking advice includes talking to at least three people and arriving at an event with a set of talking points to start a conversation, White says these conditions can be overwhelming to an introvert. "It’s not about going to an event and talking to 15 people. It’s about feeling you belong somewhere," she says.

"Introverts can be as open to new experiences as extroverts if those experiences are right for us," says White. Select organizations that are based around your area of interest. Connecting to work organizations is a great way to build a professional network.

White also encourages introverts to look for connections outside the workplace. Looking at your hobbies and pastimes and choosing groups such as book clubs, chess clubs or gardening groups are great ways of forming a social network that will connect you with the larger community.

5/24/15 - Social Media Is Ruining Your Chances of Getting a Job, But Not in the Way You Think

By Dave Meadows 

Everywhere you look, social media is filled with overused hyperbole.

I tripped on the way to the bathroom today, epic fail.

I am looking for the world’s best quiche recipe. Go!

My husband is the best ever <3


Hyperbole—exaggerated statements or claims not to be taken literally—can be a useful device to make a point, and it brings added spice to a conversations. Spice is good, but who wants to eat a spoonful of paprika? Right, me neither.

The Problem With Status Updates

Social media allows you to be more transparent and more connected than ever before, but it also encourages you to be more superficial, branding yourself in a certain way that hides your faults and gives your friends FOMO. Social media peer pressure subconsciously draws you to conform: You become addicted to likes—tempted to exaggerate further or put out a message people will respond to even if it’s not fully honest.

Many people use this strategy in their job search, unaware that it’s holding them back from being genuine and authentic. Have you ever used an absurd hashtag or related a regular difficulty as an epic fail? If so, you’re participating in social media norms that cause word-inflation—the process by which powerful words mean less and less over time from repetition (e.g., you’re not “dying” over fashion; your life isn’t “over” because you’re late to work; and your ex isn’t “the worst person who ever lived”).

When you post hyperbole as fact regularly, it becomes your standard method of expressing yourself, and it prevents you from learning how to describe—and maybe even assess—yourself and your reality. So while social media is poised to be an outlet where you can learn to be creative and uniquely expressive, it can entrench you in using over-the-top phrases, statements, and slang to convey your thoughts, feelings, and situation.

Social Media and Your Candidacy

When you look for a new job, whether it’s out of necessity or because you’re ready for the next thing, it’s usually a stressful time. When stressed, many people fall back on what they’re used to. And if you’re used to exaggerating on social media, you may not realize the extent to which this language bleeds onto your application, which can make you unlikable—or worse.

Hyperbolic buzzwords such as amazing team player, driven, out-of-the-box-thinker, and results-oriented appear on hundreds of resumes, but they’re never the reason someone is hired. Why? Because they don’t show your unique value. When the majority of the resumes that a hiring manager reviews contain the same buzzwords, how will she know you’re special? What does amazing team player even mean at that point? Nothing.

I have interviewed hundreds of people: There is a stark difference between those who rely on buzzwords because that’s what they think I want to hear and those who have a unique story to tell. One type is forgettable, the other memorable. I’ll let you choose which is which.

Of course, being an amazing team player is a positive and valuable thing to have in an employee. But, when thrown around without context, it actually makes it more difficult to connect with you. First, it throws you into the pool with all of the other “amazing team players,” and second, there are a hundred different ways of being an amazing team player, so without providing specifics, it doesn’t really tell me anything about you.

Are you the person in a group who can understand all of the different ideas being shared and combine them into an action plan? Or are you the person who doesn’t say much but works behind the scenes to make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted? Do you make sure others are heard? Are you a natural leader or a follower or both? You show your value not by using buzzwords, but by highlighting your specific accomplishments. Prove you are an amazing team player by relaying a story of a time you successfully worked as part of a team.

So, What’s the Solution?

The good news is: The problem is actually the key to the solution. Revitalize your current and future job search by avoiding catch phrases and hyperbole and practicing sincerity and accuracy in your language. Learn to use language creatively to describe or express your thoughts. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “…perfect practice makes perfect,” and social media is a platform on which you can master the use of words to sell yourself, your ideas, and your positions. This mastery will not only help you to better connect with your friends, family, and network, but it will also help you develop skills to describe your value to a new company that will set you apart from all the team players you’re competing against.

Besides, who wants to be a team player on a team of results oriented, outside-the-box thinking team players? I would rather be a member of a team where I can add unique value. Once you do get hired, then you can appropriately share: I got hired for my dream job! #Epic! Dave for the win!

About The Author - David Meadows is a Career Center Manager under the Federal Workforce Investment Act and loves helping people gain skills. He just launched a career development channel on YouTube called Maestro Meadows the Career Conductor. He can be found on Twitter @davidrmeadows or @maestromeadows, on Facebook, and Google+.

5/17/15 - 5 Ways Your Friends Can Help You Snag a Job That Will Make You Happy

by Kristen Pope 

Having strong friendships and social connections can not only extend your lifespan; your friends can also help you snag a job.

In an era where employers are increasingly seeking referrals from current employees, your friends might actually be your best bet for finding an awesome new job.

Employers want vetted candidates, and when it comes to confidential and proprietary information, they want to make sure they’re not hiring someone who will go off the deep end.

Referred friends have longer tenure with companies, and the New York Times noted that employees hired through referrals are 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs. And, when people already know they get along, you’ll likely have an even better cultural fit.

Hospitality company Sodexo even told the New York Times they are 10 times more likely to hire a candidate referred by a current employee than someone who applied through normal channels. In fact, they are so eager for employee referrals that they created a mobile app that allows employees to refer people quickly and easily from their phones.

So, how can you ask your friends to help you get the job you’ve dreamed about? Here are a few tips.

1. Help your friends first
“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” said the wise Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you’d like friends to help you find a job someday (and who knows if that day is today or in five years), make sure to help others first.

Connect friends, make introductions, get to know people and what they do. By connecting others, you’ll expand the network that may think of you when an opportunity arises. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

2. Be vocal about the job you want
It’s often in poor taste to constantly talk about work when out with friends. But if people have no idea what you do for a living, they won’t think of you when an opportunity comes up. Sure, they may know your favorite sports team, that you love the beach, and are in a bowling league, but if friends and acquaintances have no idea you are an IT engineer or a visual artist, you won’t come to mind when a job opens up at their company.

Talking about work can give your friends a better idea of what you do at work, and what skills you have to share. When you’re ready to start looking for a new position, be sure to share details about your ideal work situation — especially if you’re thinking about shifting careers or taking on a new role.

3. Keep an eye out for jobs — and ask your friends to do the same
Many people working at a company — especially a large company — may have no idea what positions the company is hiring for. This is why it’s important not to sit around and wait for your friends to connect you with jobs at their companies.

Look up where they work, go to their “careers” pages on the company website, and see what’s available. If you find something that looks promising, ask your friend what they know about the position and department. Get all the information you can to see if you think it might be a good fit.

While you can’t rely on your friends to do all the investigative work, it’s always a good idea to spread the word that you’re looking for a new job. Many jobs are never posted publicly, and sometimes jobs are created for a person with just the right mix of skills and experience. Having inside connections who are looking out for you is a huge benefit during your job search.

4. Get the inside scoop
A friend who works for a company that’s hiring can tell you about all the things it might take you a while to glean through interviews. You can find out what they know about the department, your potential coworkers, the company culture, and more.

They can also offer key insights into the recruiting process. Hearing “Oh, that HR rep is on leave right now, so that’s why she didn’t return your call,” from a friend is so much better than waiting in limbo for what feels like forever. Of course, your friend is busy with his own job and can’t do your detective work all day, but he might have a few snippets of advice to share.

5. Ask about referrals
Referring a friend who is successfully placed in a role often comes with financial perks for the referring employee. Many companies offer referral bonuses, while others offer prizes, including large-screen TVs and iPads. According to the New York Times, some firms want to have up to 50 percent of new hires come through internal referrals. Incentives help employers meet these goals.

If you want to ask a friend for a referral, be sure to ask in a way that is beneficial to your friend. If they are new at the company, it’s typically best not to ask — they often wouldn’t have the social capital at that point to refer a friend, and if they do, they might not be willing to use it in that way anyhow.

Also, don’t ask acquaintances or casual friends to connect you since they might not know you well enough to stake their reputation on you (and vice versa). While there are plenty of incentives for connecting the company with a great new hire, there may be social repercussions if they refer someone who is a bad fit.

Most importantly, be okay with hearing “no.” Even the best of friends may have good reasons for not wanting to refer you to their employer. Don’t be offended if this happens, and don’t take it personally. There could be many reasons for this that have nothing to do with you.

Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

5/10/15 - Creative ways to mitigate the monotony of the job search


Searching for a new job is a grind. It’s a painful process combing through hundreds of boring job descriptions, spending hours crafting cover letters and spending days (or even weeks) waiting for a call. It is tedious and time-consuming — but it doesn’t have to be. With the right attitude, your job search can fun.

Below are a few different ways to spice up the job hunting process.

Make the boring stuff easy
In general, searching for a job isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. The repetitive tasks can make you go crazy. It's a seemingly never-ending process of finding new jobs to apply to, updating your resume for every application, tracking your progress for each position, attending networking events and sending follow-up notes.

Here are some tools to make the boring stuff a little easier:

Use to easily create multiple versions of your resume (

Use a free spreadsheet template to keep track of your application progress

Use a free/affordable CRM to manage your contacts (

Use Yesware to track your email responses (

Attend more interesting industry-related events you find on Meetup (

Track your progress
Whether its using a spreadsheet, a CRM or email-tracking software, create measurable goals for your job application process. To do this, pick a key metric that you can control to focus on, and continually improve this metric. Here are some examples of what to focus on: job applications completed, events attended, job postings found, etc.

Track these statistics and make a game of improving them every week. To keep up your motivation, reward yourself once you reach your daily goals.

Take care of yourself
Looking for a job can take months, and is often one of the hardest times in a person’s life. It can get even more demoralizing if you forget to take care of yourself with regular exercise, healthy eating and the occasional celebration of all your hard work.

Remember, you will get a job. Once you do, all of the work will be worth it. The healthier and happier you are, the better you will perform in the job search and interview process.

Here are some tips to stay healthy on the job hunt:

Take regular breaks from the computer

Take a day off every week

Exercise daily and eat healthy

Try taking up meditation (

Look for a job that inspires you
Instead of sifting through thousands of cookie-cutter job postings, take a different approach. Make a list of all the products and services you love, and make another list of all the companies you might want to work for. Then, go through each company's career page online.
Use your extra free time as an opportunity to develop a new skill by building a project that will help you both in your job search and future career. This could be creating a website, learning advanced Excel or even learning a language. And if you're shifting fields or career tracks, hone your skills and hobbies for your desired path at home with resources like Coursera, General Assembly or Codecademy. Developing skills on your own will not only provide mental stimulation throughout what may be an otherwise monotonous time period in your life, but it will also up your chances of scoring a job in a field in which you have little professional experience.

Websites like The Muse and Dreamjobbing are good places to look for inspiration, too. What’s worse than a boring job search? A boring job. If you’re applying for a job you really want, you’ll learn to love the process.

Stay motivated by getting creative
Crank up your favorite pump-up tunes on Spotify, intersperse your job search efforts with physical activity like pushups, and get to work. Treat your job search as a competition that you will win. If you’re confident and having fun, it will be evident on your job applications and in interviews, which in turn will give you a better chance for success.

And if you're feeling creative, embrace it. Consider applying via video or using an out-of-the-box strategy for snagging a coveted interview.

Attend industry (not networking) events
Everyone hates networking events. They’re often full of sweaty people desperately handing out business cards to everyone in the room. Industry events, however, are better. Look on Meetup or relevant industry association websites for interesting events related to your field. You’ll learn something new and meet cool people — sometimes, people who can get you a job.

Lastly, investigate referral and affiliate programs for companies you're interested in. It will look great on an application if you’re already selling or promoting product from the company to which you’re applying.

James Clift is CEO of VisualCV, a tool for building and tracking your resume online.

5/3/15 - Putting 'unemployed' on your LinkedIn profile makes you look desperate

Putting 'unemployed' on your LinkedIn profile makes you look desperate — here's what to write instead

Your LinkedIn professional headline is one of the first things recruiters and hiring managers will see upon scanning your profile — and sometimes it is the only section they will read.

When setting up your profile, you may have noticed that it is also required to fill out — so what do you use as your headline if you're unemployed and currently seeking a job?

We decided to take this dilemma to the career experts.

They agreed that using phrases such as: "unemployed," "seeking opportunities," or "pursuing positions in ..." is a costly error.

"These headlines will make you seem unattractive and desperate to a recruiter," says Nicole Williams, CEO of career consultancy WORKS.

Rather, it is important to highlight your previous achievements and future value to grab the attention of recruiters.

"Create a job title that matches your job goal," Williams recommends. "If you are currently unemployed as a writer you can still put, 'writer, storyteller, copy editor.' These are all examples of your skills and achievements in the field."

While it is important to draw in potential employers and encourage them to read on, resist the urge to get overly fancy with your word choice, Williams warns: "If you get too creative within your headlines, recruiters will not be able to find you. 'Architect for ideas' could mean marketing for you, but architect for LinkedIn's recruitment system."

Note: For students or recent graduates with limited experience, the rules vary slightly. In a LinkedIn post (, executive recruiter Pete Leibman says that students and young grads can use the headline to highlight a strong GPA, leadership positions, or technical skills.

4/26/15 - 3 key questions to ask yourself before a job interview

COMMENTARY by Charles Galda 

Be prepared to explain how you can bring value to the company.

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What are three tips for nailing a job interview?” is written by Charles Galda, CIO of technology centers and services at GE Capital.

Ultimately, every business is focused on delivering value and driving growth, so the most important thing you can do in an interview is show how you can contribute to those goals. The best way to do this is by providing specific examples of how you added value in past situations. This will help your interviewer predict your potential for future success. Here are the top three traits I look for when interviewing candidates at GE Capital:

Are you inquisitive? I always look for candidates who don’t just answer my questions, but who have an innate desire to learn more about what we’re doing. This can unfold through thoughtful responses or insightful questions that reveal your true interest and understanding of the subject matter or a discussion about the goals of the organization. Show your aptitude by trying to demonstrate your understanding of how our business and our customers make money.

And, before any interview, find out what is unique about the organization’s products or services. If you were a customer, would you want to do business or partner with us? Why or why not? When you consider questions customers might have or unique challenges facing the company, it will create an informative dialogue. This will help employers evaluate your value.

Are you a problem-solver? In my experience, problem-solving is one of the most important skills a candidate can have given the constant need of any organization to be agile and dynamic. Once you understand the tangible problems your potential employer is trying to solve, show them you can be creative and uncover new ways to tackle both existing and new problems. Come to the interview armed with a few examples of how you faced a problem and developed an out-of-the-box solution in the past.

It can be something very basic: think about how you brought a fresh perspective to a tense project with colleagues, or managed yourself in an environment that was outside your comfort zone. If you’re interviewing for a job with a unique background, this is also where you can show the value of having a different perspective that led to an innovative solution. The key is to show you worked through the challenge by finding a creative way around it, you adjusted expectations, or you improved upon an early idea. This will help you show your potential value.

Are you a good team player? I am a big believer in teamwork and see small teams playing an increasingly dominant role in the future of business. The challenge for many leaders today is how to manage and motivate several small teams working together to produce something larger. Many candidates have long lists of their personal accomplishments, but few spend time thinking about teamwork — and that’s a mistake.

Remember, you don’t have to prove that you can do everything yourself. In fact, knowing when and how to consult, collaborate, and delegate among diverse groups is a real skill and a key criteria for companies today. Businesses are rarely successful via isolated work of individuals; it is the collective work of groups that achieve true innovation and business results. So, think of team results, how you contributed to teams in the past, and why having you on the team in the future would be an advantage. This will help to not only show, but also grow your value in any organization.


Charles Galda, CIO of technology centers and services at GE Capital

4/19/15 - The two most important words in a job interview

by Anne Fisher 

How candidates use two pronouns can reveal (almost) everything you need to know.

So many qualified job applicants, so little time. How can you be sure you’re picking the right people to join your team if you’re too busy with the rest of your job to spend more than, say, 20 minutes interviewing each one?

You might consider what Steve Pogorzelski has found. He’s spent the past 25 years vetting hundreds of candidates for leadership jobs, notably as group president of Worldwide, where he helped the career site more than triple its revenues to $1.4 billion. Last August, Pogorzelski stepped in as CEO at sales and marketing data analytics firm Avention (formerly OneSource), where he has since replaced six out of eight of the company’s C-suite executives.

Here’s what he asks candidates, and why:

“What has been your biggest professional success so far, and why?”

It may sound like the same question every other interviewer asks, but Pogorzelski is listening for something different. After all, most people’s biggest successes are already obvious from their resumes, cover letters, and social media profiles. “What I want to hear is the word ‘we,’” he says. “The way someone describes how they achieved their biggest goals speaks volumes about them as potential leaders.”

By his lights, candidates who say “I” more than “we” are used to grabbing all the credit and won’t be strong team players. “I interviewed a CFO just the other day who came from a tech startup,” Pogorzelski says. “He said ‘I” so many times and ‘we’ so few that I cut the conversation short about halfway through.”

“What has been your biggest failure, and why?”

Again, this query is such a staple of job interviews that candidates are likely to have a canned answer ready to go. What they may not realize is that Pogorzelski is listening for where they put the blame. “The word I want to hear when people answer this is ‘I,’” he says. “If someone tells me they failed at something because someone else messed up, or the economy was bad, or for any other reason that was not their fault, that’s a big red flag.”

Of course, he adds, sometimes factors beyond one’s control really can derail the best-laid plans, but “you want people on your team who will be accountable for their own mistakes, without trying to shift the blame to others” — and who can describe what they’ve learned along the way.

“What could the company be doing better than we do now, or how could I do my job better?”

Very few people expect this question, so an interviewer can get a glimpse of how a candidate thinks on his or her feet. And it’s a good way to find out how much research and thought someone has put in before the interview. Any response that shows a thorough knowledge of the company, the industry, and the competition is okay, and may even reveal some useful insights.

“The only wrong answer is, ‘Nothing! You’re doing just great,’ which should make you doubt that this person can add value,” says Pogorzelski. Why? “It’s a clear sign that the candidate either hasn’t done enough homework, or isn’t brave enough to work here.”