1/23/22 - Want to sound more confident in a job interview?

Want to sound more confident in a job interview? Tell the recruiter you’re nervous, says Google’s head of recruiting
by Morgan Smith 

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, whether you’re sitting across from a hiring manager in an office or speaking to them on a video call from the comfort of your couch.

But interviews are an important part of the hiring process: these conversations give you a chance to show off the skills in your resume and learn more about an organization to help you determine whether an opportunity is the right fit for you. “Remember: an interview isn’t an exam, it should be a conversation,” Google’s Global Head of Recruiting Brendan Castle tells CNBC Make It.

A successful job interview starts with preparation: researching the organization, practicing your responses to possible questions and planning how to follow up with the interviewer after your conversation. Consider these three interview strategies from Castle that can help you stand out and land your dream job:

Acknowledge your nerves
It might feel counterintuitive at first to tell an interviewer that you’re nervous, but Castle notes that acknowledging your nerves can help calm you down and organize your thoughts during difficult parts of the conversation.

“We understand that you’re a human, it’s okay to be yourself and own your feelings,” he says. If you’re really struggling during an interview, Castle suggests taking a deep breath and politely asking your interviewer for a brief pause.

“For example, you can tell them, ‘I’m a bit nervous, can I take a moment before responding?’” he says. “We actually quite respect statements like that because it shows how much you care about this opportunity and that the interview means a lot to you … it’s perfectly okay to show that.”

Ask questions throughout the interview
Candidates should feel empowered to ask questions about the position or company throughout the interview, not just at the end. “You’re also assessing these companies for the next step in your career,” Castle says.

Castle suggests asking these three questions to help you gauge an organization’s priorities and show that you would be a highly engaged employee:

How would you define success for the person in this role?

When you think about your own career and transition to this company, what did you learn about yourself on that journey?

What is it about the company that keeps you motivated and excited to go to work everyday?

Don’t badmouth your previous employer
It’s important to focus on the opportunities you’re running toward during an interview instead of the experiences you’re running away from. Castle warns against complaining about the companies you’ve worked at in a “really negative tone” — instead, he recommends you tell a recruiter what qualities you’re looking for in your next role.

“Complaining about a previous employer might be my biggest ‘don’t’ during an interview,” adds. “We don’t know what happens in other organizations, but we really want to understand ‘Why us?’ versus ‘Why not another company?’”

1/16/22 - With Virtual Interviews Here to Stay, Best Practices Are Needed

By Roy Maurer 

The use of videoconferencing technology for virtual job interviews exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, and surveys show that the practice has become a part of the hiring process for good.

A recent poll of 1,100 U.S. employers conducted by Indeed found that 82 percent of respondents said they adopted virtual interviews for candidates because of the pandemic, and nearly all—93 percent—expect to continue to use virtual interviews in the future.

Another survey from recruiting software provider Jobvite found that 61 percent of surveyed recruiters said the hiring process will be a combination of virtual and in person going forward, while 22 percent said they plan to conduct all-virtual hiring.

"You have employers who are going to continue doing video interviews because they've adopted a remote/hybrid work environment and need the solution to interview candidates remotely, as well as to expand their talent pool," said Josh Tolan, CEO of video interviewing platform Spark Hire, based in the Chicago area.

Employers have noted multiple benefits to virtual interviews, including a shorter time-to-hire, a more streamlined hiring process and a better candidate experience for some because applicants have more control over when and where they interview.

Tolan noted the distinction between the two most prevalent types of virtual interviews: live video interviews, which are being used as a replacement for in-person interviews in a remote environment, and one-way video interviews typically used earlier in the hiring process as a preliminary screening interview, not meant to replace face-to-face, live interactions. He said the last 20 months have accelerated the adoption of this latter type of prerecorded video interviews, in which candidates respond to questions on their own time and then submit their recorded answers.

"Not only does this standardize the preliminary interview process with all candidates answering the same questions, but it also boosts hiring collaboration, as hiring managers are able to provide input earlier on, resulting in better downstream hiring outcomes," he said. "The candidate also benefits, since the employer can interview more people, giving candidates more opportunities." He emphasized that with all candidates answering the same questions, they're on an even playing field. "And, with multiple team members evaluating their video interview, the decision on whether they are advanced isn't solely dependent on one person, reducing bias."

There's also a health and safety component to virtual interviews—84 percent of employers surveyed by Indeed say they are still using video interviews to mitigate risk amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In-Person Experience Is Tough to Beat

Even with all of the benefits of virtual interviews, a majority of the recruiters surveyed by Jobvite still consider an in-person meeting to be a better interview experience, even though that balance of preference is shifting. Over three-fourths (77 percent) of respondents said an in-person interview was preferable in 2020, compared with just 62 percent this year. And 21 percent chose video as the most effective way to conduct interviews this year, compared with 11 percent in 2020.

"I would agree that an in-person experience is better for the candidate and hiring manager," said Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, a talent acquisition expert and president of HRU Technical Resources, an engineering and design staffing firm based in Lansing, Mich. "When [I conduct interviews] in person, I can see body language better and am more likely to have a better experience with someone. Over video, it may not be bad, but I don't think it will ever be superior."

Tolan agreed that when comparing live video interviews to an in-person experience, "most would agree that in-person is desirable, but it also has its limitations."

Those limitations include not being feasible or economical for employers shifting to a remote environment, and the difficulty of aligning the schedules of interviewers and candidates, who have to block off time to travel to the interview.

"So, while the actual in-person interaction might be more desirable … there's still a case that, overall, the flexibility, cost savings and collaboration of live video interviews present benefits to all parties," Tolan said. "You also need to consider the shifting candidate market and what their preferences are for interviews."

Kerry Gilliam, vice president of marketing at Jobvite, said, "The more you know about the likes and dislikes of the person you are trying to recruit, the better job you can do outlining the ideal candidate journey and knowing their communication and interview preferences."

Amber Ferrari, marketing manager at Jobvite, agreed, saying it's important for recruiters to use their discretion for when to offer virtual versus in-person interviews, because these recruiters "should know what is going to make the interviewee most comfortable and most likely to connect with the organization."

Gilliam suggested that virtual interviews could be best conducted earlier in the hiring process as screening interviews, saving time and costs. "Another opportunity for video is when having to interview with multiple people at the same time," she said.

"There are a lot of moving pieces to consider, including equity issues," Sackett said. "I think if you are going to have virtual interviews, you have to put everyone through the same interview experience. If the first interview is virtual, all first interviews should be virtual. If you bring people in for an interview, all candidates should have the opportunity to have that in-person experience."

1/9/22 - The right way to follow up at every stage in your job search

By Kathryn Vasel 

The job search process usually involves a lot of waiting around. Did they get my application? Did that interview go well? How long will it take them to get back to me?

Even if a company is moving fast to fill a role it can still take some time to hear back. But the way you follow up while waiting can help make you stand out.
So don't be shy about following up and expressing just how interested you are in the position.

"Employers want to hire people that want the job. They're not in the business of trying to pitch a job to someone who is really resistant," said job search strategist Kamara Toffolo.

You've applied... now what?

You hit send on your application and then repeatedly check your email for the next few days to see if a recruiter wants to set up an interview.

But you don't have to wait. Experts said you should reach out immediately after applying. Even in a job seeker's market, chances are your application isn't immediately being seen by a human being.

"When you submit a resume it goes into an applicant tracking system...and recruiters do not look at every resume," said Marlo Lyons, a career coach and human resources executive. "You need to find someone to refer you in....or find a contact in the company to flag your resume."

It will take a little bit of sleuthing to find out who to reach out to if it's not listed on the posting. Check to see if you already have any direct connections or second-degree connections at the company on LinkedIn that you can reach out to and ask to pass along your resume or connect you directly with the hiring manager.

To find a recruiter, go to the company's LinkedIn page and find the "people" tab where you can search for "recruiter" among the company's employees, recommended Toffolo.

"We can refine that search even further if you know the business unit you've applied to," she added.

Another approach is to find the hiring manager. To help do this, try to figure out the title of the person you would be reporting to based on the title you are applying for, recommended Angela Copeland, vice president of marketing at

"Let's say it's marketing director -- think of the hierarchy of a company: you will typically report into the vice president, or if you are manager you might report into the director. You can look on the company's LinkedIn page to see employees and filter down by job title."

If this still brings up too many potential results, Copeland suggested scanning the job posting for more clues. "Look for something unique in the job description that you would be doing that your hiring manager might also know about and put that in as a keyword ... to help you narrow it down."

For your note, Toffolo said to make it clear you've already applied to the position and why you are a good fit.

"You can summarize your key strengths that you would bring to the role and ask for a time to chat. At the end the message include: If I should be reaching out to one of your colleagues, please feel free to send my message along with my resume, which I've attached."

The interview is over. Do this right away

Job seekers might have a lot of leverage right now, but a thank you note is still important.

"Every time you do the right thing, you are increasing your chances because so many people don't do the basics," said Lindsey Pollak, career expert and author of "Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work."

An email is fine, but Pollak suggests sending it within 12 hours of the interview. And it can be short: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about XYZ position, I really enjoyed our conversation. Then mention one memorable nugget of something that stood out to you or a follow-up to something you discussed.

"One factoid that shows you're not sending a generic note."

And if you interviewed with more than one person, each person should get an individualized thank you note.

It's been a few weeks since the interview, and ... crickets

You really thought the interview went well, but still haven't heard back.

To help set you up better for follow-up, Pollak suggests asking about the timeline in the interview: "Can you talk me through the next steps -- when can I expect to hear from you?" or "When would it be appropriate for me to follow up?"

If the response is something like two to three weeks, Pollak said to mark your calendar to send a follow-up note in two weeks. But if they don't give any sense, she said reaching out once a week is a good rule of thumb.

In the check-in notes, reiterate your interest and reference something either from the interview that you've been thinking more about or recent company news announcements or CEO comments.

"What you are really trying to do is not mess up by being irritating or rude" said Pollak. "You aren't writing a manifesto or love letter, you are just pinging them with a little bit of value."

If three follow-up notes after an interview go unanswered, Pollak said it's time to stop reaching out.

When you get a 'thanks, but no thanks'

It doesn't feel great to get the "thanks for the interest, but we've decided to go with someone else" email.

But you can still use it to your advantage by sending a response like: I wanted to thank you again for the opportunity, I am glad you found someone who is the right fit. I enjoyed meeting you and would welcome the opportunity to work with you and your team in the future and I've also sent you a connection request on LinkedIn, suggested Toffolo.

"A lot of folks miss the opportunity of sending a final message to the 'thanks, but no thanks,' message."

Sometimes the chosen candidate falls through or another position opens up, and a positive last impression can work in your favor.

"This can really stand out to an employer," she said.

1/2/22 - 4 Tips For Researching A Company Before Jumping Into The Interview

by Don Goodman Aaron Sanborn 

You may have spent hours perfecting your resume, and to finally get that call from the employer to come in for an interview feels fantastic, but don't stop the hard work and start relaxing just yet.

Taking time to do research before the job interview is the difference between winning the employer over and losing your shot at the job to someone else.

Clearly, you should know some basics about the employer like what they do, what they offer, who's their audience, where they have offices, and who are the key members of management. It also helps to know more about the individuals you'll be meeting with.

Going into the interview armed with as much information as possible about the company helps serve two really big purposes:

You'll be able to give an intelligent response when the hiring manager asks you what you know about the company, and your potential fit.
You can use your knowledge of the company to put together some good questions for when it's your time to ask questions during the job interview.

Here are tips on where to go to load up on information about the company.

Company Website
Companies put a lot of effort into their websites because they're great tools for promoting their brands and attracting new talent.

Even the most basic company website offers some form of information to help you prepare for a job interview. Refer to sections like "About Us" to learn about the basics of the company, "News/Press Releases" to be informed about latest news and developments at the company, "Management" where you can become familiar with important names and see details of who heads the particular department you want a job in, and "Locations" so you see where offices are located.

Even if you're not in sales or marketing, you should also look over sections of the website that talk about services, products, and partners.

Social Media Accounts
Not every employer will have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, but for those who do, they're easy resources to go through to pull a lot of information quickly.

Through what they post, and the tone of their postings, you can learn a lot about a company and its company culture.

Photos and videos posted on these sites can also give you a sense of the dress code, work environment, and show you faces of important individuals.

Job seekers should also use sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to see what the company's employees have to say about it.

LinkedIn is particularly helpful because it offers most of what other social media accounts offer, but more. By this we mean it can put you directly in touch with individuals at the organization. Read up on the individuals you'll be meeting like the HR manager, head of the department for the job you want, and other workers who may work in the same department.

You can even search for people who used to be in the company and find the individual who might have held the job you are seeking. LinkedIn is much more of a professional social media platform, so you can expect its page to include business-oriented news that can help you prepare for the job interview.

Online News/Industry News
If you're looking to really impress, also read up on industry news and know what's happening in the space so you can have an intelligent conversation. Employers are impressed by applicants who not only know its business, but about its market and competitors as well.

It doesn't take a lot to come off prepared for the job interview with the various online resources readily available with information. Armed with the information, you are prepared to respond and ask good questions at the job interview so that you solidify the message that you are a serious contender.

Happy Holidays 2021 - 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 2022 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 Year to you and yours!

12/12/21 - 4 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Accepting A Job Offer

by Jenna Arcand 

Receiving a job offer after a long job search is one of the best feelings in the world. Before you say "yes" though, it's important to determine whether you're making the right decision for you and your career.

After an incredibly difficult job search, it can be tempting to take the first job offer you receive. Of course, there are many factors that go into whether you should accept that job offer, but for most professionals, it's not wise to blindly accept your first one, unless it's a position at one of your bucket list companies.

The decision to accept a job offer shouldn't be taken lightly. In order to advance your career, you need to make sure each job you take provides you with opportunities to grow as a professional, while also factoring in work-life balance.

Here are four questions you must ask yourself before accepting any job offer.

1. Do I Like The People I'd Be Working With At This Company?
It may be hard to know if you'd work well with the people at a particular company just after a few interviews and handshakes. But it's important to make an effort to get to know the people you'd be working with before moving too far into the hiring process.

Your co-workers can make or break your experience at a company. If you didn't get a good vibe from the people you met during your interviews, then maybe you should think twice about accepting the job offer. We're not saying you should be friends with your co-workers. You just need to be able to work well with them.

By getting to know as many people as possible early on in the interview process, you won't only learn who they are and whether you could get along with them, but you'll also strengthen your network within the company.

2. Will I Be Able To Leverage My Strengths In This Position?
Part of your job during an interview is asking the right questions so you can learn as much about the company and the position as possible in order to make an informed decision if a job offer comes your way.

After a couple rounds of interviews, you should have a clear idea of what you'd be doing every day if you were to accept the job offer. Are you excited about those projects? Will you be able to leverage your strengths to help the company meet their goals? If not, then you probably won't get very much satisfaction out of the job.

An employer will offer you the job if they believe you can add value to the company. But if the way they want you to add value doesn't align with your career goals or strengths, it might not be the right position for you.

3. Can I Relate To The Company's Values And Beliefs?
This question is an easy one to forget to ask ourselves when we're offered a job.

Although you should always feel connected to a company's mission or values before you apply for a job there (so you can write a disruptive cover letter and actually land an interview), maybe you haven't considered the company values and beliefs until this stage in the hiring process. If you haven't done so, you should research the company until you know what its purpose is. Why does the company exist? What problem is it trying to solve? Could you work towards this mission every day?

The bottom line: If your values and beliefs don't match up with the company's, then you won't be truly invested in what you're doing, and your performance and career happiness and satisfaction will suffer.

4. Will The Location Of This Job Work For Me?
A commute is a bigger factor in your career than you think. A lot of people underestimate the kind of toll a long and difficult commute will have on them. That's why it's important to be honest with yourself: Do you really want to spend an hour or more on the road every day?

Before saying "yes" to a job with a long commute, consider your schedule, lifestyle, and family commitments. Are you willing to sacrifice and compromise on certain areas of your life for this opportunity? Will you still be able to achieve some type of work-life balance with a long commute?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more professionals want to work remote jobs, and companies are listening, offering more remote work opportunities to attract top talent. If you'd prefer not to commute at all, then you should probably apply for jobs that offer the flexibility to work from home (at least some of the time). Being a remote or hybrid employee definitely has its perks when you consider how stressful, expensive, and time-consuming a commute can be, and it absolutely should be a factor in your decision to accept a job or not.

By asking yourself these four questions before accepting any job offer, you'll be sure you're making the right decision—for you and your career.

12/5/21 - The average recruiter initially spends 7.4 seconds scanning a resume

The average recruiter initially spends 7.4 seconds scanning a resume, so use these strategies to stand out in your job search
by Michelle Fox 

If you hope to land a new job, you’ll want to make sure your resume catches the eyes of recruiters.

The first thing you should do is shift your mindset, said certified professional career coach Matt Glodz, founder of Chicago-based executive resume writing firm Resume Pilots.

“Stop thinking so much about yourself and think more about what your reader is looking for and expecting to see,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shifted what some employers consider important — including, for example, vaccination status.

In this era of vaccine mandates, the number of job postings requiring candidates to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has doubled since the end of September, according to career site Ladders. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate for private businesses is currently working its way through the court system.

Whether or not you put your vaccination status on your resume is a personal decision, said Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at New-York based resume-writing service TopResume.

“If you are OK putting the information out there and that is the status for you, you are better off because there are employers that are ignoring candidates that don’t disclose that information,” she said.

In fact, 33% of hiring managers will automatically eliminate resumes that don’t include a Covid-19 vaccine status, a survey by found. It surveyed 1,250 hiring managers across the U.S. in August.

With that in mind, here are five strategies to make your resume stand out.

1. Demonstrate flexibility
Adaptability and flexibility are the top skills employers believe have greater importance since the pandemic hit, an October 2020 TopResume survey of 334 hiring professionals found.

Critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and teamwork are also important to employers these days.

While it may feel challenging to get these skills across on your resume without simply listing them, think about the most recent work you have done that can demonstrate those skills, Augustine suggests.

“Talk about how you created results, got something done on time, contributed to your organization and the steps you took to get there,” she said.

If you’ve worked remotely during the pandemic, be sure to include that, as well, by simply putting it in parentheses next to your title in the experience section.

“You never know when you may be thrown back into some sort of quarantine,” Augustine said.

2. Present a compelling narrative
Your resume should tell a clear story as to why your experience and skills qualify you for the position you are applying for, Augustine said.

Therefore, TopResume recommends a hybrid-resume format that is not fully chronological. Instead, the top third of the resume should give employers a quick glance at why it makes sense to talk to you, she explained. It should include your contact information, professional title, professional summary and areas of expertise.

Then, dive into your work experience.

3. Show your impact
Recruiters want to see the impact you’ve made to your prior or current organization. If your experience section is very task-based, focusing on your day-to-day responsibilities, it will read more like a job description instead of painting a picture for recruiters, Glodz said.

“Take the task and turn it into an achievement,” he advised.

For example, show how much a project increased the company’s revenue or saved the business money.

4. Format matters
The average hiring professional spends 7.4 seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether to look at the candidate more closely, a 2018 Ladders study found.

“When you have such a little time to capture their attention and zero in on your application, you want to make sure it is easy for them to scan and understand your career narrative,” Augustine said.

Don’t make your experience an endless list of bullet points or dense paragraphs. Instead, create a short paragraph under your job that describes the role and responsibilities. Then use your bullet points, or what Augustine calls bragging points, to demonstrate your achievements.

Stay away from custom or overly intricate font styles. Use a classic resume template, organized with conventional headings, Glodz said.

Carefully proofread it line by line, looking at not only grammar and phrasing but making sure your spacing and fonts are consistent throughout.

“Your professionalism is really going to be demonstrated by how you present your document,” Glodz said.

5. Don’t forget a cover letter
When TopResume asked hiring managers if they are more likely to read cover letters now than before the pandemic, 48% said yes.

“It won’t hurt your application if you include it, but you could be hurting your chances of a call back if you don’t,” Augustine said.

Don’t make it generic. Instead customize it by including what you’ve learned about the company and what they are looking for in a candidate for the role you are applying for.

11/28/21 - Got a job offer but hoping another one comes through? Here's what to do

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business 

You've been interviewing with three different companies that all sound promising, and Company A is the first to give you an offer. You're excited, but you are still interested in what Company B and C might have to offer. What do you do?

It's not uncommon for job seekers to be getting multiple offers right now. According to Ryan Sutton, a district president at staffing agency Robert Half, "hot candidates" that have in-demand skill sets are averaging three offers.

"We've seen candidates pull many more than that. We've seen candidates with upwards of five-plus offers," Sutton said.

With more than 10 million job openings, it's a job seeker's market.

"In a tight labor market, you may have more leverage, but employers know that time kills deals, so rest assured, the employer is going to be pushing you for an answer," said Tessa White, CEO of The Job Doctor.

Responding to Company A

If the first job offer you get wasn't from your top choice, it's fairly customary to ask for time to think it over. But how much time is reasonable?

Career counselor Karen Chopra said asking for up to 10 days to evaluate the offer is fair game when still interviewing with other companies, but not too much longer than that.

"After a while it gets hard to ask someone to hold a job open for you. So 10 days feels reasonable," she said.

Chopra suggested saying something like: "Thank you, I am so excited for this offer. I am in the middle of interviewing with other organizations. I would like to complete those. Would it be all right if I got back you in 10 days?"

If you aren't comfortable disclosing you are talking to other employers, you can keep the response more general.

"You can be very general and nondescript," said Brenda Cunningham, career manager at Push Career Management. For example, you could say: Thank you so much for this offer, I would appreciate up to two weeks to go through my decision-making process.

Another discreet way to buy yourself more time is to ask to speak to potential colleagues to get a better sense of whether the position will be a good fit, since scheduling those discussions can take a few days, recommended White.

"Outside of that, unless there is really high trust it's hard to say, 'Can I wait and see what the other one says?'" she said.

The negotiation process could also provide more time before having to give a final answer.

Putting off a potential employer for too long comes with risks.

"I wouldn't recommend going past a week," said Sutton. "Past five days, the law of diminishing returns falls into play."

If you have a dream company, he suggested focusing on only that employer during your search right now.

"Why entertain a back up? In this kind of market when it's this hot.... You don't have the same risk of: Is there going to be another opportunity out there? Yes, if you have a good skill set that is in demand, there are going to be plenty of opportunities out there."

When asking for more time to consider an offer, Chopra recommended talking with the hiring manager, if possible.

"They are most invested in this going well. They want you to say 'yes' and have an incentive to be nice to you. They know how much flex they've got... they have the authority to do the negotiation."

And this isn't a conversation to have over email or text.

Having this discussion on the phone allows you to better evaluate the situation and respond accordingly.

"The problem with email is there is no vocal tone and you are not getting immediate feedback," said Chopra. "You can't hear the pauses, you can't hear how begrudgingly they say 'sure you can have those 10 days.' You can't do any repair work or assure them."

And if a company asks for more details about who you're still interviewing with, don't feel pressured to give in.

"Hold your cards close," said White. She added that it's fine to say it's in the same industry or for a similar role, but not to give the names of the companies.

If a company wants an answer right away but you aren't sure it's the right job, White said to slow the process down by asking for more details or to meet with additional people. "Push the company you want the offer from, but try and slow down the company making the offer."

Getting Company B & C to speed up

If you are able to get some time from Company A, you'll need to get things moving with Companies B and C.

"Your job is to help them understand the time crunch you are under without forcing the matter," Cunningham said. "This is a sensitive area and you need to tread carefully."

She recommended telling the company you have another offer and phrasing the request as a question, something like: "Is there anything we can do to accelerate this decision making process? Is there any information that I can provide quickly to influence your decision?"

How the companies respond to this request can be very telling of how the relationship is going to play out during your career, she added.

"If this organization doesn't understand the basic conundrum you are in, consider how they will respond later when you are a part of the company and you ask for a raise, or a promotion or unplanned time off? Is it going to be these same levels of red tape and bureaucracy that you are going to have to deal with?" Cunningham said.

Happy Thanksgiving 2021 - 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.

(New for 2020) We give thanks for Zoom, Facetime, Teams, Google Meets, and others, for options to continue to meet online when we can not meet in person.

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

11/14/21 - 10 Little Things That Make A Big Difference To Hiring Managers

by Laura Smith-Proulx & Jenna Arcand 

As a former hiring manager in several consulting firms, I often wondered if candidates were cognizant of the impression they made on employers. Even small things, such as the frown displayed by an applicant upon arriving at an interview, or the worn-out jeans on an applicant in a roomful of suits, gave me pause as I worked to screen candidates.

Ironically, many of the issues I spotted could have been easily fixed by taking care of seemingly minor issues. In some cases, these corrections would have made the difference between hiring the job candidate and taking a pass on the applicant!

Here are 10 “little" things that make a big difference to hiring managers in your job search.

1. Your Digital Identity

Yes, recruiters and hiring managers will be checking out your LinkedIn presence and verifying that your Facebook and Instagram activity is not violating their corporate policies. But have you stopped to think about your tweets or the content you're creating on TikTok?

Even the most realistic employer will need to assess your liability as a potential new hire. Therefore, your online activity must be sufficiently toned-down and presentable to a potential company—long before you enter the job market.

If you've kept up a website on your middle-of-the-night gaming habit or constantly tweet your distaste for political candidates, these items can offend hiring managers—and cause them to rethink bringing you in for an interview.

2. Your Honesty

Struggling to hide employment gaps in your work history on your resume? Failing to mention that new job you just took (that isn't working out)? White lies or sins of omission on your resume and in your interviews will come back to haunt you in more than one way.

If interviewers don't catch lies during the resume screening process, there's still a chance that your background check will reveal all. Even after you're hired, your record of impeccable service won't make up for less-than-forthright stories on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Stories abound of high-profile executives, entertainment professionals, and sports coaches who attended college but didn't graduate—and who paid the price for fudging these resume details years down the road.

3. Your Accessibility

Are you open enough on LinkedIn that others can contact you? Or, did you forget to make your email address (and possibly mobile number) visible to other users? Here are best practices for ensuring you're more easily reached on LinkedIn:

From the "Edit Profile" menu, look under the box with your name and headline for "Edit Contact Info." Here, you can fill in your email address and phone numbers.
Joining Groups is also an important step in becoming accessible to employers. Sharing a Group with another user means he or she can reach out to you for free (important to recruiters maximizing their LinkedIn budgets).
Don't forget the "Contact Information" section. Select "Privacy & Settings" from the top right (hover the mouse under your name). Choose the "Communication" tab at the bottom left, and "Select the types of messages you're willing to receive." Add a paragraph in the "Advice to People Who Are Contacting You" box that includes your preference for email, phone, or LinkedIn messages.

4. Your Job Search Follow Up

Sent in a resume, but failed to take any action beyond pressing the "Send" button? If you didn't spend some time following up or identifying company insiders for further networking, your job search will take longer.

Doing some homework on the employer's business needs and identifying key people for personal follow up (through LinkedIn or an online search) shows them you're truly interested in a career opportunity, and that you've given thought to solving their business problems.

Be sure to use formal channels when applying to a posted job, then reach out to your newly found contacts to reiterate your interest in joining the company. Better still, connect and network with employees at the companies on your interview bucket list well before you start your job search. That way, you'll already have connections at those companies when it comes time for you to apply for a job.

​5. The Tone Of Your Cover Letter Or LinkedIn Message

Cranking out LinkedIn messages or cover letters at top speed—with just a few adjustments here and there? Hiring managers can smell a "form letter" approach a mile away. Nothing says "I'm desperate and don't care about your needs" more than a disjointed cover letter or a LinkedIn message that simply asks for a job.

No matter how you're getting in touch with employers, take the time to write a brand-specific message of value to them—helping them discover who you are, what you offer, and why you're interested in a position with their company. This means customizing each LinkedIn message and writing disruptive cover letters.

You may not be able to crank them out as fast, but you'll be sacrificing quantity for quality. And, in the job search, quality is always better than quantity.

6. Your Demeanor When Arranging The Interview

When setting up any kind of business meeting, there's a certain amount of give and take required for coordination. No matter how in-demand your skills may be, you'll be expected to acquiesce to interview timing and location parameters set by employers. That can mean dealing with less-than-helpful receptionists or HR personnel, all of whom will be taking notes on your reactions.

Your phone etiquette and email communications will be watched closely; a courteous and respectful tone will go miles in reinforcing your personal brand and potential as a job candidate.

7. Your Appraisal Of The Interviewer

Feeling put out by the fact that your interviewer appears younger, more inexperienced, or otherwise beneath you in the professional hierarchy? Be careful how you convey this disapproval. You may believe you're hiding these feelings, but as one of those younger-looking interviewers, I often picked up on this tone very quickly!

Even if you decide mid-interview that you're not interested in the company, remember to display a high degree of professionalism. You never know how well-connected your interviewer might be.

8. Your Discretion

Polarizing, hot-button subjects such as politics or religion should make their way out of your resume, LinkedIn profile, interview discussions, and side conversations.

No matter how neutral or popular you consider your stance to be on these topics, there's bound to be someone who disagrees with you—and who votes against hiring you.

9. Your Post-Interview Actions

Yes, you should be sending a thank you note to employers after your interviews! Whether a short, handwritten card, LinkedIn message, email, or even hard-copy letter, a thank you note gives employers the impression that you're a gracious and appreciative job candidate.

A post-interview note can also be used to address lingering questions, counter potential objections ("Regarding our discussion on your new Western region, I can assure you that I'm accustomed to handling accounts in person for maximum effect—and therefore open to travel"), or mention a fond memory you have of the experience (a conversation, for example) to highlight a connection you made with the individuals at the company.

Be sure to address your notes to each person you've encountered in the interview process (or at least mention their names in the note), especially if you've met with a panel or group.

10. The Frequency Of Your Messages

Just because social media lets you send messages faster than ever doesn't mean you should pester employers. Following up once or twice after applying for a job should suffice to let them know you're still interested in the position. The same is true of the post-interview period.

Hiring managers have companies to run and customers to serve, in addition to the process of choosing you. They may also have other candidates to consider. Staying on an employer's radar is important, but so is professional discretion. Aim for somewhere in between silent and stalker in your follow-up activities.

There are numerous ways employers can be put off by your job search practices or approach. Ensure you're taking steps to satisfy their need for information and put your best professional foot forward.

11/7/21 - How to answer the interview question ‘What are your goals?’

Show “how your goals and the goals of the job and the team can both be moved forward.”
by Gili Malinsky 

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans’ career ambitions changed. More than half, 55%, of Americans in the workforce say they are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seeker Survey of 2,452 adults.

Whatever your plans for your professional life, when you’re sitting in an interview for that next job, you’ll need to be prepared. Some of the most popular interview questions include “What are your weaknesses?” and “Why did you leave your last job?” They also include the question “What are your goals?”

Here’s how to answer it.

Think about your goals ‘in the context of the role’
To answer this interview question, think about what you want to achieve “in the context of the role that you’re applying for,” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume. “If your goal is completely unrelated to what this opportunity is going to offer you, it’s going to be harder for your interviewer to connect the dots and understand, ‘Well, so how does this fit into your master plan?’”

Before going into the interview, consider what your career goals are for the next year or few years, and think about how this role helps to accomplish those. Say you’re applying for a role as a video editor at an advertising company and you want to work on a commercial for an iconic brand. If that company works with major American brands, you could mention that goal to show them their work is already in line with what you want to be doing.

Matching what you hope to accomplish with what this job entails helps to show interviewers “how your goals and the goals of the job and the team can both be moved forward at the same time,” says Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs.

Use language that shows you want to contribute
Remember that when you get hired, “you’re joining a company as a two-way exchange,” says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, entrepreneur and author of “Choose Possibility.” “They’re giving you the opportunity to learn and build. You’re giving them the opportunity to accelerate their progress by hiring you.”

When explaining your goals, use what Singh Cassidy calls impact language, or “language about your contribution to something bigger than just yourself,” she says. It shows that although you certainly want to further your own career, you also want to help the company grow and reach its objectives.

‘They don’t want to know that you want to lose 10 pounds’
One thing to steer clear of when answering this question: Don’t mention any personal goals that don’t have to do with work directly.

“Chances are they don’t want to know that you want to lose 10 pounds and travel to Europe,” says Augustine. “I’d veer away from the personal aspirations unless they actually specified that that’s what they’re looking for. The assumption should be that they want to know something around your goals when it comes to your career.”

10/31/21 - How to Find a Recruiter to Level Up Your Job Search

By Gabrielle Gardiner 

Finding a recruiter in 2020 looks entirely different than it did last year. The effects of COVID-19 have severely impacted businesses around the globe, and the norms of recruiting and how to find a recruiter have changed. With such a high volume of applicants and a completely digital hiring process, it's more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. Working with a third-party recruiter could be exactly what you need to get ahead in this competitive job market. Keep in mind that headhunters and executive search professionals fall under the umbrella of the term "third-party recruiter."

Working with a recruiter can be a win-win situation that speeds up your job search. If you know how to find a recruiter and maximize your time working with one, it can be a game-changer for your career as well. Below, we've outlined our advice for finding the right recruiters and building mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Benefits of Working with a Recruiter
Working with a recruiter is a great move for goal-oriented job seekers. As you figure out how to find a recruiter, practice articulating your specific career goals. Since most third-party recruiters work on commission based on job placements, they want to help you land the right position efficiently. Some of the reasons people love working with recruiters include the ability to:

Recruiters have a vested interest in making sure a job is a good fit for you, but they don't necessarily provide career guidance. Most won't have the bandwidth to help you narrow down your interests and pinpoint potential jobs, so it's best to rethink the idea of working with a recruiter if you're still figuring out your desired career path.

5 Expert Tips On How to Find a Recruiter

1) Start by leveraging your contacts

In order to find a trusted recruiter, it helps to start within your personal and professional circles. Leverage your contacts and reach out to friends, family and even your school alumni network in your field. Ask if they can introduce you to any recruiters based on their experiences. Mutual connections help start a recruiter relationship off on the right foot. However, a glowing personal recommendation doesn't exempt you from vetting the recruiter yourself.

2) Evaluate recruiters based on your own criteria

Recruiters are similar to salespeople in the sense that they are "selling" jobs to candidates, and then selling those candidates to hiring managers. Be sure to do your due diligence to determine that you and your recruiter are on the same page. Understanding how recruiters find candidates can help you increase the likelihood of finding the right opportunity as quickly as possible. A few questions to ask yourself:

3) Use LinkedIn to maximize connections with recruiters

LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for connecting with recruiters. Recruiters on LinkedIn search for candidates based on their work history, job title or college. Here are a few ways to make sure your profile is helping you rather than hurting you:

4) Focus on finding recruiters who understand your niche

Finding a recruiter who fully understands the nuances of your industry might take more work, but it will undoubtedly be worth it. Some of the best recruiters are industry-focused so they can use their expertise to make the most accurate matches. Linkedin is great for working with recruiters to a certain extent, but it has its limitations.

Depending on your profession and the stage of your career, you'll want to look into more advanced recruiter resources. For example, you might need to get creative with searching recruiter directories like Tools like these allow you to apply specialized filters for finding a recruiter. After all, highly sought-out recruiters who understand your niche can be difficult to find.

5) Build meaningful relationships with recruiters at scale

In an ultra-competitive world, you have to get in front of as many recruiters as possible to hedge your bets. Recruiters recognize the fact that you're working with multiple different people, but they won't be impressed if you advertise it. Avoid awkward mix-ups by using a spreadsheet or another organizational method to maintain information about your recruiter contacts. If you want to be memorable to recruiters, you'll want to prove you remember small details about your interactions with them.

Take thorough notes after every interaction, include the date and add them to your designated spreadsheet. It's a helpful habit to build personal recruiter relationships that go beyond the surface level. Especially in a world where you can only be judged by your digital interactions, it pays to follow up promptly and thoughtfully. Use the same strategy for fostering professional relationships through networking when you team up with recruiters. You'll be amazed at how eager recruiters will be to work with you.

As you navigate the competitive post-pandemic job market, working with a recruiter can help you level up your job search. Ideally, recruiters should be strategic partners in your job hunt who you can count on. If you're new to working with recruiters, don't get discouraged if your efforts aren't successful in the beginning.

Remember, working with recruiters is a long game. Persistence pays off. By adopting some of our strategies, we hope you'll start to receive more responses and notice recruiters seeking you out, too. 

Gabrielle Gardiner is a Manhattan-based content writer who creates helpful pieces about job hunting and professional development for LiveCareer. She’s passionate about sharing her insights to empower people to level up in their careers. In her free time she enjoys yoga, running, and exploring all that New York has to offer.

10/24/21 - When job interviewers ask ‘What are your weaknesses?’ they’re testing ‘your emotional intelligence’

Answers like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I just work too hard” don’t sound authentic or honest.
by Gili Malinsky 

Among the most popular interview questions an employer can ask a potential hire is “What are your weaknesses?”, according to Monster. At a moment when you’re trying to impress a potential employer, this can be a stressful question to try to answer.

But if it comes up, don’t panic. What’s important to remember is “what interviewers are looking for when they’re asking this question,” says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and founder of C-Suite Coach. “They’re looking to test your emotional intelligence” and to see “whether or not you are self aware.”

The question is an opportunity to showcase how you tackle challenges and to show different sides of your personality.

Here’s how to answer the interview question, “What are your weaknesses?”

Don’t mention weaknesses that are ‘main requirements for the role’
In anticipation of this question, research the company’s culture and values and thoroughly read the description of the role you could be filling.

“If they said something in the job description like, ‘you must be detail oriented,’” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume, “obviously you don’t want to pick apart the fact that you’re not detail oriented.” Instead, Augustine suggests mentioning weaknesses that are not “main requirements for the role.”

Show an employer ‘what you’ve done to overcome it’
When you mention a weakness or work habit you need to improve on, “the key thing” to show an employer is “what you’ve done to overcome it,” says Vicki Salemi, careers expert at Monster.

Say you’re someone who works quickly. Augustine suggests you might say something like: “I’ve always found that I’m striving for the most efficient way to do anything. Over time I’ve learned that sometimes that leads to cutting corners.”

But to note how you’ve grown, she adds, include something along the lines of, now “I review my work to ensure that I’m still getting things done quickly and ahead of deadline, but that they’re also of high quality and error free.”

If you’re a manager and you discovered you’re not great at delegating, you could say something like, “I’ve engaged in 360 feedback from my team and realized that I was not delegating enough,” says Darrisaw. But knowing that, “I built out better project management tools to ensure that I was being a more collaborative team player.”

Use the STAR method
In figuring out how to tell the story of those weaknesses you’re working to improve, Augustine suggests using the STAR interview response method. STAR stands for situation, task, action, results — all the key components you want to include in your answer.

“The idea is to brainstorm out different stories from your past experience where you were either faced with a situation or you were given a task that you had to complete,” she says. “You describe the actions you took and then the end result. And even if the end result wasn’t fantastic, it could be, ‘What did I learn from this?’ or, ‘What would I do differently now that I’ve had such an experience under my belt?’”

‘Avoid the clichés’
And another thing to remember when answering this question: “Avoid the clichés,” says Darrisaw.

Supposed weaknesses that people often point to like, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I just work too hard” don’t sound authentic or honest, says Augustine.

In part, interviewers are trying to get a read on who you are as a person and whether your personality and temperament fit with the team. These clichés don’t sound like they represent you in earnest, and could even come across as bragging.

These answers can sound like, “I’m really trying to tell you I’m amazing,” says Augustine. But hiring managers “see through that.”

10/17/21 - 5 Big Questions To Ask Yourself Before Taking A Job

by Kelly Kuehn & Jenna Arcand 

This is it. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. After going through the hiring process, you're offered a position! Congratulations! It's a big accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself. However, just because you got the offer doesn't necessarily mean you should accept it on the spot.

Think about it. Would you buy a house without considering what it means for you in the long run? Your career shouldn't be any different. Taking a job is a huge investment for both you and your potential employer, so some serious thought needs to go into your decision.

Before you accept that job offer, ask yourself these five questions.

Is This The Role I Want To Pursue?
This question may seem like an obvious one to ask, but it's still important. There could be a huge difference between how you view the job and how your employer views it. Take another look at the job description to make sure it is, in fact, what you want. Also, think back to how the hiring manager described the position during your job interviews. Did you like their answer when you asked them what a typical day in the job looks like?

Don't forget to consider what you're good at, and what you actually want to do for work. Are there skills you'd really like to use on a daily basis? If so, make sure they're a necessary part of the position. Are there skills you DON'T like using on a daily basis? If so, see if they're required for the job, and if they are, find out how often you'd need to pull them into your work.

It's important to know what your role will be and what will be required of you daily. This is also a good time to ask your potential employer to clarify anything for you.

Am I Going To Be Happy At This Job?
Your happiness level at your job will impact your work. In MetLife's 17th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study, 90% of workers surveyed said their loyalty is directly tied to their happiness.

When debating whether to take the job or not, consider the environment you'd be working in as much as the work itself. Is this a place you can see yourself going to every day? Do you share the company's core values? Do you like the company's culture? Your happiness is key for productivity, and it's important to evaluate if this job will help you thrive.

Can I Meet My Employer's Expectations?
You got a job offer for a reason. The hiring manager thinks you'd be a good fit for the company after looking over your resume and going through a series of interviews. They believe you can do the job, but do you believe you can?

Be honest with yourself. This is a big step for both you and your potential employer, so you want to be confident in your skills. Taking another look at the expectations of the job is never a bad thing, especially if you haven't accepted the position yet. That way, you can gauge your skills and determine if you can meet—or even exceed—your potential employer's expectations.

Remember, you don't want to take a job that will be too demanding and require too much from you (resulting in poor work-life balance), but you also don't want to take a job that will be too easy for you, either. The right position for you will have a manageable workload and lots of opportunities to grow as a professional. Take the job that won't bore you, but also won't burn you out in six months.

How Do I Feel About My Future Boss and Co-Workers?
Think back to your in-person interview when you met your potential boss and co-workers. What were your first impressions of them? Did you think your potential boss was someone you could work for happily? Were your potential co-workers friendly and eager to get to know you?

If you take the job, you'll be spending a lot of time with these people. It's important to be honest about how you feel about them.

Will This Job Help Me Grow In My Career?
Think about your short-term and long-term career goals, then take another look at the job description. Is this job going to help you reach those goals? What will you learn in this position that will take you to the next level?

The position should help you grow as a professional. If you aren't sure about opportunities for advancement, this time allows you to reach out to the hiring manager and ask (if you haven't already asked about this during the interview process).

Before you take a job, remember to ask yourself these five big questions. That way, you'll accept every job offer confidently, excited about the next chapter in your career.

10/10/21 - 6 Intangible Skills That Can Get You Hired Today

by Deborah Shane & Jenna Arcand 

Want to get hired? Of course you do! Employers nowadays are looking for a more holistic group of skill sets in the people they hire. It's not enough to just deliver on your core skills anymore.

What will make you most valuable and have the most impact at a company are a combination of your core, personal, and intangible (soft) skills.

Here are six intangible skills that can get you hired today and certainly again in the future.

1. Adaptability
The "relentlessly changing" world we now live in now requires its workers to be able to flow with change, adapt to change, and navigate change with a can-do it attitude. Those that can adapt the best to personal, policy, and leadership change will be valuable assets to their work teams and workplace.

2. Team Player
The most successful sports franchises all have a balance of veteran, experienced, and rookie players. Working together with people of different generations, cultures, and demographics is a coveted intangible that will become more and more important as our workplace becomes more culturally diverse.

Your "human relations" skills—be it developing rapport, listening, motivating others or delegating with respect—will be what makes you an important part of any team.

3. Leadership
Owning the job you have and making things better and more effective, instead of just showing up daily to do the same thing, is an intangible that will make you stand out. You don't have to be the "owner," president, manager, or CEO to show leadership.

Just look at all the employees honored for their work in the awesome program "Undercover Boss." Most of these workers just have a strong sense of personal pride and work ethic, regardless of their personal lives of showing up to do a great job and making a difference every day.

4. Multi-Tasker
This is pretty simple. The workplace requires people to do more tasks, jobs, and take on more responsibility than ever before. Expect it and get prepared for it.

Certainly, this should have realistic boundaries. It's important for you to find work-life balance in whatever position you land. You don't want to experience career burnout.

5. Open-Mindedness
Being open and flexible to learning new skills and approaches, interacting with new people, and trying new ways of doing things shows a resilience and perseverance to do whatever it takes to do the job and get it done.

Nobody wants to hire someone who's stuck in their ways. In the interview process, it's important to come across as open-minded and coachable, especially if the company values a dynamic work environment.

6. Positivity
"Whistle while you work." Nothing is more attractive and powerful than someone who is a bright spot in anyone's day and shows up with a positive attitude of gratitude. Leave the personal, heavy stuff at home and come to work ready to greet colleagues and customers and make their day brighter.

You can talk about your intangibles through specific personal stories that demonstrate how you used them. Nothing beats a great, real story that gets people to relate to you. This can be huge competitive advantage in addition to documenting achievement and accomplishment in your core skills.

If you need some help discovering some of your intangibles, think about three jobs where you took on a project, made it your own, and were successful. Ask some of your current or past colleagues to tell you what they think your intangible skills are. If you need to practice, volunteer outside of work, or ask your boss to give you a small project that can stretch you!

In today's job seeking world there are your core skills, personal skills, and intangible (soft) skills. More often, if it comes down to you and someone else, the person who has the intangibles usually wins! What are your intangible skills that have impacted your jobs?

10/3/21 - 10 Tips for Mastering Any Job Interview

by Diane H. Wong 

Job interviews are stressful! Not only do you not know what a potential employer might ask you, but you have to be prepared to answer questions about your past employment history and why you are passionate about this job in particular.

 The secret to successfully passing a job interview and getting the position is to have a plan going in and to be 100% present in the moment when you are getting interviewed.

Being thoroughly prepared ahead of time will give you the confidence to be genuine while you’re talking with one or several staff members at the company. Besides, it will give you time to focus on other crucial elements, like having vibrant energy, making eye contact, smiling, and having an authoritative tone of voice.

These tips will help you get through any challenging interview. If you get a job after reading this article, feel free to leave a comment below so we can celebrate with you!

1. Pinpoint the type of employee the company is searching for.
Rather than starting with your skills, your strengths, your weaknesses, and the type of job you want, put yourself in the mindset of your target potential employer. What kind of employee would be their “perfect fit” based on the job description, their company’s values/products/services, and the communication that you’ve had thus far.

You could even be so bold as to ask what problems or issues they’ve had with previous employees so that you know not to mention any of those items in the interview. Remember, you might want a job, a great salary, and vacation days, but the company is more concerned about what they want rather than what you want. The best way to fill a position is to first figure out what they want by any means you can and then to sell yourself as being that perfect person or individual.

For example, if the company wants an employee that is good at customer relations over the telephone and their website emphasizes how it’s a “family” business and that the company cares about its employees, then you would stress your competency in the given skill set, demonstrate your interpersonal skills to the employer directly, and then make an effort to get to know a few of the staff members. They aren’t just searching for someone to fill a void, they are looking for someone that’s also going to enhance the workplace environment.

2. Outline your genuine strengths (not just your skills).
When people think about strengths, they tend to default to hard skills, like “I know how to use Microsoft Excel,” “I’m a good writer,” or “I’m a good public speaker.”

However, it’s also important to emphasize your soft skills to a potential employer. What do you bring to the table besides being “good on the phone” and how can you back up that claim with a story or anecdote?

For example, most employers care about interpersonal skills and some (not all) like managers that take the initiative. Let’s say you’re applying for a manager position and would like to explain why you’d be a good manager.

Well, most good managers are good listeners. You could tell a story about how you listened to a customer or a co-worker about something that needed to change in the company and then communicated that information in a compelling way to a higher-up, which leads to positive change in the company.

As another example, you could say that you are a fast learner and back that up with how you learned a completely new body of knowledge from scratch (like programming) or how you actively attended night classes to get a certification in some discipline.

The story must be true, but thinking about stories that you can tell ahead of time to back up your abilities, whether they are “hard” or “soft” skills is a great way to prepare for your interview. Past success is a good indicator of future success.

3. Fit your answers to their questions.
Have you ever noticed how, no matter what question a politician is asked, they almost always have some kind of answer, and usually it appears off the cuff?

This is because most politicians and even pop stars, who engage in frequent media interviews will think about the answers to common questions first and then if they encounter a new question, fit their answer to that question. They might also quickly answer the question and then transition to their rehearsed bit of dialogue.

Most people don’t remember whether or not you gave a complete answer that fitted their question. They are just interested in learning more about you and how you conduct yourself, which is why politicians frequently get away with this technique.

If you are ever questioned or told that you “didn’t answer the question,” just say something like “oh sorry, I got carried away there” and smile. The time you spent on your rehearsed dialogue will have allowed you to think of an answer on your feet. Or, you can just answer their question with a few words and say, that’s my answer, and then throw a question back about the company or the individual interviewing you to make the transition to another subject. It’s likely, they won’t even remember you were stumped.

4. Anticipate the difficult questions before they ask them.
There were two ways to take a test in high school. You could have studied a bunch, crammed all the material you could into your brain, and been prepared for any question that your teacher was going to throw at you, no matter how obscure.

The second approach, which has a bit of a risk element, but is more effective in terms of time management, would have been to anticipate the kinds of questions that your teacher would ask, know the answers to those questions inside and out, or at least know enough that you could draw knowledge for an essay question.

The latter approach is the best way to approach a job interview. Anticipate both the standard and difficult questions that the interviewer may ask you and prepare your answers in advance.

Put yourself in the mind of the company that is considering you as a potential employer. What questions would they have after looking at your resume, cover letter, and talking to one of your previous employers (or looking you up on social media)?

When a question that you’ve prepared for comes up in the interview, don’t just rattle off your answer the second it comes out of the interviewer’s mouth. Pause for a few seconds, process what they said, and then answer. This will give the appearance that you gave some thought to the answer and that it was genuine or impromptu. It underscores that you can think on your feet, even if it was rehearsed.

5. Remember everyone’s name or one fact.
The bestselling author, speaker, and motivational coach Dale Carnegie said it best: “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

When someone hears their name come out of your mouth, it makes them feel like you’re taking the time to get to know them and that you are aware of their existence.

By remembering the interviewer’s name or the names of the potential coworkers that they’ve introduced you to at the company, it shows them that you care about the company, that you’re invested in the interview process, and that you’re the kind of coworker they could seem themselves being friends with.

If you can’t remember the name of a particular individual, remembering some key facts about them can have the same effect of making them feel like you’re taking the time to get to know them and care about the interaction. For example, you could make a tasteful joke about some aspect of your shared experience, like having lived in the same city, or you could say “I’ll have to learn more about ____ tonight” if they are a big fan of some kind of topic you aren’t familiar with, like yoga.

6. Be curious about the interviewer and the company.
Don’t forget that during a job interview, the potential employer is not only evaluating your skills and whether or not they fit the vacancy. They are also getting a sense of who you are, what you’re passionate about, what your goals are, and if those values and that ambition would be a good fit for long-term hire.

Good employers want employees that want to work at their company. It makes for better coworkers, teammates, and will reinforce the culture at the company. Aside from smiling, bringing positive energy, and being competent, the best way to interest an employer is to be interested in the company. It is a tangible display of your commitment and interest in the job.

Yes, it’s important to ask technical questions about the job, the processes within the company, and the day-to-day work experience. However, what’s even more important is to ask questions about the values of the company, what the overarching management goals are, how the company has changed over time, and why the company has chosen to serve this particular group of customers.

It might seem strange to ask questions about the company’s values, the customers, or the history of the company, especially if you are applying for a non-sales job or non-executive job, but asking these kinds of questions will show the employer that you understand you are part of an organization larger than yourself and that you are contributing to the company’s mission.

If an employer ever asks you why you’re asking questions about the company’s organization or management, just say that you realize you’re part of a larger team and want to understand it. If they ever say “you don’t need to understand it,” take that as a signal to run for the hills. It doesn’t be a good company to work for, trust me.

Finally, taking a polite interest in the interviewer is a great way to express interest in the job, to stand out from the crowd, and ultimately, to make the interviewer like you. Remember that everyone wants to feel liked, appreciated, and understood. Taking even a few minutes to get to know the interviewer, and what they want, why they joined the company, and how they’ve progressed over time will show that you’ll make a good future coworker! No one wants to work with robots.

If the interviewer is ever a little freaked out that you are asking questions about them, just say that you like to get to know your coworkers and that you think understanding other people’s values, skills, and ambition helps you be more effective in a team environment.

7. Fit yourself into the company culture.
Every company has a culture. Some companies prize a hard work ethic, positive active energy, and a competitive disposition. It does not mean that you should know how to dress like a businessman or something like that. Others care less about your competitive or ambitious attitude and care more about having relaxed energy, and your ability to communicate well and empathize with other coworkers and customers.

By asking questions and being observant, you can get a quick idea of the company culture. Once you get a strong sense, take action to integrate yourself into that culture.

For example, if it’s a competitive financial company, bring up stories from the past which demonstrate how you’re a driven, bold, and fearless individual. If it’s a media company that has a tight-knit coworking environment, talk about how you set up a softball team at your previous company and was wondering if you could organize something like that here.

The best way to be seen as a “good fit” in the eyes of your employer is to demonstrate why you already match the culture that they have at the company and are a square peg in a square hole.

8. Don’t care about money.
Money might be at the forefront of your mind, but don’t communicate that to the hiring manager! From an employer’s perspective, if you have employees that only care about money, they are far more likely to move from your company to another in the long run. One that simply offers better benefits or a higher salary.

Good talent is always worth good money. Rather than spending your time asking about vacation days, salary, and benefits (which can always be negotiated down the road), they take time in the interview to learn about the company, the hiring manager, and what your role will be. Use the time to sell or convince that manager of how amazing of an employee you will be and how much value you will bring to the company.

In general, companies prize a loyal, passionate, and energetic employee over one that might have good credentials, but sees the opportunity as a “job” and not a “career.” Also, an employee that is eager to learn and grow and one that can demonstrate how they’ve learned quickly in the past will always capture the attention of a hiring manager.

9. Communicate your emotions.
Too often, potential hires underscore why they are a good fit for the job from a technical standpoint. They might even use stories or anecdotes to underscore their abilities. However, a good company doesn’t just want an employee that has the technical ability to do the job required. They also want an employee that will fit in with the culture at the company and who will be a pleasure to work with.

You might be excited about a job, but your employer will only know that if you smile, act enthusiastic, and show it with the tone of your voice. You might find something that a potential coworker tells you to be heartfelt or meaningful, but unless you communicate that with your body language and vocal tone, they won’t know you feel that way!

Communicating your emotions is a big part of developing rapport with the interviewer, co-workers at the company, and making the team feel good about bringing you into the company.

10. Emphasize what you can already do and how you can grow.
Finally, going back to point #9, companies don’t want to have to keep hiring new employees for a position and they don’t want to experience a rapid turnover rate. The best way that you can set their mind at ease is to show that you view the opportunity as a career step and not simply a job.

By emphasizing the skills you have, how you’ve learned them over time, and how this opportunity will help you grow as a professional, it demonstrates a few key aspects of a good hire:

– You care about the quality of your work and want to improve.

– You can learn new things and you’ve already learned a lot.

– You could be a long-term employee at the company and bring a lot of value to the employer.

– You want to grow as a person. This will make you more valuable as an employee over time and it makes you more appealing to be around from a coworker standpoint.

Not everyone has the ambition to grow, be more, and improve the quality of their work or skills. Showing that you do will give you a big leg up on the other hires, especially if you can demonstrate why this job opportunity is a perfect role for you to grow as an expert or professional in your field.

Diane H. Wong is a content writer. Besides, she is a research paper writer at the service where everyone can ask to write my essay so she prefers to spend her spare time working out marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others

9/26/21 - What to ask at the end of a job interview, and more tips to help you ‘knock it out of the park’

by Lauren Hans 

Many Americans are quitting their jobs in a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. Nearly 7.6 million people quit their jobs in April and May combined, according to the Labor Department. The large numbers of resignations are a sign people are confident they can find better work opportunities elsewhere, experts say.

With so many Americans now on the job hunt, it’s smart to think ahead to navigating the often-stressful interview process. During a recent Grow Twitter chat, career experts shared their expertise on what to do and not do during a job interview.

Angelique Rewers, founder of BoldHaus, a consulting firm that helps small businesses land corporate clients, for example, offered up her “best” end-of-an-interview question: “From your perspective, one year from now, what would be the greatest possible impact I could have made on your organization if I excelled every single day in this role?”

Here’s more of her best advice, as well as top tips from recruiters, career coaches, and job search strategists.

Research ‘what’s happening with the organization’
“Do your research on both the company and the person you are interviewing with,” tweeted career coach Angelina Darrisaw, the founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach in Brooklyn, New York. “Has this company been in the news lately? Have they won an award recently? What are their values? Drop in the research you’ve done into your interview to knock it out the park.”

Dr. Tega Edwin, founder of Her Career Doctor, agreed: “Don’t come in without knowing what’s happening with the organization. Google them. What’s being said about them in the news, on social media, etc.?”

‘Don’t memorize’ responses
“Don’t memorize answers to any common questions that make you nervous,” tweeted Amanda Augustine, career expert at TopResume. “Instead, prepare a few words to jog your memory so your answer will sound confident, but not scripted,” she suggested.

While memorization isn’t recommended, rehearsing can still help, said Edwin. “Practice your responses beforehand! Yes, it should be conversational, but there are some standard questions you can expect, and practice improves your confidence,” she tweeted.

Treat virtual calls ‘like an in-person interview’
“Most interviews will be virtual for the time being — treat it like an in-person interview,” tweeted Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster. “Check technology/audio ahead of time, have a good internet connection, good lighting (like a Ring lamp), proper height for the lens.”

Edwin also reminds that it’s best to double check what video chat program the interviewer will be using. “DON’T assume it’ll be Zoom,” she tweeted.

“Do dress up (even for zoom interviews), but make sure you’re aligned with the company’s dress code. If they are more casual, a suit may not be it,” tweeted Darrisaw.

To convey your strengths, ‘show, don’t tell’
While laying out your skills and strengths during the interview, Salemi suggests using “quantifiable examples like instead of saying you saved the company money, how much did you save & how? Show, don’t tell.”

Translating your value into numbers is a way to do that and can help you stand out as a candidate, Rewers previously told Grow. You might calculate how many hours of experience you have with a given task, for example, or tally the number of people who have been positively affected by your work.

Prepare for the question ‘Do you have any questions?’
Odds are good that you will be asked during the interview, “Do you have any questions?” Having some ready is important, experts say.

Ask about the future of the company, suggested Hannah Morgan, a job search strategist at Career Sherpa: “How is the company planning for long-term changes that will occur in the industry over the next five years or so?”

Find out about the history of the position you’re applying for, Darrisaw suggested. “Is this a new role? If it is, how will you help support me as I define success in this role? If not, what happened to the last person in this position?” she tweeted. “The answers will be telling. Don’t forget you’re interviewing the company too.”

Send a thank-you note that day
All the experts during the Twitter chat agreed that sending a thank-you note ASAP is strongly recommended.

“You should follow up after an interview on the day of for sure! I would say by end of the day that day or the next morning at the latest,” tweeted Edwin. “The candidates who take time to send a carefully thought-out thank you note ALWAYS stand out,” she added.

Augustine agreed that within 24 hours of the interview is the proper time frame to email your note.

In addition to thanking your potential employer for their time, Rewers suggested “including 3 to 5 bullet points with additional thoughts you had immediately following the interview, such as what you’re most looking forward to contributing or what project you’re most excited to take on should you be selected.”

9/19/21 - Making the Most of One-way Video Interviews

Joseph Barber explores the benefits and challenges of answering interview questions without any human interaction at all -- and how to do so most successfully.

By Joseph Barber 

In my most recent Carpe Careers essay, I talked about the possible rise of the video resume as the go-to application medium used in some types of internship or job applications. The video resume provides an opportunity to bring your experiences and skills to life and to add a touch of your own personality to the mix. After all, in a normal resume, it is hard to generate a lot of energy with bullet points alone -- and I am not sure I would recommend approaches such as these in your next written materials:

This week, I will focus on the continued rise and growth of the video interview as part of the application process. I am not talking about our new normal of having real-time interviews by video conference with real people. Rather, I mean the one-way video job interview that is often held over platforms like Spark Hire and HireVue. In such interviews, candidates are sent a link to a platform where they will have to record answers to standardized questions without any human interaction at all. Employers then have access to those recordings and can share them with anyone involved in the hiring process.

Although the format of these one-way interviews will differ depending on the type or role and the type of employer/industry, in most cases, candidates will be asked about 3 to 10 questions. The questions are most often delivered one at a time, so you may not know what is coming next until you have recorded your answer to the current question. You will also usually have time to think about your answer once you know the question -- and that can give you a moment to think of a good example and get your thoughts together -- something that isn't as possible when you are interviewing in person.

You'll be alerted as to how long you will have to answer each question, which might differ based on the question or be standard across them all. You will also probably be told if you can do retakes if you are not happy with your answer and how many you are allowed.

Retakes sound like a fabulous idea in theory -- who doesn't like the idea of being able to go back after messing up an answer and overwriting it with a better one? And, in fact, this can be a great benefit in one-way interviews when used strategically. Say, for example, you are asked a behavioral-based question along the lines of, "Give me an example of a time when you disagreed with your adviser," and the first story that jumps into mind as you answer is an example that you don't really want to talk about, doesn't necessarily end with a good lesson learned, and makes you feel negative. In such a case, probably thinking of another example would be a good idea. This would be worth a retake.

But if you are tempted to retake the answer just because you stumbled over a word or two, or the response didn't quite feel "perfect" enough, then I might be tempted to reconsider. There is no perfect; we are all human, after all. And no employer wants to hear an entirely scripted, robotic-sounding response that is delivered without any faults whatsoever.

In general, the one-way interviewing approach provides a way for employers to hold first-round screening interviews more efficiently from a timing perspective, as no one has to be in the same room/meeting at the same time. But it does offer some of the following challenges when it comes to the candidates who are giving their answers.

Setting the stage. As always, first impressions count, so making sure your sound, lighting, background, and general ambient environment all look good and professional is important. No beds in the background, no cluttered surfaces. Unlike platforms like Zoom, you may not be able to blur your background, and so be prepared to move furniture around your space to eliminate visual or audio distractions if necessary and possible.

Dealing with a lack of human feedback. I remember one interview where the director of the office asked me a question about "future trends in this career field." These aren't the easiest of questions, and if you start off on the wrong track with your answer, it can be hard to get back on it. Well, I clearly did start off on the wrong track based on the face the director made: it wasn't a positive, nodding-in-approval face. That gave me the opportunity to revise my answer very quickly.

Feedback from people in the interviewing process is helpful. Interviewers may not be consciously aware of the signals they are giving off, but it is incredibly reinforcing when you see a lot of nodding heads as you answer a question.

In a one-way interview, you don't get any of that. Depending on the platform, you might not even get a mini-window with your face in it. Some people hate seeing themselves on video meetings, but with my Ph.D. in animal behavior, I spend far too much of my time looking at myself during video calls. We've been doing these video engagements full-time for a year and a half, and I still want to know what I am doing, what I look like, and how I am coming across. My vanity aside, the option to see yourself in a one-way interview does provide a bit of self-reinforcement in that you feel you are in an actual conversation with someone, and that can help make your answers more engaging. Without the self-view option, you will need to remind yourself to look at the camera and visualize the hiring team who will be viewing your video -- which leads us to the next challenge.

Bringing the right energy. In a one-way approach to screening interviews, the employer isn't doing much to get the candidate excited about the position. Little energy is added to the interviewing process to help candidates present the most optimistic, energized, ready-for-action version of themselves. As a candidate, you get all the nervousness of interviewing without any of the excitement of engaging with potential future colleagues.

Bringing energy to your answers is important: not out-of-control energy but also not "I'm just sitting here in my living room" energy. How much energy you need will be somewhat connected to the job itself, but hiring managers will rarely be captivated by monotone responses and overly rigid body postures. You can only really be yourself in an interview -- and yourself is definitely good enough -- but make sure that you present an energized version of yourself.

Providing the right content in the right amount of time. The questions you get asked in these screening-type interviews shouldn't be too surprising. There are likely to be entirely predictable ones, such as:

And then you'll probably get a few behavioral questions based on the skills most sought after for the specific position, such as:

If you notice that the time you're given for a question is short (e.g., 30 to 60 seconds), then you know that you'll have to provide an overview answer that highlights the main takeaways and lists (rather than describes) some of the situations where you used the skill you're asked about to generate good outcomes. When you have two or three minutes to answer, then you will want to provide a summary response to begin with, and then tell a story using an example to illustrate the skill in action.

This is where your STAR (situation, task, action, result) structure for your storytelling will be helpful. Once you are done with your story and tying aspects of it back to the position you're applying for, a great best practice is to hint at other examples you could share if invited to the next round of interviews. So, in the last 15 to 20 seconds, you could mention something like, "And I would happy to share a couple more examples of where I used this effectively as a teaching assistant for a 400-person class or as part of my involvement in the student-run data science group on campus." As long as the example you give in your answer demonstrates to the potential employer that you have the skill, this "leave them wanting to know more" approach can get people excited about meeting with you to learn about your other experiences.

Whether video resumes will take over as the new normal in the future is unknown, but the continued growth of these one-way interviews for screening rounds is far more certain. Keep some of these points in mind if the person you have to talk to in your next first-round interview is yourself!

Joseph Barber is senior associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Graduate Career Consortium -- an organization providing an international voice for graduate-level career and professional development leaders.

FROM Jeff Morris - Founder of CareerDFW and - If you would like to try a one-way video interview - click on this link - afterward, I will send you the link so you can watch it back. No one else will see it.

9/12/21 - How to handle a pandemic-related gap on your resume

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business

Early in the pandemic, more than 22 million jobs were lost, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While breaks in employment can traditionally be red flags to hiring managers, you shouldn't be too concerned about a pause given the current situation.

"Don't worry about it," said Vicki Salemi, career expert for job site Monster. "It's more about how you handle the gap and what you should do. We have experienced such a collective global unprecedented situation that if you do have a gap, you are not alone."

Here's how to handle it with potential employers.

Be prepared to address it

If a recruiter or hiring manager brings up your time out of the labor market, keep your response short and refocus on the future.

"Assume they are going to ask," said Salemi. "Be prepared to say what happened and more importantly, why you are a strong candidate for the role you are pursuing ."

She suggested saying something like: 'I worked in hospitality, and as you know the industry was severely impacted and so I took some time off and re-evaluated.'

The key is to be prepared with your answer.

"Don't be self-conscious about it. It might take practice to come across as confident," said Christy Noel, a career strategist and co-author of "Your Personal Career Coach." "You don't have to be sheepish or embarrassed or concerned about it as much, you don't want to inadvertently come across that way."

Fill the gap with something else

Showcase what you've done with your time out of the labor market, whether it was additional education, training and certification courses, networking or volunteering.

"Not every 'job' on a resume has to be paid," said Noel. "If it's applicable to the job you are trying to apply for...include that."

For instance, if you volunteered to do marketing for a nonprofit and are looking for a marketing position, she suggested including it as experience.

Look for specific skills or requirements in job postings that are appealing and take this time to fill any gaps.

"Consider practicing some professional development skills," said Kyle Elliott, a career coach and founder of, who suggested LinkedIn, Coursera, edX and Udemy to help learn new skills. "Focus on some of those qualifications that job postings are asking for."

This way, if the break comes up during an interview, you can easily pivot the conversation to focus on your skills and strengths.

"Show what you have done with your time," said Salemi. "And how you are a top candidate for the job and why you are interested in it and how your skills and experiences ... are appropriate for the role you are pursuing. Always bring it back to the job and why you are the best possible candidate."

Leverage your resume and cover letter

Take the time to tailor each resume and cover letter to a job posting. That means using the same keywords that are in the posting, detailing specific results of your work, and also answering any questions that a recruiter might have -- especially if you are looking to enter a new industry.

"Connect the dots for the recruiter, especially when they are only looking at your resume and cover letter for literally less than five seconds," said Salemi.

Adding an executive summary at the top of a resume can help make an employment break less glaring. The summary, which should be no more than a few sentences, can include transferable skills, past experience and job posting keywords.

Use the cover letter to help address any potential concerns and highlight your experience and skills in how they are applicable to the job,

"The cover letter is valuable real estate," said Salemi, who added it shouldn't be more than a few paragraphs. "It could be a way to say: 'During the pandemic, I decided to switch my career path leveraging my top strengths and skills of XYZ and that's why I am interested in pursuing this job, because I think I would be an asset to your organization.'"

Don't be negative

There's no way around it: the last 17 months have been tough. But try to avoid focusing on the past.

"Avoid being negative," suggested Elliott. "A lot of people end up coming to interviews from a place of negativity sometimes because they have been out of work and the pandemic has been super stressful."

Instead, focus on explaining why you are drawn to the role and detail your skills and qualifications.

"Don't bad-mouth your [former] employer," said Salemi. "Don't focus so much on the past that you aren't able to pivot into the future. You want to demonstrate you are enthusiastic, passionate and positive."

9/5/21 - Language that makes your LinkedIn profile pop

Articulating your unique brand with authenticity will set you apart.
By Teri Saylor 

Whether you’re launching your career, climbing the professional ladder, or making a job change, the words and phrases you use and the ways you express yourself on LinkedIn can boost your profile and make you stand out.

A key first step in this process is building and articulating your personal brand, said Carol Kaemmerer, branding coach and author of LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive. And to do this, try to avoid generic terms applicable to most CPAs, she said.

“There are a lot of CPAs in the world, and assigning simple magic words designed to make all of them stand out will do absolutely the opposite if everybody uses them,” Kaemmerer said.

Instead, you must be authentic in communicating who you are, what sets you apart from the others, and the value you bring to your profession, she said.

Here are five ways to demonstrate your personal brand on LinkedIn and make your profile stand out.

Use valuable headline space to your advantage.
Your headline, the text that appears below your name on your LinkedIn profile, is small but mighty. Merely inserting your job title or description of your profession is a waste of space, said Sandi Leyva, CPA, president and founder of Sandra L. Leyva Inc., a marketing and web design firm for CPAs, based in Carlsbad, Calif.

“I’d rather see something like a brief elevator speech or clear tagline describing your value proposition,” she said. An example might be “A CPA who enjoys helping small businesses grow,” she added.

Identify three top qualities you are known for.
When you can articulate your three best attributes and the reasons your clients seek you out, that’s a powerful testimony and a great first step toward establishing your personal brand, Kaemmerer said.

You may be well known for your expertise in guiding small business owners, your financial forecasting abilities, or your great people skills. Make your LinkedIn profile memorable by listing these qualities in your headline, your “about” section and your skills section, she pointed out.

“This simple act gives you incredible power in terms of communicating who you are beyond your attention to detail and basic accounting skills,” she said.

Use appropriate keywords.
Most employers today use automation to skim through résumés and they rely on search engines to match LinkedIn profiles with the jobs they are filling. While specific keywords will help search engines find your profile, that’s only the beginning, Kaemmerer said. “It is important to be authentic, so use keywords that you would naturally use to describe your area of interest and expertise,” she said.

Avoid generic words that would apply to all CPAs, and instead find words that will make you stand out and match you to the opportunities that are just right for you, she said.

“For example, if you have a passion for strategic planning and excel at it, be sure to include that phrase throughout your profile so potential clients or recruiters seeking an accounting professional adept at strategic planning will find you,” she said.

Include recommendations.
Strategically crafted client or customer reviews and recommendations drive business decisions these days, Leyva said.

“When we conduct online searches for products or services, we look to see what kind of reviews a business has before potentially engaging with them,” she added.

An employer will ask for references before hiring you, and it helps to include a good number of powerfully worded recommendations on LinkedIn. When you choose recommendations and reviews for your LinkedIn profile, be sure to include those that use some of your keywords and highlight the qualities supporting your personal brand.

Highlight your achievements.
In the section detailing work experience, most people list the responsibilities they had under their various jobs.

But rather than itemizing routine duties and assignments, Kaemmerer recommends listing your accomplishments, such as how you moved your firm toward greater profitability or the way you developed processes and procedures that led to greater efficiency.

“First, describe in two sentences the company you worked for and your job title to provide context,” she said. “And then use bullet points to outline what you achieved in those positions.”

Recruiters know that if you achieved great things in the past, you will continue to achieve great things in the future. Articulating your accomplishments will set you apart from other job applicants and make recruiters sit up and take notice.

— Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, a JofA senior editor, at

8/29/21 - Commentary: You've been approaching job interviews wrong

By Colleen Cook, Thrive Correspondent 

My career path has been more of a winding road than a straight line. I got my bachelor’s degree in music education and taught for a few years, before some unanticipated changes put me on the path to non-profit administration, which ultimately led to a career in which I lead a digital marketing agency.

When I was in graduate school, I asked one of my supervisors to review my resume and give me some advice. Her words were critical: “Your resume is confusing. Pick a path.” She was a bit harsh, but accurate.

At the time I was uncertain about which path to pursue: music or administration, and I was trying to keep my options open with a single resume. In short, I wasn’t picking a path and my resume was telling that story.

There have been several benefits of having a diverse career path, the greatest of which is perspective. I understand the public and private sector, I have lived experience of the differences in mindset in each and I can see clearly what each can learn from the other. The skills I’ve learned in each have carried over and translated to different types of work.

Once, a beloved music theory professor pointed out to me that he wasn’t surprised that I was good at marketing, because his subject had come so easily to me. I asked what they had in common and he grinned and said, “It’s all about finding patterns. That’s the skill you excelled in.” People often get siloed in careers they are ready to leave, not recognizing how translatable their skills can be.

I find myself now in a role where I’m frequently at the helm of hiring new employees for our quickly growing agency. I sift through applications and resumes, I lead interviews and, along with our CEO, make hiring decisions about new employees.

Sometimes, I’m asked for career advice from friends who find themselves in a similar place where I found myself just a few years ago, when I needed to pick a path. Here’s what I tell them:

Your resume is the one page story of who you are and what you bring to the table.

For the years I was sending out resumes, I was thinking about it all wrong. I was trying to follow the “rules,” I was trying to be complete and I was trying to squeeze as much information as humanly possible into an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper. But, a resume is a story, not an encyclopedia. Tailor it to the job you’re applying for, and show them who you are and what you’re capable of doing in that role, based on your previous experience.You’re not applying for a job, you’re offering to do a job. This is your chance to lead with the main points, and let your cover letter fill in the gaps.

Follow the directions and be truthful.

I am utterly shocked at how frequently candidates don’t submit everything we ask for, and how often we see people boast skills or experience they don’t have. If you can’t do what we ask when you’re applying, I doubt you’ll take direction well as an employee. When you’re tempted to bolster your experience beyond your actual abilities, remember that getting the job is a lot easier than keeping the job when you’re unable to do what’s asked of you successfully. However, if you are honest about your capabilities, perhaps training is an option for the right candidate and you’ll set everyone up for success.

Your interview is about making a connection and determining a mutually good fit.

If you’ve made it to the interview, think of it like meeting a new friend. You’re not on trial, you’re there to make a connection with the people interviewing you and continue to tell the story you began with your resume. Then, your job is to determine whether this company will be a good fit for you. In the same way you should hope they’ve reviewed your application materials, do your own home work on the company and get to know who they are on paper too. Then, tailor your questions based on that understanding.

Ultimately, before you accept a job offer from this company, you need to determine the following:

Does their culture align with your values?

Does the job description accurately reflect the actual work you’ll be doing?

Does the day-to-day nature of the job you’re interviewing for match your personal strengths and needs in the workplace?

Does their compensation for the job meet your needs and expectations?

We spend a tremendous amount of time at work over the course of our lives. When we’re looking for work, it can be stressful and fear-filled and we can give the companies who are hiring all of the power in the interview. But, once you have the job, you have to live your daily life in that workplace, doing that job, participating in that culture. If it’s not a great fit for you, you’ll likely find yourself starting the job search all over again sooner than you’d like.

Colleen Cook works full-time as the Director of Operations at Vinyl Marketing in Ashland, where she resides with her husband Mike and three young daughters. She's an insatiable extrovert who enjoys finding reasons to gather people.

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(Wednesdays at 1pm Central) - Mark McDonald and Walt Glass have put together a 13 part workshop (about 20 hours) on Interviewing - 

Information on how to get a free practice interview - "Practice Early, Practice often" 
Information on the Interview Success Workshop with Walt Glass
If you would like to take a one-way video interview (FREE), follow this link:

Handouts from sessions:
     Session 4 & 7 - Offer Evaluation Template
     Session 6 & 8 - 200 Questions Job Candidates May Ask Your Company
     Session 8 & 12 - How to answer the 64 toughest interview questions

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(Tuesdays at 1pm Central) - We have 4 experts on how to use LinkedIn in your job search -  

2021 LinkedIn Character Count for Personal Profile

(2nd and 4th Thursdays at 1pm Central)- Each session we have a different speaker talking about Networking, the best way to find your next job - 



North Dallas / Plano Career Focus Group (Fridays at 9:30am Central)-

Frisco Career Transition Workshop 2020 - Summer and Fall Workshops - 

Presentations from Jeff Morris, Founder of CareerDFW and on how to use the websites and his top career tips  

8/22/21 - Here’s how to avoid sounding ‘fake’ or ‘corny’ in your next job interview, says career expert of 15 years

by J.T. O’Donnell, Contributor 

When preparing for a job interview, it’s important to look for ways to stand out from your competition.

Unfortunately, many candidates fall short because they end up saying cliches such as “I’m so excited about your company’s mission” or “I’m ready to take on more responsibilities” or “I’m extremely passionate about the work” — without going any further. They wrongly think that these are all things hiring managers want to hear.

But in reality, it often just makes them sound corny, fake, boring or even desperate to the interviewer. The key to impressing hiring managers and avoiding sounding inauthentic is to emphasize your intrinsic motivation.

Know your intrinsic motivation before the interview
Intrinsic motivation takes over when we have a genuine interest in a task or topic and derive satisfaction from the work or learning itself without expecting any obvious external rewards — praise, money, prestige, recognition — in return.

The best way to highlight your intrinsic motivation is to talk about the meaning you derive from your career. What motivates you to get up each morning and go to work? I’m a career coach, for example, because I’ve seen so many people miserable in their jobs due to having little guidance or confidence. Helping someone realize that their dream job does exist — and that it is attainable for them — is truly enjoyable and satisfying to me.

So before your interview, think about what makes you want to take action. Perhaps it’s because of a life-changing event. How is that experience connected to your love for your work? What do you hope to achieve as part of the process of working at the company?

Example answer that incorporates intrinsic motivation
Andrew is applying for a teaching position at a charter school that focuses on low-income and minority students. During the interview, he is asked why he thinks he’d be a good fit for the role.

Here’s what he said:

“My mother was a teacher for 30 years. By all accounts, she had an accomplished career and was well-respected by her colleagues. But with so many students in each classroom, she constantly worried about the ones who were falling behind. She believed that if she had more time to work with them in smaller groups, she could have helped them excel in their studies.

“I used to think she was being too hard on herself. But five years into my teaching career, I’m starting to have the same concerns. I genuinely enjoy experimenting with different teaching styles that help personalize each student’s learning experience, especially those who need additional support but can’t afford it.

“That’s why this position at your school is a perfect fit; the smaller classrooms allow me to do that. Not only does this ensure that every student receives the amount of attention they need to succeed, but with the right teachers, I’ve seen it lead to stronger academic results, happier teachers and students, and ultimately a more educated society.”

What this answer tells the interviewer
In his response, Andrew connected the dots to what led him to apply for the position:

He followed in his mother’s footsteps as a teacher.
He believes in the value of smaller classrooms.
He is interested in experimenting with teaching styles that support each student’s needs.
He is motivated by the desire to reach underprivileged or underperforming students — something that his mother feels she didn’t get to do.

While Andrew compliments the employer for its educational values, he doesn’t go overboard. Instead, he keeps the focus on how his professional passion would fit into the school’s culture. His response paints a picture of what excites him about work, why he cares about it, as well as how those things can make a positive impact on the school.

There’s no guarantee that Andrew will get an offer, but you can bet that the hiring manager won’t be left with any doubts about his authenticity and motivation for wanting the job.

8/15/21 - Relearning In-person Eye Contact

by John Millen 

As we begin returning to in-person meetings in business and our personal lives, we are making a lot of social and personal adjustments.

Having stared at people's eyes as pixels on video screens for the past 18 months, in-person eye contact may take some getting used to.

And in-person meetings and presentations will call for renewing of our personal eye contact skills.

But the importance of eye contact in human communication cannot be overstated. We crave direct eye contact.

Our eyes have been called the “window of the soul,” giving us as human beings the opportunity to, we imagine, see inside of the real person.

The color, shape and positioning of the eyes may be captivating. Their expressiveness gives us enormous amounts of information and meaning.

Searching for trust
In business and life, we search the eyes for trust.

Whether we read any of these signals accurately is an open question, but there’s no doubt that the eyes play a critical role in our communication with others.

This is why making direct eye contact is one of the most important and, for many people, the most difficult parts of giving a presentation or talking face to face.

Indeed, eye communication provides a sense of connection for both you and your audience.

Avoiding eye contact
I coach clients who, when presenting to large audiences, have developed a habit of looking to the back walls to avoid looking in people’s eyes. They tell me that when they look at faces in their audience, especially people they know, they feel judged.

In business and in life, the ubiquity of smartphones has reduced eye contact. In many cases, instead of looking directly at someone for an extended period to fully engage them, people may glance up from their phones and possibly nod.

In meetings, instead of watching other people’s eyes to gauge the subtext of meaning, people might be glancing at their phones or computer screens.

With texts and photos increasingly replacing conversation, it’s possible that a generation will lose some ability to understand or use eye contact, but the importance of eye contact will not diminish.

The importance of eye contact
Human beings draw a connection and a lot of information from looking at eyes. If a person shifts eye contact frequently or looks down, we assume nervousness or unease.

If people avoid our eyes under questioning, we think they might be lying. On the other hand, good eye contact can make us feel like somebody is really listening and respects us.

Eye contact is a powerful force, and its importance is demonstrated at an early age. Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., who studies body language, notes that infants naturally lock eyes with their caregivers. She says the significance of eye contact is still retained in the adult mind.

It shows a lack of confidence when we don't look people in the eyes. Most people look down frequently or avoid eye contact when they’re nervous. A lack of eye contact can betray our apprehension and fear in a situation.

It is vital to portray confidence to your audience when speaking. Goman found that “If a speaker actively seeks out eye contact when talking, he or she is judged to be more believable, confident and competent.”

Cultural and other differences
People from different parts of the world interpret and communicate differently. In the United States and Europe, direct eye contact is encouraged. It is viewed as showing respect, trust and attentiveness to what the other person is saying.

In some other cultures, eye contact can be seen as rude or hostile. It may be a sign of respect to avoid eye contact with elders and those in authoritative positions. It is helpful to keep culture in mind when making eye contact — or avoiding it.

And of course, there are neurological factors such as being on the autism spectrum which will greatly influence eye contact giving and receiving.

How much?
Eye contact is a delicate beam to balance on. Too much eye contact can be seen as aggressive and intimidating. If too little eye contact is made, you might appear inattentive and insincere. The right amount of eye contact creates trust and an overall sense of comfort.

But the correct amount depends on each situation. Variables such as gender, personality, setting and culture all factor into successful eye contact. Some research indicates that eye contact should range anywhere from 30 to 60 percent during a conversation, depending on the context.

The “flick”
In The Power of Charm, Brian Tracy and Ron Arden’s bring up an additional skill to add depth to your connection and make your eye contact even more natural. They define flicking as “the simple act of shifting your gaze from one of the person’s eyes to the other while you are listening.”

If you want an example, watch a movie where a man and woman are gazing into each other’s eyes and watch how their eyes flick. Their eyes will be moving back and forth, showing engagement.

This technique helps avoid the vacant, blank stare that may come across as phony listening. Active eyes show involvement in the conversation.

Improving your eye contact
Here are a few other strategies to sharpen the effectiveness of your eye contact:

Complete a point
In a meeting or presentation, try to maintain eye contact with a person as you introduce and complete a point, then move on to another person or section of the audience to develop a rhythm for you and your listeners.

Early on, talk directly to the people in front of you as if you were talking to a friend at a barbecue. Keep longer-than-usual eye contact with them while you make a point. It will make a connection and help you to feel calm.

Find supportive faces
Similarly, find people in the audience who are supporting you through their body language, such as a smile or head nod. Connect with them. Use them as a touchpoint and circle to the people around them. You will create a sphere of goodwill in that section.

Scan the room
Divide a large audience into three or four sections and rotate through the sections, looking at individuals near the front to the middle in that section. The people behind them will feel that you are looking at them. Don’t just look from side to side, but vary your pattern around the room.

Seek feedback
Develop awareness of how you give eye contact and how you judge the eye contact of others. Do you avoid eye contact? Do you perceive eye contact from others as overly aggressive?

Ask people you trust to give you feedback about your own eye contact. Do you give too much? Do you give too little?

Eye communication is complex and in many ways mysterious. This week, try to develop some awareness of how you communicate with your eyes and be more deliberate in your approach.

Maybe you’ll find that your eyes really are the “window of the soul” and you’ll invite more people to meet the real you.

2021 - Reference Solutions presentation by Kipp Lifson & Mike Ray

Kipp Lifson and Mike Ray have put on many presentations over the past few years on Reference Solutions (the program used to be called ReferenceUSA).

In Career Transition? Looking for companies that were in the same industry as your previous employer? Are you looking to transition into a new area and want to identify target companies? Not sure how to identify these companies? Do you desire to work in a specific city or state?

See how to use this tool to find companies.


 From the CareerUSA YouTube channel: 

8/13/2021 - North Dallas / Plano Career Focus Group Presentation (presentation starts about 35 min into the video) 

9/25/2020 - North Dallas / Plano Career Focus Group Presentation (presentation starts about 30 min into the video) 

Click here for the pdf version of the PowerPoint presentation

Click here for the pdf version of the PowerPoint presentation (with notes)

8/8/21 - Here's how to talk about your strengths in a job interview

The key? Trust yourself.
by Sunny Betz 

In 2015, long before she became the head of engineering at the eco-friendly grocery delivery company Zero Grocery, Frankie Nicoletti found herself at the Hack Reactor bootcamp in San Francisco with an accounting background and only $600 in her pocket. She signed up to explore opportunities in tech, but like many new coders, wasn’t sure about how she would fit into the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

One of the first things she was asked to do at Hack Reactor was write down her elevator pitch — 10 times. When she finished, she was told to throw away her paper and write the pitch another 10 times.

Nicoletti said the experience was oddly freeing. “It had somehow managed to remove all of the gunk in my brain,” she said. “Once I got through that, I stopped doubting what I had to say and could tell the whole narrative of my strength and resilience.” With a refined elevator pitch and a strengthened confidence in her skillset, Nicoletti secured her first tech job at SolarCity as a software engineer.

In an industry as competitive as tech, speaking about your capabilities confidently can be tough. Especially if you are comparing yourself to others around you. Regardless of whether you’re an engineering lead or a recent bootcamp graduate, you have unique personal strengths that others don’t. If you can talk about them cohesively, you’re a step closer to ending a job interview with an offer.

It can take a while to sound natural when talking about your accomplishments and strengths — but it’s okay to fake it until you make it. “It always helped me to roll up to interview with some sort of energetic music playing. When I was interviewing for my first job in tech, the song I’d play was ‘Uptown Funk’,” Nicoletti said. “You’ve got to come in with that confidence, even if it’s artificial, because it’s a big part of what is being tested in interviews.”

Low confidence might seem like a problem that you should be able to overcome on your own. But when studies show that issues like low self-esteem and imposter syndrome affect marginalized workers and women of color the most, it’s clear that there are outside factors to consider.

“Imposter syndrome is environmental, not internal. It comes from what’s happening around you, not just some chronic lack of confidence,” said Nicoletti. “Tech gets away with that a lot more than other industries, because we don't have the standard success markers. People can sometimes try to feel superior by putting others down, so you can get toxic environments.”

As a woman competing for roles in tech, Jourdan Cobbs, Talent Acquisition Specialist at logistics tech company Forager, explained that sometimes it’s hard to accept recognition for her work. “I’m the kind of person who just wants to be doing things behind the curtain, so it is hard for me to talk about myself,” she said.

Cobbs said that when preparing for interviews, it helps to sit down and assess her accomplishments objectively. Make a list of moments you’re proud of in your career, and then write down three or four skills you relied on to accomplish them — it will boost your confidence in your abilities. It will also start to build trust with your interviewer.

“Interviewing is all about convincing other people you can do this job,” she said. “I think it’s a general consensus among hiring managers that we like people that can concisely demonstrate what they’re able to do.”

Before you second guess yourself or start to feel inadequate, pause and give yourself a reality check. “You should treat imposter syndrome like a question,” said Nicoletti. “If you’re asking yourself, ‘Am I good enough?’, what you should really ask at that point is, ‘Does my code run?’ If it does, then you have your answer.”

It’s tough to step back and judge your own skills impartially, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Ask a friend or peer what they think your strengths are — seeing yourself through their eyes might teach you something new.

In a professional women’s group Cobbs was previously a member of, she and her peers did an exercise to provide this kind of insight to each other. “We all sat in a circle, wrote notes to every other member with their strengths and areas of improvement, and put them into envelopes with their names on them.” When it came time to read through the notes in her envelope, Cobbs was surprised by all the positive and constructive things her friends had to say about her. “I learned new things about myself, and it really helped me prepare for future interviews,” she said.

In a job interview, be prepared to pull from data or concrete anecdotes to illustrate what you would bring to their team. Numbers and statistics are essential, but according to TextNow’s SVP of Engineering Andy Shin, it shouldn’t be your whole story.

“As you start to move up in your career, one of the most important interview skills is not just highlighting your skills or accomplishments but communicating how your work impacted the project or benefited the company,” he said. “You need to understand the ‘why,’ not just the ‘how.’ What will separate you from others is the ability to explain not only how you built or fixed something, but why your actions led to the ultimate success of the team, project and company.”

Just like when you are writing a resume or cover letter, the strengths you share in an interview should tell a story and be specific to the role. You’ll leave a more effective impression on the interviewer, and it also makes their job easier. “HR managers don’t have a lot of time and may interview several candidates. Focus on highlighting achievements that relate to the job,” said Stephen Twomey, the co-founder and CTO of SaaS company Kennected. “You’ll show you value their time and know how to focus on critical information — both essential to most jobs you interview for.”

Every job has its own unique requirements, but there are more general skills that employers expect from candidates, like flexibility and collaboration. Review your work history and note times where you’ve exemplified these qualities. For instance, if you’re applying to a software developer role that requires lots of cross-collaboration, come to the interview prepared with a story about a time you worked with a past team to execute a project successfully and explain what you learned.

“It comes back to impact,” said Shin. “Don’t just tell them what you did, tell them why it was important. Show your future employer that you understand how your role affects the company’s larger product, business and mission. Explain how your skills and experiences will make their company better.”

Don’t worry too much about sounding arrogant; hiring managers want to hear about your successes. When you’re trying to sound humble, it’s easy to diminish your accomplishments, said Twomey.

“The majority of us have to worry more about the undersell than the oversell. If you understand why you’re sharing the information — it’s vital to figure out your fit at a company — then it’s really not a brag,” he said. “Put yourself in the employer’s position. Do you want to hire someone who believes in their abilities or is unsure of them?”

Feeling like you have to be humble isn’t always entirely a self-confidence issue — it can be informed by a lot of factors, including the environment you’re in. Nicoletti explained that the pressure to be modest and reserved is much more intense for tech workers from marginalized backgrounds. “A lot of people have been told their whole lives not to take up space, to be quieter and to shrink themselves,” she said.

Her advice for overcoming self-conscious feelings? Take it easy on yourself. “You’re only bragging if you’re talking over your interviewer, or putting other people down in the process, or not answering the question that you’re there to answer,” she said. “Building confidence, even if it’s faked, will get you a lot further than being modest or timid. You have to be as confident as you think your competition is.”

8/1/21 - Hiring Is a Dating Process

by Kurt VandeMotter, Linked Executive Search

While many people think of the hiring process as something that is rigid and formulaic, it’s actually a lot more dynamic. Instead, the hiring process is more like a courtship. It’s very similar to dating, as the two parties should be getting to know each other and communicating openly.

Let’s look at how the hiring process mirrors the dating process, and how to better build professional relationships that lead to success for both the candidate and recruiter.

First Become Acquainted

In order to first become acquainted, it’s important for the candidate and hiring manager to both ask plenty of questions.

The #1 objective of the hiring manager is to learn about the candidate and have they accomplished the goals and objectives identified for this role, using past performance and experience as the benchmark, not that you “like the person”

The hiring manager knows what needs to be accomplished, and their questions should be behavioral questions asking about similar situations to what the company is dealing with today. This helps to make sure there is an alignment with the capabilities of the candidate—and that they have had past success in achieving these desired goals

The candidate often takes a passive backseat and just answers the questions they are asked. From a dating perspective, it’s important for the candidate ask the hard questions to make sure the other person (in this case, the company) is the right fit, and whether or not they are a good fit for the organization.

Candidates that don’t ask the tougher questions have a higher chance of turnover, since they haven’t gotten to know the company before taking the job. They need to better understand the challenges of the department they are entering, and what their role would look like.

Even if it’s a well-known company, there are still plenty of questions to be asked specifically about the culture of the organization, what keeps them up at night or what are the biggest challenges the company needs to solve in the next six months, the candidate is making a big decision = make sure there is an alignment.

Kick Off the Relationship

Any company is going to interview a number of candidates. That helps with the dating process. They get to play the field a bit before settling down, looking for the right attributes in a candidate.

The same goes for the candidate. They are able to interview with multiple companies to find a company that is the right fit for them

When a hiring manager interviews different people, they get to see the differences between the candidates that are out there and their ability to succeed. That’s when their instincts kick in and it becomes obvious that one candidate is the right fit.

Candidates are in the same boat. As they date around with different companies, they’ll want to make sure they find a company that they can relate to and have a long, healthy relationship with.

The dating process is a huge investment in time and energy. That’s why it’s so important for the hiring manager and the candidate to ask the right questions and interview around to make sure it’s a good fit before starting a relationship.

Once a good match is made, the relationship can begin.

Extending the Offer (the Right Way)

The best way to extend an offer is first with a verbal offer. Generally, this is contingent on a background check and/or checking references.

This verbal offer allows the candidate to get more details on the actual position title, salary, bonuses, etc.

Once the candidate accepts, the offer can be forwarded to the candidate in writing. From there, the company should do their background check, check references and do any other due diligence required.

Maintain Communication

Many candidates will be making major changes when it comes to accepting an offer with a new company. There is a lot of anxiety about how well they will do in their new role, and if they will be a good fit.

Anything a hiring manager can do to relieve that anxiety can help the candidate to better fit into their new role.

Once the offer is made, the onboarding process needs to start.

Too many companies take the hiring process for granted. They back off and don’t communicate with a candidate. That generates a lot of questions from the candidate.

It’s important for a hiring manager to maintain good communication with the candidate, to answer their questions and to keep them excited about the position.

A little extra communication helps to reaffirm that the candidate made the right decision.

Whether you are a job seeker looking for a position at a company that respects your talent, or you are a business looking for the best talent available, make sure to speak with a search firm that is able to meet and exceed your needs.

The right firm will help you to meet the right company or candidate and start the dating process.

7/25/21 - 6 simple mistakes that can sabotage your job search

A seasoned career recruiter who has interviewed close to 10,000 job candidates shares the most common mistakes that trip up job seekers.

There are no shortage of tips on how to have a successful job search. But when you fail to get the gig you want, you may be left wondering why. Hiring professionals are deluged with applications and don’t have time to write a “thank you for applying” letter. So candidates are left guessing.

I decided to go straight to the source and asked a seasoned career recruiter what the most common pitfalls are. In a far-ranging discussion with Tejal Wagadia, a career expert at Jobscan who has interviewed close to 10,000 job candidates in the past seven years, Wagadia shared the biggest things that can trip up job seekers.

The No. 1 thing that will derail you, according to Wagadia, is applying for a broad range of jobs that you’re not qualified for. It’s understandable that with so many jobs being advertised on job boards, and coming to you directly from sites like LinkedIn, you’ll feel you’re in demand.

But think again before you apply. “Unless you have 70% to 80% of the qualifications, you shouldn’t go for it,” says Wagadia. And that doesn’t mean you anticipate that you can do 80% of the job. It means you have already done 80% of that job. “It’s one thing to say ‘I can do this,’ and it’s another thing to say ‘I have done this.'”

For mid-to-senior-level positions, companies look for at least three to five years of experience. So for example, an account manager might apply for a Director of Sales position, but lacking any experience in that area, they won’t get the job. Instead, stay focused and apply only for those positions where you have several years of actual experience.

A second roadblock to landing a job is using a single résumé for all your job applications. “Candidates apply with the same résumé, over and over again,” says Wagadia. “They haven’t looked closely enough at the job description and made sure the skills listed are reflected in their résumé.”

“I’ve interviewed candidates whose résumé doesn’t match the job, and when I question them [about a skill] they say, ‘Oh yeah, I did that.'” But they hadn’t put it on their résumé. “We recruiters aren’t clairvoyant,” says Wagadia. “If you don’t show your skills and experience on your résumé, we have to assume you don’t have them.”

The solution, she says, is to customize every single résumé you send out. Make sure the skills you have on your CV align with those in the job description. If you want to know how well your résumé matches the job description, check out this site. “It’s particularly important to customize your résumé,” says Wagadia, “when applying for ‘bridge’ (contract) jobs or when making a career change, like going from one industry to another.” You will be evaluated on the fit.

The third thing that can trip job seekers up, according to Wagadia, is “not showing the impact you’ve had in the jobs you’ve held.”

“I don’t just want to know that you led a team,” she says. “I want to know how much you as a team generated in revenue each year.” You need to show the actual value you’ve created for your company in those roles.” This should be quantifiable (e.g., a recruiter might list the number of people she hired; a software engineer might list the number of programs developed and customers reached, a communications professional might share employee engagement figures or social media impact). Give at least three impact figures for each job you’ve held.

Not giving figures for your impact is a serious problem. “Almost every résumé I’ve seen just lists job duties rather than the value created,” says Wagadia. “Candidates copy and paste the job description they were hired into and forget to show the impact they had in that role.” If you want to impress the recruiter or hiring manager, give the quantifiable results you’ve attained.

Another thing that can derail candidates is their failure to ask the recruiter or hiring manager questions in an interview. “When they have no questions,” says Wagadia, “they appear not to be interested in the position.”

Wagadia has six favorite questions she recommends asking:

1. What does success look like in the first 90 days for this person?
2. What problems are being solved by the team right now?
3. What is the No. 1 stakeholder complaint you have heard about the team?
4. What is it about my background that you think would add value to your current team?
5. How do you define culture, and what is the team culture?
6. How do you communicate when someone isn’t meeting their monthly goals?

A fifth way to undercut yourself, is to misread people in team interviews. These group interviews are becoming more common, and they present challenges.

“Be aware how you are addressing the interviewing team,” says Wagadia. She has seen situations in which male candidates don’t address the female interviewers, especially in tech companies. Also beware of directing all your attention to the team leader or hiring manager. Treat everybody equally.

Group interviews can also be challenging because you have to customize your answers for each person. Think about who’s asking the question and choose a narrative that the person can relate to. For example, if an internal customer asks for an example, make it a customer-centric story. And size up whether the person wants a short answer, a big-picture answer, or a detailed “nuts and bolts” answer.

A final way job applicants can go astray is to appear disengaged by giving short, curt answers in interviews.

I asked Wagadia if there was a point in an interview when she made a decision not to proceed with a candidate, and she replied, “Yes, when they’re giving me one-word or one-sentence answers.”

She explained: “I might say, ‘Tell me about the kind of position you have been looking for.’

“The candidate answers ‘technical positions.’

“What kind of technical position? I ask.

“‘Project management.’

“When it feels like I’m pulling teeth,” Wagadia says, “I decide not to proceed with that candidate. An interview is a conversation, not an interrogation.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Judith Humphrey is founder of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She is a regular columnist for Fast Company and is the author of three books: Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (2018), Speaking as a Leader: How to Lead Every Time You Speak (2012), and Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed (2014) More

7/18/21 - How To Pull Out Of A Job Interview Process Without Burning Bridges

When you don't want the role but you do want the contacts, you have to be strategic.
By Monica Torres 

Job interviews aren’t just an opportunity for employers to find out whether you’re a good match for them. They’re also your chance to determine whether the role is a good fit for you.

When the answer becomes clearly “no,” you can simply tell the hiring manager that and back out, or you can see it as another networking opportunity.

Particularly if you like the company involved, you’ll want to maintain the relationships so that when a role you like comes around, they think of you first. Here’s how:

1. Don’t drop out right before an interview if you can help it
Once you’ve decided a role isn’t right for you, it’s important to let the hiring manager or recruiter know as soon as possible so it’s not an inconvenient surprise.

Unless something urgent comes up, backing out less than a day before you are supposed to have a job interview comes off as unprofessional.

“It’s very inconvenient and could leave a bad taste in the employer’s mouth, because the interview panel has blocked off their schedule ... that’s time wasted on their side,” said Gabrielle Woody, a university recruiter for the financial software company Intuit.

2. In your rejection, mention which roles are a better fit for you
Career coach Jessica Hernandez recommends thanking the hiring manager for their time, connecting with them or their company on LinkedIn if you haven’t already, and noting what kind of role you are looking for.

If you want more of a leadership role, for example, Hernandez said you could say something like: “After carefully considering the position, I’ve come to the difficult decision that this role is not the right fit for me at this time. The biggest factor in my decision to withdraw my candidacy was my desire to step into a role with greater leadership responsibilities. ... Thank you so much for your time and support during the interview process. I admire ‘Company Name’ greatly and would enjoy working for your company in a position more aligned with my strengths and career goals. If I can be of any assistance in your search, please don’t hesitate to reach out.“

If one of the reasons you’re backing out is pay, Woody said, you can be direct about your rationale with language such as, “These are the types of bills and loans and financial constraints that I need to make work. If there is a role with a higher compensation package that could help me...”

3. Offer a referral to soften the blow
One way to maintain a positive relationship? Offer the employer a different candidate you trust for the role. It shows this is a company you are willing to recommend friends and colleagues work for, and it helps the recruiter.

Hernandez said you could share the referral offer after you let them know you are declining, with language like, “I wanted to recommend ‘Name’ for the position. I worked with her at ‘Previous Company’ for 10 years. She has the experience you’re seeking and is looking for a role like this one. I would be happy to share her contact information if you’re interested in connecting with her.”

4. If you can, do this all over the phone
Woody said if you have not gotten through the phone screen stage, a rejection email is fine. But for candidates who have done interviews, taking the time to call the hiring manager and tell them directly about your decision is a much more thoughtful approach.

“The phone calls really do stand out, because I’m always receiving emails. It sets the candidate apart a little more,” Woody said.

“It also helps the employer see how genuine that candidate is being. I feel like sometimes on email, tone of voice, you’re not able to really read that,” she added. “It also gives the employer the opportunity to ask any clarifying questions that could set the candidate up for success in a future recruiting process.”

5. After you back out, check in to show that you are still genuinely interested in the company
To maintain a relationship with a company you want to join in the future, save interviewers’ emails, or connect with them on LinkedIn, so you can send occasional messages that show you are still following the organization.

In your messages, you can bring up points of commonality or the latest news about the company, like “Hey, I just saw this article that reminded me of something we talked about,” or “Wow, I saw the company increased the revenue by $10,000,” Woody shared as examples.

The goal is for your check-in to be a reminder about your interest, Woody said. “You’ll be fresh in the recruiter or hiring manager’s mind when a role does open up.”

7/11/21 - 3 New Job Interview Questions Companies Are Asking Right Now

You should prepare answers for these questions, because you probably never had to think about them before.
By Monica Torres 

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the U.S., more employers want workers back in offices at least some of the time.

According to a January survey of 133 U.S. executives, only 5% believed that workers did not need to return to the office to maintain good company culture; instead, the most common response was that employees should work at least three days in person. But a significant number of workers want to keep working from home for part of the week, and some never want to go back to an office at all.

As a result, the needs and wants of workers and employers may be at odds, and hiring managers are asking new job interview questions designed to reveal discrepancies. Companies don’t just want to know if you can do the job, but if your preferred working arrangement aligns with their return-to-office plans.

Here are the types of questions you need to prep for:

1. ‘How do you complete a project with minimal supervision?’

Daniel Space, who has worked in human resources for over 20 years, currently consults with business partners on strategic staffing, including interview questions.

“As it relates to COVID, a lot of the questions that we ask are ... behavior-style interview questions that tell us your ability to succeed in a fully remote environment,” he said. “What kind of touchpoints do you need? How do you take direction with minimal supervision? How do you handle different time zones? How do you keep yourself organized and managed?”

If you made a sudden remote transition at the beginning of the pandemic, this is an opportunity to show how you adapted when your boss wasn’t supervising you in person. Space said it can also be a way to share what you learned about old workflows that no longer suit you, and which ones do. It’s a chance for interviewers to engage in a dialogue about what they do and don’t do and whether that works for you.

Space said he’s seen candidates who are scared to be forthcoming and believe that interviewers want to hear that they don’t take any breaks. But he’s been impressed by creative responses, such as a woman who shared how she used to work late because others worked late until she realized, “That’s just not me. I’m a really early morning riser ... By embracing that approach, it’s been tremendous. My work style is so much better.”

2. ‘Can you share an example of how you had to adapt in your role during COVID?’

 Adaptability and flexibility are always highly sought-after skills by employers. But now there’s a COVID twist to questions about these attributes.

“I’m hearing a lot of candidates being asked about adaptability. How did they adapt in the workplace during COVID, what examples can they provide to show their adaptability,” said Jessica Hernandez, a career development coach.

The goal is to show how you rose to the challenge. “Perhaps it’s that they quickly flexed to learn new software programs to work virtually, or to meet a need with their clients who could no longer travel in the office,” Hernandez said.

Thankfully, the career story you tell doesn’t need to be tied to a current job if you don’t have one. If you lost a job during COVID, you can talk about what new skills and experiences you gained or courses you completed in the meantime.

3. ‘Do you have any concerns about returning to work?’ or ‘Do you prefer to work in an office or at home?’

Hernandez said that interview questions around work arrangements are one of the most frequent queries she hears about from clients.

“For some job seekers, it’s been about their preferences as employers are trying to recruit talent. And for other job seekers, it’s been about fit, when an employer needs an employee present in the workplace to complete the work,” she said.

When you’re asked about your comfort level working in an office, Space recommends being true to your values so that you don’t end up in a job that’s a mismatch later on.

“If you say ‘I’m fully fine with going back to work [in an office]’ and then a month later you’re not, you put the company in jeopardy because they don’t want to necessarily take any adverse reaction against you. You put yourself in jeopardy because this is what you said, but now you’re saying the opposite,” he said.

Ultimately, if a company doesn’t align with your values on working remotely, search for some other employer who is. “If it means that they say, ‘We don’t think this a right fit, we are requiring everyone to be back to work by August,’ it’s better to keep looking for companies that are remote,” Space said. “We are in an unprecedented job soar right now since COVID started.”

 Tejal Wagadia, a senior talent acquisition specialist at MST Solutions, recommends asking recruiters what the expectations are for a given role. That way, you that you can get a sense of what your future boss thinks before stating your preference.

Keep in mind that some roles available now may start as remote and transition to in-person jobs in the summer. Recruiters may ask if you are OK with that, Wagadia said, and stating an honest preference for continuing to work remotely may take you out of the running for some opportunities. But Wagadia said that being honest may do you a service in the long run.

“Do you really want to work for somebody that you know that you fundamentally don’t see eye to eye on?” Wagadia said. “It might take you out of this position, but it might save you the grief later of ... constantly clashing with the manager.”

7/4/21 - How to Write a Professional Thank-You Email After an Interview

A thank-you email after an interview demonstrates your interest and communication skills.
By Robin Reshwan 

Did you know that thank-you notes are so important that they have their own "National Day" on Dec. 26? This sleeper of a December holiday may not be well known, but the significance of expressing thanks, especially after an interview, continues to be a much appreciated courtesy. The thank-you letter has evolved since its handwritten roots in the 1400s, but the purpose remains the same – to politely express sincere gratitude. Here are tips on crafting a professional thank-you email after an interview.

Why Send a Thank-You Email?
Polite is a professional superpower. A recent 2021 survey by Zety found that integrity, sincerity and being kind rank in the top five traits hiring managers and recruiters target when making a new hire. In a world where there is more automation and distance, it is interesting (and not surprising) that employers want to work with genuine and thoughtful humans. A thank-you email after any interaction during the hiring process is an excellent way to demonstrate these traits.
Demonstrated interest. Although it doesn't always feel that way during the hiring process, interviewing is a two-way process where mutual interest is important to a successful outcome. Given the volume of applicants and the volume of roles that many candidates are pursuing, a thank-you email makes it clear that you are indeed interested in continuing in the interview process after each step. It also enables you to stand out, since most applicants do not send thank-you messages. It is a simple, but high-impact way to distinguish yourself.

When Should a Thank-You Letter Be Sent?

Interview processes have become more involved; candidates may meet with a range of employees across the organization, some on multiple occasions. Should you send a thank-you note after each exchange?

In general, send one to each new person you meet after the first time you interact with them. Also, send a thank-you email after each substantive interaction, like a second or third interview, even if it is with a person you have met (and thanked) in the past. If possible, send the email on the same day, especially if you know they are making swift decisions. However, only send an email if you have enough time to make sure it is well written and error-free. A poorly written email will do more harm than good – so don't rush if it means sacrificing quality.

What to Include in a Thank-You Email
Start with an authentic expression of appreciation for the opportunity and/or the time that was spent with you. You will get bonus points if you include any unique insights you gained or additional details that support your candidacy. Close by expressing your continued interest in moving forward in the process. Some managers will share your notes with others, so vary your content slightly to avoid looking like you just cut and paste the same message. Send each person their own professional thank-you letter, customizing each based on the person's title, department, interests and hiring criteria.

The ability to write clear, grammatically-correct, properly formatted and professional correspondence is important for almost every role. Your thank-you email demonstrates your written communication skills – so be sure to make a great impression every time you send an email. It is always helpful to have a trusted contact review your messages to ensure the email is as compelling as possible.

Professional Thank-You Email Samples
If you need inspiration before crafting your own thank-you email after an interview, refer to these examples.

After an initial screening with a recruiter who is moving you to the next stage in the process:
"Hi Rick,

Thank you for spending time with me today to discuss the analyst role. I was pleased to hear that my background seems to be an ideal match for the team, and I look forward to the next steps in the process."

After an interview with a hiring manager:
"Hi Mary,

Thank you for your time today. I really enjoyed hearing more about the growth of the ABC team at Awesome Co. I would be thrilled to leverage the lessons learned when my current company experienced a similar expansion in 2019. If I can provide any additional information, please let me know. I am very interested in continuing in the interview process and appreciate your ongoing consideration."

After a team interview/meeting with the hiring manager:
"Hi Mary,

It was great to see you today. I really appreciated meeting the team and learning more about the upcoming software transformation. As a user of your future software, I would love to help with the transition and play a role in maintaining productivity during a challenging time. My interest in Awesome Co. has never been stronger. Please let me know if I can answer any questions or provide additional information to demonstrate my interest and qualifications."

Check Your Work
Remember to double-check the spelling of each recipient's name and the company name. You can look back at any calendar invites, emails, the company webpage or LinkedIn to confirm email addresses and spelling. If full names, correct spelling or contact information were not given to you, it is always OK to contact the recruiter or interview coordinator to ask for those details. In summary, an effective thank-you email after an interview does not need to be long or painful to write. A succinct, sincere and error-free message is the best way to go.

Robin Reshwan is the founder and president of CS Advising and CS Search & Staffing. She and her team enable thousands of professionals to advance their careers through their advice, career coaching and recruiting efforts. Robin’s professional development tips are used by media outlets such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, Business Insider, Fast Company and Monster. She is a recommended career and executive coach for LinkedIn, educational institutions and Alumni Associations including Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business and University of California, Davis. An experienced entrepreneur, business executive and Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Robin has been honored by LinkedIn and the American Business Women's Association. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or email her at

6/27/21 - How to Boost the Odds You'll Get a New Job

Advice from 'The Job Closer' author on resumes, LinkedIn, networking and job interviews

By Kerry Hannon 

Job hunting these days is not for the meek, especially for those in their 50s or 60s. It's challenging both in terms of time and emotional energy. But Steve Dalton, author of the new book "The Job Closer: Time-Saving Techniques for Acing Resumes, Negotiations, and More," has some smart advice, which he shared with me.

Dalton typically offers job hunting advice to students as program director for daytime career services at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. But although some of the tips in his book and in our interview apply to job seekers of all ages, others are specifically for older job hunters.

Before I get to his tips, let me tell you my two favorite techniques in his book:

The "You Bet Your Life" Exercise (it takes one minute). Name a single professional skill or ability in which you are most confident you are in the top 1% of the world.

"If nothing else, make sure that any job you accept in the future takes advantage of this one skill," writes Dalton.

By quickly naming your best skill, it "just clarifies everything," Dalton says.

This example in the book is geared perhaps to a younger set, but I think it can get your wheels moving: "If you are struggling to find firms willing to pay for your elite Tetris-playing ability, you may want to reinterpret your skill more figuratively than literally. For example, in what way is your Tetris ability exceptional? Is it your pattern recognition? Your spatial creativity?"

 The "Brain Dump" Exercise (it takes two minutes). Write down every job you would enjoy doing and could practically be, or become, qualified for.

"Many of my job seekers tend to endlessly cycle through all of the options they have in their head, wearing themselves out with self-debate but never actually making any progress," Dalton writes. "This technique will at least help you avoid that endless churning in your mind."

Now here are my favorite job-seeking tips from Dalton:

Slash your resumé. "Cut the less-impressive versions of similar projects from earlier in your career so your resumé is as close as possible to being a "greatest hits" list of bullets," Dalton said. "Each bullet should be a story you're excited to tell in an interview… Hiring managers are trained to spend six seconds per resumé. The bulk of that time is spent on where you worked, what your dates of employment were, what your job titles were — basically all of the things that you can't change."

Dalton thinks older job seekers should cull their resumé dates of employment and college or graduate degree dates. "We'd love to think that ageism doesn't exist, but I wouldn't want to take that gamble. So, I would leave my education dates out and then you can cut earlier work experiences."

Eliminate "Responsible For…" in your resumé. "Those aren't stories. They're job descriptions, which are tedious to discuss and don't show you in your best light," said Dalton. "Your bullet points will be accomplishment statements showing results. Your ability to achieve impact is what differentiates you and shows someone that you're probably better at this job than the person who had the seat before."

Skip your "objective" in your resumé. "Nobody cares. It's this thing that people stress over that doesn't have much impact," said Dalton. "It ends up becoming this milktoasty, inoffensive repository for jargon and buzzwords."

Ensure your resumé, cover letter and emails are error-free. In your resumé and cover letter, "Microsoft Word will help you catch most typos, misspellings and some grammar issues. And a free [online] tool called Grammarly will do the same for your word-processing software and email services," Dalton said.

"Many business schools are big fans of a tool called VMock, a resumé-specific analysis tool that is also free," he added. "VMock will point out if you've used the same action words over and over and will suggest replacements; it will also highlight the use of jargon and filler words like 'successfully.'"

Spend your time networking. "We think that networking is this concept where neighbors and relatives or people you know tell you about job openings," Dalton said. "But now with online job postings, networking is something totally different. It's not about passively who do you know; it's about creating those relationships on demand as needed."

"I can understand for more experienced job seekers who've made a great career on being experts in their field, trying to learn a brand-new job searching skill set may feel a little embarrassing. There may be a shame element to it: 'Why don't I already know how to do this?' I would encourage more experienced job seekers to not feel that shame. It's like feeling bad that you can't play the violin without ever having been trained to play the violin. There's no shame in it, but there is a need to invest in that new skill set.

"It's completely optional to like networking, but it's not optional to do networking," Dalton noted.

Use LinkedIn as a teaser. "If an employer is looking you up on LinkedIn, they know exactly where to look to find the information they're seeking in a nice, neat, predictable format about where you worked before, how long you were there and what job titles you've held," Dalton said. "LinkedIn is your objective information. I keep mine very minimalist."

Don't advertise on LinkedIn that you're available. "The thing to spend it on is that the summary underneath your picture. That is what people search on and is the job closer," Dalton said. "I don't like putting 'I'm seeking new opportunities' under your picture because you don't want to lead with what you need. You don't want to project desperation.

"Saying 'I'm available' and hoping other people will help you, that's very reactive, like you're putting your fate in other people's hands. I want to hire someone who puts their fate in their own hands."

Use one- or two-word descriptors in your LinkedIn profile, each followed by a vertical slash. "Some examples are: problem solver, vertical slash, team builder, vertical slash, mentor, vertical slash. I like it because it's constructive and it's positive," Dalton said.

During the job interview, show a genuine interest in your interviewer. "Ask: 'What do you see in the marketplace right now? Where do you think it's headed? What do you think the biggest challenge coming up for the organization is?'" Dalton advised.

Give the job interviewer a story about yourself that they can identify with. "The way to overcome ageism is to give people a story that makes sense about why you want to work there," said Dalton. "If you're over fifty, there's probably a moment in your life where your current story starts…or that moment where you took a completely different path, wherever your hero story is."

"It's about helping people understand what motivates you from personal experience…If you just repeat what your responsibilities were and where you work, you're just reading your resumé out to them. And that's not adding any value, nor building any rapport."

Kerry Hannon is the author of Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home. She has covered personal finance, retirement and careers for The New York Times, Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, among others. She is the author of more than a dozen books including Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life, Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women and What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond. Her website is Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

6/20/21 - 5 tips for showing emotional intelligence during a video interview

Here’s how to make sure your soft skills shine through on your next big Zoom interview.

Here’s an important thing to remember when you’re on the job hunt: Getting offered an interview means you likely already have the necessary qualifications for the job. The interview is meant to determine if you will fit in with the organization. And that’s where soft skills can help you stand out.

While technical skills are important when it comes to finding a job, it’s now widely accepted that soft skills, such as emotional intelligence are equally (if not more) important. A recent survey of 2600 hiring managers and HR professionals found that 71% valued emotional intelligence over IQ. And when it comes to promotion of employees, the same preference of EQ above IQ also holds true.

But how do you communicate those skills in a brief interview—especially now that so many are taking place virtually? Forming an emotional connection with the interviewer(s) is more important than ever. While this is more difficult on screen than in-person, there are tools we can use to give ourselves the best opportunity for success. Here are five ways to show emotional intelligence in a video interview:

While lots of us are on Zoom calls all the time, not everyone is familiar (or comfortable) with seeing themselves on the camera. Set up some practice meetings with trusted friends to see how you look and react when seeing yourself. It’s important that you are able to relax and be your authentic self in the interview.

Play with the settings and camera angles to find the position that shows your best features. Make sure you are close enough to the screen that your upper body is clearly visible and fills the majority of the screen. Be aware of glare if you wear glasses, and ask others you trust to give you feedback. Looking your best will boost your confidence and help you relax.

Virtual interviews makes it more difficult to connect with your interviewers on an emotional level. The challenge in a video interview is to share your authentic self, instead of appearing wooden and stilted. Spend time with a close friend and get feedback on how you come across. Ideally you want to appear warm, open, and welcoming. Smile, if that’s natural for you, but don’t over do it. You don’t want to come across as forced. Talk to your friend about situations that bring out various emotions for you and ask for feedback on how authentic you appear.

Doing prep work about the person you’ll be speaking with, and taking note of their name (and how to pronounce it) is important, whether your interview is in person or virtual. The more you know about your interviewer(s), the more opportunity for you to connect. Try looking them up on LinkedIn or Twitter. And when responding to, or asking a question in the interview, use the person’s name. (Do this sparingly, otherwise it may appear contrived and inauthentic.)

If unsure how to dress, err on the side of being overdressed, rather than under. While a t-shirt and sweats may feel comfortable, they won’t show you in a positive light. I personally prefer to wear blue as it is a warm, calm color that some associate with emotional intelligence. Putting consideration into how you present yourself will help you make a good impression, and allow the interviewer to focus on the content of your interview.

The one advantage that you have with a virtual interview is that you have control over your background. With a little time and creativity, you can use this effectively to send the message about yourself that you want. Anything to show family, community involvement, volunteering, and/or healthy living will help. If the job requires lots of physical activity, show some evidence of an active lifestyle. For a job requiring a lot of cerebral activity, a full bookshelf in the background wouldn’t hurt.

I know someone who discovered before the interview that he shared a love of canoeing with one of his interviewers. He had attached a pair of crossed canoe paddles to the wall behind him. You are only limited by your imagination. Get a trusted friend or family to check out your background to confirm you are giving the impression that you desire.

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to

6/13/21 - This Is The Best Time Of Day To Submit A Job Application

Time your job application so that it's at the top of a hiring manager's inbox.
By Monica Torres 

It’s frustrating how much of a job search is outside your control. You can write a great resume, feel you’re perfect for the role, and still hear nothing back from a hiring manager.

Kate Zimmer, a corporate recruiter for Varian Medical Systems, said that when she was unemployed, her day went something like this: “Coffee. Apply for jobs. Hawk inbox for replies.”

But one thing that is in your control as a job-seeker is timing when to send a job application, and this small action can make a big difference.

“The survey found that 7:30 p.m., right when many workdays end, was when candidates had less than a 3% chance of hearing back from an employer.”

The best time is early morning or late at night.
A 2017 TalentWorks analysis tracked 1,610 job applications from a variety of industries and with a wide range of experience levels and found that submitting before 10 a.m. in an employer’s time zone significantly increased the likelihood that a person would hear back and land an interview.

Sending a job application between 6 and 10 a.m. increased the odds of landing an interview by 13%.

The time of day that had the lowest odds? The survey found that 7:30 p.m., right when many workdays end, was when candidates had less than a 3% chance of hearing back from an employer.

Ashley Watkins, a job search strategist with corporate recruiting experience, agreed that mornings were the best time.

“The early bird gets the worm,” she said. “I’ve checked applications at all times of the day, but typically the initial check of my applications was first thing in the morning.”

Late at night could also work if it helps your submission be the first one seen in the morning. During her job hunt, Zimmer said that she noticed her response rate increased when she started submitting job applications late in the evening. It’s now a practice she recommends as a working recruiter herself.

“My day begins with ‘admin’ time, meaning I spend anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes assessing resumes and inviting candidates to interview,” Zimmer said. “Submitting applications at night or early morning yields greater visibility.”

Consider these timing-related factors, too.
Submitting first thing in the morning is probably not going to help if you are applying a month after the job first posted.

“If a recruiter gets a good enough candidate pool, they may not go back and look at everybody who comes in after,” Watkins said. “Applying as soon as the job is posted is a good way to go.”

When you see a job listing go live, start crafting your response.

“Create the habit of applying when a job is first posted to increase your chances of being in the initial candidate pool,” Zimmer recommends. “Technology is at your fingertips, and features like LinkedIn ‘Easy Apply’ reduce application time and can be done from almost anywhere, so leverage it.”

If you do apply late in the day or the hiring process, don’t despair. Lean on referrals in these cases.

“That person can vouch for you and make sure that your information is seen by the hiring team,” Watkins said.

Monica Torres is a senior work/life reporter for HuffPost who writes about the workplace, management trends, career anxieties and the future of jobs. She is based in New York. She is a 2016 member of Poynter's Diversity in Digital Leadership class and is Williams College's 2013 Jones Fellowship in Journalism recipient.

6/6/21 - Being ‘nice’ can actually hurt your career.

Do these three things instead
Learn the difference between being nice and being kind. Then focus on these tactics that will not only help you but benefit everyone around you.


A client told me recently that they wanted to be promoted, but felt their “niceness” was getting in the way. As they wondered aloud whether they needed to have a harder edge to get ahead, I couldn’t say no fast enough.

I do not recommend you bully, steamroll or coerce anyone to advance your career. In fact, some of the kindest and most genuine people I have met happen to be global leaders of large companies. Being mean did not pave their path to the top. Rather, their upward climb was a result of being great at their jobs and having the ability to earn respect.

You may be thinking, “But I am a good person and I like being nice to people.” That’s fine, but I’d like to shift the focus from winning approval through niceness and instead focus on the fact that they were respected.

Here are three ways to stop being “nice” and focus on tactics that will help not only you but benefit everyone around you.

It’s important to point out the difference between kindness and niceness. Kindness grows from self-esteem and earns respect in return. Niceness comes from a desire for approval, which can result in mistreatment or being taken advantage of.

If you spend your workday wondering whether your coworkers like you or how to get them to like you, you are wasting precious time. It really doesn’t matter whether your coworkers like you. It matters that they respect you and that you have a good working relationship with them.

All too often I have seen people fixate on winning someone’s approval as opposed to focusing on their actual work. If you focus your attention on keeping your work top-notch, you will be respected by your peers whether they actually like you or not.

It is important to be respectful of your coworkers, strive to be kind, and always be helpful. If you’re focusing too much on being nice and well-liked, you will notice the opposite effect. It becomes about you, not the work you are doing or how you are treating others.

Actors find, more often than not, that if the rehearsal process focuses too much on everyone being in agreement, trying to be “nice,” and not wanting to step on other people’s toes, the final production is sure to be an absolute disaster.

If the rehearsal process is difficult, in that they’re all challenging each other’s ideas and having engaging conversations about how they envision the final product, they are likely to have a hit.

The same applies to any collaboration or project you are working on. “Rockstar employees are willing to challenge and push their managers when the time comes and they know they’re right,” Cory Martin wrote.

If you are trying too hard to be liked, you will likely be too afraid to share your ideas even when you know they can be useful. For the sake of your team, speak up.

Keep in mind upper-level management cannot know everything. It is their job to collect information and guide those they lead to a common goal or outcome. If you know something needs to be addressed, voice your opinion. New ideas are born and change happens when constructive arguments are had.

Everyone can have a bad day and sometimes that translates into bad behavior, such as a blast of anger that is commonly misdirected.

For example, I had a client whose fuming boss made a very angry call to him regarding a decision that he had not actually made or even participated in. For years, that client was unable to shake the rotten feeling the phone call had caused him. All this time he was thinking his boss hated him when in reality, the boss just needed a punching bag for their own emotions.

This one instance caused misery at work for years while he attempted to get his boss to like him again. When this client finally got up the nerve to bring it up to him, the boss didn’t even remember the call.

You cannot control the emotions of other people, but you can control your reaction to them. If someone exhibits bad behavior and you know they are in the wrong—let it go. Don’t take it personally. And if you just can’t shake it, address the issue with the person as soon as you can after the storm of emotion has blown over.

The biggest takeaway is that even if someone lashes out at you, it does not necessarily mean they don’t like you. And it’s definitely not worth your time evaluating their (perceived) feelings about you.

What is important is that they respect you for the work that you do and you respect others for the work that they do. If you feel you are not being consistently respected, that is a conversation worth having.

Being nice means you are watching yourself and constantly trying to please others. If you are kind, do great work, and respect others, you will not only be valued, you will be respected.

Vanessa Wasche is the owner and founder of On Point Speaking.

5/30/21 - Avoid burnout without breaking your job search habit

A strategic approach to finding a new job will help you maintain focus for the long haul.
By Teri Saylor 

Looking for a new job, whether by choice or by necessity, is hard work. Applying for jobs online can feel like running on an endless treadmill — exhausting and humiliating — and the constant stress of long-term joblessness can lead to burnout, which can lead to abandoning your search before finding the right job. Before admitting defeat, consider new approaches that will help you maintain your job search habit without wearing you down.

According to experts, perseverance, careful strategies, and a little patience will eventually pay off and help you reach the end of the long, dark tunnel of unemployment.

Leslie Boudreaux, founder of BVOH Search and Consulting, an executive search and consulting firm based in San Francisco, and Steve Dalton, career programming director for the full-time MBA programme at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of The 2-Hour Job Search, offer advice on how to maintain a job search habit for the long haul and avoid burning out.

Maintain visibility. LinkedIn is the go-to tool for recruiters and hiring managers, and elevating your presence on that platform will help them find you. Keeping your profile current, connecting with every professional you meet, and engaging on the platform by sharing, liking, and commenting on content will help you stay visible in the marketplace, Boudreaux said.

She suggests recruiting someone you trust to serve as a sounding board, provide support, extend your reach through their professional contacts, and help you keep tabs on the job market. This could be a friend, a colleague, or a former manager or recruiter you trust.

“At this critical time in your career, these colleagues can give you a tremendous amount of advice and support and might even directly help you find a new job,” she said.

Schedule informational meetings. People tend to quantify their job search by the number of applications they place and the number of hours they spend doing so. But those don’t correlate to success, Dalton said.

“Putting yourself in the hunt among many other job candidates — by applying to online job postings without referrals — vying for one job over and over is a recipe for burnout,” he said.

One way to avoid job search fatigue is to flex your curiosity and expand your horizon by scheduling informational meetings with successful professionals you admire. Rather than inquiring about job openings at their companies, ask for their insights and how they achieved success in their own careers. They will be responsive because people enjoy talking about themselves, Dalton said.

“These professionals are strangers when you first meet them, and expressing genuine interest in their opinions, their knowledge, and what they have learned along the way will help you turn a stranger into an ally,” he said.

Seek help from career counsellors. It’s frustrating to apply for random jobs over and over with no results, Boudreaux acknowledged.

“Instead of hitting the rapid application buttons on job listings, put some effort into your search, and seek out an expert who can analyse reasons why you are not getting results,” she said. Improving the way your résumé or CV is written or applying to the types of jobs better suited to your skills and background might help. When you get to the interview stage, career counsellors can help you put your best self forward.

“Often I see job candidates get that first interview, but they don’t get called back for a second interview, which demonstrates improvement may be needed there,” Boudreaux said. Personal coaches and counsellors can help you develop your personal brand, improve your résumé or CV, and help you become the best version of yourself during an interview.

Evaluate your career path. After being in the job market a long time with no success, looking in new directions may help you avoid feeling burned out, Boudreaux advised.

“Instead of giving up, seek opportunities in a different type of organisation,” she said. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this may be a good time to start your own business. It just comes down to having the motivation, desire, drive, and courage to reinvent yourself and harness your special skills to reach your full potential, she added.

“I love asking people what they really love to do and how they can package their passion into something that also makes money,” she said.

Take a break. At interviews, your frustration can come through in a way that doesn’t paint the very best picture of you to an employer. If you exude desperation in the marketplace, potential employers may assume this approach to your job search is predictive of how you will approach a job, Boudreaux said.

“Even though it’s tough financially, you may need to take a break from your job search if you can afford it,” she said. She suggested using downtime to take a class, further your skills, or do something fun to get away from the fatigue of the job search. Consulting or contracting is another great option to keep your skills fresh, learn new ones, and generate income while you are looking for the perfect long-term opportunity.

Be strategic. There are millions of job-seekers and millions of companies hiring, but there is only one of you, so you must be methodical, Dalton said. He recommends scheduling informational interviews with representatives of companies you are most interested in learning about.

Dalton’s methodology also calls for creating a list of 40 companies you admire. “Consider companies that might not be having their doors knocked down by throngs of people looking for a job, and where it might be easier to find someone who will talk with you,” he said.

Using LinkedIn tools, search for things you might have in common with those 40 companies, such as college alumni or contacts who work there. Rank them in the order of their desirability as a potential employer, and visit sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor to see if they have posted any jobs fitting your qualifications. This exercise will help you narrow your list to five top companies to target for outreach and to cultivate relationships that may lead to new opportunities, Dalton said.

“You may not walk away from them with a job, but you will walk away a richer person for the experience,” he said.

Visit the Global Career Hub from AICPA & CIMA for help with finding a job or recruiting.

— Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in the US. 

5/23/21 - Do You Really Need to Send a Thank-You Note After a Job Interview?

by Sam Blum 

It’s a corporate custom that might seem outdated, or even like a trivial formality. Yet anyone with a good deal of job hunting experience will tell you how important it is to send a thank-you note after an interview. That’s the conventional wisdom, at least. How much does it really matter?

Interview best practices dictate that thanking a hiring manager or HR person for their time is simply a baseline measure of professional etiquette. But why? No two job interview experiences are the same. Sometimes a prospective candidate speaks with multiple different interviewers over the course of months. Does every person who asked you a question deserve a missive expressing your appreciation for their time? Why isn’t it incumbent upon the interviewer to thank the candidate?

Owing to the subjectiveness of interviewing in corporate (and even non-corporate settings), it isn’t always obvious how and when you should thank a hiring manager for the courtesy of trying to convince them to hire you. Still, many consider it a standard part of the interview process, and because of the possibility the expectation is there, it’s something you should plan to do for the positions you really care about.

HR professionals really do take note of a thank-you
According to a 2017 survey from the HR consultancy Robert Half, 80 percent of HR managers think a follow-up email expressing thanks is either somewhat helpful or very helpful when they are combing through a deluge of candidates with equal qualifications. Absent a note expressing thanks, there’s a chance a hiring manager won’t be able to affirm your presumably strong interest in the job, beyond the 15 to 30 minutes or so you dedicated to a phone call or teleconference. In fact, they might presume you’ve been dissuaded from pursuing the job if you don’t express appreciation and your further interest.

Some organizations place a premium on thank-you notes that can seem excessive. In a 2019 post for Business Insider, the website’s global managing editor, Jessica Liebman, garnered a fair amount of online vitriol for writing that she only hires candidates who write thank-you emails post-interview. The idea that a failure to send a follow-up email should completely erode one’s chances of getting a job offer isn’t universal—and in fact, some HR experts take the opposite view, and feel the lack of a note should definitely not disqualify a candidate—but given it’s a debate that often descends into online shouting matches when discussed in public forums, you’re probably safer erring on the side of writing one.

Email is fine
Expressing thanks for a job interview is, in a sense, a holdover from earlier days of corporate etiquette. According to Robin Sommerstein, an HR consultant in Los Angeles, receiving a thank-you via snail mail was a truly laudable act prior to the advent of email.

She explains to Lifehacker how thank-you notes used to showcase a high level of effort and interest on the part of the interviewee, owing to the somewhat meticulous process of typing out and mailing a letter:

As I recall from yesteryear, thank you-notes via snail mail were always appreciated because of the time and effort to write the note. This showed the interviewer that the candidate was seriously interested, appreciative of the time spent meeting a group or single interviewer.

Even in the era of email, the necessity of expressing gratitude remains—and given that email requires less diligence on your part than would preparing a physical letter, addressing an envelope, paying for postage, and finding a mailbox, you can stick with a concise note—preferably sent within 24 hours of your interview, advises the job site Indeed.

As Sommerstein notes:

A really appreciated thank you note via email is thoughtful about what you learned about the company during the interview or through a website, or a statement that was unsaid during the interview. Write your thoughts about why you believe you would be an asset to the position and a good fit with the company.

It seems pretty straightforward, but don’t go overboard—brevity is admirable in this context, Sommerstein says, advising, “more than two sentences but not longer than two very brief paragraphs” should do the trick. With that in mind, you can get creative. She recommends including, “something clever, but not too clever, humorous but not too humorous, quoting something said by a manager if [it was] important to you.”

When it comes to thanking multiple interviewers, it might be prudent to ask for everyone’s business card during your interviews, or to ask for a specific person’s email address if you haven’t been supplied with it already. Of course, being a bit more enterprising and finding someone’s email address on your own shows a certain amount of industry that a hiring manager will notice. You might have to call someone’s assistant to get an email address, but it’s also OK to ask that your main contact at a company forward your note of thanks to everyone you’ve spoken to, Sommerstein says. It isn’t imperative that every person you’ve spoken to receives a note from you, especially considering it might be hard to track everyone down if the process has been especially stretched out, but the effort, if noticed by a hiring manager, is certainly admirable.

While neglecting to write a thank you notes won’t necessarily take you out of the running—Sommerstein notes she’s personally never failed to extend a job offer solely because a candidate didn’t write a thank-you note—it’s an act that requires minimal effort, and it could make all the difference.

5/16/21 - Finding Success After 164 Job Applications

David Ding offers firsthand advice to all new professionals who are looking for jobs during the pandemic or who will begin their searches soon.

By David Ding 

Job searches aren’t easy for new higher education administration graduates, especially at this time. I started my search in January of last year, unsure about how to begin and which jobs I would qualify for. Over the course of creating 345 application documents, applying to 164 jobs and attending 41 interviews during the past 10 months, I learned a few things in my first professional staff job search. I want to share them in the hopes that it can improve the experiences of others in similar shoes.

First, I should tell you a little about myself. I worked in student and civic engagement as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, and the experiences in vitalizing campus involvement during Swatoberfest and other activities changed my life. I knew then I wanted to continue to support, nurture and educate students. In grad school, I worked in student programming, co-curricular advising and summer STEM bridge counseling, and I collected various perspectives on advising, coaching and student development. Following dual graduate assistantships and a NODA internship, my goal was to work in a position that bridged academic and student affairs.

I also knew that my surface-level and deeper identities would factor into the job search process, as I am a male-identifying Asian American with a background in science and the liberal arts. From my experiences, I recognized that I faced distinct barriers related to systemic racism as well as certain personal challenges when looking for jobs. In higher ed, where I had already struggled to belong, I looked for places to work that would see my perspective, skills and insights as assets for innovation as well as equity in the field.

Unsure of how to start, I simply began applying for positions last January, writing cover letters and sending résumés that, I now see in retrospect, were of poor quality. Hesitance was the feeling of the day, and I was blind to the details and effort needed to advance in the application process. But, as most job searches responded with “the applicant pool is very competitive, and we have moved on with other candidates,” I found myself learning and reflecting on how to improve my efforts.

When April 2020 rolled around, so did all the disruptions of COVID-19. Institutions struggled with how they would address the pandemic, as did the job market. During that month, due to lack of time and job openings, I applied for only five positions in total, as compared to a peak of 10 a week in the later months of the search. That slow period gave me time to consider ways to enhance my application materials, and I created a makeshift assessment system to identify which jobs I should apply to and how I should tailor my application. Also, I networked and reached out to many alumni and other individuals as possible, and I learned to ask useful questions to build professional relationships.

Unfortunately, however, over the following months, I had to swallow my share of bitter pills. Two second-round interviews fell through, partly from factors outside my control. I experienced firsthand the difficulty of finding a job during economic hard times without professional experience. At the nadir of my search, I even acknowledged to myself -- and made peace with the idea -- that I might have to look outside higher ed to support myself before returning to it.

But what I was prepared to give up in career advancement was not mirrored by my will to grow from the processes. With each rejection, I learned how to improve my applications and interviews -- crucial during a time when only a 20-minute phone interview could separate my advancement in the process from the rejection pile. Committing to persistence and learning during this period, I strove to learn and open my mind to other work possibilities.

I learned how to draft compelling cover letters and created a consistent, precise routine for synthesizing materials to apply for jobs and advance in interviews. And ultimately, my approach paid off. During one week in September, I had five interviews. A month later, I had five more interviews in a week, with three being second-round interviews. Of the two concrete offers that resulted from my interviews, I accepted one and concluded my search.

It was a long and demanding journey, and I won’t sugarcoat it: the process took massive amount of time and preparation. But I grew a lot as a result, and here are a few things I would recommend to others embarking on a job search at this time.

Learn continuously. The job market is not a classroom, but take every possible opportunity to collect information and learn as much as you can.

Approach jobs without hope of an offer or fear of rejection. You will experience happy surprises and unexpected disappointments in the search process. Remember: anything before accepting an offer is not getting a job. Be disciplined and steady -- not only in your actions but also in your reactions -- throughout the application processes until you accept an offer.

Build a process to apply to jobs and to network in the field. No matter how strong or weak the economy is, your process is everything. Learn how to write a compelling cover letter; highlight precise, relevant credentials; and identify jobs you are qualified for and can potentially obtain. Have a good process, and time and patience will reward you.

Build your network. Everyone who has been through a job search generally knows how difficult it can be. Find other people who are doing the work you want to do, connect with them and identify good questions to ask them during informational interviews. Understand that each connection may not help you in the ways you anticipated but in others, and take some time to reflect upon the nature of your networking approaches, support and coverage.

Know that something’s out there that you are suited to do. During the nadir of my search, I interviewed for a job for which I was overqualified in education but underqualified in skills. The fit would have been misaligned, and even in the depths of the pandemic, I decided to seek other options.

Look for ways to supplement your skills and financial health. Most of you who want to work in higher ed will graduate with an advanced degree. That means you can and should innovate based on what you have learned. For example, in addition to finishing my degree, I have also become a tutor in STEM, English literature, college admission essays and SAT prep; have obtained a certificate in college teaching; and have studied a few academic advising manuals.

Don’t sacrifice long-term happiness for temporary comfort. People regularly counseled me to give up on my field and find employment in another. I’m glad I didn’t take their advice.

Know your worth -- and never split the difference. Despite the challenging economic times, I passed up a job offer that did not meet all of my standards for a starting postgraduate position -- knowing full well that I might lose out in future searches to other candidates. While I am humbled that they offered me the position, I made the tough decisions that it wasn’t really what I was looking for.

Be stubborn about your values. Know what you value in life, and look for anything you can do to support that. Making sure you are fulfilling your mission should be just as important as the benefits a job can provide. I used this time to reflect upon my values and will make sure that they are an essential part of my work going forward.

Stay positive. Never forget that you inherently contribute and add to the world just by being in it. Life is about what you make of it. Do something you find productive. Learn, read, exercise. Spend time doing other things that give balance to your life.

Be patient. Trust that there is something out there for you

My journey was not easy, but it allowed me to improve my job-search skills in ways that not only paid off now but will continue to do so in the long run. Such a process can test you in many ways, but know that if you keep trying, you will ultimately have success.

Bio - David Ding is an honors adviser at Purdue University’s Honors College and received an M.A. in education at Vanderbilt University.

5/9/21 - 10 questions to ask in a job interview that will really expose a company’s culture

Spoiler alert: “What’s the culture like here?” is definitely NOT one of them.

You are in the last five minutes of the job interview, and the interviewer asks: “What questions do you have?”

Time is limited, so you ask the question you think will be most helpful: “What is the culture like here?”

Don’t do this. There are better questions to understand the culture.

The interviewer will typically respond by describing the values of the company. Their reply will have some variation of trust, collaboration, transparency, integrity which are the same values that show up in various forms in many companies. These don’t help you understand the day-to-day experience.

Culture is felt through the behaviors that are reinforced or discouraged on a day-to-day basis on teams. If you want to get a sense of the story of the leader and team’s culture, use detailed questions. You will get a much better sense based on the responses, especially if the leader struggles to think of what to say. If you are a manager, prepare to answer detailed questions that illustrate your team’s culture.

Better questions to ask a hiring manager:

Tell me about a time a team member changed your mind? This lets you know if the leader feels they are the only one who has the answers or if they are open to different opinions. You are going to learn how they prefer to receive information and what they value.

Tell me about someone you are proud of. This is going to let you know which behaviors and skills they value. You can also learn their attitude towards developing people and celebrating success along the way.

Do you fully disconnect during holidays and vacations? Does this leader believes in boundaries and having time off and space that is protected? Or is this someone that will be calling you on your holiday—and will that work for you?

Describe a recent success or win. They should be able to come up with something pretty quickly. If they can’t, that might indicate that they aren’t great about celebrating progress or recognizing people along the way to milestones. They don’t have to describe a huge win. However, they should be able to think of a recent event that demonstrates progress.

Tell me about a disagreement or conflict on the team. Every team is going to have conflict. It is a great way to generate ideas and different thinking when the team has the right tools to navigate constructive conflict. You want to see is if the leader says: “We don’t have conflict.” This could mean that different opinions aren’t welcome, and the team sits in silence. Or the leader is trying to avoid the hard conversations that yield better results. The leader should be able to talk about people having different opinions they had to work through.

How did you start your last team meeting? Did they jump right into the agenda? Did they have an activity or conversation to learn more about each other? You can learn a lot about interactions by how they begin meetings and conversations.

What is your ideal person for this role? This is a great way to understand what the leader values and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they view as making their work easier. They will probably describe the person’s organization, communications, skill set, or certain outcomes achieved. This response helps you get an idea if you fit with the leader’s ideal candidate.

Who have you promoted and why? If the leader has never promoted anyone, probe further to understand what is done to develop people. If they are a newer manager and haven’t had the opportunity, ask what they are doing to help grow and develop their team. It is ok if the leader hasn’t promoted anyone. What you want to hear is the thought around it and how they view their role in developing people on the team.

Tell me about the last person you recognized. Recognition can be a thoughtful conversation, an email, an award, or even a mention in an all-hands meeting. You want to see if the leader struggles to come up with an example or easily mentions individual and team recognition. Does the leader have the mindset that development includes helping people see the contributions they are making?

How do you focus on your own growth and development? Does the leader mention reading articles, listening to podcasts, reading books, having a mentor, taking courses, or having a coach? Are they actively trying to develop themselves? If they are developing themselves, they are more likely to develop their team. If they aren’t, you want to understand why. If they blame their schedule or struggle to find an answer, then odds are good your opportunity for development will be pushed aside.

Don’t waste your opportunity to learn more about your prospective employer in an interview. Ask these questions that help you get to the experience of that leader and that team. Culture is experienced at the team level, and every culture tells a story. Ask them about these specific moments to better understand the experience of the leader and the team.

Karen Eber is the CEO and chief storyteller of Eber Leadership Group, a talent development boutique. She is also an international consultant, keynote, and TED speaker.

5/2/21 - Flourishing During Job Searches

Looking for new employment can be especially daunting these days, but Brandy L. Simula recommends four practices that can help you come out ahead.

By Brandy L. Simula 

Job searches can be stressful under the best of circumstances. In the current moment -- when we are experiencing the intersection of a global health pandemic, economic downturn, continuing decline of available tenure-track openings and large-scale hiring freezes across multiple economic sectors -- searching for a new position can be especially daunting. A recent study by Nature, for example, shows that postdocs may be facing the worst career crisis yet.

Developing practices to manage your job search strategically, building a job-search support network, planning for how you’ll respond to requests for information about your job search and drawing on effective self-care strategies can help job seekers flourish even in today’s challenging job market.

Strategically Managing Your Job Search

Strategic management is a vital component of a successful job search. Without such an approach, the search process can quickly become a full-time job -- taking up time, labor and energy that you could otherwise use for research, teaching, professional pursuits and rest. By strategically managing your job search, you can prevent it from taking over your life and impeding your progress on other goals, minimize job-search stress, avoid burnout and make the most effective use of your search-related time, energy and labor.

One of the most important parts of strategically managing a job search is to set boundaries around when you will engage in search labor. That means not only the work on identifying possible positions, writing applications and preparing for and participating in interviews, but also the emotional labor of thinking about and mentally managing your search. Setting regular times to engage in such search-related labor and honoring boundaries around when you’re “off the clock” for working on and thinking about your job search are some of the most effective ways of preventing your search from interfering with everything else you’re involved in and from eating away at your mental health.

For example, you might schedule time to read job ads and identify positions you want to apply for on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. and set aside three hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to work on applications and prepare for interviews. While it’s sometimes difficult to not fall down mental rabbit holes related to a job search, taking breaks from thinking -- and worrying -- about finding a job is crucial to flourishing during a job search.

While it can be tempting to seek information through job wikis, discussion boards and job market gossip sites, the time that it can take, and emotional roller coaster it can put you on, can be more harmful than helpful. If you do decide to participate, consider setting boundaries around how often you check in. In my own first job search, I kept the job wiki in my discipline open on my phone and reviewed it dozens of times a day, even waking up in the middle of the night to check it. Never stepping away from being actively engaged, mentally and emotionally, in my first job search left me constantly anxious and exhausted -- and, worse, took away time I could have spent actually working on job applications.

Approaching a job search strategically also requires resisting the urge to apply wildly. It’s useful to apply widely, but letting anxiety and fear about the lack of availability of positions drive you to apply to every position for which you’re qualified -- regardless of how interested you are in a given one or how strong a candidate you are -- is not the most effective use of your time. Rather than attempting to apply to every position for which you are potentially qualified, strategize your search to prioritize spending time on positions you are most interested in and where your application is most likely to be successful.

Developing Your Support Network

It’s useful to create a support network with different, though sometimes overlapping, pools of people whom you can draw on for support. Your network might include: people from whom you can get advice and feedback; people with whom you want to share successes; people with whom you can share challenges, fears and setbacks; and people who can be available at pressure points in the search process (for instance, who can field messages or calls from you immediately before or after interviews).

While you might already have a strong general support network, ask people in it for specific kinds of assistance during your search. And if some are willing to field calls or messages before or after interviews or during campus visits, don’t forget to share the times you’d like them to be available in advance. As you’re developing and drawing on your network, it’s also important to consider how you will acknowledge, value and -- ideally -- reciprocate or pay forward the support you are receiving.

Managing Search Information

Many job seekers, especially grad students and postdocs, feel obligated to tell others about their job searches. But whatever stage of training or a career you are in, it’s important to remember that you get to choose what information to share and how, when and with whom to share it. That includes whether you’re on the market, which job market(s) you’re on, what positions you’re applying to or the status of your applications for specific positions. Indeed, managing when, how and with whom you share updates is an important part of managing your job search.

Be prepared for questions about your job search from your adviser or principal investigator, your mentors, other faculty members in your department, fellow grad students and postdocs, and friends and family. If you’re considering or have decided on a career path outside the academy but aren’t sure how to tell your adviser, Karin Hunt offers excellent advice.

Consider if and how you want to use social media related to your job search. Social media networking can be especially useful in a job search, but constant attention to job search-related social media can be distracting and draining.

Caring for Yourself While Searching

If you haven’t yet developed strong self-care practices, now is the time. Building self-care into your regular routine is an important part of managing stress and flourishing. If you’re not sure how to start identifying what self-care practices are most effective for you, this assessment can help.

In addition to your routine self-care practices, it’s useful to have specific self-care practices for pressure points in your job search. What practices will help you most effectively prepare for and decompress after interviews? What practices will you draw on when you receive disappointing news about a position you’re interested in?

Regardless of how accomplished you are, your job search will almost inevitably include disappointments and rejections. Balance those moments with celebrations of each success, and define success generously. Getting a first-round interview is a significant accomplishment. Getting an in-person interview is, too. Honor small achievements and advancements rather than only celebrating the position you accept.

Cultivating Flourishing During Searches

Remember that in your job search, you have the first and final decision about which career paths and positions are a good fit for you, which you’ll apply for, and which you’ll eventually end up taking. Consider strategically lowering the bar on your expectations for yourself during your search. Don’t set unreasonable expectations about how many positions you’ll apply to or how much time you’ll invest in each application. Lowering the bar strategically means thinking seriously about where and how you choose to invest your limited intellectual and emotional labor in your search.

Similarly, consider lowering the bar for how positive or upbeat an outlook you’re demanding of yourself. While a buoyant attitude can be useful, the pressure to bright-side challenging situations can actually undermine well-being. It’s OK to recognize that job searches can be anxiety provoking and exhausting.

Finally, remember that your first job is almost certainly not going to be your only or last one. If your current search doesn’t end up yielding a position that feels like a fantastic fit, remember that it’s unlikely you’ll be stuck in that position forever. Particularly in the present context, where the job market both in and beyond the academy is challenging, consider the strategic reframe offered by Design Your Life founders Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. They suggest that rather than focusing on the unrealistic goal of finding the one perfect job, you can more productively concentrate on seeking a position that is “good enough for now.”

Bio - Brandy L. Simula is a professional development specialist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a research affiliate at the Center for Positive Sexuality. A certified career, professional and life design coach, she is an active member of the Graduate Career Consortium and the Professional and Organizational Development Network. She works and writes on the occupied lands of the Mvskoke (Creek) People.

4/25/2021 - I Really Dislike Negotiating, But…

I Really Dislike Negotiating, But…
… whatever our circumstances, Joseph Barber writes, we should all negotiate for something as part of our next job offer.

By Joseph Barber 

Negotiation is an important way to advocate for your professional skills and experiences. Let me start, in fact, with a sweeping generalization that, whatever your circumstances, you should negotiate for something as part of your next job offer. We all need to take opportunities to tell others the value we bring to a new position, and ideally employers should find value in supporting their new employees.

That said, knowing that you should negotiate is not the same thing as finding yourself in a position where negotiation is easy, enjoyable and in no way stressful. I will highlight some general negotiation best practices that can be helpful in most cases, and then I’ll identify a few scenarios where those practices don’t always work.

Given that no one ever taught me any job offer negotiation strategies, that job offers could or should be negotiated, or that doing so would be important to my professional trajectory, it is not surprising how I approached my own first offer. I hadn’t officially finished my Ph.D., and I had traveled from the U.K. to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to interview for a (just about) postdoc position. Everything was overwhelming: Florida, the temperature, Disney, the giant Disney characters parading past my future boss’s window, and also my future boss saying that she would like to offer me the position and asking, “The salary for this position is $XXX -- does this work for you?”

“Um, sounds great” was probably my answer. With all my preparation focused on succeeding in the interview, I hadn’t given any thought to actually receiving the offer. At that moment, I remember my brain focusing on all the projects I was going to be working on, all the information I would have to learn, and all the new responsibilities I would have when the position started. At no point did I reflect on the post-offer, pre-acceptance period where negotiation can happen -- or on whether the salary offered was good, bad or somewhere in between.

Many of you may experience the same rush of thoughts when you receive a job offer: you jump straight to the new (and hopefully exciting) responsibilities of the role that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about during the application period and skip over many of the logistics of the offer itself. Being goal-focused and project-oriented is one of the reasons you will bring value to the role you have been offered. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook the equally important goal of advocating for yourself.

Let’s quickly cover a few negotiation basics that provide a general set of best practices.

First, wait for a written offer, but don’t rush into any negotiations as soon as you receive it. Once you have the written offer, ask for more time to get back to your potential employer. Some organizations, for some positions, will offer weeks. Others will give you days. It is a good idea not to make a hasty decision if you can avoid it, especially if you may have other interviews or potential offers that might materialize in the next few days.

Then, before you actually start negotiating, gather all the information you need. Speak to people in your network who might have insight into the role or the company, or seek their advice based on their own experience negotiating. While you can’t ask them about their salary, you can get their thoughts on what a fair offer looks like in the field.

Also, if anything in the offer letter is confusing, ask for clarification from your main point of contact at the employer. Let’s say a that a company offers you stock options as part of the offer, and your response is “Huh?” This is a great opportunity to ask if you can talk to someone at the company who might be able to share information about it. Whatever questions you may have about what is written in the offer letter, this first phase is the time to get some answers. An email might work for most questions, but scheduling a time to chat might be better in some cases.

Once you have answers to all your questions, then you can decide on what you want to negotiate for and why. Asking for more money is often the focus -- but everyone would like more money, so what is the positive argument you can make as part of your negotiation? In typical situations, a good argument is that you have highly sought-after skills, knowledge, experience or even a network of contacts that can be especially helpful to the role. In other cases, your ask may be based on the research and networking outreach you conducted, from which you might have discovered that average salaries at similar organizations and for similar roles are higher.

Any good negotiation happens in real time by phone/video and with the person who is in a position to discuss the offer. (Figuring out who this is may be something you need to find out as part of your information gathering.) Once you have scheduled a time to chat with this person, then a well-practiced ask as part of this conversation is a good outcome. For example:

“I’ve spoken to several of my contacts in my network who work in this field, and they mentioned $X as being an industry standard for someone with skills doing X and Y. I’m really excited to bring my rich experience doing X & Y to this role, and so this higher amount seems appropriate. What can we do to get closer to this?”

An effective negotiation strategy is to ask such a question and then not say anything else until the person with whom you are talking has responded. But you need to practice that approach.

Also, if you are looking for networking strategies, consider some of these resources: 

Some Exceptions

Keep these best practices in mind, but in some scenarios, the process doesn’t quite follow those steps.

For example, some job descriptions or the careers pages of organization websites specifically state that salaries can’t be negotiated. That might be because the jobs are associated with a union or a city/state department or just reflect the organization’s philosophical approach. I think it’s refreshing to have clearly stated, nonnegotiable salary levels and to provide an equal playing field for candidates, including those comfortable with negotiation and those who are not (but then again, I dislike negotiating, so that is not surprising). Employers that are transparent with salaries up front provide candidates with enough information to decide if it is even worth applying. It is also worth noting that you can negotiate other elements of the job beyond salary that can still play a key part in supporting your professional success in your new role.

Some employers want you to negotiate before they give a final offer. You might get a verbal confirmation that they will be offering you the role, but no specific details or numbers. That often happens when the office or department that is making the offer isn’t the entity that makes salary decisions. For example, a centralized HR office may decide on salaries to ensure parity across the organization. That approach puts the onus on the candidate to come up with a preferred salary without knowing all of the details. Students and postdocs who experience this scenario often worry that any “incorrect” negotiation may result in a written offer never materializing. That typically doesn’t happen, and most of the negotiation best practices are still relevant in this situation, but the lack of a written offer first makes the negotiation process feel a lot more stressful.

Another recent scenario I heard about was a job for which an organization made a written offer but required the candidate to first decline that offer before starting to negotiate. The candidate could then submit a justification for whatever was being negotiated, and if the organization accepted it, they would make a new offer. The idea of declining an offer to negotiate certainly raises the stress level, but given the time and effort it takes for employers to choose a final candidate, they would very likely entertain a counteroffer from a candidate whom they were excited about -- especially if that candidate could advocate positively for their value.

In another situation, the hiring manager told a final candidate that they had to accept the offer promptly because the hiring manager didn’t want to lose out on a great second-choice finalist. Of course, that doesn’t sound like a great way for the employer to begin their relationship with a potential new hire!

Again, I dislike negotiation and the uncertainties involved. But I’ve found it always feels better to advocate for yourself in the best way you can when you have an offer than to miss the opportunity and regret it. No one will advocate for you as well as you can, and whether or not you successfully increase your salary or gain access to other professional benefits, the process of verbalizing your value to others will always be professionally fulfilling.

Joseph Barber is senior associate director of career services at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Graduate Career Consortium -- an organization providing an international voice for graduate-level career and professional development leaders.

Philadelphia PA (Metro...including Trenton NJ and Princeton NJ)

Newtown (Bucks County PA) Career Networking Group - The Newtown Career Networking Group (Newtown, PA), was established in January 2010 by and for talented people who were displaced by the recession. We're a secular group, sponsored by the Newtown Presbyterian Church, serving the entire community including Lower Bucks County and the surrounding area. Meets 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 7-8:30 pm Eastern. 

Philadelphia Area Great Careers - We offer career education, monthly meetings with speakers, networking, interview preparation resources, and workshops on Zoom and on Clubhouse. Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, employed. or self-employed, you should be managing your brand and your career. This means keeping your career documents up to date, refining your networking skills, building your sphere of influence, and building your technology skills.

Tulsa, OK

Overcoming Job Transition - Our ministry has been blessed to serve hundreds of out-of-work Tulsans by equipping them with the knowledge they need to succeed and helping them take control of their job search.

4/18/2021 - Use these 3 solid answers next time someone asks: ‘Tell me about yourself’

A public speaking coach says the best thing about this open-ended question is the opportunity it offers.

Rather than dread the question, think of it as a self-promotional invitation you mustn’t let pass you by. People are not asking for your chronological history, but they do want more than your name, rank, and serial number. Whether you are in a job interview, meeting a new contact while you build your network, or talking with your big boss on a video conference for the first time, this is your moment to shine. It is an opportunity to give your two-minute advertisement about your background, your accomplishments, and the importance of what you do.

Your goal is to turn the question into the beginning of a deeper conversation and a deeper relationship. So keep these three key pieces of your response ready: Engage the audience, establish credibility, and tell people why they should care. Then tailor your reply to the person who is asking. Find ways to connect your experience and expertise to their interests.

Resist the urge to lead with your title and organization unless you know that will stand out. Instead, give a short, illustrative explanation of what you actually do. Make it an interesting conversation starter. If it points to anything going on in the news right now, even better. Everyone you talk to is different. If you have researched their background or learned something through talking with them that relates, find a way to tie your work to a common area of interest. For example,

“I’m a cybersecurity expert, helping companies respond to the recent SolarWinds hack and other growing threats.”
“I’m starting a new advertising agency so we can focus on the more nimble, creative approach I loved when my last agency was still small.”
These introductions give your interlocutor the opportunity to ask questions that lead to an in-depth conversation. That gives you the opening to follow up in more detail about what you do and how it relates to the other people in the conversation.

Now is the time to share what it is about you that people should want to know. Describe highlights from your work experience, life experience, or education that set you apart and demonstrate your knowledge in this area. This might include the inspiration that led you to this line of work, what you studied at your university, a big project you worked on, or places you have lived. What makes you uniquely qualified to do the work that you do? For example:

“I’m excited that I can combine my engineering degree and my experience running marathons to develop new technologies for prosthetics.”
“My two years with a management consulting firm in Hong Kong gave me unique insight into the impacts of political swings on the U.S.-China trade outlook.”

Include some version of, “This is important because . . .” At this point, you have offered a conversation starter and discussed your expertise. Now use big picture concepts explain why they should care. For instance:

“Artificial intelligence is helping us in so many ways and has incredible potential to do more. My work will help protect our privacy in the process.”
“Working from home in the pandemic is causing a wave of mental health challenges. The online mindfulness programming my company offers gives workers a chance to get away even when they can’t get away.”

The most important part of responding to the inevitable question, “So, tell me about yourself,” is to be prepared. If the brand name of your company or your university will pop, put it out there up front. If your life experience, awards, or projects you have worked on demonstrate your value-added, make sure to include them.

To build your confidence around this response, it’s a good idea to film a practice round on your phone ahead of time—and watch it back so you can adjust if needed.

Remember that the best thing about this open-ended question is the opportunity it gives you to highlight your best features and why what you do matters.

Eileen Smith is a public speaking coach, former diplomat, and founder of Spokesmith. She helps business executives, policy experts, and rising professionals deliver their message in daily and extraordinary events.

4/11/2021 - How to identify and apply for unposted job opportunities

Reviewing job boards is fine, but many jobs aren’t listed formally. Here’s how to identify potential openings, and effectively find the hiring manager.

If you’re looking for a job, your first step may be to peruse job boards. While it’s a tried-and-true method, a growing number of jobs are “hidden,” as more companies move to employee referrals and professional networks for sourcing qualified candidates more quickly, according to a study by Jobvite. If you don’t have an inside connection, you may think finding these leads is a matter of pure luck. However, it’s possible to get into the talent pipeline via the hiring manager’s inbox.

“The reality is that a lot of markets and industries are in constant flux and chaos,” says Ivan Shovkoplias, head of content for, an online résumé builder. “Many companies reorganize slower than needs appear, and openings aren’t anticipated by managers. Also, the infrastructure for job listings is not up to speed with what companies need. The world is changing faster than the tools.”

To get in front of a hiring manager, you could spend time cold-emailing and networking, but one of the best methods is by cultivating a deep knowledge of the industry. “Depending on the industry or location, there’s usually a rumor mill,” Shovkoplias says. “You may become aware that some companies are hiring more than others. You may be aware that certain industries are on the rise and need specialists. There are multiple ways of finding out.”

Another good tool is research, including reading industry journals and company blogs. “Research is good even if it’s open source,” Shovkoplias says. “It can give you a superficial leg up.”

Once you’ve got a lead on a company that might be hiring, you need to determine the right person to contact. You’ll want to identify a hiring manager as well as the manager of the department in which you’d be working.

“A manager may be able to walk your résumé to HR and be an ambassador,” Shovkoplias says. LinkedIn’s search tool is a good place to find appropriate people. Once you’ve got names, use a tool like to dig up their email addresses.

Your subject line needs to get through spam filters, and Shovkoplias recommends using some proven email marketing tactics. “Avoid a long subject line or overuse of caps,” he says. “The golden standard is below 60 characters and 10 words. These tiny nuances [decrease] your chance of going to spam.”

Make your subject line short, succinct, and catchy without being too pushy. It should also be personalized. For example, “Former Google employee looking for an opportunity.”

Avoid the generic “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” Instead, personalize the greeting, making sure you spell the person’s name correctly. Shovkoplias says you want to come off as warm, but don’t get too creative. Get a feel for the company’s culture and language by reviewing its website and try to mimic the tone.

The first line of your email should grab the reader’s attention. It creates the first impression and establishes trust with the reader as you explain who you are. If you’re applying for a creative position, such as a job in advertising, you can be creative. Otherwise, remain conservative in the bounds of industry.

“We live in a depersonalized marketing world,” Shovkoplias says. “Show you’re a human and grab their attention by providing proof of your expertise, a quick fact, or an achievement figure.” For example, “I’m an experienced marketing professional who has secured placement for clients in top publications such as . . .”

Be respectful of the time the reader will spend with your email. Shovkoplias recommends having a one-line introduction and about three to four sentences with a general message that conveys your value, then bow out.

“If you’re writing a huge letter that takes more than three to four minutes to read, you dramatically lower the chances that a recruiter or department manager will respond,” Shovkoplias says. “Be cognizant that we live in a world of short attention spans.”

Your message could include:

Why you’re reaching out
What you can bring to the company, such as your experience
Proof of your skills
Previous achievements, including metrics
Knowledge of the industry
Shovkoplias warns against too many attachments, such as a portfolio or work sample. “Most of the time attaching more than a résumé is risky,” he says. “What you want to do is make it easy to get to the next step. If you’re emailing a manager, they can take your résumé and forward it to HR.”

Another benefit of keeping your email short is that you’re more likely to hear back, adds Menno Olsthoorn, CEO of “It gives the other person permission to send a quick reply with feedback, a next action, or to simply say the position is filled,” he says. “If you write a one-pager, the person may archive it or not reply at all.”

Similar to email marketing, close your email with the next step open-ended. For example, “Would you be open to a phone call to discuss possible openings within your company?”

Shovkoplias says, “You want the person receiving it to not feel like the dialogue is closed. And don’t be presumptuous or arrogant. Ask if they have time to talk about possible job openings. It should be engagement more than a statement. A statement puts a stop or pause on the dialogue.”

Finally, sign off in a similar way to your salutation. Unless you’re in a creative industry, Shovkoplias says it’s best to use a safe and traditional sign-off, such as “Best Regards” or “Sincerely.”

“They are cliché to an extent,” Shovkoplias says. “[But] it’s best to end safe because you’ve already taken a risk—you sent the email.”

4/4/2021 - 7 effective strategies for streamlining your job search

Ditch the time-wasters and get focused on what you want to do next.

The pandemic turned a job market one of the tightest labor markets in history on its head. At its peak in April, unemployment reached 14.7% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and may have been even higher. So people who still had jobs hung on to them. The so-called “quits rate”—people who voluntarily leave their jobs—fell to 1.4%—the lowest level since 2011 during the Great Recession recovery.

But there’s some good news on the horizon: Employers are looking to hire again. Monster’s Future of Work 2021 Global Outlook Special Report found that 82% of employers plan to hire in 2021, including 37% who plan to fill positions left open after layoffs and more than one-third (35%) that are hiring for new jobs.

So, if you’ve been holding off on looking for a new, more fulfilling gig or are perhaps uncertain about the best steps to take in this “new normal” for job-hunting, now might be the time to act. And here are some ways you can focus and streamline your job search to be most effective:

“Stop being so open-minded [about your search],” says executive search consultant and media executive Rob Barnett, author of Next Job, Best Job: A Headhunter’s 11 Strategies to Get Hired Now. Barnett says he counsels people to figure out their “North Star”—the true career goal they have. Then, focus your effort on the path to getting there.

You need to create a rock-solid case for why you’re the best person to fill the role you want. That requires three key elements, Barnett says:

“What is the job in your heart?” asks Barnett. What do you love the most and what do you want to be doing?
Be brutally honest with yourself and determine whether the job you want intersects with what you’re best at. Where are your strengths? Where have you had your biggest career wins?
Prove it. Barnett says that thinking about “transferable skills” alone can be dangerous, because hiring managers want to see that you have some experience doing what needs to be done. Make a case for why you’re the best person for the job that includes some relevant experience. And if you don’t have that, start building it.

The pandemic has led to a wave of skill-building and training. As some had more time on their hands, they invested in courses, classes, and other programs to help them learn new things or strengthen areas of weakness. “There’s so much free development online now or at minimal cost that you can continue to develop your skills, your competencies, your capabilities,” says cognitive behavioral researcher CK Bray, founder of change management research firm The Adaptation Institute and author of Best Job Ever!: Rethink Your Career, Redefine Rich, Revolutionize Your Life. Prioritizing your own professional development shows initiative and can help you get closer to a meaningful career.

Barnett says that, sometimes, investing in yourself requires taking a more junior role in your new chosen field or role to help you build the skills you need to advance. This should be considered on a case-by-case basis, in light of your overall career goals and level of experience.

Spend some time researching the company and role you’re targeting, says career coach Angelina Darrisaw. Use LinkedIn to find out who had the position before you and look at their background. That may help you identify your own strengths and career parallels, she says. “I’d even go as far as considering using a LinkedIn message to reach out to that person and seeing if they will spend time with you,” she says. “[Take] those extra steps to show that you’re really interested in the position that you’re also going to make sure that you are a good fit.” Of course, use your network to determine if you have contacts who can either give you information or help with an introduction, she adds.

Barnett says that uploading your résumé to job-search sites isn’t worth your time. Neither is interviewing with companies where you really don’t want to work, Darrisaw days. Bray advises people to not go overboard when updating their résumés. Too many people spend far too much time laboring over each word and how big the margins should be, when the key is to update it and get it out there.

There are some important areas on which to focus. It’s important that the job history, including dates, titles, and companies, on your LinkedIn profile aligns with those on your résumé, Bray says. And Darrisaw recommends reviewing the company’s job ads and incorporating some of the specific, descriptive words the company uses, so those words will show up in applicant tracking services (ATS). In addition, Darrisaw recommends reviewing your public social media profiles to ensure that they reflect you as you wish to be perceived.

Each of the experts recommended tapping into your network now. Touch base with contacts from your past and review the LinkedIn contacts of people in your network to see if there are opportunities for informational interviews or introductions. (It may actually be easier to do so now that so many people are still mostly working from home.)

Also, if you’re actively interviewing at a company where you really want to work, Bray recommends staying in touch with the team, even if you don’t get the job. “Ask questions about what they think you can work on [to be a stronger candidate],” he suggests. Then, take the advice to heart. Companies are becoming more aware of keeping “runners-up” in mind for future positions.

Gwen Moran is a writer, editor, and creator of Bloom Anywhere, a website for people who want to move up or move on. She writes about business, leadership, money, and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites.

3/28/2021 - Meet Empathy, a Career Power Tool

Irina Filonova explores how you can use this foundational skill to advance your career and maintain well-being during a job search.

By Irina Filonova 

“Learner, Input, Achiever, Analytical, Intellection” read my table tent, proclaiming to the world my talents identified by the Gallup Clifton Strength assessment. I was proud of the outcomes because they correctly characterized me as a neuroscience researcher ready to take action.

Suddenly, a postdoc sitting next to me exclaimed, “Empathy? What is that? How come I have it?” This puzzled my analytical mind, which had been trained for years in my scientific research to value logic over emotion. The facilitator quickly described empathy as a precious talent that helped us understand other people and build strong relationships. However, I was not buying this description as a strength I could use to reach my ultimate goals.

Now, six years later, working as a career coach at an institution in Japan and logging countless hours in one-to-one meetings helping others determine career direction, I wholeheartedly agree with one of my postdoc advisee’s statements: “Empathy! I love it! I would not be here without it.” As a result of this shift, I am writing to share how we can use this foundational skill to advance our careers and maintain well-being during a job search.

First things first, let’s define empathy. Empathy is the ability to experience other people’s feelings, emotions, thoughts and behaviors. More simply, it is the ability to put yourself in another’s person shoes. Neuroscience tells us that when we empathize, a special network of brain cells called mirror neurons is activated, allowing us to “mirror” the others’ experience. For example, when I work with a postdoc who struggles to find a job amid pandemic and Brexit concerns, my mirror neurons are working hard to create an experience of frustration and anxiety mixed with hope, allowing me to understand the state of mind of my advisee. Likewise, I am full of joy and excitement when reading a message from a graduate student who landed a dream position.

To note, empathy is different from sympathy and compassion. Specifically, sympathy expresses an understanding and concern for a situation, and unlike empathy, it lacks the feeling of sharedness and closeness. Compassion, on the other hand, takes empathy to the next level by adding a desire to alleviate suffering and discomfort. With the clarified terminology, let’s explore why it is beneficial to consider empathy skills when managing careers, applying for a job or conducting interviews.

Empathy is often the top skill employers seek in a potential hire. Every year I teach career development workshops where we examine job postings to understand the position requirements. We have yet to encounter the phrase “Empaths are needed” in an advertisement; however, we frequently find reference to “team player,” “cross-cultural communicator,” “adaptable professional” or “skillful problem solver” on company wish lists. It turns out that most employers are looking for candidates who can mind read a funding agency, resolve conflict, build alliances, nurture relationships and manage or work in teams. Upon closer examination, we discover these traits to be rooted in understanding other people’s perspectives to advance projects or common goals. This is, in a nutshell, empathy in disguise.

Empathy provides keen insights during interviews. I love prepping our postdocs and graduate students for upcoming interviews. During those sessions, we practice the most frequently asked questions and develop a “tell me about yourself” elevator pitch. We also exercise our empathy by an “imagine yourself as an interviewer” role play. This activity serves two purposes: to see the hiring manager as a real person with specific needs, and to collect useful data to make the interview experience more relevant, memorable and fun.

For example, I ask a postdoc to imagine a hiring manager on the fifth Zoom call of the day at 4 p.m. on a Friday during a tough week. They are dealing with a lot of uncertainty while keeping the team afloat until the pandemic is over. Once imagined, we explore how this information could affect the interview dynamic.

In this case, we discuss how the postdoc could benefit from acknowledging the unfortunate timing and shortening the answers by getting straight to the point. Moreover, they could provide examples of handling uncertainty to ensure that joining a team in difficult times is a familiar experience. That sounds good, right? But how on earth can one guess these details during the real interview? The answer is to use deep listening, which comes when you empathize with a person on the other side of the conversation. Actively listening, observing and taking on the other person’s perspective shifts the focus from your rehearsed answers to your conversation partners' needs and wants. That leads to mutual understanding and an instant connection, making the interview experience more memorable and effective.

Self-empathy keeps us grounded during the job search. It has been a year since we learned what it means to be under constant pressure due to the pandemic and all the changes in our work and home lives. Some of us are facing uncertainty, anxiety and desperation when sending out application No. 51 to the black hole of HR portals. Experts suggest using self-compassion to treat yourself with kindness and support to handle such stressful situations and relieve suffering. But if you are like me, self-compassion might be a difficult concept to incorporate into your daily routine.

You could try a self-empathy shortcut aimed at observing your situation, collecting evidence and objectively yet open-heartedly analyzing where you are in the present moment. This gentle investigation allows you to look empathetically inward to acknowledge that you are not alone in the quest to obtain a job during these tumultuous times. Taking this perspective, you might find some comfort in reframing highly competitive and unstable job markets as shared learning experiences that bring us all together instead of splitting us apart. You might also realize that facing some type of hardship may build a character and momentum to pivot your career and examine opportunities you would have never considered before.

At this point, you might be curious if empathy is innate or can be acquired. The truth is, some of us, like the postdoc mentioned at the very beginning of this essay, are naturally good at picking up on others’ emotions and thoughts. Meanwhile, some of us, like myself, have to learn “to feel the feels.” Despite your natural abilities, I’d like to offer a few practices to get you started.

Deep listening requires listening with your ears, eyes and body not for what is said, but rather for what is unsaid. You can practice deep listening by setting up a short listening session with a friend or family member. During these sessions, ask, “How are you?” or “Tell me a story about …” Then pay attention to every word, gesture and pause. If you find yourself thinking and preparing the next questions, rather than focusing on what your conversation partner is saying, bring yourself back to the conversation and start over again.

Perspective-taking is aimed at understanding the perspective of the other person. To sharpen this skill, imagine yourself in the shoes of people who surround you -- a fellow researcher, colleague or bank teller. Ask yourself about what they might be thinking, feeling and experiencing. This exercise could be especially useful when facing a difficult conversation, because it creates an opportunity to hear the other side of the story, see yourself from a different point of view and examine your own assumptions about what happened.

Improv classes are for the bravest of us. Initially intimidating, then morphing into pure fun, in-person or online improvisation exercises create a judgment-free environment to practice empathy and connections with others through activities that teach humor and responsiveness. To build up the courage, I’d suggest incorporating some of the activities into your online social or birthday parties, combining silliness with undercover intentionality.

In my experience, developing empathy has been a slow but rewarding process. Over the last six years, developing and improving my own empathy has powered me to navigate complex environments, resolve conflicts and help many researchers to move forward with their goals. Choosing to listen and understand myself and others opened up a world full of sensations, emotions and insights. I am confident that expanding your empathetic repertoire will also bring you precious “aha” moments of support as we journey further into an unpredictable 2021.

Bio - Irina Filonova is a postdoctoral development specialist and a career coach at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan, and a member of the Graduate Career Consortium, an organization providing an international voice for graduate-level career and professional development leaders.

3/21/2021 - 5 ways to reach out to recruiters that feel refreshing

Here are a few nongimmicky approaches to piquing a hiring manager’s attention.

With the ongoing global pandemic creating a more challenging, competitive job market, the onus rests on candidates to proactively find ways to stand out to hiring managers in what is an employers’ marketplace.

During ordinary times, getting the attention of a manager is hard enough, but now, differentiating yourself from the competition is even more difficult with a lack of in-person interactions.

Here are five unique ways you can reach out to others that go beyond simply sending a cover letter and résumé without coming across as gimmicky or unprofessional.

Meeting face to face often enables you to create a stronger connection with someone. But when that’s not an option, consider sending a personalized prerecorded video message instead. Video platforms such as Loom, Vidyard, or Bonjoro allow you to easily create a simple video introduction that allows others to quickly put a face to your name.

For example, you could create a short video explaining why you’re interested in a specific company and why you would you be a great fit, says Biron Clark, founder of Career Sidekick. “A candidate used this tactic to approach me last year. While they didn’t end up having the right technical skill set, the video caught my attention immediately and prompted me to set up a phone interview less than 48 hours later.”

In lieu of in-person recruitment events, companies are having to get more creative with customer, community, and candidate engagement. This includes hosting online events, company-sponsored webinars, panel discussions, social media, and community forums.

Connecting with recruiters through online community forums or company-sponsored webinars can be a great way for candidates to authentically introduce themselves and open the door to career opportunities, according to Niall O’Rourke, VP of talent acquisition at Intuit. “Whether forging one-on-one connections or participating in community discussions, candidates can showcase their value in a more casual setting, participate in surveys and join events that speak to their interests and professional background, providing context beyond what can be expressed in a résumé.”

O’Rourke goes on to say Intuit keeps in touch with participants who join their company-sponsored webinars, inviting them to join Intuit’s online talent communities. Today, approximately 30% of software engineer hires at Intuit are existing members of their talent communities.

In your initial outreach to a company, instead of simply asking whether a recruiter or hiring manager is aware of a job opening, take the initiative to make a useful contribution to your target organization. “When you help someone solve a problem, they’ll remember you positively for your effort and be more willing to help you out in the future,” says Jon Hill, CEO and chairman of the Energists, an executive search firm.

Providing value could include offering to introduce someone to a relevant contact, referring a new customer, mentioning a useful event, relaying an opportunity, or even just sharing a useful article.

Contributing value conveys you’re proactive, which is a trait hiring managers appreciate, says Ro Kalonaros who sits on the global content and culture team at Omnicom. “I got a simple email from a job seeker who heard me speak at a virtual event recently and had come across an interesting article built on a topic I’d spoken about. That article was exactly what I needed for a presentation I was building. No gimmicks, just genuine [consideration] and real connection.”

Creating your own content online can demonstrate a track record of interest and passion about topics that could be relevant to an eventual target company and hirer. Maintaining a blog, self-publishing on LinkedIn, or creating valuable content on other social media platforms can be a way of reinforcing your personal brand with a prospective employer.

Michael Lowe, CEO of review website Car Passionate, explains that while résumés and cover letters can demonstrate a candidate’s professional background and understanding of their company, ascertaining what an individual knows about cars is difficult from these materials alone.

“We’ve received YouTube channel videos from online creators who work daily on their cars and have vast amounts of knowledge. We also receive résumés from bloggers who run their own car blogs which shows they already understand the work we are doing here.”

Lowe states sharing relevant content helps candidates stand out while also enabling Car Passionate to single out the best candidates during the recruitment process.

Although sending objects (such as flowers) to a hiring manager to get their attention could seem forced, awkward, or even inappropriate, mailing a thoughtful object that’s relevant to your target company or the role can really grab someone’s attention.

Jeff Neal, an operations manager, received over 100 résumés for a marketing position opening at their company. One candidate did some online research, discovered Neal liked fly fishing, and used this as a way to demonstrate his market research skills. “This candidate actually mailed his résumé with a packet of fly-fishing lures. I was very impressed and invited him in for an interview.”

Creativity can also go a long way in reinforcing your key skills in a way that’s hard to do with a résumé alone. Peter Gray, president of a real estate group, spent a previous decade in human resources. He says nearly any job application tactic, including employee referrals or even direct applications, fared better than online applications.

He shared an example of a candidate applying for a brand-building marketing role. “The applicant made a brand of water using his name. The ingredients were all of his positive attributes: hard work, creative, good team player, etc. I looked at his application for hours, compared to two seconds before deleting an online application.”

All these tactics take more effort than just firing off a quick email or résumé—and that’s sort of the point of customizing and focusing your approach. Your approach to the job hunt says a lot about your personal brand as a candidate. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, it demonstrates initiative and thoughtfulness.

Whether you choose to try out one of these tactics or simply stick with more traditional outreach, customizing your message based on your research on the company and role is critical to standing out. Remember that real effort is clear and still quite successful. So, don’t be afraid to approach someone in a unique way that may surprise and delight them; it might just be the thing that helps you get your foot in the door.

3/14/2021 - 6 career coaches share the best career advice they ever got

When it comes to career advice, these coaches have heard it all. Here, they share the best advice they ever received.

When it comes to evaluating career advice, few people are in a position to hear so much of it—and evaluate how it works out for the practitioners—than career coaches. Since they help their clients pore over strategies to advance their careers and look for their next jobs, they’re front and center when it comes to what works and what doesn’t.

Here, six career coaches share the best advice they ever got and how it helped them move forward in their own careers:

Too often, fear, impostor syndrome, or other challenges lead us to talk ourselves out of opportunities before we even have a shot at them. A better way: “Let them tell you ‘no,'” says Angelina Darrisaw, founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach, a firm that sources and trains coaches. “Getting a ‘yes to every promotion, raise, etc. is not likely, but a ‘no’ is certain if we don’t pursue it at all.”

Instead, embrace the risk it takes to pursue your goals or take a shot at something new, she says. Even if it doesn’t work out, you could get yourself noticed and open doors for future opportunities that may be a better fit. “Asking for things we feel unqualified or unprepared for is understandably risky and scary, but if we tell ourselves no, we will never get to hear a yes,” she says.

Early in her career, a manager had some advice for Jackie Mitchell: “You coworkers will relate to you and respect you more when you don’t hold your personality back.” Mitchell, now an executive career coach, says that sometimes we’re so buttoned-up and ‘professional’ that we “forget to have personality in our interactions with others.” Once Mitchell let more of herself shine through in her job and let herself show vulnerability, she found her relationships deepened and she expanded her circle of influence, she says.

Being vulnerable also nixes perfectionism, which undermines so many in the workplace, she says. Once, when she had to facilitate a tense meeting about project funding and budgets, her “nerves took over,” she says. “So, what did I do? I said, ‘Sorry, but this is an intimidating topic, especially since we’re over budget and I need to ask you for more funding.’ One of the executives said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re all nervous.’ This broke the ice, and we were all a bit more relaxed after that. And yes, I got the additional funding I needed for my project.” Being “human” on the job can make us more relatable, approachable, and successful.

Sometimes, a role or manager creates a situation that’s untenable, and it’s time to move on. As tempting as it may be to set the bridge ablaze as you walk out the door, it’s almost never a good idea, says career coach Kay White, author of The A to Z of Being Understood: Make Your Voice Heard and Your Conversations Count. “‘The person you throw under the bus today could be driving it tomorrow.’ That quote from Glenn Shepard encapsulates the best career advice I’ve ever received,” she says.

Sometimes, paths cross more often than you think. “Suddenly, as if by a cruel twist of fate, that person is working for the exact same person or team they thought they’d left behind. Or, that boss you wanted to leave behind, leaves too. Then joins your new firm, as your new boss, again,” she says. “One time, after a merger, when the teams were combined, the first person to be let go was the person who flounced out of our company to join the one we’d just merged with. The boss never forgot nor forgave.” Leaving on good terms may also leave the door open in case your new job isn’t what you expected and you end up wanting to return to your former employer at some point.

After a brutal layoff left her “crushed and shattered” roughly two decades ago, a simple question from her therapist changed Kathy Caprino’s life. “He said, ‘I know this looks like the worst crisis you’ve ever faced in your adult life, but from where I sit, it’s the first moment you can choose who you want to be. Now, who do you want to be?'” she recalls.

That pivotal moment set Caprino on the path to becoming a career and leadership coach and author of The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss. While she had no idea what else she could do professionally, she realized she wanted a career that would allow her to help others. Her therapist shared some Master’s degree programs in marriage and family therapy and she found the subject matter fascinating.

The reminder that she could choose her next steps, along with her therapist’s encouragement and suggestions, unlocked a new world of possibility for Caprino. Sometimes we forget that part. “[It] also gave me permission, finally, to believe I could build a happier career–that it was possible to have great success doing meaningful work that mattered to me,” she says.

Years ago, career coach Mark Anthony Dyson, host of the Voice of Job-Seekers podcast, scoffed at his former boss’s advice. She said that no matter how satisfied she was with her job, she always interviewed at another company at least once a year because those conversations kept her in touch with the skills she should be developing. The process also kept up her own interview skills in case she needed them.

Later, Dyson realized how relevant that advice was, especially in a turbulent job market. “It is hard to know-how industries will fare through remote work and an unexpected economic downturn from year to year. The practice of job interviewing helps you remain instantaneously marketable in any economy, even if you’re not on the market,” he says.

Nadia Ibrahim-Taney, now a career coach at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Business, felt very unsure of herself and her job skills early in her career. She turned to a career coach for help. The coach’s advice was simple, but life-changing: “In the job search journey, if you don’t believe you are hirable, you likely won’t be hired.”

Each week, her coach asked her: Why should someone hire you? “I had to give one new reason every meeting and over time, I practiced believing I could be hired, which led me to being confident enough to advocate for myself in hiring conversations and thus, successfully land a job,” she recalls.

If you don’t believe in what you are selling—especially when it’s yourself—it’s going to be hard to convince others to be interested, she says. And by strengthening her belief in herself and practicing through role-play, informational interviews, and formal interviews, she became a more confident professional, which led to promotions and peer recognition.

Gwen Moran is a writer, editor, and creator of Bloom Anywhere, a website for people who want to move up or move on. She writes about business, leadership, money, and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites

3/7/2021 - The rules of job-hunting have changed during the pandemic

The rules of job-hunting have changed during the pandemic—here are 3 ways to shift your approach
by Jennifer Liu 

The rules for finding a new job during the coronavirus pandemic are completely different from what they were a year ago, when the share of opportunities outnumbered the share of people looking for work, and going through a completely virtual hiring process was far from the norm.

But if landing a new gig in 2021 is on your priority list, career coaches offer their best tips to narrow your focus, make the right connections and ace your interview. Here’s how to readjust your plan to find work in the recovering job market.

Forget what you know about finding a new job

The best thing a job seeker can do is consider the new ways of networking, applying and interviewing for a job as opportunities rather than barriers, says Akhila Satish, CEO of the leadership training program Meseekna.

“The world has changed, and all the paradigms we thought we knew about the hiring process have been tossed up in the air,” she tells CNBC Make It. “Instead of letting that overwhelm you, use it to your advantage.”

For example, with more companies supporting remote work and finding talent with non-traditional backgrounds, you may be able to apply for positions you previously weren’t able to due to location or education.

Sarah Sheehan, co-founder of the career coaching app Bravely, recommends women and people from marginalized groups not underestimate their qualifications or work history. Research has shown women are less likely to apply to jobs unless they feel 100% qualified for the role, whereas men are more likely to go for the role even if they feel they’re not entirely qualified. As a former recruiter, Sheehan recalls, “A lot of times, the most successful people you hire are ones who haven’t done exactly what you’ve hired them to do.

“So often, skills are transferrable and may be a stronger match for the job than someone who’s done the job directly,” Sheehan adds.

Form a narrative around your accomplishments that relate to whatever job you’re seeking, Sheehan adds. Create a few different versions of a resume for different industries or types of roles you’re applying to, with each one highlighting the skills you’ve practiced in your past work and how they align with what you’ll bring to a new job.

Reverse-engineer your job search
If you have some time to think about where you want to take your career next, start by coming up with a list of companies you’d like to work for, rather than searching for new opportunities by job title.

Think: Whose work in your field do you admire? What employers are known for being a good place to grow in your career? Then, says Randstad RiseSmart career coach Wendy Braitman, connect with people in the organization. Check LinkedIn to see if you have any mutual contacts within the company, if recruiters are available to field informational questions or if former colleagues who have an in can make an introduction on your behalf.

Your goal should be to build relationships within the company and understand why people enjoy working there, Braitman says, even if there may not be an open job at the moment. By building this relationship, you may be able to get on the radar of a hiring manager or recruiter when an opportunity does arise. In any case, Braitman says, new jobs are often circulated internally for referrals before they’re posted publicly, so having an inside connection could get you in the running that much faster.

Another tip, she adds, is to set weekly networking goals that are firmly within your control, like reaching out to two new people every week. As someone who used to work in the entertainment business, Braitman says, “I’m a huge believer that it’s not just who you know, but also who you can know. Then build that network one person at a time.”

Don’t be desperate — and harness this instead
Jackie Mitchell, founder of Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting, is more blunt in her job-search advice: “You cannot be desperate in going after what you want,” she advises job seekers. “Hiring managers can smell that a mile away, and that puts you at a disadvantage,” such as a low-ball offer.

Instead, Mitchell says to turn the process on its head and empower yourself as a candidate: “Position yourself to be a problem-solver and solutions-provider as opposed to a job seeker.”

The distinction is subtle but powerful, Mitchell says. A job seeker goes into an interview simply looking to fill an open role, she explains, whereas a solutions-provider goes in on a fact-finding mission to determine how their skills align with the problem the employer is trying to solve. What is the main objective of the job? What new ideas can you bring to the table that will improve the role itself? And most importantly, how can you solve the employer’s biggest challenge at hand: Hiring the right person in a timely and cost-effective manner?

“It’s a different dynamic. That interview, when you’re coming from a problem-solving point of view, that’s more of a conversation,” Mitchell says.

Even if the role is outside your usual wheelhouse, focus on the tasks of the job that you find most purposeful, says Alexi Robichaux, CEO and co-founder of the professional coaching platform BetterUp.

“Managers are looking for people whose personal mission aligns with the company mission,” he says. In today’s labor market, that could be as simple as seeing a service job as a means to provide personal connection and compassion to customers. Speaking to these values, especially if they align with the employer’s mission, can “tip the scales” in your favor in a sea of qualified candidates, Robichaux adds.

2/28/2021 - 'Secret Shop' a Job Before Your Interview

by Sam Blum 

Perhaps the most frightening thing about starting a new job is not knowing whether you made the right decision. You could, for example, be baited and switched by an employer who lured you into a position with false promises, or suddenly feel pangs of buyer’s remorse once you realize that your old job offered a friendlier atmosphere than your new one.

Researching companies online has its shortcomings; there’s only so much you can glean from reading past employee reviews of a company on Glassdoor, so it’s best to be proactive when it comes to deciding if a job will ultimately be the right fit. To do that, you can shop a company discreetly, so the hiring manager won’t know that you’re snooping around for intel during the interview process.

Here’s how to go about gathering reconnaissance on a potential employer before you make that pivotal decision.

Talk to employees of the company
Find current or former employees of the company and pepper them with questions, as there’s little incentive for them to lie about their experience. If someone left their job after a number of years and still has a bad taste in their mouth, it might be a sign that the place harbored a toxic culture or might not look after its employees.

Ask questions that apply to your concerns. Don’t be shy if you want to ask about money, vacation time, health care plans, and basically every other vitally important aspect of a potential job offer. If someone worked at a place and is happy to relay their positive experience, take it as a good sign that you’re barking up the right tree.

When it comes to actually finding these people, consult LinkedIn and social media. Or just Google the person’s name. Most professionals have websites these days, and are generally easy to track down and open to talking shop.

Pretend to be a customer
Try pretending to be a customer to get a sense of how people in your prospective position operate. For example, if you’re applying for a position in insurance sales, try calling a representative and masquerading as a potential client. This way, you get a sense of the tools these sales reps employ, how they communicate, and the kind of tone and approach they may use over the phone. This might work best if you’re considering a position in sales, but if you can find a way to make it appropriate for another field, more power to you.

This can be a quick, 15-minute conversation where you pretend to be considering various offers, and decline to commit to anything. But it’ll be an instructive lesson in how you might approach an interview, if you take the call as a cue.

Talk to outsiders
Try to understand the broader reputation your prospective employer has within your industry. If it’s a well-known player, people who haven’t even worked at the company are bound to at least have a vague idea of the firm’s culture. Moreover, people removed from this potential employer are bound to have a more unfiltered and unbiased view. They won’t be inclined to protect friends who may have earned unflattering workplace reputations, nor will they be opposed to sharing company gossip that might irk an employee or ruffle the feathers of management.

Interview the hiring manager
Job interviews are a two-way street. At a minimum, you should be showing some kind of curiosity about the hiring manager’s long-term vision for your role, or how they’d like someone in your position to help them become better. If the questions you’re asked during an interview give you pause, or hint that you might not like working for someone, it’s best to tap into your more inquisitive side. As John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You Love, told the Harvard Business Review in 2014, ask targeted questions that speak to your concerns and curiosity. “Ask about turnover and find out what happened to the last person who did the job,” he said.

If they don’t seem to be interested in having a conversation about this, it might behoove you to think about looking elsewhere.

Trust your gut
There are certain intangibles that come with understanding if a job is going to be a good fit or not. People’s energy in an interview setting is a very real thing. You have to gauge work relationships not only in terms of their professional usefulness, but on more human levels, by asking yourself: “Could I actually tolerate spending 40 hours a week or more with these people?” Of course, nobody you work with has to be your best friend, but it helps when you get a good feeling about your potential colleagues.

2/21/2021 - Understanding the New Realities of Job Searching in the COVID-19 Era

By Susan Walton, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA 

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the job market isn’t looking good. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits remains at a near-record high and only half the jobs lost to the pandemic in the spring of 2020 have returned, the Associated Press reported in late November.

This double whammy paints a bleak picture for new PR professionals looking to advance their careers. For new college graduates, the outlook is even tougher. Many are seeing their job and internship offers deferred or rescinded.

While the PR profession is not immune to the current economic and employment downturn, we have tools to help us. Most important, we’re fortunate to work in “a profession of relationships,” says Ron Culp, APR, Fellow PRSA, a consultant and educator who is also professional director of the Graduate PR and Advertising Program at DePaul University in Chicago. “PR pros are inherently empathetic, and in this environment, they are more committed than ever to helping others.”

Especially for recent grads and early career PR people who are looking for jobs, professional relationships can make all the difference. But leveraging your network requires understanding the new realities of job-hunting in the pandemic era.

Network on LinkedIn and Twitter.
For the time being at least, coronavirus has changed or eliminated many traditional networking opportunities such as meetings and events. Now, “you have to find a way to establish and maintain connections in the virtual world,” Culp says.

As a result, social media networks have become more important than ever. Culp advises job-hunters to spend an hour a day focusing on the two primary channels of LinkedIn — which is fast becoming the heir apparent to the traditional résumé — and Twitter. Devote that hour to building quality content on your profile and establishing good connections, he says.

Understand intangibles.
Savvy job candidates have long made it a point to learn the qualities of an organization that are not easily defined, such as its culture, work style and expectations. But with virtual interviews over the internet you lose the opportunity to observe those intangibles, says Alyssa Boule, senior vice president of recruitment for Edelman in Washington, D.C.

“You can’t show up to the interview early, sit in the reception area and see how people act,” she says. “You can’t walk past conference rooms and see how colleagues collaborate.”

Job interviews conducted via video calls also change the questions you must ask, because you’re forced to gather information about those intangibles from other peoples’ experiences rather than your own, she says.

Boule recommends using your research skills and network to learn those answers before the interview. Find the company’s current or former employees on LinkedIn and reach out to them for insights, she says. Review the organization’s website for photos and other clues about its dress code and work environment. Read news articles about the company and its leadership.

Virtual environments can also affect your job-interview performance, so Boule advises practicing beforehand. “Make a video of yourself, and give it an honest critique,” she says. “Become more conscious of your body language, posture, and facial expressions.”

Deepen your relationships.
Now is the time to not only build and expand your professional network but also to nurture your existing contacts, says Andrew Cook, an associate for social impact at Weber Shandwick in Seattle and former national president of PRSSA. Meeting new people may be harder right now, but you can deepen your relationships with people in your network and ask them for help, he says.

Cook also advises setting up job alerts for the city where you live (or would like to live) and for specific companies that interest you. This targeted approach will give you a sense of the employment market and let you help other job-seekers bypassing postings along to them.

When you follow a company on social media, let them know you’re following them, Culp says. He recalls a former student who received a recruiting call from such an organization — not because the student had applied there, but because people from the company knew he was following them and saw that his skills matched their needs.

Understand what has not changed.
Despite the changes brought by COVID-19, some traditional job-search rules still apply. “Don’t apply online and then do nothing,” Boule says. “Follow up. If you don’t know anyone at the company, scour LinkedIn and find out who works in the practice area you’re targeting. Then, connect with those individuals and add them to your network.”

On the other hand, Boule also cautions against following up too often. If you’re in an active interview process, checking in once a week maybe OK, but ask the hiring manager upfront if that frequency will be acceptable, she says.

Remember that sending thank-you notes after job interviews is still in style. Email is the best option since many people aren’t in their offices to receive regular mail.

Wear your badge of resilience.
If the pandemic has slowed down your job search, use that time to your advantage, Cook suggests. “This is the moment to up your ‘hustle quotient,’” he says. “Find limited gig engagements, projects, volunteer opportunities, freelancing. Do things that reflect your skills. Write your own blog.”

Perhaps most important during the lull in your job search, “Make sure you’re not regressing” in your skills, he says.

If despite your best efforts you still find yourself with an employment gap, then don’t worry about it too much, Boule advises. “This is not the first time there’s been a hit to the economy,” she says. “Acknowledge that impact upfront: ‘My career has looked different than I thought it would, but it’s been a good learning experience.’ This is simply a part of your professional story. Proudly wear your badge of resilience.”

Above all, Culp adds, stay positive and proactive. “A powerful network of PR professionals is there to help you,” he says. “The best way to find them is by raising your hand.”

Susan Walton, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, is a PR faculty member at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

2/14/2021 - Should I Send My Resume as a PDF or Word Document?

by Sam Blum 

If you haven’t been out testing the waters of the job market for a long time, dusting off your resume may feel like unearthing a relic from centuries past. But once you have it ready, you might be wondering about the best potential format for dispersing it among all the employers who may want to hire you.

While using Microsoft Word may have been the best practice of years past, it’s a bit more common to send a resume as a PDF nowadays. There’s a number of advantages to using a PDF, but there’s still a host of employers who ask for Word documents for their own reasons.

Once you’ve got your resume up to an interview-ready standard, here’s how to navigate the potential job-hunting dilemma of resume format.

One PDF advantage is formatting
A PDF is basically a one-size-fits-all file that looks like same no matter the device you’ve used to download it. That isn’t really true for Word documents, as some of the trickery you’ve employed to give your resume a flash of personality can get jumbled from one computer to the next. The formatting will also change if the recipient has a different version of Word than you.

As Resume Coach explains, the quirks of passing a Word document across devices can present multiple headaches:

Often the margins are different sizes, a one-page resume can spill over onto the next page, fonts can appear differently (as the program may not have the font you chose), or even worse, your resume may just appear as undecipherable code.

If you’ve spent valuable time working on your resume, focusing on the resume format and layout, it would be tragic for an employer to open a messy resume instead of your well-produced resume. It gives entirely the wrong impression.

PDFs can also be locked and code-protected, which is a bonus if you’re weary of somebody, uh, sabotaging your candidacy.

When you might use a Word doc
If you’re emailing or DM’ing a recruiter or potential manager your resume, I’d recommend opting for a PDF, owing to all formatting advantages and the general ease of opening the document. But when it comes to applying on lots of company websites, you might want to opt for the Word route.

Many companies use applicant tracking software (ATS) that more readily scan Word documents. For example, you may have submitted a PDF on an online job listing only to find that your experience looks scattered and inscrutable once the system digests it and spits it back out.

As ZipJob explains:

When applying to a job online, the best format to send your resume in is usually a Word doc. This format is most easily read by the majority of applicant tracking systems (or ATS). While it is more and more common for companies to invest in more sophisticated ATS software that will parse your resume, you can be confident that virtually all ATS scans can read a .doc file.

Most ATS systems are compatible with PDFs nowadays, but it never hurts to be doubly sure.

Word docs are editable, for rare occasions
This happens more often with recruiters, who like to offer edits to resumes that can better augment your chances of getting a job. Since a PDF isn’t exactly a living document that anyone can change, you might want to send your resume to a recruiter in Word form, just so they can tinker with it and strengthen what’s necessary.

It’s good to have both on hand
I generally get by with PDFs, but one general best-practice remains true across the board for everyone: submit the format that the employer is asking for. Every company has its own policies and workflows, so you might be asked to submit a Word document one day and PDF the next. In my experience, most employers ask for PDFs, but there’s no telling if you’ll be asked for a different format at some point. It’s definitely best to have both.

2/7/2021 - What to Do After a Final-Round Job Interview

by Rebecca Knight 

You made it through the final-round job interview, and now you’re waiting to hear whether or not you’re hired. This stretch of time can feel like agony, so what should you do in the meantime? Is it appropriate and expected to send handwritten thank-you notes? Or is email better? If you thought of the perfect answer to one of the interview questions after the fact, should you reach out to the hiring manager? How long should you wait before following up to see if they’ve made a decision? And how do you avoid ruminating about the job while you wait?

What the Experts Say
This waiting period between your interview and the company’s decision is so stressful because often, “you and the organization do not share the same sense of urgency,” says John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of Get Ahead in Your New Job. While you’re singularly focused on whether or not you got the job, they have plenty of other things to deal with. Lees warns that during this time, you’re at risk of “counterproductive” behaviors, including doubting your own abilities, coming across to your prospective employer as desperate, and — perhaps worst of all — not pursuing other jobs. While the hiring decision is out of your hands at this point, you’re not powerless, according to John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University and author of 1000 Ways to Recruit Top Talent. There are some “immediate actions after an interview that can provide a candidate with a competitive advantage,” he says.

Say thank you.
Your most pressing post-interview duty is to thank the people who took the time to talk to you. According to Sullivan, the message should communicate that you’re even more excited about the job and confident that you want it. He also recommends personalizing the message by “mentioning something positive that happened during the interview.” If your interview took place at the company’s office, you could send an old-fashioned, pen-and-paper thank-you note, which Lees says offers a classy personal touch. If your interview took place virtually, it’s best to stick with digital communication. If you don’t have your interviewers’ contact information but communicated with someone else at the company to arrange the meeting, you can send that person an email letting them know how much you appreciate theirs and the interviewers’ time. Make sure to mention the people you spoke with by name and write your message with the assumption that it could be forwarded to them. You could also connect with your interviewers on LinkedIn and send them messages of thanks there.

Send follow-up materials.
In addition to a thank-you note, Sullivan recommends sending supporting material, including samples of your work that might’ve come up in the interview. “Sending additional information could strengthen your case and help sway their decision,” he says. Along those lines, Lees recommends sending a news article that’s pertinent to the organization. It could be about a technology the company is considering adopting, how the pandemic is impacting their business, or some other relevant trend. By doing so, “you’re subtly saying, ‘I understand your needs.’”

Resist the urge for a do-over.
It’s natural to mull over mistakes and questions you didn’t answer well after the interview, says Sullivan. “Everyone comes out of a job interview thinking, ‘I wish I had said this instead of that.’” The French expression, esprit d’escalier, which means thinking of a witty remark in hindsight, is apt, says Lees. And while it’s tempting to ring up the hiring manager to re-answer the interview question you flubbed, it’s wise to exercise restraint. While Lee concedes that your polished response might provide helpful information for the hiring manager, “the danger is you sound too needy.” Because that perfect reply is unlikely to be the thing that makes or breaks their decision, it’s best to leave it be.

…But occasionally make an exception.
According to Lees, the only exception to this rule is when you have something particularly useful to add to the conversation. If, for instance, you can connect a piece of relevant evidence about yourself to an organizational need, then it might be worth speaking up. Your tone is critical here. “It mustn’t sound like criticism of the process,” says Lees. Don’t imply that the interviewer neglected to ask you about a particular thing. Instead, go with something like, “‘I really enjoyed our conversation, and here’s another piece of information that’s come up since the interview you might you like to know about me.’” Lees emphasizes the importance of being “warm, professional, and brief.”

Seek positive distractions.
Waiting to hear whether you got the job can be stressful, but try not to dwell on it. While you wait it out, seek positive distractions. Cultivate your hobbies. Get some exercise. Dig into that juicy novel that’s sitting on your nightstand. Lees also recommends spending time with friends and colleagues who “elevate your self-image.” Talk with people in your professional network about how to generate ideas for different job possibilities. Ask them about mistakes they’ve seen other candidates make during the interview process. You can learn a lot about how not to “sound needy or over-communicate,” says Lees.

Do due diligence.
Another way to pass the time productively is to figure out whether or not you actually want the job should it become yours for the taking. Even without an offer, Lees says there’s information-gathering you can do in the meantime. You can “work your industry contacts to learn more about the job and the organization” behind the scenes, he says. Of course, “if you’re offered the job, you will scale that up” by doing even more due diligence since you’ll need to decide whether to take it. According to Sullivan, this is also a good time to “finalize your job acceptance criteria.” Set your minimum salary requirements and develop a plan for how you’ll negotiate other important details. The goal, he adds, “is to be prepared for the call that says they want you,” but be careful not to get your hopes up.

Keep your options open.
You also need to prepare yourself for negative news, says Lees. “There are dozens of arbitrary reasons that the job will not be offered to you. The organization might change direction; it might have a hiring freeze, or some senior manager could decide they don’t want to fill the position.” That’s why you need to continue to explore other opportunities. “Anticipate the flattening effects of rejection,” he says. “If you’ve got other conversations going, the rejection will have less impact. If you’ve put your life on hold, though, it’s much more of an emptying experience.”

Be judicious about when you follow up.
Deciding how long to wait before following up to see if the hiring manager has made a decision is tricky. “You don’t want to be in job-beggar mode,” says Lees, and checking in frequently could put you in a worse bargaining position. At your final interview, Sullivan recommends asking the hiring managers how long they anticipate it will be before an offer is made. “And if they say a week, double it, because things always take longer than planned,” he says. Still, it’s worth following up within the time frame they gave you to show that you’re still interested in the job, but “be respectful and don’t push.” An email that says something along the lines of, “No response necessary, I just want to let you know that I’m still interested,” could help you stand out from other candidates.

Principles to Remember
   Offer gratitude to the hiring manager, with either a handwritten note or an email.
   Provide backup support material, such as samples of your work, to strengthen your case.
   Spend your time productively by doing due diligence on the company and finalizing your personal job acceptance criteria.
   Ask for a do-over on a question you flubbed — unless you can offer highly relevant information that speaks to an organizational need.
   Let the stress get to you. Distract yourself during the waiting period by spending time with positive-minded friends.
   Stop looking for other jobs. Keep your options open by exploring other opportunities.

Advice in Practice
Case Study #1: Avoid ruminating by continuing to look for other jobs
Per Ohstrom says that he usually feels “a little bit nervous after that final round of interviews,” but that he does his best to remain calm and stay focused on other things.

He tells himself that he did his best. “I remind myself that I showed the interviewers how my background and experience are a good fit for the job,” he says. “Once it is out of my hands, there is nothing more I can do about it.”

Last year, Per interviewed to be the vice president of marketing at a Midwest-based B2B manufacturing company. After several rounds of interviews, Per was told that the job was between him and one other candidate. Per was excited about the opportunity, and he liked the people he interviewed with.

“The job was in my wheelhouse, and the company was well poised for growth,” he says. “I had a good feeling about getting an offer,” he says.

After his last interview, he wrote a thank-you email to the hiring manager reiterating his interest in the position.

Per says he avoided thinking about the job while he waited because he was in “active job-search mode” and too busy to ruminate. “I kept exploring other opportunities as if nothing had happened,” he says. “I kept sending CVs to recruiters, and I also went out for other interviews. It was an excellent way to keep myself occupied.”

A week later, Per found out that, unfortunately, the job offer went to the other candidate. “I felt a pang of disappointment,” he says. “But I reminded myself not to take it personally.”

Per kept networking for the right job, and earlier this year he joined Chief Outsiders as a fractional CMO, sharing his time between several industrial and B2B companies. “It is a great situation,” he says. “I get to use my deep marketing experience every day with customers that really need help.”

Case Study #2: Try to stay positive and keep your options open
Jack Garnier,* a financial industry veteran, has been looking for a new position during the pandemic, and he’s had his fair share of final-round interviews. He hasn’t been the chosen candidate yet, but he understands that the job search is a numbers game.

“It’s a recruiter’s market right now, and I accept that,” he says. “Most of the time, I may not be a fit, or there’s a [better] candidate, or the organization decides to go in a different direction. But it comes down to the pipeline: The more people I speak with, the more jobs I apply for, the more interviews I go on, the more likely I am to get a job. And all it takes is one.”

Two recent experiences with final-round interviews stand out in his mind. A few months ago, he was in the running to join a Bay Area hedge fund as COO. As a candidate, he was asked to take a series of online automated tests, create videos of himself to present to other employees, and interview with four members of the executive team.

“I invested quite a bit of time in the process,” he says.

He received positive feedback about his performance throughout, and he felt confident. At his last interview, the hiring manager told him that he was a finalist and intimated that Jack would hear from the company within a matter of days.

After those days passed, Jack sent a follow-up email expressing his interest in the job and asking whether a final decision was indeed imminent. In the meantime, he kept networking and looking for other jobs. “I wasn’t sitting by the phone all day long, though it was certainly on my mind.”

He never heard back from the hiring manager. “Clearly I had my answer,” he says. “Their silence was saying it all.”

Now, a month later, Jack is once again a finalist for a CFO job at a nonprofit. He sent thank-you emails to the executives he interviewed with and politely inquired about the organization’s timeline for making a decision. He was told that the decision would be made in a week.

“It’s not my MO to keep following up. I try to sway the recruiter during the interview stage and then accept [that it’s out of my hands],” he says. “It’s a balancing act: I don’t want to seem insecure, but I do want them to know that I want the job.”

For now, Jack is doing due diligence on the organization in case he’s offered the role, and he’s also applying for other positions. He wants to keep his options open.

He admits that the process can be frustrating at times. “Everything seems to be going in the right direction, and I build up my hopes,” he says. “Then the bubble bursts — it’s like getting your heart broken.”

But even when he feels dispirited, he remembers the odds: All it takes is one.

*not his real name

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston and a lecturer at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Financial Times.

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1/31/2021 - 7 Ways to Combat ‘Zoom Fatigue’

After a brief holiday respite, the video calls are back in earnest. Yet burning out on them can set back your career.

It is, by all accounts, a real problem. Zoom or any other video calls running back-to-back all business day, causing everything from eye strain to bad backs to irritability. Indeed, despite nearly a year of getting used to it, many employees at all levels say they’re still suffering from this rather awkward form of communicating.

But the harm is not only to people’s mental or physical side. Smart executives are realizing careers now hang in the balance—over not only how to use these platforms well but how to reduce the burnout they can cause. They can see that those who don’t Zoom well are losing the attention of their leaders or the people they are trying to lead.

To be sure, the problem may subside as more offices reopen and a vaccine emerges for widespread use. But with new government lockdowns emerging, and social distancing occurring even in open offices, video conferences and “Zoom fatigue” aren’t going away soon. Some steps that may help:

Set an agenda. Then follow it.

Meetings, video or otherwise, become tiresome when they go long or don’t accomplish anything. The odds of that happening increase when no one knows exactly what the meeting needs to accomplish. Experts suggest setting and sharing an agenda with all meeting participants before the call. Then, during the meeting, don’t feel badly about pulling back anyone who rambles or gets too far off track.

Of course, sometimes meetings have to be long due to what needs to be covered. That’s OK, says Ilene Gochman, a Korn Ferry senior client partner who was frequently using video conferences well before the pandemic. Try to keep each section of the meeting to less than 30 minutes. No video call, no matter how important the presentation is, should ever go for longer than two hours.

Hide your own video from yourself.

When you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, you only see their face, not yours. But on a video call, you see yourself too. It isn’t only you who may feel awkward or distracted, either. Seeing yourself on camera, psychologists say, can make you stressed about your own appearance, contributing to your feeling tired after video calls.

Zoom has a feature aptly named “hide myself” that allows other participants to see your video without your having to see it. When your video first comes onscreen, right-click it. A menu will pop up where you can select “Hide myself.”

Don’t let others see you, either.

Some psychologists theorize that the way video-call participants “look” at one another can actually contribute to fatigue. In real life, making eye contact with someone improves the chances each person will respond faster and like one another. On video calls, however, people only appear to make real eye contact; in reality, they are looking only at their own computer’s camera, says Jena Lee, MD, an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles. In effect, people are putting in the effort of making eye contact without actually getting the benefit of making eye contact. Turning off your own camera can eliminate that psychological disconnect.

At the same time, it takes a lot of effort to look interested and engaged during video calls. After several hours of Zooming, people can look stressed and haggard. “Leaders are beginning to understand that people can’t keep their Zoom face up all day,” says Korn Ferry’s Gochman. Unless it is a one-on-one or small group meeting, video is likely not necessary, she says. So just turn the camera off.

Touch up your appearance.

Can’t turn the camera off? Even if you are physically tired, you still can improve how you look on camera. Zoom has a touch-up function that works much like an Instagram filter, automatically adjusting light, color, and other settings to enhance your facial features. To enable this, go to “Settings,” then select “Video” and toggle on “Touch up my appearance.”

Work on your voice.

Much like people get tired of seeing themselves, they also can get frustrated hearing themselves. It’s why some experts suggest changing your voice—though they don’t mean silly accents or cartoon voices. Try speaking only when you breathe out, says Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People. “Make sure you speak when the air comes out to force your voice to eject more powerfully, increasing your vocal power in the process,” she says.

Schedule blocks of quiet time.

Meeting fatigue has existed long before video conferencing. Before the pandemic, there were about 11 million meetings in the United States each day, according to various research. The simple way to alleviate meeting overload, video or otherwise, is to block off time during the day when no one can schedule a meeting with you. Analysts say that limiting remote meetings can be critical to avoiding worker burnout.

There will be days, of course, where you have to speak to multiple people. Rather than making them all video calls, consider sharing documents and talking about them over the phone. You might work more efficiently and get a break from constantly being on camera.

Get up between meetings.

Don’t just do other work once the meeting is over. Get up. Stretch. Walk around. “Admit to yourself that we were not built to keep our faces centered in a small window for hours on end,” says Mark Royal, senior director at Korn Ferry Advisory. Recharging is important, Royal says, “even if it means turning off the camera or showing up a few minutes late for your seventh call of the day.”

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1/24/2021 - The 6 Biggest Mistakes Job-Seekers Make On Cover Letters

You tell a story with your cover letter. Make sure it's the right one.
By Monica Torres 

Writing a cover letter when you apply for a job is increasingly optional. In a 2017 Jobvite survey, 47% of job-seekers said they did not submit a cover letter with their application. And not every recruiter or hiring manager is going to read cover letters: In the same survey, only 1 in 4 recruiters said they were important for the hiring process.

But even when they’re not mandatory, career experts say, you shouldn’t skip a cover letter. Ashley Watkins, a job-search coach with corporate recruiting experience, said that’s the biggest mistake she sees job-seekers make.

“You miss that opportunity to either fill in some gaps or really give context to your reason for applying, your personal situation ― like if you want to relocate, if you want to change jobs. Anything that needs explaining,” Watkins said.

The goal of a good cover letter is to “succinctly, clearly prove that you are a fit for the job,” and to serve as “a narrative for the résumé,” said career strategist Linda Raynier.

Here’s how you may be telling the wrong kind of story with your cover letter, beyond not doing one to begin with.

Mistake 1: You don’t push past generic and boring.
If you copy/paste generic paragraphs about your interest in the company for every cover letter you use, hiring managers are going to notice.

Watkins said to avoid using templates. “If you Googled a cover letter, nine times out of ten, so did the other 100 people that you could be competing against,” she noted.

Too many cover letters are boring. “The reason no one reads cover letters anymore is because they all sound the same,” said job search strategist Melanie L. Denny. “Instead of opening with ‘I’m writing in response to the job ad I saw on Indeed,’ start with a more compelling opening or a thought-provoking question.”

To personalize your cover letter, write as if it’s a conversation between you and the hiring manager. “Pretend that that’s your only opportunity to say something to a hiring manager to convince them that you were the right fit for the role,” Watkins said.

Mistake 2: You make the letter too long.
Keep in mind that a recruiter may be skimming your cover letter alongside dozens of others. You want to grab their attention right away.

“Our attention spans are shrinking by the day. No one, especially a busy recruiter, has time to read a two-page essay about your career history,” Denny said. “I would advise 200 words or less. Be succinct, relevant and memorable.”

Mistake 3: You don’t sell yourself.
Don’t just make your cover letter a summary of what you’ve done in your career. Make it a persuasive story that shows why you are the best candidate for the job.

“Instead of going on and on about your credentials and years of experience like everyone else does, talk more about the impact you’ve made and how you can support them in overcoming their challenges,” Denny said.

What’s persuasive to a hiring manager is showing how you’re the problem-solver they need right now. “In your letter, especially in the opening, it’s important for you to show that you understand what the employer needs and how you’re the answer to that problem,” Watkins said.

For example, if you’re a tax accountant applying to a company that has known legal troubles, you can speak to how you have helped past employers from failing audits through solutions you designed.

Mistake 4: You talk about your soft skills, not technical ones.
“Too many people talk about soft skills on their cover letter, meaning they say, ‘I have great communication skills, I have great teamwork skills, I have great organizational skills,’ and as much as those are great, those are not the types of skills [recruiters are] looking for,” Raynier said.

Raynier noted that technical skills can back up soft skills. Instead of saying you are good at communication, for example, explain how you prepare reports for management.

Raynier recommended bringing up three to four technical skills you possess and making achievements you mention relevant to those key skills.

Mistake 5: You don’t proofread for typos and grammatical errors.
It can be easy to miss mistakes in your excitement as you rush to send off your job application. But typos and basic errors, like addressing the cover letter to the wrong person, can signal carelessness.

That’s why Watkins recommends waiting a day before you submit your job application materials so you can reread them the next day with fresh eyes.

“Tired eyes, excited eyes ― they miss things, because all you’re thinking about is the end goal. You’re not thinking that you made a mistake,” Watkins said.

Mistake 6: You don’t end with a call to action.
Watkins said that ideally, the beginning of your cover letter needs to grab a hiring manager’s attention, while the middle backs up the claims you made in the opening paragraph and the last paragraph sums it all up and ends with a call to action for what you want the reader to do next.

Watkins said these calls to action can be as simple as “I invite you to check out my LinkedIn profile” or “Happy to speak on the phone” with a summary of your availability. “What you say is implying that you’re looking for some form of communication,” Watkins said.

1/17/2021 - How To Get A Remote Job: Make These Changes To Your Résumé, Cover Letter and LinkedIn

You need to specifically target your job application if you want to work remotely. Here's how.
Monica Torres 

If you’re looking for a remote job to escape the dangers and drudgery of office life, you’re not alone. Competition is fierce right now. LinkedIn reported that the number of remote job listings has nearly tripled since March.

But landing a remote job requires more than simply telling friends and recruiters you want a post in which you can work from anywhere.

In job application materials, the focus should not be your personal journey, but on how your past virtual experiences and skills make you the best fit for this job.

“You must craft your résumé taking into consideration what the company needs and expects from you to succeed in the role,” said remote career consultant Fabrizia Zanca.

Here’s how to do it when you’re trying to go remote.

Your résumé needs to display specific language about working remotely.
Showcase any and all remote experience. You likely have more of this experience than you think.

“If you’ve worked at a distance from your coworkers, across time zones or physical distances, that counts. If you’ve worked from home occasionally or regularly, that counts,” said Brie Weiler Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs and “If you earned a degree or certification online, that counts. If you volunteered on a project where you did most of the work from your home office, that counts.“

You can include this in descriptions of your past jobs with a statement like, “Led a team of five customer service reps in a completely remote work environment, and successfully earned an average team satisfaction rating of 94%,” she said.

Clearly denote which past titles were remote with language like, “Director of Marketing (100% Remote Work),” Reynolds said.

Make sure your virtual tech skills are prominently displayed. Recruiters scan résumés quickly. If you know the company you are applying for is using a platform like Asana or Slack, you want to make it immediately clear that you know how to use it well.

List your expertise with remote tools at the top of the first page of your résumé or in a place where it is clearly displayed, said Zanca.

Don’t have virtual experience? There are ways to gain it. If you don’t have any experience with working apart from others and are making a radical career switch, don’t despair. Remote job coach Jordan Carroll, said you should first identify which skills you are missing for the roles you want by working with people who already work remotely.

“Make a list of the people in your network who are already in that role in some way. They may work virtually, or remotely, or they have a job they mostly do from the computer. They may be a business owner that has a company that hires people virtually,” Carroll said. Asking them to work with you may require you to do work for free, but by taking on some tasks in exchange for mentorship, you’re not only getting experience for your résumé, you’re getting real-world practice for the job you want.

Your cover letter should support why you’re a great remote worker.
The cover letter is not about you. It’s about how you can support the company. Remote job experts emphasized that your cover letter should support why you make a good remote worker, not why you personally want to work from home.

“The reason is not that you want to travel the world or be able to pick up your kids from school,” Zanca said.

Instead, the cover letter should present a business case. Zanca said you can make this case by describing how much your performance has advanced during whatever time during the pandemic you worked from home.

Keep in mind that hiring managers who scan your job application are looking for key remote skills. Job search coach Ashley Watkins said that when she was a recruiter for remote jobs, she focused interviews around determining whether candidates had the following skills: flexibility, such as responding to the unknown with little guidance and taking initiative; adaptability, such as managing shifting priorities, relationship-building and the ability to gain trust and buy-in from customers or leadership; the ability to prioritize multiple projects and the ability to close the loop on pending decisions.

“Providing clear examples of how you’ve been successful in each of these areas supports your request for a remote role,” said Watkins, adding that this approach works for both cover letters and résumés.

On LinkedIn, don’t just state you’re looking for remote work.
Make your profile headline a targeted pitch. “A LinkedIn profile is not about you. It’s about the people that are going to land on the profile,” Carroll said.

In the headline, “A lot of people write, ‘Seeking remote job opportunities.’ That is about the worst thing you can put there,” Carroll said, “because you’re only focused on yourself. You’ve wasted a chance to put any searchable keywords there. If a recruiter or a hiring manager were doing a search from the recruiting version of LinkedIn, they’re not searching, ‘Seeking [remote] opportunities’ in their search, they’re seeking the role title or the industry title.”

To improve your headline, Carroll said you should look for roles for which you would be a good fit, then use a site like Wordclouds to show you which keywords are used most in job descriptions for those roles. Use what you find to make your headline statement specific.

“The job seeker focus is, ‘How do I find those companies and connect with the people in the companies that are already championing remote work, and how do I display myself and articulate my value as a good fit for that role, remote or not,’” Carroll said.

Filling up the “About” section matters, too. Watkins said leaving the “About” section of your LinkedIn profile blank or just making it a sentence long is a common mistake she sees remote job seekers make.

“Even though the section of that profile is not searchable if you have enough keywords that fit the job posting that sends them to your profile, that ‘About’ section is a bonus because it lets them know about you the person,” Watkins said. “That’s where you make your connection to draw them in, to grab their attention, and entice them to reach out to you.”

1/10/2021 - How to answer a quirky question in a job interview

What flavor of ice cream do you see yourself as? How many pencils would fit in this room? These ‘fun’ questions can be stressful if you don’t have a plan.

If you’ve done plenty of job interviews before, you know that they tend to go better when you prepare by writing down and answering all the familiar, expected questions you might be asked.

But inevitably some questions will take you by surprise. In some interviews, you’re going to be asked to respond to totally crazy questions that seem connected to nothing in particular. They’re designed to see how you perform under pressure—and sometimes how creatively you think.

Your success in the interview will depend on how you deal with these oddball queries. Do you panic or do you respond with poise and clarity of thought?

Here are four ways to shine when you’re hit with wacky questions:

You can expect to have at least one far-fetched question in any job interview. Given the unpredictable world we live in, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly asking these off-the-wall questions to find employees with agility.

So they’re likely to throw you questions that take you by surprise and force you to respond quickly with a savvy answer.

Apple poses some of the most inventive oddball questions. It once asked a prospective quality assurance software engineer: “If you have two eggs, and you want to figure out what’s the highest floor from which you can drop the egg without breaking it, how would you do it?” Amazon does the same, having challenged a candidate with this question: “How would you solve problems if you were on Mars?” It hit another prospect with: “Amazon is a peculiar company. What is peculiar about you?”

Microsoft has asked “How would you move Mt. Fuji?” And Nestle has posed this one to a job candidate: “If you were a brick in a wall, which brick would you be and why?” Other questions high on the quirky scale might include “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?” Or “What flavor of ice cream do you see yourself as?”

When one of these questions comes your way, keep your composure. Recruiters ask these questions to see how candidates deal with stress. Show that you pass that test by keeping your cool!

Don’t screw up your face or respond with nervous body language. Nor should you comment on the question with “That’s a good question,” or “Wow, that’s a whopper of a question!” or “Where did that one come from?” If these are the first words out of your mouth, you’ll sound like you’ve been caught off guard.

Instead, take a deep breath and pause when one of those wild questions comes your way. You need time to collect your thoughts.

In answering, remember that the question may be wild, but your answer gives you a genuine opportunity to show your authentic self. So in answering, make sure you are true to who you are and your values.

View the question about what kind of tree you’d like to be as a test of your personality. How do you see yourself? You might respond that you’d be a leader, like mighty oak. Or you might suggest that you’d be an apple tree that produces fruit and adds beauty to the world when it blossoms every spring.

Asked to solve problems while on Mars, your first response might be to show concern for the safety of your team, given that the red planet provides such an inhospitable environment. That response demonstrates your leadership qualities and emphasizes that you’re a team player.

The question about which brick in a wall you’d like to be can draw out how your see yourself in relation to others. An aspiring CEO might want to be one of the highest bricks, one that the others look up to. An entrepreneur might want to be the first brick laid—a brick upon which the others find their purpose and future.

There are no right or wrong answers. But remember, your imaginative response will reflect your authentic self and your ability to tap into your core beliefs.

So if an Amazon interviewer tells you that Amazon is a peculiar company and asks what is peculiar about you, you might respond that you don’t see yourself as peculiar, but you do look at the world differently from most people. You challenge thinking and explore alternatives. This, you believe, makes you an asset to any company.

Let your imagination run wild with these puzzlers and have fun, but keep in mind that these crazy questions are also serious ones for the interviewer.

When you’re through answering a quirky question, you may wonder if you were too off-base with the answer. You’ll probably feel a little weird. But don’t ask for feedback about how well you did. If you look for praise or positive reinforcement from the hiring manager or recruiter, it will suggest that you were unnerved by the question.

Instead, show that you’re comfortable with your quirky answer and the values you have expressed. This will demonstrate your comfort in dealing with even the most outrageous situations that might arise at work. And these days demonstrating that resilience is high on every employer’s list. After all, it has been an outrageous year.

Judith Humphrey is founder of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She is a regular columnist for Fast Company and is the author of three books: Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (2018), Speaking as a Leader: How to Lead Every Time You Speak (2012), and Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed (2014)

1/3/2021 - LinkedIn Etiquette for Managers, Employees, and Recruiters

First tip: Don't send a message with just "hi!"

LinkedIn has 660 million users--and that number continues to creep up. With that many people, it's a fantastic place to network, share ideas, and even make new friendships. There are lots of options for interacting on LinkedIn, but some things people do may limit the usefulness of this career-focused social media site.

I spoke to a group of LinkedIn superusers. Many of them work as consultants, helping people maximize their effectiveness on LinkedIn. They gave me the inside scoop on what not to do on LinkedIn. I'll help you out with what to do instead:

Megan McCarthy: "I personally hate the people who connect and then all they say is 'Hey! How are you doing today?' Like, what does that mean?"

What to do instead: Send a meaningful message. It should be short and explain something about why you connected. "Hi. Thanks for accepting my connecting request. I see we both work in plastics, and I thought you would be a good person to follow."

Grace Judson: "The classic, of course, is sending connection requests without personalizing the message."
What to do instead: Only send connection requests that make sense--if you can't think of anything to say, then it's probably not a connection you should be making. People who work in the same field, or whom you find interesting, or even industry leaders are fine. But if you can't articulate a reason to connect, don't bother.

Kenneth Lang: "I hate all the automated connection requests I get. How do I know they're automated? They cut and paste my name, job title, and company name. Sometimes it's just a 'Hi,' with the request. Other times it could be 'Hi, [first name].' I've actually gotten those where the program sending these out doesn't fill in the [ ] -- I've collected some of my funniest ones for presentations I give."

What to do instead: Bots can't network for you. There has to be personal interaction, otherwise, it's like buying followers on Twitter. It may make you feel important, but it doesn't improve your business prospects. Every interaction needs to be personal.

Carla Deter: "For the job seeker (and during these times it's even more critical):

1) Venting about past or current work or colleagues
2) Posting or commenting strong opinions on touchy topics such as politics, topics of adversity, etc.

Each can have an impact on getting the interview, the job promotion, the job offer.
A negative digital footprint can be irrevocable."

What to do instead: Remember, people assume that if you talk trash about your last boss, you'll talk trash about your next one as well. Be honest but positive. And in an age in which there are so many political conflicts, it may be best to keep your content business-focused.

Karthick Richard: "Plagiarized content. Bit of a rap on your knuckles when you get called out."

What to do instead: Write your own content. Or share others' content by sharing their post, not copying and pasting. And, though Richard didn't mention it, don't makeup things either. Keep it real and honest.

Wendi Weiner: "[One] pet peeve is getting a connection request, accepting, and immediately getting sales pitches. Then, if I don't respond, I get two to three more before I have to tell the person I'm not interested. Now I just send them back a pitch for my writing and branding services. Reverse psychology."

What to do instead: It's OK to use LinkedIn for sales and recruitment, but remember that you need to build relationships first. Comment on people's posts. Write your own posts. Show how your product can be of use and build a relationship before pitching.

Donna Svei: "Failing to build out the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile.
People who use LinkedIn's Recruiter product often search for job candidates by skills. Thus, if you haven't listed your currently marketable skills and secured high-quality endorsements for them, your profile won't fare well on a skills search."

What to do instead: If you're job hunting, make sure your skills are up to date!

Hopefully these LinkedIn tips will help you have a more productive time on LinkedIn.


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Happy Holidays 2020 - 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 2021 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 Year to you and yours!

12/13/2020 - How emotional intelligence can help you find your next job

It’s all about knowing how to network, no matter what industry you work in.

The way we look for jobs has changed drastically over the last few years. While many jobs have always been filled by networking, that number has shot up of late. According to joint research conducted by LinkedIn, up to 85% of jobs are filled through networking. However, most candidates still spend the majority of their time looking for postings and applying directly. That time would be spent more effectively networking.

But just because you know you should network more doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. For some of us—especially those of us who are naturally more introverted—networking might feel especially daunting. It requires you to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. But with the right strategy, time, effort, and patience it can result in landing that job you’ve been after. Knowing someone in the company you want to work for helps, but by using your emotional intelligence, you can network effectively in order to find someone within the company who will give you an inside referral.

Almost all organizations would rather fill positions internally, through people they already know and trust, rather than taking what they consider the greater risk of hiring an outsider. Anna Schuliger and Melanie Feldman, creators of the Get Hired Course, have encouraged their clients to stop applying to jobs online, and instead to use the power of networking to take advantage of internal referral incentive programs.

You’ll be surprised by the reaction you can get when you message people the right way: One of their recent clients messaged the CEO of a company where she wanted to work, added value, and was hired the following week. No one thinks to message the CEO—but that’s kind of the point!

Here are things to consider when coming up with a networking plan:

Think strategically about all your social media profiles and posts from the perspective of a potential employer. Maybe your friends would think photos of your backyard party with loads of booze are cool, but it’s not likely to impress a prospective employer. Instead think of your achievements, awards you’ve received, teams you have been part of, and volunteer activities. Do your profiles and posts show someone who is active, engaged in healthy activities, good at working with others, and who cares about their community?

Use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to find people in your field, industry, or at the company you want to work for. Look closely at their profile for anything that you can connect with them on. Perhaps you graduated from the same college, have similar goals, interests, or career trajectories. When you reach out to them, offer a sincere compliment, something that impresses you or that you would like to emulate. It feels good to be flattered. Just be careful to not overdo it—coming across as insincere is a turnoff.

Once you have a connection, ask if you can have a few minutes of their time to ask some questions. Let them know that you recognize that their time is valuable and you would appreciate just a few minutes. In non-pandemic times, face-to-face meetings provide the best opportunity to make a strong connection and be memorable. Offer to buy them coffee or lunch if possible. An online meeting on Zoom or Skype where you can see each other is the best second choice. If they agree, be well prepared with questions. Make it about them, not you.

This is not the time to ask about job opportunities or to pitch yourself. You’re gathering information and making a connection that you hope will lead to furthering your goals down the line. People love to talk about themselves and their achievements when they don’t feel pressured. Listen attentively and look for opportunities to probe and go deeper.

Look for opportunities to offer to do something for them. Perhaps you have written something in an area that they have an interest in. Whenever someone sends me a connection request on LinkedIn, I always send a reply thanking them and asking if there is anything that I can do for them. This has led to many valuable connections and partnerships. Always follow up your meeting with a thank-you note. If possible, send a handwritten note; so few people do this anymore, so it will help you stand out.

A proverb says that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. Think of networking in the same way. The sooner you start, the more potential results will come your way. Start networking even when you are not looking for a job. Think ahead and plan where you want to be and network strategically to that point. Keep the connection alive by looking for opportunities to support the people in your network.

Do they have a book? Get a copy. And if you like the book, write a positive review and let them know. Comment on their blogs and posts. If your connection is strong, keep them updated on your career. Compliment them on any promotions they receive. Persistence is the key. Not every connection will lead somewhere. But even if it doesn’t, you’ve lost nothing; in fact, you’ve gained experience that will help you fine-tune your future efforts. Remember that you may be only one well-placed connection away from the job of your dreams.

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, author and speaker.

12/6/2020 - This hiring manager says she will only hire people who stop and do this in an interview

by Una Dabiero 

It can be difficult to pin exactly down what interviewers are looking for from a job candidate.

There are heaps of interview advice articles floating around online, often giving detailed advice on how to sell yourself. In the past, reading these articles has made me feel like a robot who’s being judged on how well they can synthesize a bunch of tips and tricks by another robot.

But the truth is, your interviewer’s human impression of you goes a long way. Unless you make a true faux pax or really can’t get your value add across — and those are mistakes you can avoid by reading detailed advice online — it’s the first impression that matters the most.

That’s why I loved the criteria Samantha Moss, Editor & Content Ambassador at Romantific, sets for the candidates she interviews. For Moss, it’s not about how quickly a job candidate can make a case for themselves or how much they know it all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“As someone in charge of hiring in our company, the one thing I look for in interviews is how an applicant pauses before answering a question,” Moss shared with Fairygodboss.

Moss says this gives her a strong impression of someone’s interest in the role.

“This reveals how deep in thought the applicant is and if they are really serious about getting the position. An applicant who isn’t really interested in the position would not pause to think too much; rather, they would rush to answer. On the other hand, when an applicant really really likes the position, they would pause and you can see on their faces that they are really thinking about what they’ll tell you so that they can give you the best possible answer.”

Moss would probably advise you take the time to really parse out what your interviewer wants and answer their questions thoughtfully instead of using a script or bursting out in statistics from your resume. In other words, it’s OK to not have it all figured out before you take the dive.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice

11/29/2020 - How to Figure Out Whether Your Values Align With a Prospective Employer's

by Elizabeth Yuko 

So you’ve the hit the point in your job search when you’re asked to interview with a prospective employer. Considering how many applications are either ignored, or filtered out before they make it in front of an actual human, getting an interview is itself a win.

By now you’re probably familiar with the concept of using job interviews as a way not only to express why you’re right for the position, but also figure out if the organization is right for you. Typically, the focus is on finding out whether the company culture is a fit for you—and that’s certainly important. But so is the company’s values, Kristi Hedges, a senior leadership coach who specializes in executive communications, wrote in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Here’s how to determine what an organization’s values are, and whether they mesh with your own.

Culture vs. values
What’s the difference between a company’s culture and their values? Here’s how Hedges explains it:

Culture determines how work gets done, but values show how companies prioritize, make decisions, and reconcile conflict. A culture may celebrate innovation, but values determine what gets sacrificed in the pursuit of it.

According to Hedges, learning about an organization’s values is a three-step process, involving the following:

1. Identify your own values
First, you have to determine which values are most important to you. As Hedges explains, in this context, your values are “the tenets that are central to who you want to be in the world. If they are infringed upon, you will feel it acutely.” A few examples include honesty, integrity, positivity, quality, service and trust.

2. Make a list of questions
Before the interview, Hedges suggests putting together some questions that will reveal the values a company prioritizes. “These are typically open-ended questions that ask the interviewer to provide specific examples,” she writes. “The goal is to elicit information that you can compare to your own values—not to ask for confirmation.”

This means staying away from leading questions, like “I value honesty—can you give me an example of how honesty is valued here?” and going with some of the following, courtesy of Hedges:

Feel free to ask follow-up questions, including requesting specifics.

3. Rate the interview
As soon as you finish the interview and have a minute, take some time to rank the company’s responses to each of the questions about your core values. Hedges offers this 1-5 scale to assess the interview:

When you’re done, you should have a better idea of whether the company is a fit for you, based on shared values. Unfortunately, this isn’t a guarantee everything will always line up, but at least it should help minimize surprises.

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is a bioethicist and adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham University. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, CNN.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020 - 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.

(New for 2020) We give thanks for Zoom, Facetime, Teams, Google Meets, and others, for options to continue to meet online when we can not meet in person.

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

11/15/2020 - This Is How Lawyers and Clients Look Good on Video Calls

(NOTE from CareerDFW...this article is written for Attorneys and their Clients...but many of the tips apply to job seekers as well.)

WEBCAM TIPS By Scott Brennan 

Despite the occasional frozen screen or mute button mishap, after months of videoconferencing, most of us have the hang of it. The novelty has worn off and, honestly, it can be painful to be in a meeting with someone who is just figuring out how to use the conferencing platform, or work their mic, or share their screen. OK, obviously, you know how to handle yourself and look good on video calls, but what about your clients? Here are handy reminders from Lexicon’s Scott Brennan for making sure you are both webcam ready.

Webcam Reminders for Lawyers
Using a webcam successfully requires understanding how the basic technology works, along with adequate preparation and some tweaks to speaking styles and body language.

First, the logistical aspects:

Lighting. Generally, you want to avoid only being lit from behind, above or underneath. Light should come from a source directly in front of you, and it shouldn’t be too bright. Invest in a ring light designed for a webcam if your lighting conditions aren’t ideal.

Microphone. After lighting, the sound is the most important aspect to get right in a webcam meeting. It’s a good idea to use a separate wired microphone for this. Built-in computer mics are notoriously unreliable, and a Bluetooth connection can fail.

Camera positioning and surroundings. Position the camera in front of you and slightly above eye level. Then, look around at your space. You don’t want clutter in the background or anything that would be inappropriate. Ensure there aren’t confidential documents in view, either. Placing yourself in front of a wall is always a good choice, or have a bookcase in the background — just be sure there’s nothing embarrassing on the shelves!

Once the technical and logistical things are in place, it’s important to practice and prepare (and prepare and prepare and prepare) for video calls — especially if you are new to video or using a new platform. Just as you would practice opening and closing arguments, there should be dry runs for webcam meetings, particularly important client calls and court appearances. Play around with the software, do a test meeting with a colleague, and make sure everything works well ahead of time.

Here are a few more things to consider:

Don’t multitask. Yes, others can see your eyes dart to the side to look at a notification or your fingers work the keyboard to dash off an email. Don’t do that.

Mute all notifications and silence all phones for the duration of the meeting so your focus doesn’t wander.

Remember you are on video and that other participants can see what you’re doing. This is not the time to wolf down lunch or make exaggerated eye rolls when you don’t like what someone else says. Be professional.

Dress appropriately. Treat video calls like any other professional setting. Show up in business attire or at least business casual attire. And, yes, please wear pants. We’ve all seen the viral videos. You don’t want to star in one.

Be aware of your gestures. If you talk with your hands or rely on body language and gestures to make points, you may have to adapt that for video. Avoid moving your arms out of the frame and make your points with smaller movements.

Webcam Tips for Clients
In addition to getting yourself webcam ready, take these steps to make sure your clients are prepared to appear on video, too:

Do as you do. Every time a client is going to appear on a webcam, for either a meeting or court appearance, ensure that you’ve taken them through the same preparation you’ve done. And, insist on a pre-meeting on video before the actual call so you can check their appearance, clothing, background and deal with any technical issues. Encourage them to have a glass of water and maybe tissues beside them but limit other distractions around them.

Don’t forget your usual pre-hearing preparation. Just as you would for an in-person hearing, go through your usual preparation for a client’s court appearance on webcam. Walk through expected questions, offer body language tips and the like. This would be part of the billable work you’d normally do for any hearing involving a client, so it should be done here, too.

Don’t use the conference platform’s chat functions. It might be tempting to shoot a client a quick message using the text chat function offered by most conferencing platforms. Don’t. Not only is it not secure, it might also distract the client. If you absolutely must message them, do it with an email or a mobile phone text message.

Video calls and virtual conferences are here to stay. While they will never completely replace in-person meetings, there is no reason webcam meetings can’t be just as productive and successful. Just a few logical steps —for both attorneys and their clients—can make all the difference.

11/8/2020 - Zoom Etiquette

By Peggy S. Bud, Speaking Skillfully

Can you remember before COVID 19 when we attended face to face meetings or professional events? Yes, there was a time when you could actually meet with a potential employer, shake hands and have a conversation. You could join a friend for lunch, coffee or a drink; have a conversation without wearing a mask or worrying about getting sick.

The logistics of getting to a meeting was something we all considered. You probably used technology to determine how long it would take to get there. Using your GPS for both directions and estimated travel time, you were able to be punctual. If you were like me, you allotted extra time for unforeseen traffic issues, finding a parking spot, or getting lost. I would try to get to the meeting a little early because it meant more time for networking. When attending a business meeting or interview, arriving early meant I could freshen up and collect my thoughts before the meeting.

I’m baffled how many people arrive for a ZOOM meeting at the precise time it was scheduled and often up to 10 minutes late. They don’t seem to be aware of proper ZOOM etiquette. If they are going to be late or need to leave early, they should notify the host ahead of time. Otherwise, they should arrive to a meeting a few minutes ahead of schedule.

Technology can and will fail. Never assume it’s going to work like it did yesterday or earlier in the day. The lighting isn’t right; different time of day. The colors I’m wearing wash me out. My volume is too loud or too soft. Preparing is part of good ZOOM etiquette. Check for technical issues before every meeting; software updates, microphone problems, camera issues. Participating in a ZOOM call takes planning. Arriving early is best practice. It gives you the opportunity to do a final check on ‘how you look on video’ before clicking “Join a meeting.”

ZOOM calls can be tiring, allowing for breaks between calls is essential and is part of the preparation. I suggest about a 20-minute break between calls. Use the time to walk around, freshen up, drink some water. Hydration helps your appearance. Log on about 10 minutes before the call. Check out how you look and sound before joining the meeting. I realize you might have to spend a few minutes in the waiting room. Sometimes the host will admit you when you arrive early, giving you a chance to chat with the host or other early arriving participants. Isn’t this what you did when attending a face to face meeting in the past?

Being aware of good ZOOM etiquette is important. It’s new to our lives. It takes practice. You only get one chance to make a great first impression, which begins with how you look and sound. Confidence and success are the result of planning, preparing and practice. What others see as you enter the meeting is your professional virtual image. Make sure it is a winning image!

About Peggy Bud: Peggy is a Communication Coach, Trainer and Speaker. She coaches and trains clients on how to Skillfully Participate in a Video Call by using her knowledge of the cognitive-neuroscience of language. She teaches clients Effective Communication strategies and techniques; enhancing written and oral communication, developing listening skills, creating concise and powerful resumes and memorable elevator pitches. Clients come from a variety of industries (medical, legal, financial, insurance, engineering, and education). She has spoken at National Conferences, Women’s Summits, Rotary Clubs and Libraries. She can be reached at Visit her website:

11/1/2020 - LinkedIn's new tool helps users make a career change through overlapping skills

by Coral Murphy - USA TODAY 

LinkedIn launched a new tool aimed towards helping recently unemployed Americans make a career change.

The business social network unveiled the Career Explorer feature, which displays careers job seekers can transition into by finding skills that overlap with their previous jobs. The tool ranks the skills in order of importance depending on the job position.

LinkedIn users can also identify skills that they would need to build to make the career pivot they want. Once a user clicks on a skill they need to build, they are launched to a list of LinkedIn courses users can take to improve that skill.

The feature also shows the popularity rate for a specific career transition, and helps users connect with people in the field they are interested in through LinkedIn.

"We know that the majority of hiring managers say that soft skills are equally or more important to hire for than hard skills," said LinkedIn's Career Expert, Blair Heitmann. "Soft skills like communication and problem solving are especially important because they translate across industries and have become increasingly more valuable to employers as COVID continues to change the way we work."

The move comes as 8.4 million Americans continue to receive unemployment benefits due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurant and retail workers are among the hardest hit as lockdowns temporarily closed businesses in these industries, while some closed for good.

According to LinkedIn, the new tool can help food servers make the transition to a customer service role. The company said there is a 71% skills similarity between the two roles, with some of them including customer service, time management, teamwork, cashiering and others.

As for a store manager, the networking platform found the job position has a high similarity with a salesperson role. The tool identified retail, inventory management, merchandising and others as common skills, and highlighted customer service, Microsoft Office, sales operation and others as skills to build.

Over 45% of job seekers have not tried to make a career change because they don't know where to start, while 33% don't think they are qualified for the industry, according to a LinkedIn and CensusWide survey. Over a third of those surveyed also believe they don't have the connections in other industries.

The new tool is also part of LinkedIn's initiative, in partnership with Microsoft, aimed at teaching digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of this year by giving free access to training sessions. Some of the sessions include software development, graphic design and financial analysis.

10/25/2020 - 3 ways to ensure you communicate your potential in a job interview

Having potential and being able to communicate that potential are two different things. Here’s how to get your potential to shine through in your next job interview.

In the spring of 2019, I interviewed a job candidate with no software sales experience for a software sales position. She had scored some impressive sales wins at two national restaurant chains over the course of her career, but I had to figure out if she had what it took to succeed at a growing HR tech start-up.

“Can you describe a time when you displayed creative problem-solving?” I asked her.

The story she proceeded to tell gave me goosebumps.

January is typically one of the slowest months for restaurants, especially those that generate a lot of business from large groups of business travelers. Since this woman’s main role was selling private event space at a steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis (and there are no big industry conferences in January), she knew she would have to get creative to hit her quota. After doing some research, she found that professional basketball games were the only events happening downtown in the frigid weeks following New Year’s. But NBA teams need to eat too, right?

After several weeks of phone calls and emails to team managers, she finally got a “bite” from the travel manager for San Francisco’s NBA team. But there was a catch. He wanted a catered meal delivered to the stadium in Indianapolis before a game happening the very next day. She had never arranged a catered steak dinner before, much less to the stadium with less than 24 hours notice. But thanks to her hustle, she not only pulled it off and met her January sales quota, but also made a repeat customer out of the Golden State Warriors.

Needless to say, she got the job.

Potential is something most hiring managers look for when filling a position. Sometimes, a candidate’s potential is even more important than experience. But “potential” can be hard to define. The dictionary definition—the capacity to become or develop into something in the future—rings hollow compared to the experience of interviewing a job candidate that radiates potential.

I’ve found that people with potential are people in motion—those who aren’t content maintaining the status quo and seek continual growth and improvement. Potential says, “I’m not a finished product.”

But having potential and being able to communicate that potential are two different things. Here are three ways to ensure that your potential shines through in your next job interview.

I believe everyone has a “thread” that has been constant throughout the fabric of your career. This thread is what drives and motivates you—what you feel you were put on this earth to do—that’s been present in every role you’ve held. My common thread is unlocking people’s potential. I’ve occupied some very different roles in my career—I’ve been a pastor, a professor, a vice president of sales, and a human resources chief—but my core motivation has been the same through them all.

Find that common thread in your career and give it a tug. Think about how it aligns with the role you’re applying for. And consider how to convey that the open position is the next logical step in your career journey. Most modern companies want to hire people with momentum—people who know where they’re going in life or at least have a vague idea of an ultimate career goal. I want to know the direction people are growing in, and understand why they think the open role is their next step.

Telling stories is the most powerful way to communicate information. According to famed author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins, “The power of a single story goes far beyond simply relaying facts and data. Stories emotionalize information. They give color and depth to otherwise bland material and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.”

To communicate your true potential in a job interview, consider preparing a few stories that give “color and depth” to your professional experiences. Think about a time when you demonstrated creative problem-solving, your biggest professional achievement, or an instance when you had a tough decision to make.

Next, run the story through the STARL framework. STARL stands for situation, task, action, results, and learning. To really shine a spotlight on your potential, spend plenty of time on the “L” and refine the lessons you learned. In interviews, I love asking questions like, “what would you do differently?” and “name an opportunity that you could have handled better.”

These questions open the floor for the candidate to showcase their ability to critically assess the past and imagine a different future. That’s a foundational aspect of a growth mindset. It’s tempting to go into an interview and try to cast an aura of perfection, as opposed to sharing what you learned and what they would have done differently. But sharing those insights, while it may feel vulnerable, takes a lot of self-awareness and shows that the candidate is willing to learn.

At the end of the day, the candidate is responsible for making the interview a positive experience. Only you can control what it feels like to talk to you. Consider practicing your stories on a friend to get some feedback, or recording a video of yourself answering some common interview questions. Both of these approaches may feel wildly uncomfortable, but will help you understand how you “show up.” Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal, after all, so if your body language is at odds with what’s coming out of your mouth, you may want to break some bad habits before the interview. But, above all else, remember to be yourself.

Companies want to hire humans with breadth and depth of experiences, perspectives, attitudes, and opinions. It’s okay to show your personality in an interview. In fact, I encourage it because you will never bore someone into hiring you.

At the end of the day, communicating your potential starts with believing in your potential. Establish the right balance between confidence and humility, and you’ll leave the hiring manager thinking, “equipped with the right resources, this person could accomplish something truly great for our organization.”

Adam Weber is the cofounder and chief people officer of Emplify, an employee engagement measurement company, and author of Lead Like a Human.


10/18/2020 - 4 tips for sustaining hiring momentum through COVID

Six months into the pandemic, SimpliSafe’s HR leader reflects on the company's recruiting and hiring growth.
By: Larry Jacobson 

To say that the business world has been turned upside-down over the last six months would be an understatement. With the onset of COVID-19, we witnessed a swift downturn in the global economy, with unemployment surging to 21.3 million and recent data from SimpliSafe and Hippo indicating that more than one-fifth of U.S. homeowners feel less secure about their job situation than this time last year. Not only were the industries and businesses struggling prior to COVID impacted greatly, like popular retailers and multinational tech giants, but so, too, were the ones that were thriving, like leaders in the travel and fitness industries.

Many of the businesses that we’re seeing weather the storm successfully are those that address consumer needs, not wants—the products and services that make this “new normal” possible, like grocery delivery apps, remote work tech solutions and smart home security.

At SimpliSafe, we’ve seen sales steadily increase throughout the pandemic, and as sales have surged, so have our recruiting efforts. We’ve conducted nearly 1,200 candidate phone interviews, 280 virtual video interviews and hired nearly 75 employees in the last quarter alone. However, even though we have been able to grow our business during this unprecedented time, we, too, have faced complex challenges when it comes to recruiting and hiring. Here are four key lessons I’ve learned six months into the pandemic.

Hiring isn’t easy right now.
With nearly 10% of working-age Americans currently unemployed according to the latest jobs report, you might reasonably believe that finding talent is “easy” at the moment; however, that is not the case. As a growing number of companies, like Twitter, Zillow and Square, express a willingness to hire remotely, the competition for talent is no longer restricted by office locations and headquarters.

This presents a double-edged sword. On the one hand, many companies now have access to a wide pool of qualified candidates and prospects from San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, New York and beyond, but so do other tech giants across the country. The world of companies that applicants are interviewing with has dramatically expanded, and it’s created a race to snatch top talent.

On top of that, strong talent that is still employed has become increasingly difficult to recruit, as they are more likely to see a change as a huge leap of faith during this uncertain economy and time. It makes sense when you consider that over half of Americans are feeling less financially secure than they were last year, according to the research from SimpliSafe and Hippo. Those who may have been considering a change are likely to stay the course, making it that much more difficult for companies to communicate that what they’re offering is competitive and “worth the risk.”

Create and communicate your workplace culture, even if the workplace is virtual.
Understanding an organization’s culture and hiring for cultural fit has been one of the most challenging parts of the interview process going virtual, for both job seekers and employers. From the employer’s perspective, it’s more important now than ever to be very intentional about communicating your culture, knowing candidates no longer have the benefit of sitting in the waiting room and observing lunchtime, hallway conversations or meetings in progress. On top of that, the elements of culture that are important to communicate to job seekers have evolved, given the current state. Rather than focusing on pre-COVID perks like free bagels, catered Friday lunches and happy hours, focus on a culture of collaboration, communication and respect, and how those values continue to be lived out virtually.

While the majority of corporate work may be remote for the foreseeable future, culture remains of utmost importance to candidates, and people are hungry for meaningful work. The shock of something like a global health crisis makes people take a step back and think about how they’re spending their time. While not a new concept, we’re seeing surging interest among job seekers in working for mission-based organizations and companies whose values align with their individual values. Additionally, the way in which companies navigate difficult times speaks volumes to “what they’re made of,” so to speak.

Virtual recruiting is here to stay.
Virtual recruiting is one of the mainstays of this “new normal” that has drastically impacted talent acquisition, and I anticipate it will continue to play a significant role post-COVID. The current state has forced us to realize that modern video technology is both seamless and intuitive. On top of that, it provides a way to read a candidate’s facial expressions and body language and get to know them a bit more dynamically.

From a logistical perspective, virtual recruiting can help compress the interview process and convert new hires more quickly, as it eliminates many of the headaches associated with coordinating interview schedules. That being said, there is still significant value to in-person interviewing and recruiting, and I suspect that many companies will adopt a hybrid format, especially when it comes to executive and C-level hires.

Stay on the offensive–regardless of your current needs.
As mentioned above, with unemployment numbers historically high, it’s easy to develop a false sense of security, but the employers that will be most successful are those that stay on the offensive and take advantage of every opportunity to recruit, hire and retain top talent. Continue to be proactively engaged with talent communities that are relevant to your business, even if your ability to hire has been stifled due to the economic downturn. Keep job seekers engaged as much as possible so they’re the first to apply when things improve and you can activate your recruiting strategy more quickly.

The recruiting world has always been an ever-evolving one. Just a decade ago, promoting a new job listing on Twitter or Facebook was considered novel. Now, many employers, including SimpliSafe, lead full digital campaigns to attract and engage potential candidates, constantly tweaking our presentation to stand out against the competition. Over the course of my recruiting career, I’ve changed tactics, talk-tracks and channels to help source and recruit the best talent for a company. As HR professionals, it is imperative that we be nimble and responsive to factors like the economic landscape, shifting job-seeker behavior and more. The pandemic is the latest thing we need to respond to and, while it has not come without challenges, it has encouraged—and forced—us to think beyond our creative scope and innovate at a faster clip.

Larry Jacobson is global head of talent acquisition at SimpliSafe.

10/11/2020 - How candidates are using background props to stand out in video interviews

Remote backgrounds offer new real estate to showcase your personality in remote interviews, but is there a downside?

My friend Mike recently applied for a job in marketing and communications at a video game company that asked candidates to demonstrate their creativity and deep knowledge of “nerd culture.”

The role is a great fit for Mike, who has obsessed over comic books, science fiction, and video games since we were in high school together. But before the pandemic the interviewer would have had to take his word for it. Since the interview was conducted remotely, however, he got an opportunity to prove it.

Before the interview Mike set up a display of his Funko figurines in clear view of the camera, featuring characters from his favorite comic books, video games, and sci-fi films.

“People in this nerd culture, a lot of them collect these,” says Mike, who prefers not to use his last name, as his current employer doesn’t know he’s interviewing elsewhere. “The goal was to subtly show that I’m into this culture, that I do have that ‘nerd’ background that they’re looking for.”

Most advice for making a good impression in a remote interview mentions keeping the space in view of the camera clear of clutter and potential distractions. As video-based interviews evolve from the exception to the norm, however, candidates such as Mike are starting to use this new real estate to showcase carefully curated props that can serve as a conversation starter, demonstrate something about their personality, or make a case for their qualifications.

Whereas wardrobe choices provided one of the only opportunities for candidates to bring some of their personality into the interview room before the pandemic, a candidate’s background can now serve a similar purpose in a remote interview setting.

“What you wore to an interview was often scrutinized, or made an impression,” says Diane Domeyer, executive director of the Creative Group, the creative and marketing industry staffing arm of the global human resources consulting firm Robert Half. “The reality now is, as so much more of the hiring is happening virtually, your background is part of your interview suit.”

Just as a candidate’s clothes should be carefully chosen to demonstrate both professionalism and personality, Domeyer says remote interviewees have a new canvas to work with—but the rules for this space are still being defined.

“The creative industries have an opportunity to actually lead in making some changing behaviors for video interviews, because they can be more bold,” she says. “It can be a differentiator, but you still need to be cautious with those sorts of things so they don’t come across as too try-hard or kitschy.”

When in doubt, Domeyer says it’s best to play it safe and opt for a plain background but adds that carefully chosen items might be worth including in later interview rounds as candidates gain a better sense of the company culture.

“It’s kind of like your résumé; you want to edit it a little bit for each situation,” adds Brie Reynolds, the senior career specialist at FlexJobs. “You might apply for jobs at very traditional, buttoned-up companies, and you may be applying for jobs at super casual, creative companies, so you might want to change it up, while always remaining true to yourself and who you are.”

Reynolds suggests that candidates should tailor their backgrounds based on the role and industry and look for clues regarding the company’s culture in its social media activity, on its website, and on the job posting itself. “Do some research on the company and see how they put themselves out into the world. Is it buttoned-up and traditional, or do they get creative with things?” she advises.

Reynolds adds that FlexJobs will be updating its prior guidance on best practices for remote interviews to include creative use of background space in response to a continuously evolving set of norms surrounding remote hiring.

“The hiring managers that you’re talking to, they might not have been familiar with remote work and remote interviewing before,” she says. “Now a lot more people are familiar with what remote work is like—the blending of work and life that happens, and how your office space and your home aren’t always a sterile, professional environment.”

Bringing more of one’s home life into a professional setting, however, can be a scary prospect to those who might feel self-conscious about that environment. Just as dress code requirements can serve as a barrier for those who don’t have access to the latest fashion trends, it’s important that recruiters don’t add background space to the list of potential sources of discrimination.

“I fear that it opens up recruiters and hiring managers to more biases in video interviews, because it’s much easier to make those judgments,” says Chanele McFarlane, a career strategist and founder of Do Well Dress Well, an online personal branding and career resource. “When you’re on a video interview you’re opening up your home, and you get an idea of what someone’s financial situation is, whereas in in-person interviews you can kind of keep that separate.”

McFarlane cautions that remote interviews could further contribute to inequality or anxiety amongst those experiencing income instability, as they are less likely to have high-speed internet, high-quality cameras, or relevant props.

“It then becomes the responsibility of the hiring managers to be aware of all of that, and see what they can do to alleviate some of that anxiety,” she says. “Maybe provide a link to a digital background they can use, which just helps to level the playing field.”

Even digital backgrounds provide an opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality, creativity, and personal branding, adds Domeyer, who recently came across an example of someone who had done so successfully.

“By looking at [the hiring manager’s] LinkedIn profile they realized they had both gone to the same educational institution, so she put the stadium of the university behind her in the background of the interview,” she says. “It was very deliberate, very bold, and likely left a good impression.”

Whether candidates utilize relevant props or digital backgrounds, McFarlane believes the space behind the interviewee will be more frequently utilized as a personal branding tool in remote interviews in the future. “You just want it to be something that they’re going to remember,” she says. “Moving forward, I think people are going to go out of their way to make sure their background has items that help them stand out.”

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist and public speaker born, raised and based in Toronto, Canada. Lindzon's writing focuses on the future of work and talent as it relates to technological innovation, as well as entrepreneurship, technology, politics, sports and music.

10/4/2020 - How to prepare for — and land a job — at a virtual career fair

by Nicole Dienst & Kelsey Johnson 

> With coronavirus infections still surging across the U.S., many companies are turning to virtual career fairs as a hiring strategy.
> Career experts claim 80% of recruiting will be virtual for the foreseeable future.
> Among the benefits of a virtual job fair: no setup, hiring is accelerated, and geographic boundaries and travel expenses are eliminated.
> Studying up on the participating companies’ backgrounds and demonstrating excellent communication skills are ideal traits for landing a job virtually.

With coronavirus infections still surging across the U.S., many companies are turning to virtual career fairs as a hiring strategy. While not new, the concept has been gaining ground since the pandemic began. Hundreds of job fairs have been taking place globally, with companies both large and small joining in. The latest to enter the foray is early career platform Handshake.

As a result of the widespread shift to remote work, Handshake, a career networking platform aimed at college students, announced Wednesday its own end-to-end digital job fair solution, which will allow universities and companies to host virtual recruiting events and job fairs. The new platform will facilitate large-scale virtual job fairs for universities and employers so that students have access to increased opportunities to both network and stand out in the job application process.

This is good news for the approximately 17 million Americans out of work today and the 6 million-plus graduates who have entered into this brutal job market.

According to Handshake’s April survey, 73% of recent college graduates are still searching for full-time jobs, and 23% of students had their internship offers rescinded. While the unemployment situation is dismal for both graduate and undergraduate students, many Americans have lost their jobs or are struggling to obtain new opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic. The national unemployment rate was 11.1% in June 2020, ranking 7.4% higher than it was in June 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is a virtual job fair?
Virtual job fairs take place at a designated time and are similar to a webinar. Recruiters and job seekers meet in a virtual space via chat rooms, teleconferencing, webcasts, and/or email to exchange information about job postings.

Rather than just reviewing resumes,hiring managers will be able to meet candidates face to face, interview them and make offers right on the spot. Virtual hiring takes the hassle, time and expense out of attending a traditional job fair and helps recruiters and employers interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines.

Employment platform CareerBuilder has been hosting virtual career fairs for universities and companies alike since 2013. However, Chris Salzman, health-care director at CareerBuilder, has found that since the onset of the pandemic, more companies are embracing virtual career fairs as a primary resource rather than a supplementary or creative resource. “It’s become more of the staple, the norm and the necessity,” he said.

Today the most active sectors in this arena are financial services, health care, nonprofit, internet and software, claims Handshake.

Through the use of virtual career fairs and Handshake’s new platform, employers have the opportunity to search for students across thousands of partner universities that meet the criteria and qualifications of their position. It will also enable universities to build stronger relationships with employers that don’t typically recruit from their school.

“This will become the opening for how a university or career center can establish a relationship with some of those employers. ... They should be able to attract more employers then they’ve had in the past,” said Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s vice president of higher education and student success.

How a typical career fair works
Virtual career fairs are not limited to college students and entry-level roles. FlexJobs, another virtual recruiting platform, primarily caters to filling more experienced and managerial positions. While these roles often require additional experience and technical skills, attending virtual job fairs can be advantageous for people looking to pivot industries or get one-on-one time with a recruiter for a role they may be passionate about, according to Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs.

For dedicated client virtual fairs, career platforms can provide the software, marketing and even prescreening of candidates so that recruiters from a company can connect with a variety of qualified candidates for their specific openings. Attendees provide their resume and contact information at registration, and after joining a lobby and being presented with options, they can either initiate one-to-one conversations with recruiters or join group conversations.

CareerBuilder recently facilitated a targeted event for a client seeking interested, qualified and screened nurses. “We had over 300 people scheduled for the event, over 100 recruiter chats and over 75 qualified candidates, and they ended up making 35 offers,” said Salzman.

For career fairs with multiple employers, career platforms use intricate software to replicate a ballroom with Zoom “rooms” and chat boxes with recruiters for each company. Employers are able to facilitate interactive panels and discussions to share more about the positions that they are hiring for, as well as more about their company culture and values. Attendees may curate their schedule in advance or visit multiple “rooms” of their choosing throughout the day, asking questions in the group setting or initiating a one-to-one text or audio chat with a recruiter.

According to Reynolds of FlexJobs, recruiters often expect the attendee to initiate any follow-up after the fair. “When you’re applying for the job after the fair, make sure to mention in your cover letter which recruiter you talked to. ... It’s good to reiterate that you’re already active and are seeking out this company in particular,” she said.

Reynolds also encourages attendees to connect with recruiters on LinkedIn and include a message about their conversation at the fair. “You have given yourself an advantage if you’re using the info you learned at the fair and the recruiter connection.”

Tips to prepare for the virtual job fair
Virtual job fairs are much different from the in-person experience, so preparation is vital to success and to build a lasting impression on a recruiter or employer. Those who can adapt will have a great advantage. Here are some key ways to put your best foot forward and maximize your time with a recruiter.

Do your research. One of the most common pieces of advice from recruiters and career services utilizing virtual career fairs is to do your research. Cruzvergara urges candidates to cross-reference their research with company reviews on platforms like Handshake to inform smart questions for recruiters. “Think of questions that would allow you to get deeper knowledge about the culture of the organization, what it means to be able to move up in that organization, or what it is you would be able to contribute or learn in that organization.”

Sharpen your communication skills. According to Jenny Petru, corporate recruiting manager at Regency Integrated Health Services, who has worked with CareerBuilder on virtual recruiting, “The best way a candidate can stand out is good communication skills and good grammar skills. ... In a virtual world, you don’t want to write like you’re texting a friend; you still want to have that professionalism.”

Don’t give up. To make the most of this opportunity, Trappey encourages candidates to put themselves out there and overcome any apprehensions they may have about virtual recruiting. “The key to finding a job or an internship is to keep trying. Just say yes to a virtual event or go to LinkedIn to make those connections yourself. Having the confidence to do that even if you feel awkward is integral to landing a job no matter where you are.”

Benefits of virtual recruiting
Despite lacking in-person interaction, virtual career fairs and virtual recruiting still offer job seekers an opportunity to connect with employers and form a lasting connection.

In fact, experts predict that even after the pandemic, there will be no rush to revert to traditional, in-person job fairs. According to a survey conducted by Handshake in early April that polled 112 of their partner employers, 80% of recruiting will remain virtual for the foreseeable future, and 60% say that even if travel were safe, they would still decrease their on-campus presence.

Here are some of the ways online job fairs provide benefits for candidates across different experience levels, employers and universities.

Engages more candidates. While virtual career fairs existed prior to the pandemic, the coronavirus has been a critical catalyst for accelerating the use of virtual recruiting as a primary resource for employers. “It accelerated people’s openness to being willing to think about a virtual strategy and to really use the tools that would allow them to engage more qualified students across more institutions,” said Cruzvergara.

Saves time and money. With career fairs now online, employers no longer need to spend days setting up an event, travel expenses for both the candidates and recruiters are eliminated, and there are no geographic boundaries. In addition, recruiters are able to participate across multiple shifts throughout the day, allowing them to resume normal work operations before and after.

Opens up more conversations. In addition, the variety of available methods for interacting with recruiters can effectively cater to the different needs and preferences of candidates, allowing them to feel more comfortable in the recruiting process.

“In this sort of isolated time, virtual events generally do give that interaction and space to speak freely to the company. ... These sort of events are a way to put a face to a name and make a connection so you can move forward in that process later,” says Amy Trappey, senior director of customer success at female-oriented career platform Power to Fly.

The nature of virtual recruiting also permits candidates to seek multiple job openings and interact with a number of employers without the barriers of travel and wait times. “It can be even more effective for the recruiter because they are able to carry five to 10 conversations with candidates at the same time,” said Salzman of CareerBuilder. “Same goes for job seekers, they are able to vet out more opportunities or attend three or four virtual career fairs in a day, instead of the old way and in person. … It’s a more efficient type of process.”

For job-seekers of greater experience levels looking to switch roles, careers, or industries, these virtual career fairs can be a great opportunity to learn more about the skills needed in different roles and highlight one’s transferable skills to the recruiter, added Reynolds from FlexJobs.

Provides greater campus outreach. Virtual tools certainly allow for an increase in exposure and outreach in the university setting. Hayden Kornblut, head of university relations at Kraft Heinz, explained that all of their upcoming fall recruiting events will be fully virtual. This will result in new opportunities to connect with talent from a larger variety of college campuses and allows more of their own employees to communicate with potential candidates.

“We’ll still be doing “campus events,” like information sessions, coffee chats and case-study works virtually, but our plan is to also do larger-format virtual events, where we’re focused on getting out in front of underrepresented students and campuses that we traditionally haven’t targeted before,” said Kornblut. “We want to make sure we are working with campuses and universities that reflect our company and reflect our consumers.”

Offers a better avenue for sourcing diverse candidates. One of the greatest benefits of virtual recruiting is the ability to source diverse candidates from various backgrounds, locations and experiences.

Power to Fly identifies diversity as integral to the services they provide. “Our key job is helping women find jobs but also working with our clients to identify where they may need pushing in this area,” said Trappey. The company, which was originally created to get more diverse talent into companies’ pipelines, has also incorporated training and educational tools for candidates entering, re-entering, and even pivoting within the workforce, as well as a combination of on-site and virtual recruiting events for women of all skill levels and backgrounds.

“There’s so much strength in taking people from different backgrounds and perspectives when you’re hiring,” said Trappey. “There are tons of jobs in these fields, and sometimes it just requires a more open mindset in allowing people to train on the job. That is something that we constantly push at Power to Fly.”

9/27/2020 - How to Master LinkedIn's Algorithm

Seven tips to get the biggest reach and most engagement for your posts.
by Stephen Boswell

It would be great if all of your posts were delivered to all of your contacts, but it doesn’t work that way. LinkedIn’s algorithm determines how widely your posts will be seen. Their mantra is “people you know, talking about the things you care about.”

From a user’s standpoint, it makes your newsfeed much more relevant and enjoyable. From a poster’s standpoint, it makes understanding LinkedIn’s logic really important. Here are seven tips for helping the algorithm work in your favor.

1. Engage others generally.

When you comment on or share other people’s posts, they notice and become more likely to engage with your posts in return. If you spend more time giving, you’ll get much more in return.

2. Engage others strategically.

When you engage with a prospect, key client or referral alliance, it signals to LinkedIn that you know each other. Since LinkedIn prizes “people you know,” this is a powerful way to make sure these key contacts see your future posts.

3. Generate comments and engage with them.

Comments are weighed more heavily than likes in LinkedIn’s algorithm. More comments equals more reach. Generate them by posting content that asks a questions like, “Which of these options would you choose” or “What’s been your experience with this?”

4. Reply to your comments.

When people comment on your posts, comment back to them every time. You may even want to do this more than once. Your first comment back could be “Thanks for sharing.” Then you might add another that says “I hope you and your boys are doing well.” Every interaction helps trigger the algorithm.

5. Solicit engagement directly.

Ask your friends and colleagues to engage with key posts when they launch. When it happens soon after your post goes live, it tells LinkedIn this is a post worth spreading.

6. Post content that is worthy of engagement.

This may be the most important tip in the list. If you’re auto-posting a bunch of canned content, good luck. This is the strategy of 90% of the advisors we see and it’s not effective. Raise your game with better graphic design and more personal posts.

7. Make your content snackable.

If you’re posting super-long videos or articles, the user has to do some work to determine whether or not to interact and what that interaction should be. If you’re posting “snackable” content like quotes, memes or quick videos, it’s much easier for them to engage and move on.

Understanding the LinkedIn algorithm is critical if you want to get the most reach out of your posts. The goal is to release consistent, high-quality content and for it to actually appear in the newsfeeds of your clients, prospects and centers of influence. This type of awareness and thought-leadership strategy takes effort but pays big dividends in the long run.

9/20/2020 - Make these 4 LinkedIn profile updates now to get more job offers

Just one of these strategies used on a LinkedIn profile made them discovered up to 27 times more in searches by recruiters.

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, there are few tools more powerful than your LinkedIn profile. It’s a one-stop shop for recruiters and hiring managers to learn more about your professional story, so make sure your profile represents not only your experience and strengths but also your goals and what you want to accomplish.

Here are a few new ways to update your LinkedIn profile to give you an edge as a job seeker.

With the Open To Work feature on your LinkedIn profile, you can quietly signal to recruiters that you’re open to new opportunities, and you can now engage your entire professional community in your search. To let the broader LinkedIn community know you are looking, just add an #OpenToWork photo frame on your profile photo. By doing so, when your profile comes up in a search or shows up in the feed because you comment on or “like” a post, professionals beyond your LinkedIn connections will see your #OpenToWork photo frame and can connect you to job openings they’re aware of or facilitate an introduction to a hiring manager. We know that candidates on LinkedIn are nearly four times more likely to land a job at a company where they have connections, so imagine the possibilities of reaching LinkedIn’s community of 700+ million professionals.

The more complete your profile, the better the odds that recruiters will find you, so it’s important to include examples of your past experience and accomplishments. The new Featured section lets you highlight the work you’re most proud of by pinning to your profile links to media presentations, articles you’ve written, or presentations from a previous job or speaking engagement. You can also showcase your posts or published articles on LinkedIn, which can help you stand out to new opportunities.

Recruiters view skills as critical when looking at job candidates. In fact, we’ve found that members with five or more skills listed on their LinkedIn profile are discovered up to 27 times more in searches by recruiters. That’s why it’s important to list your skills—both hard and soft—on your profile. If you want to turn it up a notch, you can now validate your hard skills with 95 Skill Assessments that you can test against. Once you complete an assessment, a badge gets added to your profile which highlights your proficiency.

And if you don’t have all of the required skills for the job you want, online learning is a great way to build them and increase your chances of getting hired.

We all know that pronouncing someone’s name correctly is important in making a good first impression, but sometimes we see someone’s name in writing and aren’t sure how to correctly say it. With LinkedIn’s new name pronunciation tool, you can add a recording of your name and attach it to your LinkedIn profile, so others can learn how to pronounce it correctly. If you’re a job seeker with an interview on the horizon, check to see if anyone interviewing you has this feature turned on. Pronouncing their name correctly will help you kick the meeting off on the right foot.

Making these updates to your LinkedIn profile is a great way to kick-start your job search, and show who you are, what you want, and why you’d make a great candidate to potential employers. But don’t wait until you’re looking for a new job to update your profile. A strong LinkedIn profile, highlighting your latest accomplishments and skills, could help you discover other exciting opportunities you may not have thought of and set you up for long-term career success.

Abhijit Tamhane is the director of product management for LinkedIn profile.

9/13/2020 - 6 secrets to getting hired during an economic downturn

Challenging economic circumstances should not dash your hopes to landing a job. Stick to these tips to catch a hirer’s eye during widespread uncertainty.


Unemployment is at an all-time high and right now, it’s harder to get hired than years and decades past. But all hope is not lost. There are ways to get noticed and separate yourself, and to get the job, even when job openings are scarce.

First, consider these encouraging statistics: According to a recent study by SHRM (the Society for Human resource Management), among 2,278 members, 17% of employers were expanding their businesses and 13% were hiring. In addition, according to its annual global CEO survey, PwC found 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of skills in their respective workforces.

The bottom line: Companies need great employees with strong skills to grow their businesses. Particularly those who are unafraid to take an unconventional and bold approach.

So how can you get hired when it seems no one is hiring? Establishing a strong start to your process is key, along with finding the best ways to leverage your network, your creativity, and your distinctive skill sets.

Here are six ways to get hired during an economic downturn.

The fact is during tough times, you have to be among the best in your area, keep your skills fresh, and maintain the strength of your capabilities. As the job market has contracted, employers have more choices, so they can select the cream-of-the-crop candidates. There will still be a range of entry points for positions: entry-level, midterm, or senior. However, wherever you are in your career progression, stay on top of your area of expertise. Read within your field. Learn the latest software that will keep you relevant. Develop the newest skills critical to the type of role you want to land.

Ensuring your knowledge is cutting edge will set you apart in terms of what you can immediately offer to a company. It will also demonstrate your determination and thirst for learning—two characteristics which are always attractive to employers.

Networking is one of the nonnegotiable’s if you’re going to get hired. It’s critical to tap into the hidden job market and nurture connections that will introduce you to hiring managers. Reach out to people who you know well, but also focus on building links with people who are new acquaintances. Known as “weak ties,” people you know less well can inform you about a new opening simply because they have exposure outside of you and your typical, more condensed network.

And finally, be intentional about deepening and expanding the relationships within your network.

The number of traditional roles may have declined, but your capacity of invention should now. Consider recommending a new role, a contribution, or a skill set you believe the company needs but may not have thought of themselves. A manufacturing company may need an expert in plant layout to reduce virus transmission, or a retail store may need someone who can innovate creative ways to welcome customers while social distancing.

Another way to get in the door may be to offer the company the opportunity to give you a test run. A friend of mine offered to work for free for eight weeks so the company could test her skills and her fit. Another friend offered to do a salaried job on a commission-only basis for three months to prove herself to the company. While these strategies will generally work better with smaller, less formal companies, they may be worth a try at even larger firms. In each of my friends’ cases, they were ultimately hired by companies who were enthusiastic about their skills and their futures with each organization.

When you talk to a potential employer, tell your story in a compelling way. Resist the temptation to just go through a list of your previous roles. According to Angela Burke, president of Palladian West, an executive recruiting firm, it is especially effective to pull out themes from your experience.

Perhaps you’re a skilled problem-solver or someone who is especially organized or the one person who can energize a team. Highlight these kinds of strengths across your experiences. Burke also coaches clients on solution-thinking: “You are a solution, [so] consider the problems which need solutions, and how you can set yourself apart as the best solution.”

To make the strongest impression on hirers, make sure to stay consistent. You may want to step beyond your current skill set and seek a job that you will grow into, but resist this temptation. In a tight job market, it is best to play to your existing strengths. Deborah Rousseau, lead talent acquisition partner for Poly a telecommunications company, says “You’ll be competing with people who already have skills in the area where you may be trying to grow, so this isn’t the time to try and stretch to a job beyond your current skill set. Instead, emphasize your existing core competencies.”

In every role, you’ll be a member of a team and how you play will matter. Burke says, “Think about the team you’ll join and market yourself based on what you bring to the team and how you will add something unique and valuable.” In addition to being specific about the team, also be specific about the role. Rousseau says, “Customize your résumé for each role by highlighting your relevant experience in a summary or as the top bullets in your work history. You can also identify the specific position to which you’re applying at the top. Recruiters are moving quickly, so make it easy for them to see the match between your résumé and the job they’re seeking to fill.”

The pandemic has forced a reset in the market overall and for many businesses. The study by SHRM found 10% of employers are in the process of beginning new initiatives; however, the study by PwC found 55% of CEOs believe they can’t innovate successfully and 44% cannot pursue new business opportunities because their people lack the skills. This creates the need for entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills among candidates. In addition, because no one has been through a pandemic before, many companies report they especially need innovation and creative skills. Be sure you highlight these in your experience.

On your résumé and in conversation with your contacts, give examples of how you’ve solved a thorny problem or found an unexpected solution in a difficult circumstance. Show how you’ve learned throughout your career and continuously contributed in fresh ways to your previous roles.

There’s no doubt about it, this is a rough time to find a new job. But companies are hiring, and jobs exist for those who are able to explore and chase after them effectively. Be excellent at what you do and invent opportunities to contribute while highlighting the skills that matter most right now. Stay connected and network brilliantly; stay visible and keep to the course.

Your determination and grit will be important once you’re hired for a new job, so express these characteristics in your search and success will follow.

Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCRw, is a sociologist focused on work, workers, and workplace, working for Steelcase. She is the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations.

9/6/2020 - How to use your network to survive a bad job market

You may already know that successful job-searching requires networking, but how extensively should you reach out?

During an international pandemic and economic recession, it is a historically bad time to find a job. Hungry job searchers need to get creative.

Nevertheless, this can be a great time to find the job you didn’t expect. Many companies are reinventing their businesses and expanding the skill sets they’re looking for.

An important component of job search success is the strength of your network. You won’t read advice about getting hired that doesn’t include networking, but you may not know if you need to cast your net widely. Typically, new jobs don’t come from your primary network (those who know you best and with whom you speak most often), since you and they probably have similar knowledge of the opportunities available. New opportunities normally emerge from your secondary and tertiary networks because those are the contacts who have access to markets and people you don’t. By definition, they will know of possibilities that are new to you.

So, to find success in your job search, stay connected with those who are close to you, but reach out to those who are more distant.

The creation of new links is key to building your network. Tap into these secondary or tertiary networks by asking to get introduced on LinkedIn or by reaching out to people you know from a distance but with whom you don’t normally interact. Perhaps there is a college friend you haven’t seen in years, but with whom you can rekindle a connection. Or maybe there’s someone you met in a previous role who can be helpful to you.

While it may be tough to put yourself out there, it will be to your advantage to be open about seeking work. Resist the advice to keep your old title on your LinkedIn profile until you find something new (instead, be clear in your moniker you’re on the hunt). In addition, consider reaching out to a wide breadth of contacts, casting a wide net, letting them know you are open for new opportunities, and asking them to keep you in the loop if they hear of anything fitting.

Offer value. Rather than simply asking people for a networking call or an introductory conversation, offer them information they may find useful or give them feedback on something you’ve seen them do or say on social media. The most fruitful connections have an element of reciprocity so consider how you can add value for them since you’re asking them to add value for you.

Ask for help. People typically love to provide advice and input, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. Resist the temptation to launch into a desperate monologue of all your skills and talents, and ensure the conversation you have with a contact is two-way and allows them to make suggestions and provide you with assistance in your search.

It is helpful to keep in mind, you can network when you’re not in need. Too often people only reach out to their more distant network when they need a job, a contact, or a reference. Stay in touch with people regularly, especially when you’re not asking for anything. Share an article or just let them know they came to mind. This will keep your relationship with your contacts fresh and when you need help, they’ll be more likely to assist because you’ve stayed in touch over time.

Perhaps one of the most challenging balances to strike is that of being persistent without coming off as a nuisance. When you reach out to someone you may not hear back right away, but keep at it. Knock on the door (or ping the inbox) at least a few times before letting up.

You also want to be creative in how you distinguish yourself. Amid the current atmosphere, many people are busier than usual. You will not be their main priority, so be gracious about asking for their time and, before connecting, express gratitude for their potential attention.

To network, you have to make yourself visible. Sociologically speaking, familiarity leads to greater acceptance. If you’re visible and your contact has seen your posts or heard your virtual voice through social media, they will be more likely to take your call. So write a blog, speak at a virtual conference, and be active on multiple social media platforms. Also, manage your persona. You may be frustrated or cynical, but people typically want to hire and work with people who are positive voices and influences, rather than negative nellies. Be authentic but lean toward the positive in your public interactions.

Finding a job is challenging today, but tapping into your current connections and creating new links is the first step.

Go broad and be sure you’re delivering value as well as asking for help. Stay in touch with people, be persistent, and find ways to be visible with your network. Tapping into your primary network is good, but expanding your secondary and tertiary networks will bring you one step closer to landing a job. Even if the job market isn’t on your side right, you can build a network that is.

Tracy Brower, PhD, MM, MCRw, is a sociologist focused on work, workers, and workplace, working for Steelcase. She is the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations.

8/30/2020 - 7 critical steps to make your cover letter stand out

Your cover letter can seal the interview deal even if your résumé can’t. Here’s how to get it right.

Résumés get the attention, but a good cover letter can go a long way toward helping you get the attention of hiring decision-makers. A recent survey by ResumeLab found that 83% of respondents claimed that a great cover letter can land an interview even if your résumé isn’t good enough.

But what makes a good cover letter? This seven-point cheat sheet will help you write a letter that’s short, sweet, and gets attention.

You have just a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so start with whatever it is about you that will grab their interest, says Amy Soricelli, vice president of career services at Berkeley College. If you’ve been referred by someone influential, lead with that. Otherwise, think about the fact or brief anecdote that will catch interest. It might be your experience, expertise, or a big impact you made, Scoricelli says. Avoid at all costs the typical—and drab—”I’m writing about your job listing,” she says.

Let recruiters and hiring managers know exactly how you’re of value. Pick out the most important skills, experiences, training, accolades, and other accomplishments, says career coach Ronald J. Auerbach, author of Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success. Share them in descending order of importance. Consider how you would use keywords from the job ad in your résumé and integrate them in your cover letter, too.

Auerbach says there are a number of salutation options ranging from “Dear Hiring Manager” to “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” When possible it’s best to address your cover letter to a person. However, if you’re responding to an ad, you may need to choose a generic option. The best one depends on your industry norms, he says. “Some feel these standards are outdated and should be avoided in favor of the more modern salutations. Others feel it’s better to avoid the modern ones and stick with the old standards,” he says.

Many companies now use applicant tracking systems, which can typically accommodate a cover letter up to 250 words, says career coach Rachel Montañez. “There has been some research done that shows that the length that typically gets past an applicant tracking system,” she says.

As for structure, Montañez typically recommends a compelling lead paragraph, then two to three short paragraphs or bullet points in the body highlighting your key strengths, and a closing that includes your interest in the next steps.

Between the opening and close, make a powerful case for why you’re the right person for the job and company, Montañez says. Use active words to describe how you truly made a difference. Instead of “I have worked on financial reports,” try “I single-handedly created my team’s financial reports and presented them to senior management.” Bring a sense of enthusiasm to the writing, she advises. Your cover letter shouldn’t just repeat what’s in your résumé. Work on adding something fresh.

It’s common advice, but cannot be overstated, Soricelli says. Typos can indicate carelessness and put you out of the running before you start. Use your word processing program’s spell check and editing functions and get someone who can spot typos and grammatical errors to take a look at it before you hit send. The reason career experts keep telling people to proofread is because the advice is often ignored, she says.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to give the person reading it a brief glimpse into who you are as a person, Soricelli says. Use it to tell a brief, interesting story about why you’re the best choice to hire. Take a little time with the cover letter to be sure it is tailored to the job and reflects you and your personality.

Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books

8/23/2020 - If you really want the job, show you have these 6 qualities

In a tough job market, it’s essential to stand out.

Even in a recession, companies are still hiring. And, given the competitive market, it’s important to make sure you stand out when interviewing. I spoke with executives at Harqen, a company that helps companies hire talent, to understand the six qualities that companies are looking for today.

Harqen has a database of over five million job interviews, from which it draws conclusions about the qualities companies look for when they hire. The company screens prospective employees based on this set of characteristics. For the screening round, it uses machines that mimic human interviewers to accelerate the hiring process.

How do these machines identify these all-important qualities? It scans the answers job seekers give, and it looks for certain words and phrases that convey these attributes.

Here are the six key qualities that they believe employers are looking for, and how you can demonstrate them when searching for a job.

Confidence is imperative for job candidates. If you fumble this one, you’re out the door.

To determine the confidence level of a candidate, Harqen’s machine learning algorithm looks for action words that show you’ve accomplished things and aren’t afraid to talk about them. It looks for words like created, built, achieved, led, envisioned, and implemented. For example, if asked about your present job you might say “I led a team through the pandemic and created an even stronger, agile organization.”

Stay clear of words that are more passive. These suggest other people acted in some way and you were the recipient of that action. These include expressions like “I was led by,” or “I was seen as . . .” or “I was told” or “I was passed over.” Even saying “I was a manager” is less strong than saying “I managed.” Don’t talk about the role you were given; talk about what you accomplished in that role.

A second quality companies look for in job seekers is enthusiasm. Harqen’s CTO, Mark Unak. told me that the best way to show enthusiasm in your language is to use positive expressions. In fact, Harqen uses an index of positivity that goes from +5 to -5. At the top of the scale of positivity are superlative words like absolutely, astonishing, super, and love, as well as collegial words like relationships and team. These are high-voltage expressions that show a strong, positive attitude.

At the lower end of the positivity, scale are negative words like “abhor,” “abandon,” “abusive,” and “terrible.” Always put things in positive terms in interviews. Employers are looking for positive people.

A third quality employers look for, according to Unak, is the ability to influence, otherwise known as having clout. People who speak to others with a high degree of clout are strong, influential communicators. They are likely to draw others to them and inspire and convince.

How does the machine pick up this quality? According to Unak, it analyzes the pronouns you use. Most people talk more about themselves than about others, and they frequently use I, me, my mine, or myself. But, according to Unak, “those with clout communicate by shifting the focus from themselves to the group they belong to. They frequently use words like we, us, our, ours, ourselves.”

So if you want to show you have the capacity to influence others, don’t say “I did this” or “I did that.” Say, “We as a team have been amazing in staying focused during COVID-19.”

The ability to think analytically does not mean you have to go into detail about every situation or project you have undertaken. But it does mean you should show that you can analyze situations and find ways to address the issues at hand.

How does the machine detect this mindset in a candidate? It picks up on word clusters that show precision in your thinking. For example, if you’re an analytical thinker, you might say, “These are the facts that pertained directly to this situation.”

The opposite of an analytical thinker is a narrative thinker, who is less likely to get into the facts, but who focuses on the story. A narrative thinker might say, “We’ve got some great facts, if you’d like to see them.”

As you’re answering interview questions, be mindful not to skim the surface in your explanations. Be precise. For example, if you are leaving your job for a new opportunity you might say, “I have enjoyed my current position for several reasons. Here’s what they are.”

According to Tim Ihlefeld, president and CEO of Harqen, every employer wants employees who can help them solve problems and advance their business.

Harquen’s algorithm looks very closely at the candidate’s answer to an oft-asked question: “Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to solve an unexpected problem, and if so, what did you do and how did it turn out?” Job candidates should have a ready answer for this one.

If you’re preparing for an interview, think about how you solved an unexpected problem, and take your audience through each step of the process. Then write out and learn your response. Unak says that this question can account for a full 10% of a company’s hiring decision.

The final success factor for any aspiring employee is the ability to show that you really want to work for the company that’s interviewing you.

This can be determined by the way you answer the question “Why do you want to work for us?” According to Unak, this is the single most important question (and answer) in any job interview, and it needs to be thought through in advance. The answer to this question as well as your answer to how you’ve solved an unexpected problem can sometimes account for 100% of a firm’s hiring decision.

To do this, make sure your answer indicates that you have great respect for the company you’re applying to, you know their business well, and that you want to make a contribution and have a good understanding of what that contribution will look like.

Judith Humphrey is founder of The Humphrey Group, a premier leadership communications firm headquartered in Toronto. She is a regular columnist for Fast Company and is the author of three books: Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (2018), Speaking as a Leader: How to Lead Every Time You Speak (2012), and Taking the Stage: How Women Can Speak Up, Stand Out, and Succeed (2014)

8/16/2020 - Shoot for the Moon – What Skills Will Really Boost Your Employability?

by Laura Butler 

With the employment environment constantly changing, we are likely to see the emergence of new professions as well as the disappearance of many outdated ones within the following decade. The so-called ‘growth mindset’ has become a prerequisite for all of us rather than something only relevant for top performers. Shooting for the moon seems to be the only option as uncertainty becomes the only certain thing about the future labor market in many industries. Below we will analyze the skills that will boost your employability in 2020

Soft Skills
If your professionalism has reached the point above the ‘industry average’, emotional intelligence, and soft skills become a must for your future advancement. The most basic one of them is networking or the capability to build networks of trusted contacts allowing you to realize major projects, find new orders or pursue professional development goals. Team-building and communication skills are equally beneficial for both regular employees and managers having to improve the performance and cohesion within their subordinate units. Finally, cross-cultural awareness is becoming critical for modern companies operating across multiple time zones and relying on teams including remote workers from all over the world.

Learning and Team Building Skills
This name is used by many professional coaches to designate the skills that are highly useful for multiple areas of your professional operations. Learning capabilities may be a good example of this category since most well-paid professions are rapidly developing and require frequent ‘rehashing’ of what we already know. The 4C model includes communicating, creative thinking, critical thinking, and collaborating elements. They are responsible for the capability to acquire and structure new information, use creativity, and communicate ideas within established media to facilitate the learning of others. Being able to learn new skills, delegate important tasks, and brainstorm the developed concepts is critical for almost any profession of your choice. You also have to be able to teach and coordinate others if you want to use the powerful leverage of a well-built team to reach your professional goals faster.

Personal Branding Skills
In the modern world, people need to be aware of your achievements in order to employ your services or promote your career. Maintaining your online portfolio is a must for freelancers surviving in a gig economy but is equally critical for fully-employed professionals in the highly turbulent labour market. It is preferable to maintain your own website to be independent of any technical problems of third-party platforms. Another good option is writing articles for professional blogs, moderating professional forums or engaging in online discussions related to your spheres of competence. If you are well-known for your expertise and regularly receive job offers from multiple sources, your employment stability is securely protected.

Basic HTML and Coding Skills
Let us face it, almost everyone can learn how to make a basic website after 3 months of training. The significance of coding skills and digital expertise has been promoted in recent years by such unexpected proponents as, one of the founders of the Black Eyed Peas band. There is no way around whether you want to develop a personal blog, become more versatile as a freelance designer or simply ensure that you always have alternative career paths if your industry segment collapses due to some digital disruption trend. This also ties in with the ‘complex problem-solving’ requirement posed by multiple employers since being aware of the functional elements of modern projects allows you to better understand their technical limitations and the best ways to manage them.

Hard and Soft Digital Skills
The development of big data solutions is expected to fully change the ways decisions are made in most industries within the following several years. A modern manager, marketer or software developer cannot accurately predict future trends and customer needs without exploring the vast arrays of information that cannot be processed by a single person anymore. If you belong to one of these professions, you may want to start exploring the current trends and popular solutions in cloud computing and data analytics right now to start building your awareness and competence.

Time Management
The gig economy is here. While it may not be blatantly obvious for most full-time employees yet, corporations are starting to use more and more freelance workforce from multiple time zones to address demand fluctuations and allocate workloads more effectively. In just several years, many talented professionals may become freelancers with multiple employers and a complex schedule of intermediary submissions, project coordination milestones, and conference calls at 4 A.M. Time management is another meta-skill allowing you to manage your work/life balance and ensure that you can reasonably ‘squeeze in’ more tasks within a limited time span.

Leadership Skills
Last but not least, your development as a professional may be hindered by the need to build a qualified team of subordinate specialists or organize your own company to realize your strategic vision. In all of these cases, you will have to understand complex personal motivations, find ways to increase staff engagement, and effectively delegate some tasks. While leadership skills may be highly complex to develop, they can open new horizons for your professional growth.

A recent IBM study identified that up to 120 million workers will require re-training or career adjustments in the nearest future due to the emergence of modern technologies, automation, and AI development. As no one can predict how these disruptions will change various industries, your best course is to become self-guided in your personal development. Make sure that you allocate sufficient time to build your own personal brand and spend at least one hour on a daily basis developing alternative skills and soft skills. You can also use popular free business resources for entrepreneurs or career-driven individuals to assist you in remedying knowledge deficiencies in your areas of choice. Keep in mind that the occurring changes may be both a burden and a window of opportunity since new challenges can only be faced by a minor share of specialists with good foresight. Hence, investing time and resources in the development of such competencies can make you a highly demanded professional in your sphere of competence in just several years.

Laura Butler is co-owner at Outreach Lab, who specializes in providing content writing and SEO services to businesses around the world. Having worked in multiple start-ups over the years, she has experience in building businesses from the ground up. Laura enjoys writing content on a variety of topics, from business strategy, sustainability, to marketing, and SEO.

8/9/2020 - How to show off your professional accomplishments without turning people off

In this bonus chapter from ‘Brag Better,’ author Meredith Fineman discusses how to approach your job search by walking the balance between showing off your value and coming off as self-promotional.

One day in the future, we will be back to shaking hands and attending in-person meetings in offices filled with coworkers. Until then, we all have to strengthen our ability to communicate our accomplishments and skill sets to our managers, coworkers, clients, and broader audiences without leaving the couch.

 We are in unprecedented, scary, and shaky times. Everyone has their personal filters to navigate news coverage—and you can’t let them forget about you and your work. The stakes are extremely high around your job, your career, and your place in the professional world. You have to be as explicit as possible about why you’re special, what you’re best at, and how you add value. Nobody can acknowledge and celebrate your work until you do.

We—the freelancers, current workers, CEOs, employees tasked with attracting new clients, employees with managers, the unemployed—have to work to, what I call, “Brag Better,” both online and from home. The good news is that you have the tools to do so, but it will be a matter of being clearer and louder about your work than ever before.

The group I refer to as the “Qualified Quiet” are smart people who struggle to talk about themselves, and thus go underestimated or unrecognized. This group spans gender, race, sexual identity, and seniority; each of these factors plays deeply into the difficulties we have with bragging. That said, it’s in your power to increase your influence, starting today.

There are three pillars to “Brag Better”—be loud, proud, and strategic. Loud means repetition, consistency, and a commitment to continually sharing your work without fear. Pride means a conviction that your accomplishments are worth talking about, and they are expressed as factual statements. It’s less anxiety-provoking to talk about your work when you think of it as simply stating facts. Finally, to be strategic, you need to work backward from what you want as a result of bragging better. Is it recognition in the true public sense, like television or speeches? Is it more face time with those in power at your company? Or is it another kind of recognition, such as a raise or a bump in funding?

This is hard work during the best of times, and especially now. Here are some tips to help you nail the content, tone, delivery, and flair for sharing hard work, setting yourself up for a more interconnected and digital bragging future.

Buy the domain of your name. It’s time to start thinking about a personal site, even if it’s just your bio and links to work. You want to own the conversation around you, and that means having your own corner of the internet.

Look at how you are describing yourself online. Is it all consistent? Check your personal website, your company’s website, your social media, and anywhere else you might be writing or contributing.

Ask your boss (even if that boss is you) how to communicate your wins when you’re not in the office. Does your boss like to see a roundup each week? Does he or she want to get on a call? Be sure to brag to his or her style; otherwise, it’s useless.

In this anxious time, you don’t need to aim to “break through” or “win big.” It’s more important to stay consistent and strong.

You are preparing yourself for the new workplace, which might look different, but you will have a handle on all of this. You can begin anywhere, it’s never too early or too late to “brag better,” and your accomplishments—no matter how small you might deem them, probably unfairly so—are worth talking about.

To brag effectively is a difficult muscle to flex, but you can pick up those small weights, start doing reps, and improve your ability to showcase your strengths, thoughtfully, with time.

Meredith Fineman is the founder and CEO of FinePoint, a leadership and professional development company that elevates individuals, from young professionals to CEOs. She is the author of the upcoming book Brag Better: Master the Art of Fearless Self-Promotion.

8/2/2020 - Yes, the job market is a mess, but you can still switch careers

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business 

Big life events, -- like, say, a pandemic -- tend to make people question their life choices, particularly when it comes to their careers.

"When people go through a crisis and uncertainty and all those emotions, the first thing they think about is meaning: 'What can I do to have a meaningful impact on this world?'" said Julie Jansen, a career coach.

But changing careers is a big undertaking. And doing so in the middle of a pandemic that has left nearly 43 million people filing for unemployment benefits, can seem next to impossible. But with patience and a plan, it can be done.

"The kind of life event that we are currently experiencing can be a huge motivator to try something new," said Kerry Hannon, an expert on career transitions and author of "Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life."

But it's going to take some time.

"A career transition is not a rash move. They can take three to five years," said Hannon.

The first step is making sure you are not making the switch out of boredom or frustration. We all have challenging days (or weeks) at work, but that doesn't always mean you need a new career.

"You want to be moving toward a general goal or calling and not just trying to escape something," said Maggie Craddock, an executive coach.

But sometimes we don't really have much of a choice, especially if we just got laid off or work in a shrinking industry with bleak hiring prospects.

"Most people probably aren't going to make a jump straight away. Career transitions require laying the groundwork, but there's no time like the present to get started," said Hannon.

Here are questions to ask when considering a career change:

What are my transferable skills?
It might not seem obvious at first, but a lot of your work experiences and skills will likely transfer to a new profession. You just have to take the time to quantify them.
Write down your hard skills, like data analytics or marketing, along with soft skills like effective communication and leadership skills, and see where they could line up with your intended career.

Having this list will help you hone in on job postings and better pitch yourself to potential employers.
"Ultimately, you will be pitching your experience as it touches the new career field. You must show how those skills can help a company solve problems and create business," said Hannon.

Who do I know that can help?
Having an ally while you pursue your new career will help you navigate the transition and help you connect with others in the field.
To widen your circle of potential allies, join LinkedIn groups, reach out to friends and family members to see if they know anyone in your future industry and become a member of relevant professional groups.

Don't be shy about asking people for informational interviews: just be clear about your intentions and keep the conversation to around 20 minutes.
"Ask them about their job and really listen," said Hannon. "This isn't your sales pitch. When you get off the phone, they will really like you if you let them talk about themselves. They will have a great first impression."

After the call, follow up with a note of your appreciation and ask who else you should talk with to start building your network.

What skills or qualifications will I need?
Some career switches are going to require additional education or certifications that you should take into consideration.
It can be helpful to review the LinkedIn pages of people in your desired role to get a sense of their background and training.
And with everything virtual these days, there are many online courses, seminars and training classes available online.

Would I like doing this?
Just because you like to cook, doesn't mean you'd enjoy being a professional chef.
Before getting too far along a new career path, try to get a taste for it by doing some contract work or freelancing.
"An employer doesn't have to make any big commitment and you can start showing you have some experience and passion for the new field," Hannon said.
To find opportunities, check out job boards like,,, she suggested.
If getting paid work doesn't pan out, some industries like non-profits are often looking for volunteers. Raising your hand to help out can shed light on a potential career and also be a great networking opportunity.

Am I financially prepared for the shift?
A career change often means a reduction in income -- at least at the start.
"Do a budget," said Hannon. "Get lean and mean. You are probably going to earn a little less money when you make the shift, at least initially. Not always, but you need to be prepared for that."

Now is the time to pay down as much debt as you can and look for ways to reduce your spending.
"Debt is the biggest killer to making a career transition," Hannon added.


7/26/2020 - How to Nail a Job Interview — Remotely

by Amy Gallo 

If you’re facing a job search right now, you’re not alone. There are record numbers of people filing for unemployment benefits in the U.S. and half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods. Whether you were recently laid off, were unemployed before the global pandemic hit, or are choosing to make a change, looking for a job now — amidst hiring freezes and layoffs — will be different than it was a few months ago. But how different? How has the crisis affected how you approach a job search — from finding open positions to writing a cover letter and resume to (ideally) interviewing? Does the usual advice still apply?

To answer these questions, I spoke with Art Markman, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Bring Your Brain to Work: Using Cognitive Science to Get a Job, Do it Well, and Advance Your Career and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, an executive fellow at Harvard Business School and the author of It’s Not the How or the What but the Who. Here’s their advice for facing what feels like a daunting challenge at this time.

Tap your network
Fernández-Aráoz and Markman agree that, more than ever, getting a job in this climate will be about who you know, especially for more senior positions. “When hiring managers are faced with a stack of resumes or portfolios, they’re going to be looking for some kind of familiarity,” says Markman. So actively engage with your network. You might post on social media that you’re looking for your next opportunity and describe what talents you’d bring to a future employer.

You can also reach out directly to former colleagues who you’ve lost touch with. You could send them an invitation on LinkedIn or an email asking how they’re doing, explain your situation, and ask if they have any advice as you’re looking for your next position. This isn’t easy, of course. It can be tough when you’re out of work and don’t have good news to share — and people might be more overwhelmed than usual at the moment — but remember that people want to help when they can. I recently reconnected with a former colleague who is looking for work and it felt great to be able to offer her advice and even a few job leads.

Brush up your resume and cover letter
Fernández-Aráoz says you should “go out of your way to find a mutual acquaintance” to mention in your cover letter to grab the reader’s attention. You might also want to highlight that you’ve worked in high-pressure environments before, since most companies’ priority right now will be weathering the crisis and will be looking for people who can contribute to that effort. Of course, it’s good practice to keep your resume updated at any time, but is especially important when you’ve just lost your job or expect you might soon. And the classic advice on how to draft a cover letter and resume still holds true.

Prepare for a remote interview
Given that most people are working from home, there’s a good chance that if you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you’ll be doing it remotely. All of the standard advice about how to prepare for and perform during an interview still applies but you’ll also need to think about others aspects as well:

When the interview is scheduled, ask what video platform they’ll be using and then spend time familiarizing yourself with how it works, especially if you’ll need to use any features like screen sharing. Test out the link ahead of time. Be sure you have a way to reach the interviewer in case the technology fails. “The last thing you want is to be disfluent in a high-pressure situation,” advises Markman. “People are going to be as forgiving as possible, but if you can demonstrate that you’ve thought through the contingencies, it’ll convey competence.” And set up the best possible circumstances for the technology to work. For example, Markman suggests asking others in your household to not stream TV while you’re doing the interview.

Your goal is to look professional. You don’t need to wear a suit jacket — that would look awkward under the circumstances — but you don’t want to wear a sweatshirt either. Choose a neutral background for your interview (it probably goes without saying to avoid one of those virtual beach backgrounds). Fernández-Aráoz says that if you have a professional-looking space you can show in the background, it can help to humanize you, and it’s better than being right up against a wall. However, a blank wall can be less risky when it comes to interruptions or accidentally displaying a messy room. You might also consider standing during the interview. “It’s more dynamic and your vocal chords warm up faster and it’s easier to project,” he says.

Company’s crisis response.
In addition to the usual research you’d do on the company, Markman advises looking into what the firm is doing in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Try to get the latest information. “Things have changed so rapidly and you may have applied for the job a few months ago,” he says. “Make sure you’re as conversant as possible. Check their website, any newsletters, and social media feeds — up to and including the day of the interview.”

Rehearse ahead of time
Experiment with how you might answer common questions. “When we get nervous, we tend to start monitoring ourselves. Since you’ll be able to see your own image as you’re talking during the interview, you’re likely to get distracted. Staring at a face — especially your own — will make you lose your train of thought,” says Markman. Be sure to rehearse in the spot where you plan to do the interview so you can see how you look. If you can’t stop looking at yourself when you practice, you might want to close the window with your image in it. You don’t want to be self-conscious to the point of distraction. “But it can be useful to occasionally look at yourself during the interview,” says Markman, “to make sure you don’t have a tag sticking out or something.”

Go into the interview with a positive mindset
Remember that during the interview, you won’t be getting the same level of non-verbal information from the interviewer. And as Fernández-Aráoz points out, there’s lots of research that shows when we don’t have feedback, we tend toward a negativity bias. We think “this isn’t going well.” So experiment ahead of time with staying positive and assuming the best is happening. You might have a mantra you tell yourself when you start to doubt your performance. Or you might sit quietly for five minutes before the interview starts and mentally review all the reasons the interview is likely to go well.

Exaggerate your emotions a bit on screen
For the same reason, you want to practice being emotive during the interview. “Unless you have a sophisticated set of earphones, the audio gets compressed and you lose many of the undertones, which convey emotions,” he explains. “So you need to exaggerate those a bit.” He suggests practicing with a friend on video to “get some feedback about the setting, your tone, and your body language.” Your goal is to appear natural and at ease. You might record yourself answering a few sample questions and watch how you appear. But don’t do this if you’ll just focus on everything you’re doing wrong. Again, you don’t want to make yourself so self-conscious that it hinders your performance.

Convey warmth during the interview
The crisis has made people more eager to connect with colleagues on an emotional level and your interviewer may have a higher expectation about how much warmth you convey during the interview. Markman recommends that you follow the lead of the interviewer on small talk, but it may be appropriate to ask the interviewer how they and their loved ones are doing right now. And you should have a good response prepared for the same question should it come back to you. He suggests something like, “Thanks for asking. I’m doing as well as possible under the circumstances.” You don’t need to go into unnecessary detail.

Ask pertinent questions
When given the chance to ask questions during the interview, Fernández-Aráoz says you should ask all “the usual questions” such as What are your expectations for this role? How will you measure success for the position? What am I not asking you that I should? Markman suggests also asking about their onboarding process in the virtual environment. How will they be helping new hires get acclimated?

Looking for a job is never easy. But it’s going to be particularly hard right now, so try to be easy on yourself during the process. Chances are that you aren’t out of work because of anything you did and many, many people are in the same boat. The economy will come back and, until it does, remember that you’re doing the best you can.

Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. She writes and speaks about workplace dynamics. Watch her TEDx talk on conflict and follow her on Twitter at @amyegallo.

7/19/2020 - How to make over your résumé for an unplanned career change

If you’ve been affected by a recent job loss, you can come out of it with a better career. Start by putting your to mind to improvement and thinking strategically about your experience.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented upheaval to the economy and job market, leaving many of us facing uncertain futures.

With thousands of businesses shutting down across the globe, and entire industries grinding to a halt overnight, it’s likely to be one of the most challenging periods that job seekers have seen in their lifetime.

So, if you’ve been affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19, here are some tips to help you navigate the new version of a “normal” job market, optimize your résumé accordingly, and land the job you need right now.

Although we are living in worrying times, it’s worth remembering that events like these have happened in the past (and are likely to happen again) and they do eventually pass; rest assured, things will return to a somewhat similar version of normal soon.

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a tragedy which saw millions of Americans lose their jobs. But after recovering, the U.S. went on to boast the strongest economy in the world for many years.

So, it’s worth reminding yourself that although things may look bleak now—if you’re able to ride out the storm, you will be all right.

You may have to put off the pursuit of your dream job for a year, or you may have to take a temporary reduction in income. But if you do as much as possible to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on you right now, you’ll be in much stronger position to get back on track when things return to normal.

As the old saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” This adage is particularly true when looking at the job market.

Although we are seeing industries such as hospitality, leisure, and aviation closing their doors during the pandemic, there are other industries seeing huge spikes in activity. Food retailers and fitness equipment suppliers are seeing massive surges in demand, and many companies with services in areas such as videoconferencing and contact tracing are growing their businesses to meet the new challenges being brought to our society by social-distancing measures.

Pay attention to current business news and do some online research to discover which industries are taking off and likely to be hiring new staff. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and consider companies and roles that you wouldn’t have under normal circumstances—remember, this is only going to be a temporary move.

Once you have started to build a list of companies, industries, and potential jobs—it’s time to figure out what you have to offer them. Making a career move can be daunting, especially if it’s one you didn’t want to make. But you’ll probably find that you already have a number of skills that are in-demand across many industries.

You just need to identify the ones which are most relevant to the jobs and companies you will be applying for—so that you can make them prominent in your new résumé.

Scan through company websites, career pages, and job adverts, taking note of the most sought-after skills and knowledge that match your own. Once you identify these attributes, you’ll be in a much stronger position to create an attractive résumé.

If you’re making a career move, it’s likely that you will be missing a few of the candidate requirements from your new target jobs—but don’t let that stop you.

If you need to learn how to use a new software tool, or even the fundamentals of a whole new profession, it’s highly likely that you will be able to find an online course on the topic.

The internet is packed full of learning resources on every subject, and often you will be able to find them for very cheap, or even free—on sites such as Udemy.

You don’t have to get a master’s degree in your new chosen field, but if you can take a few short courses and put them at the top of your résumé, it shows that you’re dedicated and you at least have some basic knowledge in the new field.

Your current résumé was written for the employers you were targeting pre-coronavirus, so it’s not likely to appeal to new employers.

Therefore, aim to turn a new leaf and completely rewrite your résumé, tailoring it directly to the new employers you will be targeting. Ensure that you highlight all of the transferable skills you identified, and make prominent any courses you have recently taken.

In particular, you’ll want to rebrand yourself with a new profile at the top of your résumé, which provides an elevator-pitch-style introduction and explains why you’re the perfect fit for the roles you are targeting. Avoid the temptation to focus on your past roles too much, and instead focus on explaining how your skills could benefit employers and help them achieve their goals.

In addition to approaching plenty of recruiters and hiring managers with tailored applications, don’t forget to tap into your existing network.

Change your LinkedIn profile to show people that you are looking for a new role, and actively reach out to ex-colleagues and managers. You don’t always need to directly ask them for work, but you can just drop them a quick friendly message, or comment on a post and strike up a conversation—just so that they are aware that you are looking, should anything come up.

Job hunting in the current climate may be tough, but with a reinvented approach and persistent work, you can secure one of today’s new opportunities.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to publications such as Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.

7/12/2020 - Mark Cuban: This is the new interview question employers will ask job-hunters after the pandemic

by Tom Huddleston Jr. 

Mark Cuban has some advice for the millions of Americans who are out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic: collect unemployment, don’t stop applying for jobs and make use of whatever down-time you might have to brush up on the skills that might impress your future employer.

“The first question every interviewer is going to ask you is: ‘What did you learn during the pandemic of 2020? What skills did you add during the pandemic of 2020?‘” Cuban said in an interview with Dallas’ local CBS affiliate on Sunday.

The billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks was asked what his advice would be for those who are unemployed and job-hunting. Just under 20 million Americans were collecting unemployment benefits as of last week, according to the government.

“If I was 24 or 25 … living with five roommates, how would I be dealing with this and what would I tell myself?” Cuban wondered.

“Keep on adding to your skill-set, no matter what it is,” the “Shark Tank” star told CBS. “I don’t care if you’re a welder, or you want to learn how to [computer] program, you want to learn about artificial intelligence, whatever it is.”

For some that might mean less binge-watching Netflix and playing video games: “Unless you’re trying to be a career gamer or esport athlete, you’ve got to get off the games and really focus on taking classes or doing something to increase your skill-set,” he said.

“Wherever you want to work, use this time to become great at it, because that’s where the opportunities start to open up,” Cuban added. “If you just sit back and wonder what’s next, then it becomes all the more challenging.”

In addition to working on adding new skills to your repertoire, the “Shark Tank” star also advised anyone who is unemployed to immediately apply for unemployment insurance, “because that takes some of the stress off, if you qualify.”

Cuban noted that unemployment benefits still include an extra $600-per-week payment under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act Congress passed in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Those extra $600 weekly payments are scheduled to end “on or before July 31,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.)

Cuban’s other piece of advice? “Don’t stop applying for jobs.”

The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for May 2020, showed an unemployment rate of 13.3%. That number was actually a slight improvement from April, when the U.S. hit an unemployment rate of 14.7% that was its worst since the Great Depression.

Even with such a difficult environment for job-seekers, Cuban noted that some companies are still hiring. The billionaire has also been adamant amid the global pandemic that America’s entrepreneurial spirit will mean that several “world-changing companies” will be launched in the wake of coronavirus.

“There are people out there coming up with new ideas, new businesses, new opportunities. So, keep applying [to jobs],” Cuban told CBS.

The billionaire noted that he some experience with entering a rough job market himself, as the last time the U.S. unemployment rate topped 10% was within a year after Cuban graduated from Indiana University in 1981.

“When I graduated, there were no jobs. That’s one of the reasons I came to Dallas, because the economy was much better [there],” Cuban told CBS. “So, if you need that job now, you may have to be mobile. You may have to go outside of your comfort zone and just get a job until you get that job you really want.”

Cuban has often recounted the fact that, after graduating from college, he moved to Texas “with $60, hole in my floorboard, case of oil in the trunk & a floor to sleep on in Dallas.”

He lived with five friends in a three-bedroom apartment, often sleeping on the floor. While Cuban had never really been into technology or computers, he found a job selling computer software and realized, “Wait, I love this,” he said in 2017.

While Cuban was eventually fired from that job, he was inspired to start his own software company called MicroSolutions that he sold in 1990 for $6 million.

“Getting a job gives you a platform to really pay [your] bills, but learn something and maybe find that you’re really good at a new industry,” Cuban told CBS. “I got a job in computers because I couldn’t get a job anywhere else and it turned out pretty well.”

5 Ways to Prepare for a Job Interview

Professional resume writing and job application skills are only the first step to landing your next career. Once your application gets your foot in the door, you’ll need to know how to prepare for a job interview that will seal the deal.

The purpose of an interview is twofold. First, the interviewer will want to learn more about your skills and background. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the interviewer will want to get a feel for you as a person. Interviewing for a job is as much about showing how well you’ll fit in with the company culture and environment as proving your qualifications.

There are a few qualities that experienced hiring managers always looks for:

Interviewers are well aware of how stressful an interview can be, so don’t worry too much about being nervous. A good interviewer will usually take steps to put you at ease, and being a bit nervous can actually help with boosting your intensity. Just be sure to do enough job interview preparation that you have solid responses at the ready, even if you start to lose your nerve.

Job Interview Fundamentals

Interviewing for a job gets easier the more you do it. Although each interview will be different, many interview questions will stay the same from one to the next. Knowing what to expect and having a firm grasp on the fundamentals will help you to prepare for a job interview that will be a success.

Every interview will usually start with an open-ended question such as, “Tell me about yourself.” This is your opportunity to lay out your work history and experience in as much detail as you feel is necessary. Don’t hold back information in hopes that it’ll come up later; you will want to lead with strong stories that demonstrate you are the right person for the job.

Once you’ve given a brief but detailed summary, the interviewer will provide a bit of background information about the company and position. They may give you an opportunity at this point to ask questions. Take advantage of this as a way to demonstrate your understanding of the position, which can build rapport and prove that you were paying attention. You can then link those key bits of information to your own skills and experience once the specific questions start.

Job interview questions are designed to gauge your skills and abilities as well as get a close look at your personality and how well you’ll fit in with the position. Some of the questions will be familiar to you, but it’s best to avoid giving canned answers; the interviewers will have heard the same responses before. Studying common questions in advance can help you to prepare, but there’s no value in simply memorizing so-called “best” responses. Be honest while aiming to make the best impression.

Preparing for a Job Interview

Before you go into your job interview, it helps to remind yourself of the interview’s purpose. Your goal is not to say whatever it takes to get the job. You don’t want to lock yourself into a position that you’ll hate only to start the job-hunting process all over again. You are interviewing your employer as much as they are interviewing you. Going in with the right attitude can help you to remain centered and focus on getting the most from the experience.

One important thing to bear in mind is that it’s possible to talk yourself out of a job. A longer interview is not necessarily a better one. Stay focused and enter the interview with a strategy for handling questions without getting side-tracked. Most interview questions are open-ended, and it can be hard to gauge how much to respond. A good strategy for working around this is to prepare both long and short versions of a response. Default to giving the short version and explain that you can go into greater detail if they’d like.

Be sure to tailor your answers to fit the information the interviewer needs to know rather than offering any extraneous details and unnecessary explanation. Don’t be so terse as to appear that you don’t want to answer at all, but make it clear that you have a lot of information to share and give the interviewer a chance to sift through what’s most relevant.

For example, an interviewer might ask you about what prior sales experience you’ve had. You then might respond with something like, “Let me give you the short version first. I’ve held the titles of regional and national sales manager and worked in two different companies over the span of five years. What would you like me to focus on?”

This saves you the hassle of going over several years of job experience while telegraphing to the interviewer that you are organized, methodical and care about his or her time. It also turns the job interview into more of a conversation and less of an interrogation.

Although you’ll want to answer questions thoroughly and accurately, you don’t want to over-share or appear to lose focus. Don’t provide too many details or go off on tangents. It’s especially important to rein it in if you know that you tend to ramble when you get nervous. Resist the urge to chatter to fill in gaps and silence. Instead, take a deep breath and carefully consider questions that require some thought. Keep the conversation flowing and show your potential employer that you are capable of communicating clearly.

Let’s talk about the 5 job interview preparation strategies.

1. Ask the Right Interview Questions

You never want your interview to turn into an interrogation. You also don’t want it to simply duplicate the contents of your professional resume. An interview provides you with an opportunity to get to know the people you’ll be working for, and you should take advantage of this. You’re not there simply to get the job; you’re there to be sure that it’s a job you actually want and will enjoy long term.

Asking high-quality questions shows your would-be employer that you are paying attention and are engaged with the interview process. They also help to build up rapport. Good questions serve other purposes as well:

They create a dialogue that help you to get a feel for what working with the interviewer might be like, which is especially important if your interviewer will be your direct supervisor.

When thinking up questions to ask at your job interview, you’ll want to slant them in such a way that they build empathy and understanding of the employer. You don’t want to ask obvious job interview questions that you could have solved with a brief internet search. You want to ask questions that make it clear you’re envisioning yourself already in the role.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can try some of the following job interview questions:

You’ll want to personalize the questions you ask to the specific role you’ll fill and the general vibe of the interview, but pointed questions like these can show that you’re working to align with the company’s priorities and goals.

2. Do Your Research Before Your Job Interview

The first step of writing a professional resume is researching the company and tailoring your resume to the job posting. The same is true of a job interview. You’ll want to do some work in advance to have answers to some of the most common job interview questions:

You’ll want to put some real thought into these questions and be prepared to answer them in a way that feels authentic and provides some valuable information. You’ll also want to be prepared to answer them in a way that reflects your own skills, strengths and ambitions rather than pointing a finger at anyone else, even if the reason you left your last job was that the working conditions were miserable. You don’t want to come across as a complainer; you want to be someone who is excited for a new opportunity and a chance to stretch your creative and professional wings.

There are a handful of questions you can always count on to come up in a job interview:

Stress questions don’t come up in every interview, but it’s good to be prepared for them. You’ll want to handle these questions calmly and with a carefully considered answer. Humor is a good tactic if you can keep it professional. Take your time with these and don’t feel pressured into responding right away. The interviewer is testing to see how well you do with pressure and how well you respond when you’re put on the spot.

3. Handle the Money Question Like a Pro

As professional resume writers and career coaches will tell you, navigating salary questions is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job application process. The prevailing wisdom is often to wait for the employer to bring it up first, but some HR executives suggest taking a more proactive approach.

Either way, when preparing for a job interview it’s important not to lock yourself into specific numbers unless you have to. An interviewer may ask you how much you’re currently earning or what sort of money you’d need to consider a job offer. Avoid giving a specific figure here unless you’re asked for one directly. Instead, it’s best to offer a range or to deflect with a response like, “The opportunity is more important to me than the salary. If we decide to work together, I’m sure you’ll make a fair offer.”

By making the employer bring up specific dollar amounts first, you can usually land a better starting salary and save yourself from getting locked into a lowball figure.

4. Wrap Up Your Job Interview

As an interview begins to wind down, you’ll have opportunities to wrap up any loose ends or circle back to questions you still have or anything else that seems relevant. By this point in the process you may have a good feeling about how well the interview has gone; you may even want to ask the interviewer how he thought it went if you’re feeling bold.

You can’t go wrong with asking the interviewer about the next step of the process. You’ll also want to be truthful about any other opportunities you’re exploring and any timeline you’re working on that may affect the interviewer’s decision. Always present this in the spirit of assistance and disclosure and not in an attempt to strong-arm the interviewer into negotiations.

No matter how you feel the job interview went, be sure to end on a positive note. Even if there were hiccups along the way, most employers will remember candidates who maintained their composure and behaved professionally through to the end.

5. Consider Professional Help

Interviewing is a skill that can be honed with job interview practice. It’s also something that you can get help with.

If you’re looking to advance your career, it pays to reach out to professional resume writers or job coaches who are in the business of helping people package their experience and skills in a way that will be enticing to potential employers.

There is no shame in getting help especially at higher career levels; you can be sure that your competitors are doing the same, and doing some advanced preparations will help you to put your best foot forward.

7/5/2020 - How to Network When There Are No Networking Events

by Alisa Cohn and Dorie Clark 

We all know the typical ways to network: by attending industry mixers, business dinners, and conferences. But of course, none of those have been possible over the past few months, with so much of the world in quarantine. And even as various regions start to open up, large gatherings will be slow to come back, and long-distance travel will be limited. How should you be making new professional connections during this time? And how can you strengthen relationships inside your company when many people are still working remotely?

As executive coaches who work with leaders across the globe, we’ve spent years helping clients learn to build relationships virtually. As in the past, it’s still useful to deepen existing relationships and cultivate new ones by engaging on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. But in this unique time, we’ve identified several other strategies you can use to create connections. Here are three to consider.

Turn canceled conferences into private networking opportunities.

Since the pandemic began, many conferences and other large gatherings have been canceled, but even in their absence, you can use them as a way to meet people. Take a look at the conferences scheduled for earlier in the year along with those that would have been coming up. Identify participants who were supposed to attend or speak or who came in prior years. (If you don’t have the list, you can often email conference organizers and ask for it.)

Choose five to 10 people you’d like to connect with, and find something you have in common that might make them interested in meeting you (for instance, you’re both involved in robotics research, or you’re alumni of the same university). You can email them or send a message on LinkedIn saying something like, “We were both planning to attend [conference] this year. I had been hoping to meet you there, because I saw that we’re both involved in robotics research and I thought it might be interesting to chat. Since the event was canceled and we’re all grounded for the moment, I thought I’d reach out virtually instead. Let me know if you’d like to meet for a coffee over Zoom.”

One of Alisa’s clients, the CEO of a media company, employed this strategy. After a major conference he was planning to attend got canceled, he reached out to some of the people he had wanted to meet there and convened a virtual cocktail party. He developed relationships with interesting new contacts and was invited to speak at a future event.

Rethink geographic boundaries.

Before the world went remote, most professionals’ standard networking impulse was to focus on the people around them. We experienced this ourselves as hosts of regular dinner gatherings in New York City. When creating guest lists, we’d think about local colleagues and would tell out-of-town contacts to “let us know when you’re going to be in New York.” Now those boundaries have receded, and as we’ve shifted to virtual cocktail gatherings, we’ve realized that we’re free to invite people from around the world with whom we wouldn’t have previously been able to connect. During one recent Zoom networking event, we brought together colleagues from Boston, New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Austin.

We’ve noticed that our corporate coaching clients are applying the same principles and similarly taking a more expansive view. In the past, they might not have invited colleagues from different geographic regions to participate in a meeting if everyone else attending was in the same office. Now that so many of us are remote, they’re more comfortable inviting colleagues regardless of where they’re located.

Invite senior leaders to your online working group meetings.

The current crisis has raised a host of new issues for business leaders to consider, whether it’s the future of your industry, how your company is responding to particular challenges (from supply chain to marketing to employee engagement), or the future of global work. This presents a unique opportunity for you to proactively convene an informal working group to discuss these issues. In some corporate cultures, you can simply invite a few people and have it grow from there. In others, it may be important to check in with your manager first.

After gathering a group of peers a few times and establishing that the conversations are valuable, you can, where appropriate in your corporate culture, reach out to senior leaders and invite them to join a session, as either a participant or a guest speaker. A drop-by from a high-level leader may have been difficult, if not impossible, under normal circumstances — but with everyone working virtually (and the leader not traveling), a 15-minute appearance is often surprisingly easy to facilitate.

One of Alisa’s clients is the CHRO of the U.S. division of a Fortune 500 company. In the early days of the pandemic, she took the initiative to convene a regular call with her peers in other geographies. As the crisis has played out, she has invited multiple company leaders, including the global CEO, to take part. That got her onto his radar, and he now calls her personally to discuss how the various regions are doing.

Even though networking events have been canceled, there are many ways for you to build professional relationships. By employing these three strategies, you’ll emerge even stronger once in-person events start up again.


Alisa Cohn is an executive coach who specializes in work with Fortune 500 companies and prominent startups, including Google, Microsoft, Foursquare, Venmo, and Etsy. You can download her free list of questions to start conversation here. Learn more at
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out. You can receive her free Recognized Expert self-assessment.

6/28/2020 - 11 Tips on How to Nail Remote Media Interviews

by William Comcowich 

Covid-19 has greatly accelerated the trend to remote TV interviews. Media interviews are now more likely than not to be completed remotely via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or other video conference app than in person.

“There was once a time when a journalist would scoff at the idea of an interview over Skype or Google Hangouts. Now, these are tools that they need to use to do their jobs,” says Lisa Arledge Powell, president of MediaSource, in PRsay. In addition, virtual interviews are probably here to stay.

Remote interviews open PR opportunities since they overcome geographical barriers. The executive being interviewed doesn’t have to get to the broadcast studio; the video team doesn’t have to traipse to the executive’s office.

Remote TV interviews now pose new pitfalls. PR staff likely are now responsible for the streaming video platform and the lighting and sound in the executive’s office or home. Technical glitches pose risks, as do interruptions from noisy children and pets.

Media training and PR experts offer these recommendations to avoid those pitfalls and complete media interviews that produce stellar results.

Find what to expect. Media outlets run their interviews differently. They use different apps and different formats. Some stations ask you to pre-record your part of the interview and later splice in the host asking questions. Ask plenty of questions and view examples of remote segments to make sure you understand what’s expected, recommends Rebekah Epstein at Fifteen Media.

1. Pitch remote access. Mention that your client or company representative is available for a remote interview when pitching stories and press releases, Epstein says. Avoid offering in-person interviews, as that’s inappropriate in the current climate.

2. Lighting. Beware of ambient lighting. Make sure to turn off any overhead lighting, advises Shift Communications. If there is a window in the room, ensure you are facing it directly and there is no light coming in behind the camera or on the side of your face where it can create shadows. Draw the shade if the light is too bright and “whiting out” your face. Use a key light from well above eye level or natural light that is directly on your face to ensure you are properly lit. If possible, use a smaller secondary light from behind and above you (or a light reflecting off the ceiling) to highlight your hair and eliminate shadows.

3. Daylight casts a blue tone. Standard incandescent bulbs cast a yellow tone. LED bulbs can be either blue or yellow. Check that the lighting you’re using produces a natural skin tone. If you need to supplement outside daylight, use a blue LED bulb for consistent lighting.

4. Mind the background and dress code. Viewers inspect and comment on backgrounds in home interviews. It’s become a thing. Avoid cluttered backgrounds. Be sure your background doesn’t include any embarrassing details. It’s also best to remove personal details such as pictures of children. Ask the news producer in advance about dress code. It’s usually best to mimic the style of the interviewer. Neutral colors work best in remote broadcasts. Avoid clothes that clash with or disappear into your background. You don’t want a brown suit against a brown bookcase or a flowered dress against a floral painting.

5. Sound. As much as possible, make sure the room is quiet and the interview won’t be interrupted by unexpected noises, children or spouses in bathrobes. Choose a quiet location in the house. Avoid high-ceilinged rooms with an echo, avoid appliances and vents that produce an audible hum or hiss, recommends Eric Heisler, director of media relations at Bravo Group. Politely ask your family or roommate not to disturb you and give pets a toy to keep them busy. Test your audio and use of high-quality microphone if available. Do a trial to test both video and audio quality.

6. Raise the interview to a new level. A common shortcoming with many online interviews is that the camera is not elevated. Raise laptops so they’re level with your face. Use books or boxes if needed, as long as they are stable.

7. Look at the camera. Conventional advice recommends looking people in the eye during interviews. But looking at the interviewer on the screen creates the appearance of avoiding eye-contact on television. Maintain eye-contact with the webcam, not the interviewer. Look down the barrel of the lens to create the impression of eye-contact, recommends James White at Media First.

8. Maintain erect posture. A media interview is not a time for sloppy posture. Avoid using your desk chair. A straight chair without wheels or a tilting back is best for an interview to help you sit up erect and maintain the position directly in front of the camera. The erect position also helps you project better (and maybe even think more quickly and clearly).

9. Prepare like usual. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the more relaxed home environment home. You still need to prepare properly. Research the publication to understand its perspective. Prepare responses to expected questions and plan how you’ll relay your intended message. Some PR pros advise preparing notes, but glancing away breaks eye contact with viewers, making the interviewee appear shifty or uncomfortable. If you need bullet point notes, put them to the side of your camera at the same level so that you can see them without having to glance away from the camera.

10. Prepare for tough questions. Facing difficult questions in media interviews is a major media relations challenge. Mastering the techniques of giving clear answers, restructuring questions, and deflecting off-target questions can help assure that your message is delivered effectively.

11. Measure results. Employ advanced media monitoring and measurement to gauge the impact of the remote interviews. It’s important to use a media monitoring service that can monitor TV broadcasts and measure results of all media relations campaigns and integrate data into a single dashboard.

Bottom Line: Television journalists now typically conduct interviews remotely due to Covid-19. Knowing how to avoid common pitfalls of remote media interviews is now an essential PR skill. Even if social distancing guidelines ease, remote interviews will remain common.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.

6/21/2020 - How to Hire During a Pandemic

No handshakes. No office tours. No getting-to-know-you lunches. Some companies are still in hiring mode right now--and they're finding new ways to figure out if a candidate will be a good fit.


While a staggering 20.5 million jobs were lost in April with 33 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, many businesses continue to hire--and not just Instacart or Amazon. Industries including technology, health care, and financial services continue to bring on employees. Glassdoor even created an index of Covid-19 Hiring Surge companies.

The challenge, of course, is hiring remotely. How can a hiring manager get a sense of an applicant over video? How do you communicate daily life at your company without an onsite visit? And how can you ensure that the person you brought on to work remotely during this crisis will fit in well once you're back in the office?

Before Covid-19, ShipMonk, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based shipping and fulfillment company, relied on group interviews with around 15 or 20 applicants at once. During these group interviews, prospective employees had to solve problems together, like building the tallest tower possible from pieces of paper, toilet paper rolls, and tape.

CEO Jan Bednar says that these group activities helped ShipMonk, which landed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019, assess an applicant's ability to take direction, think on their feet, and work with a team. Even management candidates had to go through with the exercises. "When you see them interact and communicate with future coworkers, that's important," Bednar says.

Now, thanks to social distancing measures, ShipMonk must rely on one-to-one video conferences or phone calls to interview candidates for all roles at the company, including operations, customer service, sales, and engineering. Bednar says the company has hired about 160 new people since the beginning of the pandemic, but that the process is now "super challenging."

"It's definitely not the full experience," Bednar says. "We built a really good experience to hire the right people. We can't have that right now, but that's the reality we have to deal with."

Donna DeChant, Shipmonk's chief people officer, says she and her team beefed up their prescreening questions. "We want to make sure you really want to do this job," she says. For example, if someone is applying for a warehouse job, she may ask, "How do you feel about standing all day?" For a customer support role, "Are you comfortable being on the telephone all day?" "I might not have asked those questions when unemployment was lower," she says. "I didn't want to risk turning them off."

That's not as a big a risk now with so many people out of work. "There are a lot more people to choose from now," Bednar says. ShipMonk is currently hiring in Florida, California, and Pennsylvania, and he says they've made hiring quicker to meet the increase in demand the company is experiencing. "We want to do everything we can to get folks into jobs," says DeChant. "You have to get creative."

One way employers are trying to ensure they find the right people during this unusual hiring period is doing more due diligence, especially since it may be harder to get a read on a candidate solely over video or the phone. "I've never seen references emphasized more than now," says Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm. (Gimbel is also an Inc. columnist.) "Our clients are saying that they're very concerned about culture fits post-corona."

Gimbel recommends asking open-ended but telling questions during an interview like "Tell me about your day" or "How do you run your day?" The answers to a prompt like that may reveal how self-directed a person is, how flexible he or she may be, qualities that may serve the company well in a work from home world.

To understand how to successfully hire remotely, it's worth looking at how an entirely remote company pulls it off. "Before you get down to the work, you have to be sure they're a fit for your organization," says Lawrence McGlown, EVP and chief marketing officer of Smarter With Achieve, an online learning platform with teachers based all over the world.

According to McGlown, Smarter With Achieve begins the process by knowing exactly the kind of candidate they're looking for and relying on screener questions and multiple rounds "designed to engage and let you self-opt out."

"We don't talk to 30 candidates for a position," McGlown says. "We talk to three or five."

For companies that previously tried to stand out by touting fun office perks--beach volleyball courts, office dogs, free lunches, and the like--the new hire pitch needs a significant revision. Absent an expensive workplace and swag, a company's culture, mission, and career development are bigger draws, according to Mehul Patel, CEO of Hired, a San Francisco-based tech careers marketplace. Silicon Valley, as well as other industries, may be at the end of "the arms race around office spaces, slides, and massages," according to Patel.

With many tech companies shedding thousands of jobs, those perks now seem like signifiers of a long ago era. "Companies are getting very good at employer branding, talking culture, sharing videos, trying to convey what it's like to be on a team without stepping foot in an office," Patel says. He cites one company changing its Zoom backgrounds to be a picture of the office to give a greater sense of where a candidate may work. Another company is sending lunch to candidates' homes to invite them to a "lunch meeting"--anything to make the process feel more welcoming, wherever they are. "Companies are starting to think about the post-Covid world. I think we'll see 70 to 80 percent work from where you are culture."

As LaSalle's Gimbel puts it: "Free beer doesn't matter. Culture matters now. Do you actually care about people?"

6/14/2020 - 8 steps to getting hired during a pandemic

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business 

The labor market has given job seekers a serious case of whiplash. It wasn't long ago that applicants were getting multiple offers. Now, they are competing with millions of Americans who have lost their jobs after coronavirus shut down the economy.

"It was a tight labor market," said Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster. "Job seekers were more in the driver's seat. Now, it's more of an influx of candidates at the same time in multiple industries."
The sudden shift and uncertain economic climate can make it hard for job seekers to navigate the new job market.

1. Update your resume: Remember, your resume is not one-size-fits-all. Tailor it to match the job posting: Use the same words the employer uses when it comes to skills, experience and title. This can increase the chances that your resume will be selected by an applicant tracking system. It can also help your resume come up in any searches of the company's database when a job opens up in the future.
Soft skills are also in demand, according to Salemi, so be sure to highlight things like your communication skills, and ability to be a team player, hit deadlines and meet deadlines. "You want to highlight your transferable skill set."

2. Tap your network. Think about what you are looking for in your next position and reach out proactively to people you think might be able to help with connections, an introduction or a potential referral.

3. Look who's hiring. There are some industries that are ramping up hiring. Do your research to see which companies are hiring, the skill sets they are looking for and how your experience can transfer to meet their needs.

4. Keep learning. Take this time to learn new skills. It will help you keep your resume sharp and give you something to point to during interviews to show you are motivated and eager to learn.
"Any advantage to differentiate yourself is important, skill development helps differentiate," said Aman Brar, CEO of recruitment software company Jobvite.

5. Learn to sell yourself. When it comes to pitching yourself to potential employers, focus on your adaptability and confidence, recommended Brar.
"Take that utility player approach," he said. "Companies are dealing with so much uncertainty. They don't have the same predictably they use to have on how work gets done." Companies have enough on their plates right now -- they want to add staff that aren't going to cause new problems, he added. "Confidence is important as companies think about who they want on the ship on choppy waters," said Brar. Be ready to share real life examples that prove you have these traits -- and they don't have to be extreme. "People overestimate how grand these stories need to be," said Brar. "Look through your life's moments of distress and when you led clearly and confidently."

6. Don't hide your job loss. Once you get a call back, be transparent about your current job situation. The key is to acknowledge it and pivot.
Salemi suggested saying something like: Yes, the pandemic shut down my company, but I am very interested in this position. I have these X,Y,Z skills that I know can contribute to your organization. And while a layoff can be hard to digest, don't dwell on it too long. "Develop some strategies to stay focused and calm," said Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation. "Don't get too emotional."

7. Ace the video interview. In-person interviews are tough, but video interviews can be even more nerve-wracking because it's harder to establish a rapport and pick up on social cues. Be overly prepared: test out your framing, audio and background well ahead of your interview. Dress as you would if the interview was done in person (that includes appropriate pants or a skirt -- you never know if you are going to have to get up to get something). Show your engagement by nodding along and smiling -- maybe even more than you are used to. "It will be harder for them to detect your enthusiasm," said Salemi. "Look genuinely excited about this opportunity and show that you want to learn more." That said, don't overdo it. "If you play it up too much, it can come off as inauthentic," she added.

8. Don't be scared to negotiate. When an offer comes in, make sure to get it in writing and review it to make sure it's in line with your expectations and market research.
"You should still negotiate. The worst they can do is say no," said Salemi. However, if the numbers are way off it might not be worth it. "It is more like fine tuning," said Brar. "If it's a $50,000 opportunity ... and you are looking for $100,000 I wouldn't bother."

6/7/2020 - Pants or no pants? Tips for virtual job interviews from home

by Elizabeth C. Tippett 

If you have the good fortune of scoring a virtual job interview in the middle of a pandemic, the initial euphoria of potential employment may soon be replaced with anxiety over what to wear – as well as putting your home life on display for a potential employer.

And with good reason. Social scientists have found that traditional interviews – without set questions or scoring metrics – are poor predictors of job performance.

When this happens, interviewers make subjective judgments based on irrelevant information, like physical appearance and nonverbal cues. Illegal stereotypes based on gender and race may also be at play.

And unfortunately, employment litigation has not succeeded in tamping down these practices. Although many companies were successfully sued in the early 2000s for making subjective employment decisions in hiring, pay and promotion, a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 made those claims nearly impossible to bring as a class action. As a result, companies have little incentive to ensure their interview practices relate to on-the-job performance.

That left job candidates focusing much of their energy on making a good impression instead of demonstrating important job skills. And that was before the pandemic, when applicants had the benefit of a neutral conference room as a backdrop. Adding the personal details of your home environment and quarantine companions to the mix – whether human or animal – doesn’t make it better.

My advice as an employment lawyer and law professor boils down to this: You are under no obligation to introduce your prospective boss into your home life through video chat. In other words, there’s no shame in attempting to recreate that conference room environment at home.

What should you wear?

Definitely wear pants, even if you think they can’t see the lower half of your body, like the unfortunate half-dressed reporter on “Good Morning America” whose bare legs were exposed on national television. You wouldn’t want to be violating that workplace harassment policy right out of the gate.

Basically you should dress the way you would for an in-person interview, which may be varying degrees of formal depending on the industry and the role you are interviewing for. When I worked in a law firm, it was common for prospective lawyers to wear a suit to the interview, even though the office itself was business casual and people dressed however they liked when working from home.

If anyone in your social network currently works in the industry – or for the company – don’t hesitate to ask for their advice on what to wear.

How should I set up the camera’s background?
Traditional job interviews are a contest of wills between a candidate’s desire to conceal their true qualities and an employer’s efforts to suss them out, through not-so-subtle questions like, “What are your weaknesses?”

Ordinarily, you can expect a little help from the law in this regard, since companies shouldn’t be asking questions that hint at a discriminatory motive – like your religion or whether you have a disability. Some states also place restrictions on asking about criminal arrests and convictions before making a job offer.

Virtual job interviews upset the balance by revealing the contents of your home. This is fundamentally unfair in the interview concealment tug of war. It’s not like your boss, let alone a potential boss, would show up at your doorstep and demand to see your apartment – though Henry Ford used to send inspectors to do just that, in exchange for a pay raise if you passed the inspection.

You, dear prospective job applicant, are getting no such inspection bonus and therefore need not offer your interviewer a portal into your personal life.

That is why I use the “Drake method” for zoom meetings. I set up my laptop to point at a bare corner of wall, like Drake’s Hotline Bling video. That way, I reveal nothing about my questionable interior decorating and life choices.

Should I hide my children?
Certainly, you are under no obligation to voluntarily disclose your children’s presence – and your prospective employer really shouldn’t ask. Asking about children is often a proxy for gender discrimination, as mothers are disproportionately penalized for their status as parents.

For example, an experimental study by Stanford Professor Shelley Correll suggested that participants gave lower ratings – and offered less pay – to female applicants who listed their membership in the parent-teacher association on their resume. By contrast, male applicants with children were offered higher salaries in the experiment than their childless peers.

Does this mean that men should roll out their kids for an “accidental” cameo appearance to enhance their stereotypical role as family breadwinner? Not necessarily.

A study by business professor Erin Reid suggests that men preserve their privileged status in part by concealing the child care work they actually perform. In her interviews with 115 workers at a consulting firm, one man said he was able to perform his consulting duties without anyone realizing that he was also taking care of his son – and downhill skiing – five days a week.

This elaborate ruse speaks both to the discrimination that men fear for revealing their child care obligations and to the strength of the default assumption that women are the primary caregivers.

So parents, if you’re inclined to shove a device and a lollipop in the general direction of a child who might blow your cover, don’t feel guilty – you’re not the only one trying to pass for a productive employee these days.

5/31/2020 - Go beyond networking -- start creating value for your network

by Tony Anticole 

Somehow, even though many of us are working from home now, we feel more connected than ever. This is a common refrain I’ve recently heard in both business and friendship circles.

Whether through synchronous or asynchronous channels, people are spending more time communicating with each other. It’s a welcome remedy to the feelings of isolation that people are feeling, whether they’re at home alone or living with their children or parents. That video call or quick text exchange can provide small moments of needed escape and connection with others.

In addition to the emotional benefits we get from this increased communication, we gain another benefit: We’re improving our ability to connect with others and provide value to them. And we can use those same skills to learn how to effectively leverage our professional networks.

The importance of effectively leveraging your network is not a new idea. “Interdependence is a higher value than independence,” is the first sentence in the classic self-help book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

Data overwhelmingly agrees: in 2014 CEB (now Gartner) identified the importance of network leadership -- the competency to both create and capture value in our network. More recent findings from Gartner and SHL show that higher levels of change agility, innovation and leader effectiveness correlate to the ability to leverage your network.

The message is clear: To be successful in today’s working environment, we can’t ignore the power of networks. To leverage our networks more effectively, we need to change our approach to networking. Simply building a network is not enough. We need a new measure of success: the amount of value we create within our network.

The give and take that makes the world go round

We create value and connection through giving and sharing. We see this on the atomic level: When atoms give electrons to other atoms through ionic bonding, the act itself creates a new attraction between the two atoms. With covalent bonding -- an atom sharing electrons with another atom -- the atom creates new value by sharing a common resource.

Robert Cialdini identifies a similar attraction between humans with the principle of reciprocity: People are more likely to give if they have first received. For example, how many times have you held a door open for someone after they’ve first held a door open for you?

To leverage reciprocity, Cialdini says that you should be the first to give, and your giving should be both personalized and unexpected. In Adam Grant's work on givers and takers, he finds that givers -- people who give more value to their network than they take -- are more likely to be higher performers within their organization.

Here are three things you can do today to create more value within your network.

1. Prioritize people who need help now

With the drastic rise in unemployment during the pandemic, everyone reading this article most likely knows (or will know) someone who lost their job via a furlough, layoff, or decrease in demand. You might feel awkward reaching out to someone who has recently been laid off. But this is the time when that person needs your help most.

Get yourself into the right mindset and proactively reach out to offer help and schedule time to talk with them. Be open, and use your networks and experience to help someone trying to figure out what’s next. Doing so provides value to people in your network and creates a connection with the person you help out.

2. Go beyond the usual suspects

Herminia Ibarra and Mark Lee Hunter identify three types of networking:

Of the three types of networking, strategic is the most underutilized. Balancing all three types of networking -- including the bigger-picture thinking of strategic networking -- is key to creating more value in your network.

As you think about who to connect with, ask yourself who has the experience or perspective to help you see the bigger picture and think about which key questions should considered. Conversely, who in your network could you play a more strategic role for? Who could you help to see the bigger picture because of the perspective, knowledge or experiences you bring?

3. Treat each give and take as unique

Keith Ferrazzi warns of the risks of what I call "shallow networking." If you’ve been on LinkedIn, you know exactly what shallow networking looks like: receiving an impersonal, boilerplate message from someone trying to network with you. Shallow networking uses principles of efficiency to scale up one’s networking efforts. But that approach to networking doesn’t create value or meaningful connections.

Remember: The goal in networking is to create more value, not to create more connections. Ferrazzi encourages us to be intentional with our efforts and focus on establishing a few good connections. Ask yourself these questions as you network to help you be intentional:

As you network during and after the pandemic, focus on how you can create value for the person you’re connecting with. Being a giver during this time of stress and isolation will not go unnoticed.

Tony Anticole, founder and principal of Varna Group LLC, helps companies increase engagement and innovation through management approaches that directly tap into people’s intrinsic motivators.

5/24/2020 - Adaptability should be your new hire’s top soft skill. Here’s how to test for it

Employees with high adaptability are better equipped to take on new tasks, learn new technologies, and develop new proficiencies.

In virtually every profession, workers need demonstrable qualifications and skills to be considered competent. When looking for a new job, candidates may highlight these on their résumés, hoping to stand out from the competition. In the past, employers may have relied exclusively on résumés to determine which individuals to interview. However, as the workplace evolves so must recruitment, and hiring managers can no longer rely solely on résumés to identify top candidates.

Soft skills, those attributes that are often developed through experiences rather than education, can elevate a competently skilled employee to a rock-star staffer. Soft skills are personal traits or attributes that can enhance interpersonal communication and be used in a multitude of ways, ranging from defusing conflict to motivating others. Given the evolving nature of work, these capabilities are increasingly important to employers.

Teamwork, problem-solving, and dependability are all examples of soft skills that are important in the workplace. However, adaptability may be the most important soft skill of all. Employees with high adaptability are better equipped to take on new tasks, learn new technologies, and develop new proficiencies, all skills that provide positive benefits to companies working to keep up with the changing times.

The modern workplace is ever-changing, with flexible work schedules, artificial intelligence integration, and all-remote teams becoming increasingly common. To maintain profitability and engagement, employers should consider testing job candidates for their adaptability quotient, meaning the capability to acclimate and thrive under changing circumstances.

Companies should look for candidates who are resilient, innovative, and calm under pressure. Asking interviewees to share examples of situations where they have demonstrated these capabilities can help employers assess their adaptability.

Consider discussing the following scenarios:

If the answers trend toward negativity, this could be a red flag. Hiring managers can use the applicant’s responses to gain a deeper insight into the person, how they react to change, if they are quick to make excuses, become defensive, or show disdain for coworkers with whom they may not see eye to eye.

To prioritize adaptability in the workplace, both employers and employees must play their part. Employers should encourage staffers to think about internal processes and ways to streamline operations. Workers should feel empowered to suggest new training, digital tools, or other ideas that could help boost productivity. In turn, managers should be given flexibility to implement suggestions and pilot new approaches presented by employees.

Embracing change and staying adaptable when faced with shifting expectations or demands can also help with problem-solving. Employers and employees who reject the one-size-fits-all approach may be more likely to find a creative or resourceful solution to an age-old problem or hurdle that inhibits business. Fostering a culture that emboldens employees to try new strategies or technologies, typically outside their employer’s norm, can encourage innovation from all levels of the corporate ladder.

Successful businesses give employees the freedom to innovate, while also granting responsibility and autonomy in the daily workplace; this is the opposite of micromanaging. If employers want to encourage innovation and adaptability, incorporating these principles into shared corporate values can help foster the desired culture. Stated values can focus employees and empower them, leading to increased engagement and sense of belonging.

Highly adaptable employees who are able to utilize this skill at work can help create a happier, more productive office environment. When employees and their ideas are appreciated, discretionary effort and overall happiness can rise. Encouraging problem-solving and innovation also shows staffers that it is acceptable to make mistakes at work and can help reframe failure as part of the process.

Employers who embrace and cultivate adaptability can help propel their business forward, ahead of the competition. In many industries and workplaces, change is inevitable. Identifying and hiring employees who welcome change and are sure-footed in evolving situations can help companies stay relevant and focused on the future.

Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit


5/17/2020 - Making the Most of a Virtual Job Fair


During the coronavirus pandemic, job search seems like a near impossible task. But practicing social distancing and looking for a job—without leaving your home—is possible, thanks to virtual career fairs.

Virtual job fairs take place online. Organizations with jobs to fill set up "booths" full of information about everything from job openings to advancement opportunities, from compensation to culture. The "booths" are often "staffed" by recruiters and hiring managers.

Yes, "attending" a virtual job fair could pay off (big time) for you—if you plan, prepare, and impress.

Here's an eight-step strategy for virtual job fair success:

Step 1: Prepare

It's been said that finding a job is nothing more than a numbers game—apply for enough of them and sooner or later you'll get one. And while this strategy may pay dividends eventually, it can also prove to be an incredibly frustrating experience full of rejection and wasted time.

A much more rewarding job search strategy is to target your applications toward jobs you are most likely to get. The same principle applies to virtual job fairs.

Don't just attend a virtual job fair because you can. Do your homework. Check job board websites and LinkedIn for job fairs featuring companies in your industry, with open positions for which you're qualified, and in areas in which you want to live.

Being selective about which career fairs to attend will improve your experience and your chances for success.

Step 2: Cleanup

Before you sit down to log on to the virtual job fair, get in the cleaning mood and pick up your house.

Many recruiters will want to video chat, and the last thing you want them to see is a stack of empty pizza boxes or beer bottles in the background. Before you log on to the virtual job-fair website, step behind your computer and take a look at your space from the vantage point of your camera.

Put away anything that looks unprofessional, do the dishes, and maybe even set some flowers in a vase on the counter—everyone's impressed by a person with fresh flowers in their home.

Related Infographic: Career Paths in Mechanical Engineering

Step 3: Dress for Success

You know your favorite vintage concert T-shirt, the one you got 13 years ago, that's in the bottom dresser drawer? Keep it there. Wear your most professional outfit instead.

While virtual job fairs may seem less formal and more relaxed than traditional job fairs or in-person interviews, they're not. Companies make significant investments in virtual job fairs, from registration and set-up costs to personnel time and technology. They take the events very seriously and are looking for job seekers to do the same. Dressing professionally shows them you're serious.

Step 4: Check Your Resume

Before logging on, make sure to have your resume ready. If you know what companies will be participating in the job fair (and you should, if you followed the first step), try to tailor your resume to each company. Proofread it. Then save it on your desktop for quick access in order to email it as well as discuss with recruiters.

Step 5: Check Your Tech

There's almost nothing worse than being in the middle of instant messaging or a video chat conversation…and having your internet connection cut out. Before logging on, double check your battery to make sure it's fully charged and make sure you have a good internet connection.

Step 6: Be Professional

Just because you're sitting on your couch instant messaging doesn't mean you should forget to be professional—remember to address recruiters as "Ms." and "Mr." Be polite. Don’t use emoticons or slang.

Check out our Podcast: Skills You Will Need for Aerospace Careers of Future

Step 7: Take Notes

This step is perhaps the easiest and most important to accomplish. Take a lot of notes, every step of the way.

Before logging on to the virtual job fair, take notes on the companies that will be participating. What jobs do they list as being open? What are their major accomplishments? How do you think you can help them? Use your notes to develop questions to ask the recruiters. Use them to develop three key messages about yourself: How you can be a valuable part of their team; How your experience translates to their companies' goals; and, How you can help them.

Use the notes—the questions, the key messages—to show how well-prepared you are.

Step 8: Follow-Up

Send thank you notes to everyone who takes the time to talk to you. It will impress them and keep your name and resume at the top of their mind.

CareerCast is a job search site with exclusive local and niche job postings, and career advice. This article was originally published on

5/10/2020 - Trying to get hired amid the pandemic? Here are some tips

by Annie Nova 

Were you looking for a new job when the pandemic hit? Or are you out of work because of the coronavirus?
CNBC spoke with hiring experts about how to still land a job during this trying time.

Whether you were looking for a new job before the coronavirus pandemic hit or have lost your job because of it, one thing is clear: Getting hired now isn’t going to be so easy.

“We’re seeing a lot of interviews rescheduled or canceled,” said Emily Slocum, global head of client services at GQR, an employment agency. “A lot of our candidates are frustrated.”

Yet there are still new positions opening up every day, Slocum said.

CNBC spoke with hiring experts about how to land a job even as the global health crisis shuts down businesses and forces employees to stay home.

Take advantage of downtime
Most of us have a little more downtime these days: Use some of it to update your resume and LinkedIn profile, said Vinay Nayak, vice president of strategic sales and operations at recruiting agency Aerotek.

While you’re at it, clean up your social media pages, said Debra Thorpe, senior vice president at Kelly Services, a staffing agency. “Scrub any content you don’t want a potential employer to see — or, if that’s too much work, make your profiles private,” Thorpe said.

You also want to gather references, Slocum said. “The best reference would be someone who is personally connected to the firm you are applying to, either works there themselves or knows the hiring manager directly,” Slocum said.

Research any company you apply to, Nayak said. Become familiar with its work, priorities and style.

Your first interaction with the company should be a personalized message to its hiring manager, said Lee Hills, head of cyber-security recruiting at GQR.

“Many hiring managers are working from home and will be more likely to respond to a direct reach out,” Hills said.

Focus on industries that are hiring
Some industries haven’t been hit as hard by the pandemic as others. Customer service and warehouse workers, package handlers, accountants and health care-workers, for example, are still in demand, Nayak said.

“We are also seeing an uptick in government-related positions to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Search the internet for companies in these sectors and look for open positions that fit with your experience, said Josh Fitzgerald, head of technology recruiting at GQR.

“A role as a marketing associate at an airline probably won’t be available at present, but the same role at a pharmaceutical company might be,” Fitzgerald said.

If you land an interview
“Physical distancing guidelines shouldn’t slow down the interview process,” Nayak said, adding that, “a well-executed video interview presents an excellent alternative to meeting the employer in person.”

Before the interview, practice your responses to anticipated questions.

At the same time, think about the questions you have for the potential employer, as well as what you want to express about your experience and yourself.

Most jobs are currently remote, Nayak said, so be prepared to discuss your best work from home practices.

Keep in mind that we’re all living in trying times right now, said Risa M. Mish, a professor at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.

“Open by asking how they are doing before jumping into what you want,” Mish said.

Make sure to dress appropriately and find a quiet setting to conduct the conversation, Nayak said.

Follow up, but not too much
Amid the pandemic, human resources staff at a prospective employer may either be swamped with tasks other than hiring or simply not have many answers to provide right now, Fitzgerald said.

Normally, you don’t want to follow up after an interview more than once or twice a week.

“If they have specifically cited a pause or delay in the recruitment process, I would check in once every two weeks,” Fitzgerald said.

Think outside the box
“Business as usual isn’t anymore,” said Jana Seijts, a lecturer in management communication at the Ivey Business School. “Those who can adapt and seek out possibilities will thrive.”

Consider learning new skills or even enrolling in an online certificate or degree program. “Invest in yourself,” Nayak said.

Maybe you haven’t considered a temporary job but, “contingent labor is essential in uncertain economic times because it allows companies to take a paced approach to their recovery,” Nayak said.

To find such work, you might think about what issues your community is facing because of the pandemic, said Marc-David L. Seidel, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

“Do you have the necessary technical skills to help people setup video conferencing to stay both professionally and socially connected?” Seidel said. “Do you have the ability to help people stay healthy with new forms of diet or exercise?

“These are just some broad examples, but the key underlying aspect is identifying needs and matching your hidden skill set with them creatively,” he added.

5/3/2020 - How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting job searching

by Catherine Guiles 

The coronavirus pandemic has upended work environments and greatly affected millions of Americans in the US jobs market. What if you were in the process of applying for a new job before the pandemic, or what if you need to look for one now? This article takes a look at how recruiting and hiring processes have changed because of the pandemic and what job seekers and human resources departments need to know.

Changes in networking and recruiting
In-person networking is out, due to social distancing guidelines, stay-at-home orders and bans on large gatherings, so job seekers need to use every virtual tool at their disposal.

Professional groups on LinkedIn and Facebook can be used to meet others in your field and share your knowledge, consultant Nancy Halpern tells The Muse. This is also a good time to practice your video skills by having a mock virtual-networking conversation or interview with a friend, says Laura Labovich, CEO of The Career Strategy Group in Bethesda, Md.

Networking events, such as those held by the Career Network Ministry at McLean Bible Church in Virginia, also have moved online and can be a convenient way to connect.

On the recruiting side, because Employee Benefits News reports that recruiters are opening fewer offices and video meetings are replacing office visits for potential hires at several companies, video is your best shot to make a good impression.

Changes in communicating
Many HR departments are preoccupied with taking care of their current employees, so they may be slow to respond to job seekers. Kathleen Landers, executive director of SEQUENCE Counseling and Consulting Services in Silver Spring, Md., tells The Muse that it may be difficult to reach people now, but that will likely change as people and companies get more settled.

Changes in interviewing
Companies and applicants alike need to know how to do interviews via video. Indeed has guidelines for both sides. For interviewers, it recommends following many of the same protocols as an in-person interview, along with giving applicants time to prepare, holding interviews in a quiet location free of distractions, testing the internet connection before the interview, dressing professionally and sending a virtual invitation to the interview via email. Notably, interviewers should “make direct eye contact by looking at your computer’s camera instead of the screen.”

For applicants, Indeed’s advice is similar: Test technology, dress professionally, prepare ahead of time and limit distractions. It also recommends using professional body language, building rapport and being genuine with the interviewer, and following up afterward. In addition, SpencerStuart consultant Jason Baumgarten recommends having an appropriate background and good-quality lighting.

Changes in onboarding
More companies hiring during the coronavirus pandemic will be onboarding new hires online, Doodle CEO Renato Profico writes in Fast Company. It’s important that meetings are “as focused, engaged, and productive as possible,” he writes.

But one-to-one contact with bosses is crucial: “The key is to use the right technology solutions to automate and optimize the process so one-to-one meetings can be set up quickly, the right people can participate, the right knowledge is shared, and necessary action items come out as a result.” Employers should also use technology to help new employees meet their co-workers and begin to fit in.

What else should I do?
If you don’t hear anything back during your job search, it’s important to still stay positive, according to recruiter and consultant Lisa Rangel. She writes, “Be prepared and anticipate delays so you can reposition yourself, remain optimistic, and keep your pipeline full.”

If your job offer has been put on hold, career expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine recommends asking why and continuing to promote yourself, but not too much. She also suggests offering to work for free to show you’re serious and can do the job. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to just look somewhere else.

Rangel writes that when following up, “showcasing your accomplishments that demonstrate turning around challenging situations into profitable paths can make the potential employer’s decision easier to hire you. Be sure to highlight skills such as your experience working virtually to outline how you will assimilate into the organization faster.”

If all else fails, this could be a good time to develop some new skills and reach out to potential references and connections, Washington, D.C., area career experts Tony Lee, Jennifer Chestnut and Byron Auguste tell WAMU-FM. Along with updating your resume and cover letters, this will make you better prepared to apply when the labor market is ready to accept more new hires. The Career Network Ministry currently offers virtual lessons in resume writing, interviewing, finding a job with the federal government and other job-related topics.

If you need a job right away, Amazon and Walmart have started hiring 100,000 and 150,000 workers, respectively, to help handle increased demand because of the pandemic. Other businesses, particularly delivery services, pharmacies and grocery stores, are looking to hire thousands of workers -- CVS Health, Dollar General and Papa John’s, to name a few.

Indeed also notes there are many resources available for those who have lost their job or whose work has otherwise been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. State employment agencies are a good place to start, along with nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill Industries.

The pandemic’s long-term effects on the nature of work and hiring -- and the economy as a whole -- remain to be seen. But hopefully, this advice will help you thrive during this difficult time.

Catherine Guiles is a copy editor/writer at SmartBrief. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

4/26/2020 - The Upside of Failure

A look at the surprising benefits of striking out, and how to make the most of your mistakes.
Maryam Kouchaki, Dashun Wang, Benjamin F. Jones, Yang Wang, Craig Wortmann, Edward (Ned) Smith, Col. Brian Halloran and Eric T. Anderson 

No one sets out to design an unsuccessful product or get turned down for a big promotion. Yet there’s a growing awareness that failing actually has its upsides.

“The idea that one gets stronger through failure is the kind of stiff advice that people may tell themselves in difficult times,” says Kellogg strategy professor Benjamin Jones. Indeed, this idea has taken on new life in the “fail fast, fail often” mentality of startups, where it’s accepted that striking out is not just something to be endured, but a critical step on the path to success.

But how true is this widely held belief? And when, exactly, can failure be a boon?

Kellogg faculty weigh in on the surprising benefits of failing and how you can own—and even profit from—your mistakes.

1. You Probably Mess Up More Often Than You Think
Any honest discussion of failure should begin with some earnest stocktaking.

Many of us like to believe that we miss the mark less than the average person, even when it comes to ethical lapses. Indeed, research from professor Maryam Kouchaki suggests that people tend to experience what she calls “unethical amnesia,” wherein they recall their own unethical behaviors with less-than-perfect clarity.

In a series of experiments, Kouchaki and a colleague showed that people who were prompted to write about unethical behavior reported remembering the event less vividly than groups who were prompted to write about an ethical behavior, or who wrote about a positive or negative experience.

Moreover, the more time that passed between an unethical incident and the moment of recall, the lower were the odds that they would recall much about the incident. “Basically, people limit the retrieval of this information, and that leads to amnesia over time,” Kouchaki says.

This selective memory could make us more likely to take similar unethical actions again in the future. So how can we come to terms with our past failings in order to avoid repeating them?

“A habit of self-reflection helps to keep such memories alive,” Kouchaki explains. “This is what I teach in my MBA classes—that being a good leader is to take time to reflect, to learn from one’s success and failures.”

2. But, Thankfully, Failure Really Can Benefit Your Career
You may be glad to forget failures from early in your career, like the coveted internship you failed to nab, or that huge sale that you flubbed at your first job. (Sorry to remind you.)

But there’s evidence that those setbacks might help you out in the long run. In a study, professors Dashun Wang and Benjamin Jones and postdoctoral researcher Yang Wang found that early failure can in fact breed later success.

“Failure is devastating, and it can also fuel people.”

— Prof. Dashun Wang

The researchers compared scientists who narrowly missed out on a prestigious federal grant with scientists who narrowly qualified for the grant. It turned out, ten years down the line, those who didn’t get the grant ended up publishing more successful papers than those who did.

In the long run, “the losers ended up being better,” Wang says.

Why? The researchers tested several possible explanations—for instance, that failing to get the grant “weeded out” the weakest scientists, leading only the higher performers to keep writing papers. But even when they accounted for that (by artificially weeding out a similar number of scientists who did get the grant), the losers still outperformed the winners.

That left the researchers to conclude that adversity itself was what pushed the rejected scientists to succeed. “Failure is devastating,” says Wang, “and it can also fuel people.”

3. At the Very Least, You Get a Good Story Out of It
Of course, not all failures have a positive effect on your career output. Sometimes what looks like a setback really is just a setback. So how can you make lemonade out of the sour lemons of your past?

By weaving them into your personal story, says Craig Wortmann, a clinical professor of innovation and entrepreneurship. Convincing potential colleagues that you would be a great collaborator and partner requires you to tell a coherent, powerful story that encapsulates your strengths—and tales of your failures can help you do just that.

When deployed correctly, Wortmann says, your failure anecdotes can show character, reveal your skills as a leader, or demonstrate your drive. So when is the right time to trot out one of your go-to failure stories? Maybe when you’re talking to a potential client, Wortmann says. “By doing this, you show that you’re humble, that you’re a learner, and that you’re good to work with.”

For instance, Wortmann recalls hearing a CEO tell a “funny failure” story that revealed how he learned the value of asking good questions. The CEO described spending an entire summer talking to a contact at a global consumer-packaged-goods company, working to cultivate a relationship he hoped would lead to a major business opportunity. On their fourteenth phone call, he grew impatient and asked his contact when her company would be signing the contract—at which point she informed him that she was an intern.

“She thanked him for all she had learned that summer,” Wortmann says. “It turned out she wasn’t a prospect at all. She was a college student. But he never asked her.”

4. It’s Possible to Foster a Culture Where Failure Is OK
Useful as failure can be, that doesn’t mean that people are eager to take the blame for a mess-up.

Except in the military, that is.

On a visit to the U.S. Army’s National Training Center, professor Ned Smith remembers seeing soldiers of every stripe and rank stepping forward to incriminate themselves in after-action reviews and debriefings. “It wouldn’t be much of an overstatement to say that they are almost competing to take the blame,” he says.

Smith and Col. Brian Halloran, formerly a U.S. Army Chief of Staff senior fellow at Kellogg, considered how the Army cultivates this culture of accountability.

“When a leader knows that what matters are the overall performance of the unit and the improvement of the unit as a whole, they are far more likely to openly discuss what didn’t go right.”

— Col. Brian Halloran, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Senior Fellow

One useful quirk: officers compete across the entire army for promotions. Since evaluators on the promotion review board aren’t supervising the officers they are evaluating, those officers have less incentive to save face after they make a bad call.

“When a leader knows that what matters are the overall performance of the unit and the improvement of the unit as a whole, they are far more likely to openly discuss what didn’t go right,” Halloran says.

5. Sometimes What Looks Like a Success Is Actually a Failure in Disguise
Imagine you’ve spent months developing and perfecting a product. You finally run a focus group to get reactions to the product, and the focus group participants are thrilled. Your new product is all but guaranteed to fly off of the shelves—right?

Before you start marketing it as “the next big thing,” it might be worth asking who, exactly, was in that focus group. Professor Eric Anderson found evidence that there’s a class of customers out there who are uncannily attracted to products that will never catch on. Those people who tended to purchase a notorious failed product like Diet Crystal Pepsi were also more likely to purchase other doomed products like Frito Lay Lemonade.

Anderson deems these consumers “harbingers of failure,” and for good reason.

“What seems to be happening is these customers have preferences that might be nonmainstream,” he says. “We know when they really like your product, it shows that your product really appeals to a narrow group of customers.”

Anderson’s research suggests some simple ways that market researchers can weed out niche products before they have a chance to flop. Importantly, firms should ask customers not only whether they would buy the product in question, but also what other products they regularly buy. A customer who buys Swiffer products, for instance, probably has fairly mainstream tastes and should be trusted.

But if the biggest fan of your newest widget is still pining after that unusually flavored beer that was only on shelves for a month, “you may not want to launch this product, because it’s probably not going to have the mainstream appeal that sustains products for the long run,” Anderson says.

Maryam Kouchaki
Associate Professor of Management & Organizations

Dashun Wang
Associate Professor of Management & Organizations; Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering & Management Sciences (Courtesy)

Benjamin F. Jones
Gordon and Llura Gund Family Professor of Entrepreneurship; Professor of Strategy; Faculty Director, Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI)

Yang Wang
Post Doctoral Fellow

Craig Wortmann
Clinical Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Executive Director of the Kellogg Sales Institute

Edward (Ned) Smith
Associate Professor of Management & Organizations; Associate Professor of Sociology, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences (Courtesy)

Eric T. Anderson
Hartmarx Professor of Marketing; Director of the Center for Global Marketing Practice

4/19/2020 - How to answer the single most challenging interview question with confidence

Whether you quit or got fired, or stepped back from your career for a while, there are ways to reply that won’t cost you a chance at your next job.

by Amanda Augustine 

“So, why are you looking for a new job?” If you’re searching for work, you’ll likely be asked some version of this common interview question. And, if your reasons for leaving your job are unrehearsed, it’s easy to fumble with your answer when the question catches you off guard. Luckily, with preparation, you’ll be able to deliver the right response with confidence when it really counts.

However, before you start brainstorming your answer to this tough interview question, it’s important to understand why employers ask it in the first place.

Whether a recruiter asks what prompted you to apply for their open position or point-blank wants to know why you left—or want to leave—your job, the intent behind the interview question is the same. Employers are ultimately hoping your response will help them gauge your level of integrity, work values, sense of judgment, and even your ability to perform the job.

The circumstances under which you parted ways with a recent employer and how you present this information in a job interview can be critical for a recruiter. Based on your answer, the interviewer is determining whether you left (or are leaving) for a valid reason, whether this exit was (or is) voluntary, and whether you left (or are leaving) on good terms.

Unless your reason for changing jobs is straightforward such as, “My wife was transferred to the company’s office on the West Coast” or “My summer internship ended,” you’ll need to carefully prepare your response to ensure it tells your story in a positive light, while also supporting your case for landing the job.

If you’re directly asked why you left or are leaving your employer, be honest. According to a recent study by TopResume, lying during an interview is the surest way to get dismissed. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie during the interviewer’s follow-up questions or a background check. However, there’s no reason to go into the details of your departure. Your response should be truthful, but strategic.

Be mindful to keep your explanation brief, stick to the facts, and avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. No matter how things transpired, never bad-mouth your employer. No one wants to hire someone who spends their precious interview time complaining about their recent boss and spreading negativity. Whenever possible, try to frame your exit in positive terms.

With each new challenge comes an opportunity. Your last position—or multiple positions—may have been imperfect, but those experiences will help clarify what you want (and don’t want) in your next job and employer.

This interview question is a valuable opportunity to explain to prospective employers what you’ve learned about yourself—your skills and strengths, core values, and ideal work environment—and how these newfound insights have led you to target this position at this company. Ultimately, your goal is to redirect the conversation to the job at hand and what you have to offer a prospective employer.

It may be unfair, but the truth is that it’s typically easier to find work when you’re already employed. However, a recruiter will still want to know why you’re looking to leave your current employer. While there are many valid reasons for wanting to find a new job, only some of them should be voiced during interviews.

Think carefully about how you frame your response. You should always be looking for a better, more suitable opportunity rather than escaping a bad situation. Focus on explaining what you’re looking for in your next job, and how the position for which you’re interviewing appears to be a great fit.

“I’ve been with my current employer for nearly three years and have learned a lot from working with a really talented group of marketers. When I first joined, we were writing a handful of articles a month to build our first blog; now, I’m working with a team to produce 10 times that output across three brands. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but I’m ready to take on new challenges. This opportunity really appeals to me because it would allow me to take more ownership over the entire content-development process from the ground up.”

Instead of harping on the promotion you were denied, emphasize your desire to take on bigger projects, assume greater responsibility, or leverage a newly acquired skill in your next position. This explanation will better serve you in interviews.

While there are many reasons why a company may lay off its employees (e.g. cost-cutting, staff reduction, relocation, buyouts, mergers), it’s important to note these reasons are strictly related to the business. Recruiters understand if you were laid off, it had nothing to do with your individual performance or your value to the organization.

When crafting your interview response, focus on highlighting your achievements and contributions to your former employer. Avoid sharing any details that may make you seem resentful, unprofessional, or unmotivated. For example, you might start your answer with something like this:

“Unfortunately, my company was forced to lay off over 500 employees in an effort to streamline its operations. Although I was promoted to senior manager last quarter based on my performance, my role was among the group that was eliminated. However, I’m excited to leverage what I’ve learned about e-commerce and the account-management skills I’ve developed over the past two years at a company such as yours.”

If you’ve been in between jobs for a few months, be prepared to explain how you’ve used that time productively by volunteering (bonus points if you pursue a skill-based volunteering opportunity), pursuing professional training to sharpen your skills, and investing in your professional network.

Remember: You control the narrative during your interview. Prepare a short and simple response that is truthful, professional, and positive.

Amanda Augustine is the resident career expert for Talent Inc.’s suite of brands: TopResume, TopInterview, and TopCV. She has more than 15 years of experience in the recruiting and career-advice industry, and she is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and résumé writer (CPRW).

4/12/2020 - This email format will get you noticed by recruiters

by Christy Matino 

It’s no secret that standing out from a crowd of job seekers is difficult. Recruiters get hundreds of emails and applications per day. So, how do you craft an email to a potential employer that will get you noticed?

There are some key tactics to include when drafting an email to a recruiter, but the key takeaway is to keep your email professional yet memorable.

Personal and professional
There is a way to stand out immediately within the first sentence of an email – addressing the letter to the person directly. While so many applications begin with “To Whom It May Concern”, try to dig up as much information you can about the person you are emailing (cough cough, LinkedIn.) Doing research can benefit you in a big way.

You may discover, for instance, that you and the recruiter were both in the same fraternity. Establishing connections where you can helps your email to stand out from the pack and makes you as a person more memorable.

However, it is important to keep in mind not to overexpress your eagerness. Over enthusiasm can come across as excessive or desperate in an email. While you can mention you are excited about the company or the position, mention it once and then leave it at that.

List key skills
Companies always want to know what you can do for them. Craft your email so that you mention how your skills will help the corporation succeed. If the job position states they require someone with certain abilities, make sure to point out specific examples of your experience and how you have used them in your previous jobs.

Don’t create a laundry list of skills. Rather, choose three to five to mention that you believe would help you stand out. It may also be beneficial to mention any work that you have done in the past that relates to the current role. For example, if you are applying to a women’s lifestyle publication, it may be worth noting your previous experience as a beauty writer. If any company missions or values stick align with your personal beliefs, mention those in the email as well. This not only shows that you have done your research but also shows that your personality would mesh well with the company and its employees.

Timing is everything
It’s important to know the best times to email the recruiter so that your message actually gets read. According to, the best time to write to the hiring manager is between the hours of 8:00-10:00 a.m. and 3:00-4:00 p.m. Have your email drafted out and ready to go so you can send it off during these hours. Keep time zones in mind so that you can send the email to match what their time is.

It’s also more likely your application or email will get viewed if you send it as soon as the job is posted. I personally know people who have reached out expressing interest in a position via email as soon as they saw the job posting and heard back relatively quickly. Check to see if the recruiter’s info is on the job description and send a personal email ASAP.

Ask for a time to talk
Always end your email with a call to action. Directly ask the recruiter to set up a time to meet or for a phone call. This shows your dedication to the position and that you are serious about pursuing the opportunity.

Now, if your request is accepted and you speak to the recruiter…

Send a follow up thank you email
It’s so important to always follow up within 24 hours of speaking to the recruiter. Personally, I always send my thank you emails within a few hours after. It shows your interest and that you are responsive.

There is a way to craft this email to reach the maximum potential for a response back. Referring back to the concept of being memorable, mention something you and the interviewer spoke about. This will jog their memory and help you stick. It could be a personal connection, the company’s values or something about the position itself.

Remember to keep your email concise, memorable, personal and end with a call to action. It will increase your chances of potentially getting a response to your next career opportunity.

4/5/2020 - 5 things you must do to have a successful job interview on video during the COVID-19 outbreak

LinkedIn’s head of career products reports that many recruiters and hiring managers are switching in-person interviews to video for health and safety reasons. Here are the best practices to land a job while social distancing.

The coronavirus is changing the way we conduct our professional lives. At LinkedIn, we’ve found that more than half of professionals in the U.S. are now changing their in-person meetings to either phone or video. Many recruiters and hiring managers are switching to in-person interviews to video for health and safety reasons.

While the questions and conversations are likely to be the same, there are some differences between interviewing in-person versus through a digital screen. If you’re in the process of getting ready for a job interview on video, here are some best practices to get you set up for success.

Check your internet connection speed to help ensure your video will come across smoothly. It’s also a good idea to download the virtual meeting tools that are used to conduct interviews, like Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, which are currently being made available for free test runs. Before your video interview, make sure your interviewer has your cellphone number in case you need to conduct the interview over the phone. If something does go wrong, try to relax and–if you can–make light of the situation. How you behave under stress is an important signal to your interviewer.

If you’re doing the interview from home, choose a quiet, well-lit space with a neutral background. It’s important to remember that video interviews give a peek into your personal life, so make sure that your space is clean and free of distractions. If possible, keep pets and family members in another room during the interview. Turn off all your phone and computer notifications. One of the benefits of virtual interviews is that you can have resources around you, so consider having a few large note cards at hand that highlight why you’re the right person for the job.

Just because you’re meeting your interviewers virtually doesn’t mean you should take the interview any less seriously. It’s important to dress as you would if you were going to the interview in person. Doing this will not only help you feel more confident, but it’ll also give a good impression to the person on the other side of the screen. Know that what you wear shows up differently on video, so consider avoiding bright-colored clothing or large pieces of jewelry that can be distracting. And, make sure your bottom half matches your upper half, in case you need to get out of your seat for any reason.

At LinkedIn, we’ve found that 54% of job seekers say the interview phase is “moderately to extremely challenging” due to lack of confidence and uncertainty. Carve out time before your interview to do your research on the role and company. Video interviews can be more awkward than those that are in-person, so try to pepper in recent news you’ve read about the company and personal anecdotes in your answers to lighten the conversation. This will also help you sound less robotic (do not memorize your answers). Do a couple of practice runs with friends or family to get comfortable and ask them to share their feedback. And check out tools like LinkedIn Interview Prep, which can help you answer the most common interview questions.

If you really want the job, make that crystal clear in your “thank you” email after the interview. The same applies if you’re not interested in the role. Finally, be patient if a recruiter or hiring manager is taking longer than usual to get back to you. Hiring requires buy-in and approval from a number of different people. Without the ability for everyone to physically be in one room to provide feedback and collectively agree, your interviewers may need a bit longer than usual to make a decision.

To help professionals everywhere navigate this new world of work, we’ve introduced 16 free LinkedIn Learning courses, including how to build an executive presence on video calls, leading virtual meetings, and use virtual meeting tools like BlueJeans, WebEx, and Skype. If you have tips or stories on these topics, share them with your online communities using relevant hashtags. This is a great way to give and get help on the platform and also take face-to-face networking online.

Finally, staying informed during this rapidly evolving situation is critical, so make sure you’re reading the news and take the time to ask your interviewer how they’re doing. To get the latest news, LinkedIn’s team of 60+ editors have launched storylines in 96 countries and in nine languages that offer reliable updates and perspectives from experts such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more.

Blake Barnes is the head of Careers Products at LinkedIn.

I just lost my job...what do I do now?

1) File for unemployment - Find your states information at

2) Here are two handouts from Certified Career Coach Gayle Bridgeman

3) Here is a 68 page document written in 2011 on what to do during the first 90 days of your job search. Click here.

4) Job Search as a Project written by Tom Leverenz in 2014

5) Here are two presentations from Gail Houston

Where to find a job TODAY:

1) Texas Workforce Solutions - Jobs Now 2020 -

2) Here's who's hiring right now by Andrew Seaman, Editor at LinkedIn -

3) From the Dallas Regional Chamber -





 Where to find career training:

Find a career group meeting online on at,-teleseminars,-radio-tv-shows.html (All times listed are Central time)

Find recorded career training videos on the CareerDFW Facebook page at  

3/29/2020 - Coronavirus Creating Stress? Why You May Need Mental Distancing As Much As Social Distancing And 8 Ways To Get It

by Tracy Brower 

The coronavirus has become all we’re talking about. It’s on every channel, every station and part of every conversation. If we’re not suffering from the virus itself, we are mentally marinating in it based on our consumption of news and information.

It’s not a surprise we would focus on information about the coronavirus and COVID-19. The spread of the virus and precautions about the disease have changed life more than almost anything else we’ve lived through. Government press conferences and news reports are helping to make “flattening the curve” and “social distancing” part of our daily language. But as you focus on your physical health and the health of the broader community through social distancing, you also need some mental distancing and emotional distancing. Our always-on heightened level of concern is mentally exhausting and emotionally draining.

Mental distancing provides for time when you’re not thinking about the virus and emotional distancing gives you the opportunity to take a timeout from worry or anxiety about current conditions. How can you do mental or emotional distancing successfully? Here are eight suggestions for a bit more sanity in the midst of our current uncertainty.

Take a break from (social) media. This probably goes without saying, but it’s easier said than done. Provide yourself with a quiet period each day where you turn off the news, log off social media and stop listening to the cacophony of voices talking about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Just take a break.

Create free zones. Create physical locations that are safe zones. For example, you may decide that when you’re in your car or taking a walk, you won’t consume information about the coronavirus or COVID-19. Or you may decide your kitchen is a free zone where the family won’t listen to, consume or discuss the current circumstances.

Create a friendly boundary. Set a boundary with the people you’re close to or with your coworkers. Agree you’ll get together for (virtual) coffee but plan ahead of time not to discuss coronavirus or COVID-19 while you’re together. Instead you can trade ideas about your favorite shows to binge, or how you’re keeping busy with your family now that typical entertainment outlets like restaurants are no longer available.

Be grateful. Gratitude has been repeatedly found to inspire feelings of positivity and mental health. Find things for which to be grateful—extra time with a spouse or partner, more opportunities to be outside as spring emerges or even the opportunity to spend more time in your most comfortable sweatpants as you work from home.

Support others. Research also shows helping others by supporting community members has significant positive impacts on mental and emotional health. Find opportunities to volunteer and reach out to colleagues, friends or those in need. You may help by distributing food through a donation program, writing letters (snail mail!) or even by making phone calls to those who don’t have as much social connection. Social distancing shouldn’t result in isolation. No matter what your personality style, everyone needs some time alone and time with others. Be sure to find ways to stay in touch and ensure others remain connected with the community as well.

Exercise. In addition to the benefits of exercise for your body, exercise also helps the mind by releasing “feel good” chemicals in your system. While the couch may be calling you, ensure you stay active in whatever way is healthy for you—from a walk outside to toe-touches in your living room—regular movement is good for your overall health.

Get outside. Being in nature tends to expand perspective and even create the occasional experience of awe—proven to contribute to positive mental and emotional health. Breathe in the fresh air, seek some almost-spring sunshine (with the appropriate dose of sunscreen) and find a path through the woods or the urban jungle that helps you rejuvenate.

Focus on the future. Remind yourself this is an unprecedented period of time, but that things will get back to normal. Seek optimism and reconsider all the little things you’ll be happy to return to—your commute to the office, plenty of toilet paper at the grocery store and talking about last night’s episode of addictive television at the water cooler in the morning.

These are challenging and stressful times full of ambiguity and uncertainty. While social distancing is designed to help ensure physical health and to slow the spread of the coronavirus, you also need mental and emotional distancing to ensure your overall wellbeing. Take breaks from your consumption of coronavirus and COVID-19 news, creating free zones and friendly boundaries with others. Be grateful and support others. Perhaps most importantly, focus on the future and reassure yourself things will return to normal. Until they do, take care of yourself holistically—and take care of others.

Tracy Brower - I am a Ph.D. sociologist exploring perspectives on work-life and fulfillment. I am the author of Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations, and a principal with Steelcase’s Applied Research + Consulting group. In addition to speaking and writing about the changing nature of work, workers and workplace, I also devote time as an executive advisor to the MSU Master of Industrial Mathematics Program and Coda Societies. In addition to my Ph.D. and MM, I hold a Master of Corporate Real Estate with a specialization in workplace. You can find my work in TEDx, Work-Life Balance in the 21st Century, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail (Canada), InsideHR (Australia), Training Magazine, The CoreNet Leader, Facility Executive, Work Design Magazine, Real Estate Review Journal,, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, and more. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to connect!

3/22/2020 - Tough interview questions: ‘Tell me about yourself’

Answer this prompt the right way to create a strong first impression.
By Stephanie Vozza 

Looking for a new job is stressful enough, but to make matters more challenging, some interview questions seem like minefields. But understanding more about what hiring personnel want to know when asking these questions can help you prepare. You can then formulate an answer ahead of time, which can help calm your nerves and allow you to tackle the challenge with insight instead of guesses.

We asked human resources experts for their insider knowledge on the traditional-but-tricky phrase that opens many an interview: "Tell me about yourself." Here they share what this prompt is designed to reveal about a candidate, and good ways to reply to it:

What the hiring manager wants to learn
Your answer to "tell me about yourself" gives an interviewer their first impression of your communication style, confidence level, understanding of the position, and personality, said Sue Arth, a San Diego-based career consultant who coaches people in accounting and other fields.

This question is also designed to reveal clues about your emotional intelligence, said Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting, and culture firm that specializes in accounting and finance recruiting.

"This is about whether or not you're a fit for their cultural environment," he said. "Perhaps you're an intellectual who loves to read, or you're someone who's analytical during the day and plays team sports or takes improv classes at night to find balance. Your answer should share information beyond your résumé about how you view yourself, and how ultimately that can relate to your job."

Good strategies for answering the question
Be authentic, said Sarah McEneaney, CPA, partner and U.S. digital talent leader for PwC, who is based in Chicago.

"Mention past experiences and proven successes as they relate to the position," she said. "Don't be afraid to consider how your current job relates to the job you're applying for, and the strengths and abilities that you have developed over time."

Arth suggested starting with general information about your education and experience, and moving into how the strengths you've acquired relate to the position, using the "STAR" structure to formulate your answer:

Share a "situation" you experienced.
Describe the "task" you were assigned.
Detail the "action" you took.
End with the "result" you achieved.

"This format will increase your confidence, make you appear more professional, and lead into a good conversation of the job and your qualifications," said Arth.

What to avoid doing or saying
While it's tempting, don't summarize your résumé word for word, said McEneaney.

"Instead, discuss highlights that are relevant to the position, and come with examples of your best qualities," she said. "Quality over quantity."

And while the question is broad, don't go through your entire career history, unless you are young and just starting your career, Arth said.

"Don't be too detailed in relaying your job experience," she said. "Too many details distract from your message. And don't get personal. This is about your professional history, not family, friends, and relationships."

As with any interview question, think about how you'll answer by considering the interviewer's perspective, said Gimbel.

"Be careful what you say," he said. "You don't want to say that you're a workaholic if you're not. You're setting yourself up for failure."

With impressions formed within the first five minutes of an interview, "Tell me about yourself" becomes a very important question to answer correctly, Arth said. "Employers are seeking qualified candidates, of course, but they are also seeking people who can fit into the company culture and make a difference in the future," she said.

— Stephanie Vozza is a freelance writer based in Michigan. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Courtney Vien, a JofA senior editor, at

3/15/2020 - Networking: You Aren't Doing it Right


What meaningful relationships have you built through recent networking that have advanced your business or you as a professional? If you’re not sure, then it may be time to rebuild your approach.

Stop worrying about being connected. Work to be a connector.
If you are not making valuable contacts at your events, you are not going to the right events. Be choosy.
He who collects the most business cards does not win.

You come back from a trade show with a neat stack of business cards, an in-box brimming with LinkedIn invitations, and a sore neck from the red-eye flight home. Was it worth it? Probably not, because you may be using an outdated model of networking that emphasizes volume over value.

Networking has become a multibillion-dollar industry, with PwC estimating that the business-to-business trade show market alone will grow from $14.3 billion in 2017 to $16.8 billion by 2021. Networking activity has also become temptingly easy to access, with LinkedIn’s 260 million active members reachable in the daily workflow.

Yet even business leaders who rigorously measure the ROI of every investment of corporate time may not subject their own networking activity to that same scrutiny. What meaningful relationships have you built through recent networking that have advanced your business or you as a professional? If you’re not sure, then it may be time to rebuild your approach to networking.

HealthLeaders editor and leadership programs director Jim Molpus recently chatted with Derek Coburn, author of Networking Is Not Working: Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Meaningful Connections. Coburn is also co-founder of Washington, D.C.–based Cadre, a group of 85 CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of that conversation.

HealthLeaders: There seems to be a lot of networking activity today. But do you get the sense that it has a specific purpose, or are a lot of professionals just out there networking because they think it’s what they’re supposed to do?

Derek Coburn: Most people who approach networking are just doing it to check a box. They don't understand why they're doing it. My book is called Networking Is Not Working. Why? Two reasons. One, ask a room full of executives how they define networking, and you may get a different answer from everyone. Some would use the word networking as a verb, some would use it as an adjective, and some would use it as a noun. And your ability to successfully network is directly correlated with engaging others who have a definition of networking that’s like yours.

HealthLeaders: What’s your take on how professionals should approach typical networking events?

Coburn: Well, the second reason that networking is not working is the networking event scene in general. Many networking events are a lot like nightclubs in that most of the people there are looking for a professional “one-night stand.” They’re focused on themselves; they’re just seeing how many business cards they can flick around. When it comes to choosing whom you're going to spend networking time with, find the events with the people you want to meet and want to help. That way, everyone's there for the same reason. If you go to an event and the only qualifier is that you’re going to have free drinks and hors d'oeuvres, you're going to find people who aren’t going to be valuable to you.

HealthLeaders: So, for people who come back from conferences with a bunch of business cards but few memorable connections, how do you break the pattern?

Coburn: If you get good at choosing the right event, you'll likely end up having deeper, more meaningful conversations. The subtitle of my book is “Stop Collecting Business Cards and Start Making Meaningful Connections.” A few years after the book came out, I ran out of cards and decided that making more would not be true to my brand. And I know that sounds harsh, but I am at a phase of my professional life where my focus is on deepening the existing relationships that I do have. If I meet someone interesting, I will ask for their card, or I will find them on social media and connect.

HealthLeaders: Networking doesn’t seem to have evolved much when you really get down to it, has it?

Coburn: There are three ways people move through networking. The first one is networking 1.0. This is the version of networking where most people spend their time. They're just focused on themselves. They want clients, but nobody who goes to a networking event wants a pitch—yet those same attendees who say they don’t want a pitch will still lead with talking about their own business. The people who take this selfish approach to networking are the ones who continue to show up at these events tossing their business cards around.

HealthLeaders: That sounds familiar.

Coburn: Networking 2.0 stems from a movement 10 or 15 years ago where well-intentioned people wrote books and focused on how you can add value for someone else. Their idea was to go to every event leading with what can you do for the other person. But, when you're looking to develop a relationship with somebody new, one thing you should never lead with is, “How can I help you?” When people reach out to me and ask that, they are putting the burden on me. I don't really know much about them. Probably we met and had a five- or 10-minute phone conversation. I don't know how they can help me.

The best form of networking, what I call networking 3.0, is where you're not focused on yourself and you're not focused on this person whom you're meeting for the first time. Instead, you're focused on your existing relationships, your existing clients, your existing colleagues, and you’re looking to find opportunities and solutions for the people in your network via your new contacts.

HealthLeaders: How would that interaction work?

Coburn: For example, I'm a financial advisor, and whenever I say that, everybody wants to run away. Understandably so. But if I keep talking and show interest in a person over time, they may mention that they don’t need financial planning right now because they’re focused on looking for a new home. Most people in that situation would walk away and move on to a person who's more interested in hearing about their financial planning practice right now. Most people don't have a network of great real estate agents that they could refer in that situation. But because I do, I am now able to have a very low-risk, potentially high-reward introduction because I can pass along the names of two terrific real estate agents in town. I'm letting this person know that I'm not just focused on my own business and how I'm going to make money. With this approach, I am also reinforcing to my existing network that I am thinking about them.

HealthLeaders: Social media can really scale up networking activity, but are those relationships a bit thin and perhaps overvalued?

Coburn: Focus on quality over quantity. Don’t try to be all things to all people. It’s effort. Get to know that contact. Spend a little bit of time and energy in their social media profiles to see what they're interested in, understanding what their business is about and how you might be able to add value for them. You can't take this approach with a hundred or a thousand people, for sure. Take steps with 10 to 20 people at a time.

HealthLeaders: What about contacts you meet at an event?

Coburn: If you meet somebody at a networking event who is a good connection for you, and you feel like you both can add value for each other over time, then keep talking to them. Don't end the conversation because you are also trying to come back from the event with 30 business cards. That’s not necessarily a win.

HealthLeaders: So, what is the right size for any one person’s professional network?

Coburn: Are you familiar with Dunbar's Number?

HealthLeaders: I haven’t heard that in a while.

Coburn: Dunbar's Number is a suggested cognitive limit for the number of people whom you can maintain an effective social relationship with at any period of time. Dunbar’s number is 150. Social media can be overwhelming and can make networking relationships shallow. It can be hard to develop and maintain relationships, but technology allows relationship-building to scale somewhat. I think that maybe the number is more like 250 people whom you can actively be thinking about and who are actively thinking about you.


3/8/2020 - Best Skills to List on Your Resume (and Some Skills to Exclude)

Reflecting in-demand qualifications on your resume is key.

By Robin Reshwan 

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN will change jobs around 10 times in their adult life. The hard truth of a modern career is that all of us will need to showcase our capabilities 20 to 40 times to secure those 10 roles. The first step of almost every interview process is to submit a resume. With so much riding on that first impression, reflecting targeted skills in your resume is key. Here are some in-demand skills and abilities to include on your resume.

Impact. An effective resume shows – not tells – how you add value. Yes, you need to list your responsibilities, but you also need to show what happened because you were there. In other words, call out your impact. For example, if you are responsible for recruiting and hiring (and you would say it is one of your key strengths), include how many people you hired, how quickly you made those hires and how many of your hires have outlasted the average tenure of your firm or your industry.

Collaboration. Every job description asks for "cross-functional collaboration." Translation: You play well in the sandbox with other people who aren't your immediate co-workers. To illustrate your collegial approach, describe "enterprise-wide taskforces you were invited to join." Or, communicate how "your team was able to move through financial planning and analysis's approval process two times faster than other managers because of your track record of quality work." In short, show what was accomplished when you partnered across the company.

Deadline-driven. In a competitive, technology-infused environment, even results with a 24-hour turnaround can seem 25 hours past due. The most productive employees get stuff done fast and have tactics for setting and exceeding deadline-driven expectations. Give evidence of your ability to work under pressure.

Ability to thrive in chaotic environments. When speed is king, many organizations act before all options are assessed. Employees who can survive and even thrive in cultures where priorities shift, variables change and goals are sometimes moving targets are in greater demand than those looking for stable and fixed roles. Most growing companies are in flux and they want employees who can function without a fully developed structure.

Analysis and insights. No role or industry is untouched by data and analysis. If you are a doctor, you have stats about patients seen in a day or satisfaction ratings. Delivery driver? You have tracking regarding your route time, deliveries made and lost or damaged packages. Know the quantifiable metrics for your profession and address what those indicators show about you.

Things to Not Include on Your Resume

Your home address. It is not needed at the time of application and it can have some privacy or discrimination risks.

Titles to contact information. For example, instead of "Phone: 555-123-4567" you can just list the number "555-123-4567." It will be recognized for what it is.

Don't list how many years of experience you have in your summary. First, job posts never ask for "two decades of managerial experience" – so writing that as the lead in your summary earns you no points for applicant tracking systems or with the recruiter. And second, a reader can add up your years of experience (or make a pretty good guess) – so why give up your most valuable resume "real estate" to words that add no value to your candidacy?

Subjective or adjective-heavy soft skills. For example: "People person." "Meticulous attention to detail." "Team player." Recruiters and hiring authorities see hundreds of resumes. Subjective descriptions do not add any value. Hiring professionals have seen or met enough "detail-oriented" people who leave periods off sentences and forget to check spelling to not blindly believe you are the one who really is detailed. If you cannot demonstrate or validate that you have a soft skill, it doesn't help your candidacy.

Employers often receive more than 200 resumes for job openings. Now that staff turnover is at an all-time high, discerning hiring managers look for candidates who can walk in with the skills to do the job today. Make sure your resume reflects the skills and qualifications most in-demand for the role you are targeting. A customized, well-written resume is a critical component of a successful modern job search.

Robin Reshwan is the founder and president of CS Advising and Collegial Services. She and her team enable thousands of professionals to advance their careers through their advice, career coaching and recruiting efforts. Robin’s professional development tips are used by media outlets such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, Business Insider, Fast Company and Monster. She is a recommended career and executive coach for LinkedIn, educational institutions and Alumni Associations including Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business and University of California, Davis. An experienced entrepreneur, business executive and Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Robin has been honored by LinkedIn and the American Business Women's Association. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or email her at

3/1/2020 - What to do when you don’t get the job

by Andrew Seaman 

You’ve likely encountered disappointment at some point during your job search. Rejection is implied in most cases when you don’t hear back from an employer after submitting your application. Other times, you’ll get turned down after a few rounds of interviews.

The sting of rejection can make plotting a path forward difficult for some job seekers. Do you keep pursuing that company as an employer? Do you try to follow-up with the hiring manager or recruiter? Or, do you cut your losses and move on?

Before we get to those questions, we should talk about the importance of a healthy mindset during your job search. It’s a topic we touched on last year, but it’s especially important if your job search is at risk of being derailed by rejection.

Don’t fall in love

“I think a lot of people set themselves up for disappointment by falling in love with a particular job and telling people about it,” said Biron Clark, founder of Career Sidekick and a former recruiter. He’s written about this topic before.

Instead of focusing on one job, you should keep applying to other employers and scheduling interviews until you’ve accepted a position. Rejection stings less when you have other opportunities on the horizon, said Clark, who is also among the 2019 class of LinkedIn Top Voices in Job Search & Careers.

“Have an abundance mindset and not a scarcity mindset,” he told me. “Realize there are other jobs out there.”

Rejection may not be your fault

You should also keep in mind that being passed over for a job does not mean you lack the qualifications or skills to succeed in that position. Instead, you might have been eliminated from consideration based on an endless number of variables, said Clark. The salary you asked for may have been too high for the hiring manager, for example. Or, they may have already had a candidate in mind for the job.

“There is just so much luck and randomness that goes into it,” he said. “There are things you’ll never know or see behind the scenes. So, don’t beat yourself up about it.”

What to do once you get rejected

Once you find out that you’ve been eliminated from consideration for a job, you have a few options. Clark said it’s not usually worth your time to try to change the employer’s mind.

“I think there’s no harm in trying to get feedback,” he said. “It’s worth asking if there are things that you could have done differently.” If the recruiter or hiring manager is reluctant to give you that feedback, you can explain that it will help you as you progress in your job search.

If they offer feedback voluntarily, be sure to listen to what the hiring manager or recruiter has to say. Clark calls that constructive feedback “gold” — especially if they’re a recruiter from an agency. “They typically only get paid if they place you in a job,” he said. “It’s in their best interest to pass constructive feedback along.”

Fortunately, the doors to companies don’t often slam shut after rejections. In many cases, it doesn’t hurt to reapply after three to six months, said Clark. Also, you can keep a relationship open with a recruiter or hiring manager by asking to connect with them on LinkedIn and telling them to let you know if other positions open up in the future, he added.

Don’t be afraid to take a day off

Rejections can still sting quite a bit regardless of your mindset and how many other applications you have out in the world. If an email or a phone call that says you’ve been eliminated from consideration hits you hard, Clark said it’s OK to take the day to mentally reset yourself.

Pushing yourself after a particularly crushing rejection could harm the quality of your work and end up hurting your odds of landing another job.

“You’re not throwing a day away," he said. "You’re going to come back energized.”

2/23/20 - How To Find A Full-Time Job When You’re Over 50

by Chris Carosa 

With unemployment at all-time lows, now might be the best time for you to be looking for a full-time job. The challenges, however, are greater if you’re over 50 years old.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average it takes those 55 to 64 two weeks longer to find a job compared to those 20 years and older. (The news is worse if you’re 65 and older, where this average duration of unemployment is 10 weeks longer.)

It seems the idea of early retirement hasn’t caught on with those in their 50s (and even beyond).

“Our research shows that experienced workers are staying on the job longer or looking for a job for two reasons,” says Susan K. Weinstock, Vice President, Financial Resilience Programming at AARP. “Financially, they need the money, and, secondly, they like their job and find it fulfilling and want to keep working.”

Bankrate regularly surveys workers regarding their financial circumstances. Its data confirms what AARP found for those working well past age 50.

“When Bankrate asked Americans who were neither retired nor permanently disabled about their retirement savings, more than half said they were behind where they should have been,” says Mark Hamrick, Senior Economic Analyst at “For members of Generation X (age 39-54), the percentage was 63% and Boomers (age 55-73), 54% said they were behind on their retirement savings. No doubt many people who would otherwise be candidates to retire seek to remain in the workforce because they feel they need income, or to further boost their savings. Others may choose to work as a means of remaining engaged and active.”

If you’re like many older workers, you may prefer to retain your current position. But what if your present employer can’t accommodate you? It may have been decades since you last tried to look for a new job. What has changed since then? What do you have to do different today to land full-time employment?

Bryan Zawikowski has been a recruiter for 25 years and is the vice president and general manager of the military transition division for Lucas Group. Forbes ranked Lucas Group as one of the top 10 executive search firms in the nation in 2019. Zawikowski’s team works with many people who find themselves either changing careers or looking for new jobs later in life. He shares the following advice:

“What are best practices?”

· To thine own self be true: “Don’t try to hide your age. It doesn’t work, and you end up looking either vain or foolish—maybe both.”

· Polish up your online presence: “Your LinkedIn profile should be very professional, including the photograph.”

· Emphasize your real-world experience: “No ‘functional’ resumes. They end up in the trash.”

· Brevity is the soul of wit: “Maximum 2-page resume. The further back in your work history you go, the less detail there should be.”

“What are the easiest ways to make it happen?”

· Recalculate: “Be financially prepared to take a step back in compensation (either scale back your lifestyle or be prepared to dip into savings if need be).”

· Re-calibrate: “Be emotionally and mentally prepared to work for someone younger and perhaps more talented than you.”

· Circulate: “Network with former classmates, former work colleagues, friends and acquaintances that know something about your desired career path.”

· Captivate: “Have a GREAT story about why you are interested in this new career field and why you’d be good at it.”

“What are the do’s and don’ts?”

· DO something you enjoy: “Pick a career that you are really into, something that energizes you and somewhere you look forward to going to work most days.”

· DO maintain your health: “Stay physically active. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, but do something to keep your energy level up.”

· DO continue to learn: “Read as much as you can about your new career field.”

· DON’T lie: You can’t “pretend to be an expert at something just because you were good at something else.”

· DON’T assume the status quo: You’ll be disappointed if you “think you will be able to make a lateral move from where you are in your current career field.”

· DON’T be unrealistic: You’ll only hurt yourself more if you “sacrifice more than you can afford to in terms of compensation. Retirement isn’t too far away and you don’t want to jeopardize that.”

You are the master of your own destiny. If you want to find a job, you can. No matter what your age.

Chris Carosa - I am a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. Among the seven books I’ve written include From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA, Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort, and A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, I appear regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, I’m actively running a handful of small family-owned businesses, so I have hands-on experience on the things I write about. A trained astrophysicist, I hold an MBA and have been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. 

2/16/20 - How To Find The Right Employer For You In 2020

by William Arruda 

If you rang in the new year with your sights set on snagging a fresh job, you’re not alone. According to ZipRecruiter data, the number of submitted applications has historically jumped in January. The turnover means that the number of job openings often follows suit.

Whether you’re moving on from a current employer or are seeking a job after graduation, 2020 holds promise for your job search. Though December’s 145,000 new jobs number paled in comparison to November’s surge of 256,000, the unemployment rate remains steady at 3.5%. It’s still a tight market, giving job seekers an upper hand.

Yet you may be doing yourself a disservice if you blanket the Internet with résumés. Rather than adopt a “let’s see what I can get” approach, why not take charge of your career story? This involves first taking stock of your talents, expertise and strongest skills and then translating that into a consistent personal branding message. But before you communicate that message, deliberately seek the right audience. Look for companies that will help you capitalize on your abilities and propel you toward a successful, satisfying work experience.

Certainly, hitting the apply button on LinkedIn or Indeed is easier than creating a full-fledged career plan. However, Future You will look back with appreciation at your pragmatism if you think more like a chess player and less like a gambler the next time you submit a job application. After all, when it comes to building your personal brand, focus needs to be your mantra.

How can you ferret out organizations more strategically? Take these early steps to increase your chances of long-term employment happiness and success.

1. Give yourself a geography lesson.

Maybe you want to stay in your hometown and hang close to family. Perhaps you’re ready to explore the coasts or the heartland. You might even dream of working overseas. Whatever your preferred lifestyle, write down all the places you’d be willing to live. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out SmartAsset’s top 10 boomtowns. The list includes unexpected—but economically hot—cities in Colorado, Texas, Florida and South Carolina.

As part of your virtual exploration of other locations, be sure to keep in mind the cost of living, culture and other key factors. While you may dream of working in the Bay Area, for example, consider what types of housing you could afford near San Francisco first. After all, you don’t want to relocate only to find that you’re too far away from public transportation, can’t easily get to a green space or have to drive 90 miles to clock in for work.

2. Consider your potential individual impact.

Okay, so you’ve nailed down a few dots on the map to scour for work. It’s time to create your personal short list of company contenders in those cities. Ask yourself, “What impact could I have at that organization? What value could I deliver there?” Every individual contributes to the whole, but what matters to your fulfillment is believing your contributions make an impact. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re a good fit for the development stage of the company.

Let’s say you’re getting into tech. If you want to feel less like a cog in a wheel, consider a business featured on a list like Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 or the Breakout List. Credible high-growth companies offer unique opportunities to contribute and challenge yourself. “Fulfillment overall comes with a hypergrowth company or from pursuing this burning thing you really want to build as a founder,” argues Tomás Pueyo, vice president of growth for online learning platform Course Hero. “In the other stages, either it’s unlikely that your work will matter, or it absolutely won’t matter at all.”

3. Identify a realistic compensation package for you.

Frequently, companies either advertise a salary range or hide their salary until you get fairly deep into the interview process. Before you send out any applications, figure out your salary sweet spot and then do as much research as you can, through the company’s HR site, Glassdoor and your own network, on employee perks. That way, you can create an A list of the companies that meet your needs, and you’ll only need the companies on your B list as a back-up plan. And when you make it to final negotiations, you won’t get flummoxed or undercut yourself. Be sure to consider all aspects of remuneration, including benefits like healthcare, retirement savings or shareholder opportunities.

“It’s important to know your own worth when heading into the final stages of the hiring process. By knowing what you’re valued in the job market and what you bring to the table, you’ll be able to negotiate a salary higher than what is originally proposed,” suggests Peter Yang, a career expert and the CEO of Resume Writing Services, the parent company of ResumeGo. If you’re having difficulty coming up with numbers, you can always talk to people you know, contact recruiters and look at comparable jobs to generate a realistic value in your market.

4. Map out advancement journeys.

Your career trajectory may be linear, or it may take a few steps sideways or backward. While contemplating your career plan, target where you want to go several years into the future. That way, you can see what types of roles will help you acquire the street cred and know-how to move toward your ultimate goal, as opposed to taking a scattershot approach spending years of your energy and talent missing out on your true path to happiness.

In interviews, feel free to ask about opportunities for promotion. Be specific about your hopes, and expect specifics from the interviewer. For example, don’t just ask if you’d have room for growth. Instead, inquire about the ways other employees have risen through the ranks. Ask whether you could have an informational meeting with someone who has successfully climbed the ladder. At younger companies, ask what career development plans their leaders want to implement in the future. During all discussions, find out what sort of education you can expect to receive as a team member. Training can be highly valuable, particularly if it’s résumé-worthy—and paid for by the company.

This year, develop crystal-clear vision about your career. Even if you’re happy with your current employment situation, you owe it to yourself to take a peek around popular job and company sites. Who knows? You could look back at 2020 as not just the start of a new decade, but the beginning of a fast track to your true career goals.

William Arruda is the cofounder of CareerBlast and author of Digital YOU: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age.

2/9/20 - The best skills to have on your resume

By Millie Dent 

Writing a good resume is a tricky balancing act.

You want to impress recruiters by highlighting your skills and experiences, but you don't want to overwhelm them with too much information either.

The key to striking the right balance and making your resume stand out is to include skills that are tailored to the position you're applying for.

"A resume is a foot in the door," Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster, told CNN Business. A well-tailored resume that highlights skills that are most important for the role and that you can back up with specific accomplishments or experiences will intrigue a recruiter and help get you through the door.

Here are other tips for an eye-catching resume:

Determine which skills to emphasize

The most effective way to tailor your resume for a specific role is to identify the top skills listed in the job description and highlight them on your own resume. Also, make sure to mirror the language used in the job description. This should help get your resume past the electronic screening that many companies put resumes through to scan for keywords before a recruiter looks at them.

Typically companies will list the most important skills and responsibilities needed for the job first so focus your resume on those.

Companies are "basically providing you with a cheat sheet," said Salemi.

Of course, only highlight the skills that you actually possess and do not lie. "Lies catch up with you," warned Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume.

If the job description is vague, reach out to people at the company or to those who work in the industry and ask them to elaborate on the skills that would be necessary for the role. Or find similar job descriptions and take note of the keywords that routinely pop up.

Maintain a balance between hard and soft skills

Make sure to have a combination of both hard and soft skills on your resume.

Soft skills are the set of behaviors and personality traits that you use everyday, like collaboration and problem-solving, while hard skills tend to be function-specific and technical like computer programming. Both sets of skills are important. As much as employers want to hire someone qualified for the role, they also want to know whether you'll be a good cultural fit.

"When interviewing candidates with nearly identical resumes, interviewers will most likely pick the candidate that fits better with the group," said Salemi.

Keep the skills section of your resume limited to between six and eight skills, said Steve Arneson, author of "What Your Boss Really Wants from You." You don't want to overwhelm a recruiter. If you want to include more, weave your non-technical skills into your professional history.

Back skills up with evidence

Don't just submit a resume with a list of skills and job titles. You also have to substantiate them with concrete examples.

When you're describing a previous role, include any relevant accomplishments. "The best way to do this is to quantify or tell a story," Augustine said.

For example, if you're stating that you're an effective salesperson, you should include whether you won salesperson of the month or that you expanded your territory by a certain percentage.

You should also introduce each skill with an active verb -- such as "analyzed," "organized," "delivered," "created" and "developed" -- to keep the recruiter's attention.

Develop the skills you're lacking

Don't get discouraged if you're lacking certain skills that are key for the positions you're applying to. Instead, work on developing them.

For example, if you're applying for a position at a hospital, try to get free online demos for key software skills like patient scheduling. Also take online courses on websites like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera.

Hard skills are easier to learn, but even soft skills can be developed over time. You just need to find an effective way to learn them and get that across in your resume.

2/2/20 - Best Career Advice You'll Hear Today

Hidden in Tom Hanks's Emotional Golden Globes Speech Was the Best Career Advice You'll Hear Today. 

By Justin BarisoAuthor 

Toward the end of his speech, Hanks shared a 3-step formula for success he learned decades ago. It's simple and brilliant--and could completely change the way you work.

He's widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time. So, when Tom Hanks shares career advice, we all do well to listen.

(Last night,) Hanks accepted the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is given for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." In his acceptance speech, Hanks repeatedly got choked up as he thanked his family, co-workers, and several notable actors and directors. After all, Hanks said, "you're a dope if you don't steal from everybody you have ever worked with."

But it was toward the end of Hanks's seven-minute speech when the famous actor dropped the real golden nugget.

Hanks shared a story of when he worked in his first professional job, as an intern at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. Hanks said he and his fellow interns showed up to rehearsals after doing a little too much partying the previous night. The director wasn't having it.

"He screamed at us," said Hanks. "You know what your job is?" the director asked. "You have got to show up on time, and you have to know the text, and you have to have a head full of ideas. Otherwise I can't do my job."

And there it is, a simple, brilliant, three step-formula for success:

Show up on time, know the text, and have a head full of ideas.

Hanks says "that was the greatest lesson a young actor could possibly ever get." But in reality, the wisdom in that single line will do wonders for your career, regardless of what industry you work in.

Let's break it down.

Show up on time.
"Showing up on time is one of the greatest liberating acts you can give yourself in a movie," explains Hanks.

"That means those people with radios in their ears don't need to knock on your door and say they're ready for you. You're actually already ready. And you have the liberty, and you have the freedom of being there early enough to settle down--because when the time comes, you have to hit the marks, and you have to 'go there.'"

This lesson extends far beyond a film set. Being on time, or "early enough to settle down," as Hanks calls it, is a key way to develop emotional intelligence, because of everything it does for you and the people you work with.

For example, being early gives you enough time to:

> get comfortable with your surroundings,
> get a drink of water, or use the restroom, and
> settle your mind and gather your thoughts.

These things may seem small, but they each help you to achieve more calm and confidence.

But that's not all. Showing up on time gives the added advantages of:

> showing respect for others' time,
> demonstrating the abilities of good organization, reliability, and a good work ethic, and
> building your reputation as a professional.

Do you have the habit of always showing up late? If so, it's time to make a change.

If you're trying to do too much, cut out the unnecessary. Don't overbook. Start scheduling more time between appointments, and plan to arrive early--this will help when you run into the unexpected, like bad traffic or a missed connection.

Know the text.
"Knowing your text--it's not just your lines, it's the whole thing," Hanks continued. "You might not be right in the opinion you bring to it. But you've got to come at it with some direction."

In a word, Hanks is speaking here about: preparation. Generally speaking, the more prepared you are, the more successful you'll be.

Think about it: professional athletes. Creatives. Even analysts and number-crunchers--often, it's not the smartest or most talented person in the room who's the most successful.

It's the one who comes most prepared.

This is one reason behind one of Amazon's most interesting business practices: CEO Jeff Bezos insists executive meetings begin with about half an hour of silence, so that everyone has time to read a well-prepared memo, all getting on the same page before they begin a discussion.

Of course, most of us don't have that liberty. So, the way to set yourself apart from the pack is to make sure you take the time to "know the text," so to speak.

Come prepared.

Have a head full of ideas.

Speaking to this final point, Hanks said the following:

"The head full of ideas: Bring anything. Try anything. They might not use it. If it stinks, they won't use it. Am I right, Marty Scorsese?"

The best companies, like the best actors and directors, are successful because their employees are constantly seeking to try new things, to grow and improve.

Routines and processes are helpful, but growth doesn't happen when you always do things the exact same way. Growth is a result of being willing to take risks, to break out of your comfort zone, and to embrace failure when it happens.

Because out of failure comes learning. And out of learning, comes growth.

Without new ideas, you'll never even get the chance to fail. That's why taking time for concentrated thought--filling your head with ideas--is a major key to success.

That's easier said than done, in a world where scrolling and watching has replaced concentrated thinking.

But if you buy out time to think, you'll have a major advantage. Don't leave it to chance; put it on the calendar: "Think time." Then, treat it like an unmissable appointment.

So, are you ready to do more, to go higher? The formula is simple:

Show up on time. Know the text. Have a head full of ideas.

And trust me, if it worked for Tom Hanks, it'll work for you.

1/26/20 - How to Tactfully Disagree in a Job Interview

by Caroline Stokes 

When you’re interviewing for a job, you typically have one primary goal: impress the interviewer enough to get an offer. Often, we think that we need to be agreeable to succeed, which can lead to a lot of nodding on both sides — even if you don’t necessarily believe in what the person is saying. This type of well-intended dishonesty may help you get the job, but it can lead to assumptions and misconceptions that grow and fester once you’re in the role.

To be successful in the long term, you should instead express your honest opinions during an interview, presenting yourself as you are, not someone you think the employer wants you to be. In fact, the most engaging interviews — for both sides — have some form of healthy disagreement that demonstrates the interviewee’s ability to be curious and collaborative. Rather than thinking of it as a conflict, approach it as a launching point for healthy discussion, debate, and problem-solving. While simply saying “I disagree” will shut down further conversation, a response framed as “This is what I see (from the outside looking in to your company) and this is what I’ve experienced (during my years specializing in this space)” invites discussion.

For instance, if the interviewer says the company always uses the waterfall method to develop software, but you believe agile is a better method because it allows changes to be made as the project is evolving, you might want to say, “It’s interesting that you’re using the waterfall method because I find agile methodology to produce faster, more accurate, and efficient end of project results.” Your counterpart’s reaction will speak volumes. If he or she says, “That will never work here,” then you know what you might be up against if you get the role and want to make a change.

Of course, disagreeing with an interviewer isn’t always easy. There is an imbalance of power, and you risks giving the impression that you’ll be difficult to work with or making the interview uncomfortable. But you can navigate the potential downsides by doing a few things before, during, and after the conversation.

Do your homework
It’s important to understand ahead of time if the company culture is one where people are receptive to new ideas. Are the organization and its founders known for inclusion and open-mindedness, or do they have a slow-moving legacy mindset? Does the leadership team encourage open communication and innovation? Research the company on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. If you know someone at the company, ask them open-ended questions like, “What do you like about this company and what areas could be improved?” Their answers might help you have a better feel for the firm’s inner workings.

Give yourself space to think
During the interview, if the interviewer states something or asks a question that gives you pause, resist the urge to answer immediately. Instead, take a beat to gather your thoughts and provide a thoughtful reply. To buy yourself that time, you might say something like, “That’s an interesting point of view. Let me think about it for a moment.” This demonstrates that you are able to think critically and problem-solve. Instead of eagerly filling the air with whatever first comes to your mind, you will be able to give a more finely crafted response.

Ask permission to speak candidly
Whenever you need to disagree with someone who has more power than you, it helps to prepare that person. The first time you want to push back on something, ask for permission to provide a different viewpoint. Say something like, “I see this differently. May I share my perspective with you?” This kind of invitation is effective for two reasons. First, it does not make the interviewer “wrong.” If you said “I disagree” and stopped it would probably put your interviewer on the defensive and shut down the conversation. But “I see this differently” opens the door for further discussion. Second, asking the question provokes curiosity on the part of the interviewer. You are not forcing your opinion on them; rather, you’re inviting them to consider it.

Trust your instincts
Of course, during the interview, you should follow your gut. If you think disagreeing won’t be received will then you might want to bite your tongue. Afterward, consider how you feel about the overall experience. Are you excited and confident? Defeated or emotionally drained? Those feelings can be a good indicator of what your days will be like at this organization.

And consider the degree to which you felt comfortable disagreeing. From what you observed, are people at the company open to change? Are dissenting voices welcome? If the interview made you uncomfortable — if you felt dismissed or unheard — trust your instincts. Don’t try to reason yourself into accepting a position in which you will be diminished.

Remember that if expressing different opinions wasn’t welcomed in an interview, it probably won’t be encouraged once you’re part of the company. If you decide you’re not interested in working there, send a follow email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and politely declining to move forward. If you feel comfortable doing so, include a transparent explanation of why you’re opting out. Choose your words carefully and state warmly that the role isn’t right for you because you have a preference for a particular environment and challenge that better suits your career aspirations. Being transparent and authentic is much better than saying something that might be interpreted as disingenuous or even “ghosting” the employer. You don’t want to burn bridges.

An interview is a two-way street. And while the interviewers have what you want (a job) you also have what they need (skills and expertise). When you express your true opinions, you ensure that both sides know what they’re getting.

Caroline Stokes is the founder of FORWARD, an executive headhunting and executive coaching company designed for global innovation leaders. She is the host of The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter Podcast and author of Elephants Before Unicorns: Emotionally Intelligent HR Strategies to Save Your Company.

1/19/20 - 6 Ways You’re Potentially Botching Your Resume

by McLean Mills 

If you haven’t updated your resume recently or simply have never written a resume before in your life, it’s hard to know where to even begin. How do I write a resume for both applicant tracking systems and hiring managers? What resume template should I use? Should my resume be one or two pages? These are just some of the many questions that you may find yourself asking when writing your resume.

While not all of these questions have a clear right or wrong answer, there are some that certainly do. So with that in mind, here are 7 mistakes you could be making on your resume that are making hiring managers pass on your application.

1. Including things that don’t belong
As a rule of thumb, never include things such as your age, marital status, sex, race, political affiliation, religion, or headshot on your resume. In fact, the only personal information that should be included on your resume is your email, phone number, and address. Also, don’t include any information about your high school.

Even if you’re very well-suited for the job you’re applying for, including the wrong information on your resume can be catastrophic. If you fail in this area, recruiters automatically suspect that you’re someone who doesn’t pay attention to details and lacks the competency necessary to piece together a solid resume.

2. Using personal pronouns
Using personal pronouns like “I,” “me,” or “my,” is regarded as a taboo when it comes to resume writing. Why does this unwritten rule exist? Well, crafting an impressive resume is all about being short and concise. Every word should count, and if not, it’s just taking up precious real estate. When it comes to using personal pronouns, anyone reading your resume already knows that the things on it are referring to you. So there’s really no need to use them.

3. Hiring an incompetent professional resume writer
Not every so-called “certified resume writer” is going to do a good job with your resume. The truth is, many online resume writing services do not produce well-written resumes. Pick the right one and yes, you can find yourself working with a very insightful resume writer who will be able to use his insider knowledge and experience to really take your resume to the next level. But on the other hand, a poor decision here can mean spending a lot of money on a resume that ends up being worse than one you’d write yourself. If you aren’t even sure whether you need professional resume help to begin with, there’s an entire LinkedIn article recently released that addresses this potential conundrum.

4. Highlighting your job duties but not your achievements
If you’ve worked as an administrative assistant, I can imagine there are a lot of day-to-day job duties you can mention on your resume, whether it be manning the phones, filing paperwork, managing expenses, scheduling appointments, and all that jazz. While you do want to mention some of these things on your resume, hiring managers can already infer most of that stuff from simply looking at your job title. Instead, what you really want to get across is how successfully you were able to do these tasks. Instead of just “scheduling appointments,” maybe you were able to “develop a new scheduling system that led to a $3000 increase in monthly revenue.” This shift in focus from what you’ve done to how well you did it and what the ultimate impact was can take your resume to the next level.

5. An outdated or unprofessional email address
Recruiters are looking to nitpick anything they possibly can on your resume. Even something seemingly harmless like including your AOL or Hotmail email address at the top of your resume can be potentially damaging to your reputation. Why? Because these email providers are outdated, and those who use them run the risk of being tossed in the same category. To appear more computer savvy, always use Gmail or an address associated with a personal domain.

6. Not giving yourself enough time 
Don’t mistakenly think just because a resume is only a page or two in length that you’ll only need a few hours to write a resume. Putting a job-winning resume together usually takes at the very least a couple of days. If you have job applications lined up to apply for, be sure to give yourself the necessary amount of time needed to write the best resume you possibly can. With how important this document is to your job search success, this is the one thing you cannot afford to rush.

1/12/20 - Your Career Q&A: Here’s What to Say in Job Interviews

By Martin Yate 

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

I'm getting a decent number of job interviews, but I don't often get past a phone interview, and I've only made it to the final round a couple of times. I'm very good at what I do, but one thing I am not good at is job interviews—I either freeze up or open my mouth and spout gibberish. What can I do?
Getting promotions and new jobs both depend, to a considerable degree, on your interview performance. And the interview process can be nerve-racking: You're waiting outside the hiring manager's office, palms sweating, worrying about the coming interview. You have no idea what is happening on the other side of that door.

But l do. Let me share a secret that can change your whole attitude about interviewing: Behind that door, the interviewer is desperate, murmuring, "I'm not asking for much, just someone who can do the job and get along well with others. Then I can make the hire and get back to my job."

When you go to an interview, the hiring manager wants you to be the one so he or she can hire you and get back to work. All you have to do is help the hiring manager make the right decision, and it really isn't that hard.

How to Turn an Interview into a Job Offer

Turning interviews into offers is a critical skill—and probably one of your weakest because you likely have less experience doing this than anything else in your professional experience.

Treat every interview as an opportunity to build this most crucial survival skill. Nothing else about the job matters—not the pay, benefits or work environment. They are all irrelevant until an offer is on the table. Here's how to get that offer.

Know the Job Inside and Out

A successful interview starts with preparation and having something you know you can talk about easily and well. Once an interview is scheduled, study the job posting and connect the company's requirements to the skills and experience you have. Identify the job's challenges, their causes and solutions for each and be ready to tell the interviewer how you faced these problems before and solved them. Interviewers love to hear stories about achievements.

Hiring managers make judgments about candidates based not only on the candidates' responses to questions, but also on the questions the candidates ask, because those queries demonstrate a candidate's depth of understanding and engagement with the work. And it keeps the conversational flow of the interview from stopping and starting abruptly.

After you answer each of the hiring manager's questions, add a question of your own. For example, ask about the challenges that are anticipated in the job, or why people have failed or succeeded in the position. Listen and respond appropriately to the answer.

Don't forget to discuss the ways you've been a team player, recalling how you have worked with colleagues to deliver on your department's mission. Talk about responsibilities and working for the common good, using "we" instead of "I."

Show How You Solve Problems

Hiring managers are looking for candidates who can identify, anticipate, prevent (when possible) and solve the problems that continually arise within their areas of responsibility. When you cut right to the heart of any job, you see that we are all hired to be problem identifiers, problem preventers and problem-solvers.

The candidate who is best able to identify and discuss his or her skills and experiences and show how they relate to the recurring problems of a job is the one who gets the job offer. That person can take problems off the hiring manager's desk and prevent them from getting there in the future.

Think about every deliverable of the job in terms of the problems it presents and how you can identify, anticipate, prevent and solve those problems—then tell it to the hiring manager. It's the best way to hit on the very areas of concern that hiring managers are most concerned about.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

1/5/20 - Career coaches on the biggest mistakes people make in the job search

We talked to 7 career coaches about the most common mistakes they see from applicants.

How often, during a tough week at the office, have you heard your friends say, “Time to update my résumé!”

You’ve probably said it, too.

Most people take this approach to the job search, and it makes sense. There’s so much you can’t control about the process, but adding new bullet points to your résumé feels actionable and straightforward.

But when it comes to thinking about your next career move, this isn’t the best place to start, says Jenny Foss, a career coach, certified professional résumé writer, and the voice behind the popular career blog “Job seekers will be in much better shape if they think about what they do (and don’t) want in that next job BEFORE they update the résumé,” she explains.

What other not-so-intuitive traps do we fall into? Here, seven experts who coach people through these very scenarios share how to job search the right way:

Founder and lead coach Evangelia Leclaire agrees that people often initially focus too much on job search tactics, like their résumé and elevator pitch. “I suggest you focus on you first as the foundation,” she says. “The beliefs, attitude, and energy a smart person will bring to a job search will determine their success.”

Specifically, she advises spending time building up your confidence. Because you’re often competing with hundreds of candidates, it’s easy to doubt yourself, but that’s counterproductive, she explains. “We behave how we believe. So, if you believe that you are not enough or think, ‘I don’t have enough,’ your attitude, approach, and actions will reflect that.”

Some practical tips to boost your confidence? Leclaire suggests jotting down your competencies, character traits, and core strengths and using those to create a vision for your next chapter. She also recommends crafting a narrative about your future ambitions and repeating it daily, both in your mind and out loud.

These mental exercises can be powerful motivation. “You don’t want to end up in a job you hate, or simply tolerate, because you weren’t honest with yourself or didn’t believe you could grow into bigger and better opportunities,” she says.

Once you’re clear on what you want, is it time to update your résumé? Yes, but maybe not in the same way you’ve done in the past.

Foss often tells her clients that a résumé is a marketing document, not an autobiography that details every role and responsibility you’ve ever had. “Just like in marketing, you’re trying to prompt a purchase decision. In this case, that purchase decision is, ‘Invite you in for an interview,'” she shares. “The easier you make it for decision makers to quickly connect the dots between what they need and what you can walk through their doors and deliver, the better the odds they’re going to want to talk.”

What does this look like in practice? Foss recommends digging into job boards and companies’ careers pages. Pull a few postings, and find the themes and criteria that keep coming up. “For instance, if you pull five job descriptions and four of them indicate in some form that they need someone who can solve complex problems and navigate ambiguity—and you can absolutely do these things—then you need to make it clear very quickly on your résumé that this is you.”

With that said, don’t forget about all of the skills that you bring to the table. “The biggest mistake smart people make during their job search is not looking at their experience in a holistic way,” says Dorianne St Fleur, a career strategist and the founder of Your Career Girl, a career development agency for black women. “While it may seem like a no-brainer to solely focus on your project management experience if you’re applying for a project management role, consider highlighting the complementary skills you bring to the table as well.”

For example, she explains, if you’re a project manager who also has experience in web design and operations management—and those skills are relevant to a specific role—find a way to highlight them. “Showcasing how your specific background allows you to bring a new perspective to your work will help you stand out among the hundreds of job seekers vying for the same position,” she explains. Just make sure to make it feel like a value add, not a random sidebar of your career. “It’s your job to connect the dots.”

Another part of your job? Showing a company what you can do for them, not vice versa. “One of the biggest mistakes even the savviest job seekers make is they put too much emphasis on what they want,” explains Emily Liou, career happiness coach and founder of CultiVitae. “When asked, ‘Why do you want to work here?’ or ‘Why are you interested in this role?’ . . . they may catch themselves stating, ‘I want to grow and am ready for greater challenges.'”

But, she cautions, employers don’t really care—at least not initially. “What they want to know is: How will you make our lives easier? What are you going to immediately contribute? How are you going to solve my problem?”

Instead, she advises zeroing in on the solutions you can provide and sharing how you’ve accomplished related milestones before. Her example: Try reframing “I’m interested in greater challenges” as something like “I’m really looking forward to leveraging my expertise in developing programs that impact global communities. I can accomplish this as I’ve spent the past six years studying various learning theories and creating curriculum that’s increased engagement by 78%.”

In theory, online job boards are great—you can submit your application to as many companies as you’d like in the span of an hour or so. But given how easy it is for anyone, anywhere to apply online, hiring managers are flooded with résumés, says Ryan Kahn, career coach and founder of The Hired Group.

So it’s a mistake to rely only on these sites. He paints this picture: “Imagine you’re a hiring manager trying to fill a position. You have two piles—a stack of 100 résumés from qualified candidates who applied online and five résumés from candidates who were personally referred by your colleagues. Which pile would you tackle first? It’s only natural for hiring managers to start with candidates who’ve already been vetted.”

He coaches candidates to spend more time networking with friends, second-degree connections, and even people they don’t know yet to build the kinds of professional relationships that can lead to being referred—or even hearing about positions before they’re posted. “Job seekers who rely solely on online job postings are only tapping into a small percentage of the available market,” he explains.

Jena Viviano, career strategist and founder of Recruit the Employer, seconds the importance of networking, adding that too many job seekers only do it when they need something. “That is just too late,” she cautions.

Most people, she adds, tend to avoid networking because they have a misconstrued idea of what it entails. “We often think of it as sleazy, or a one-time interaction, or a happy hour,” she says. “But networking at its core is about mutually beneficial professional relationships developed over time—with an emphasis on ‘over time’.”

If done correctly, she often tells people, networking can make the search infinitely easier. So, if you’re even thinking about looking for a new gig, start now. “I would recommend connecting with three different contacts a week. That way, when it is time to find a job, you have a whole army of people to support you.”

Like Kahn, Ariel Lopez, founder and CEO of tech hiring platform Knac, notes that most hiring managers receive an overwhelming volume of applications. “It’s almost impossible for them to screen everyone in their pipeline,” she shares.

Which is why she says that it’s a big mistake to spend time on finding the perfect opportunity, polishing up your résumé and cover letter, submitting them—and then never following up. “Avoiding following up could result in your application being overlooked and you not getting the job you want,” she adds.

She advises candidates to follow up with every position they apply to, as well as looking for referrals within the companies you’re applying with to help you out. “Be persistent,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of being too aggressive in your job search. Fortune favors the bold.”

Happy Holidays 2019 - 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 2020 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!

12/15/19 - What to Say When a Job Interviewer Asks For a Long-Term Commitment

by Josh Ocampo 

During a typical job interview, you can usually expect to answer familiar questions like “What are your strengths?” or “Why exactly do you want to work here?” Occasionally, you might also field not-so-legal questions from a hiring manager, the kind that involves your personal business or family plans, for instance. (If you’re in this position, it’s perfectly okay not to answer.)

And between those two areas lies a gray area of questions that aren’t necessarily illegal, but probably aren’t easy to answer, at least without taking time to consider your options. One such question is whether you’d be willing to make a long-term commitment to a prospective employer—before you’re even officially hired.

Over on Forbes, one reader experienced this dilemma. “When I took my job a year ago, my boss made me sign a piece of paper that said I would stay in the job for two years,” she wrote, asking for advice. “... I’ve only been in the job for a year but I’m ready to go.”

In the past, you may have also been asked something slightly similar, like where you see yourself in five years, which could be a simple question about your long-term goals—or just a subtle means of better understanding your commitment to that company.

As you can already guess, this ask for a commitment is mostly about the company. “I know companies want employees that are in it for the long-haul,” Brianna Rooney, CEO of the Millionaire Recruiter and, a recruiting firm, said via email.

If you’re asked to commit to a company, you should know that it isn’t some binding agreement, however. (Unless you do sign a binding contract upon your hiring that includes this contingency. Even then, as Forbes writes, chances are your written agreement is easily breakable depending on the contract and employer). But first, you should consider what saying “yes” could mean and decidedly leaving before your time is up.

As xxxxxx xxxxx of Ask A Manager writes, if you leave a job early under a verbal commitment to that company, you might risk a hit to your reputation in your field or the possibility of ever getting hired at that company in the future, but no other tangible consequences. If it’s a binding agreement, you might risk losing out on a bonus or other incentive, on top of the concerns above, but that depends on your particular case. You should take time to understand these risks if you’re on the fence about taking on an opportunity, long-term.

Saying “no” to a commitment is okay, too, especially if you feel uncomfortable with the question being asked from the outset. On the other hand, there are other ways to answer questions about your future without necessarily committing to any timeline. Green recommends an ethical answer to the question: “Obviously I can’t predict the future and nothing’s written in stone, but if everything goes well on both sides, I’d hope to stay a long time.”

If asked specifically about your five-year plan, Rooney recommends another good starting point for an answer, that should sound something like, “My intentions are to find a company that I can grow and learn with.”

And if you’re still stressing out about an upcoming job interview, check out our guide to acing the interview, so you can better anticipate what questions you might be asked.


12/8/19 - 5 essential questions to ask before you accept any job offer

It’s exciting to get a job offer, but there’s good reason to hesitate before accepting. Ask these questions first.

You polished your résumé, dazzled them in interviews, and landed the job you’ve been chasing. You’ve finally received that coveted offer letter. But don’t get too excited yet.

“It’s sad to say that there are so many things you need to be aware of and careful of in something that should be very exciting for you,” says Kylie Cimmino, a consultant with HR consulting firm Red Clover HR. “But it’s about making sure that you’re covering yourself and you’re prepared for all of the minutiae that is included in that offer.”

So, before you answer your would-be employer with a resounding “Yes!” ask these five questions first:

Paraphrasing actor Sally Fields’s iconic Oscar speech, it’s not uncommon to get caught up in the feeling of “They like me! They really like me!” and not think through whether this is truly the best job or offer for you. “Sometimes a job offer doesn’t fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would. Take a moment and determine if this is really the job you are looking for,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of human resources for

Think about the role and how it fits into your career plans. And, if you haven’t already, look into the company and its culture to see if this is a place where you really want to work. Sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and others have reviews by employees that give a glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Use your personal and professional networks to get a sense of what it’s really like to work for the company. If you don’t know anyone personally, it’s likely you’re just a contact or two away from someone who can give you more insight, Wolfe says.

Some offers are contingent on a variety of factors, including background or drug tests, reference checks, or willingness to sign a noncompete or other agreement. Review these contingencies carefully and consider whether any of them may surface issues from your past or may not be something to which you’re willing to agree, says Colleen Drennen Pfaller, founder of HR consulting firm A Slice of HR.

Sometimes, the contingencies are assumed and may not be in the offer letter, she says. “[If] it’s spelled out, great. But if it’s not, you want to follow up and ask,” she says. Certainly, have that conversation before you give notice at your current employer. For example, if there is a signing bonus, do you need to remain at the job a certain period of time to keep it or do you need to pay it back? These are all factors that you should understand before accepting the job offer.

If you suspect that something like a background check will reveal a potential issue, it may be a good idea to broach the topic first, or at least have an explanation ready if it comes up, Cimmino adds. For example, if you take a prescription medication that may show up in a drug test, be prepared to address the issue, she says.

Read the offer carefully to ensure that anything you negotiated is in it, Wolfe says. Or, if there are additional concessions or add-ons—for example, additional paid time off, moving allowance, subsidized parking, etc.—that you’re seeking, set up a time to talk with your prospective employer. “Negotiating terms of the offer is a standard practice. You want to ensure that everything you were promised or expected is in that letter before signing on the dotted line,” he adds. Once you’ve accepted the offer, it can be difficult to go back and claim that you’re due something that was previously discussed, but not formalized in the offer.

In addition, be sure you understand details that will affect your transition from job to job, including timing, Cimmino says. If you’re not starting your new job for a few weeks or if there will be a gap between when you leave your old job and start the new one, think about how you will bridge any health insurance or payroll gap. Be sure you understand when you are eligible for benefits such as health insurance, 401(k), and time off at the new company.

If your new role will require changes in your lifestyle, salary, hours, or other factors that may affect your family members, include them in the discussion too. For example, if you’re taking a pay cut or if the job requires more travel or a move, such changes will affect your spouse and children. It’s a good idea to be sure everyone’s on board, Wolfe says.

“While ultimately, the decision whether to take a job is the candidate’s, in many cases, their decision impacts others around them,” he adds. “Take time to consider and talk with your family about how this new position impacts everyone.”

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books

12/1/19 - The 10 Most Important Job Skills Employers Will Look For In 2020

by Bernard Marr 

“As the world evolves to embrace the 4th industrial revolution, our workplaces are changing.” Berard Marr, writer, Forbes.

According to Marr, only five years from now, 35 percent of the skills seen as essential today will change according to the World Economic Forum. While we’re not able to predict the future, yet, here are the ten most important job skills every company will be looking for in 2020.

1. Data Literacy

Data has become every organization’s most important asset—the “fuel” of the 4th industrial revolution. Companies that don’t use that fuel to drive their success will inevitably fall behind. So, to make data valuable, organizations must employ individuals who have data literacy and the skills to turn the data into business value.

2. Critical Thinking

There’s no shortage of information and data, but individuals with the ability to discern what information is trustworthy among the abundant mix of misinformation such as fakes news, deep fakes, propaganda, and more will be critical to an organization’s success. Critical thinking doesn’t imply being negative; it’s about being able to objectively evaluate information and how it should be used or even if it should be trusted by an organization. Employees who are open-minded, yet able to judge the quality of information inundating us will be valued.

3. Tech Savviness

Technical skills will be required by employees doing just about every job since digital tools will be commonplace as the 4th industrial revolution impacts every industry. Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, blockchain, and more will become a part of every worker’s everyday experience, whether the workplace is a factory or law firm. So, not only do people need to be comfortable around these tools, they will need to develop skills to work with them. Awareness of these technologies and relevant technical skills will be required for every job from a hairstylist to an accountant and everything in between.

4. Adaptability and Flexibility

As quickly as the world is changing, the half-life of skills is constantly reducing. Therefore, people need to commit to learning new skills throughout their careers and know they must be adaptable to change. Important to this is understanding that what worked yesterday isn’t necessarily the best strategy for tomorrow, so openness to unlearning skills is also important. Additionally, people must be cognitively flexible to new ideas and ways of doing things.

5. Creativity

Regardless of how many machines work beside us, humans are still better at creativity. It’s essential that creative humans are employed by companies to invent, imagine something new and dream up a better tomorrow. Tomorrow’s workplaces will demand new ways of thinking, and human creativity is critical to moving forward.

6. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Another area where humans have the edge on machines is with emotional intelligence—our ability to be aware of, control, and express our emotions and the emotions of others. This ability will be important as long as there are humans in the workforce since it impacts every interaction we have with one another.

7. Cultural Intelligence and Diversity

Organizations are increasingly diverse, and effective employees must be able to respect differences and work with people of a different race, religion, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Also, businesses are increasingly operating across international boundaries, which means it is important that employees are sensitive to other cultures, languages, political, and religious beliefs. Employees with strong cultural intelligence and who can adapt to others who might perceive the world differently are also key in developing more inclusive products and services for an organization.

8. Leadership Skills

Leadership skills will be paramount for not only those at the top of a traditional corporate hierarchy but increasingly for those individuals throughout the company who are expected to lead in the 4th industrial revolution. Enabled by the support of machines, there will be more individuals who are in decision-making positions, whether leading project teams or departments. Understanding how to bring out the best in and inspire every individual within a diverse and distributed workforce requires strong leadership skills.

9. Judgment and Complex Decision Making

Machines might be able to analyze data at a speed, and depth humans are incapable of, but many decisions regarding what to do with the information provided by machines must be still made by humans. Humans with the ability to take input from the data while considering how decisions can impact the broader community, including effects on human sensibilities such as morale, are important members of the team. So, even if the data support one decision, a human needs to step in to think about how a decision could impact other areas of the business, including its people.

10. Collaboration

When companies are looking to hire humans in the 4th industrial revolution, skills that are uniquely human such as collaboration and strong interpersonal skills will be emphasized. They will want employees on their team who can interact well with others and help drive the company forward collectively.

BONUS: In addition to the skills listed above that every company will be looking for in the 4th industrial revolution, there are several self-management skills that will make people more successful in the future, including self-motivation, prioritization/time management, stress management and the ability to embrace and celebrate change. Those people who have a growth mindset, are adept at experimenting and learning from mistakes, as well as have a sense of curiosity will be highly coveted in the 4th industrial revolution.

Happy Thanksgiving 2019 - 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

11/17/19 - 6 things to consider when choosing a job interview outfit

Figuring out just how formally to dress is tricky—and when you’re up for a big job, it’s a high-stakes decision.


While it may seem like the interview suit is a thing of the past, a fair number of hiring managers may disagree.

In a new Accountemps survey of senior managers, the overwhelming majority (94%) said what you wear to a job interview matters. But managers were split on how to get the attire right. More than one-third said candidates should always wear formal suits, while an almost equal number said it all depends on the position or department at the company.

Figuring out just how formally to dress can be tricky, because industries and companies vary wildly when it comes to what people wear to work, says Michael Steinitz, senior executive director for professional staffing services at Robert Half and the global executive director of Accountemps. If you show up completely out of step with company norms, you could risk leaving the impression that you’re not a cultural fit.

“Depending on that dress code, we still recommend, and what hiring managers tend to say is, you don’t necessarily have to be a 100% match, but maybe one step above,” he says.

Determining what “one step above” might mean is another challenge, though. And even that might not be right for very conservative industries. So, before you attempt to plan your dress for a successful interview, keep these six tips in mind:

Today, you have more options than ever to do some sleuthing beforehand, says image consultant Sylvie di Giusto, author of The Image of Leadership. If you’re working with a recruiter, ask that person for some insight about what to wear. Look into industry norms; dressing for a job as a financial analyst will likely be different than dressing for a job as a retail buyer or creative director.

Geography may also play a role in what you wear. The Accountemps survey found that, in New York, Miami, and Washington, D.C., more than half of hiring managers (54%) want to see you in a suit when you show up for an interview. The size of the company may matter, too: 40% of managers at companies with more than 250 employees prefer suited candidates, while just 31% of managers at organizations with 20 to 99 employees expect to see you dress formally for an interview.

Get some insight by checking out the company website and social media accounts. Consult websites and social media accounts of industry events that company employees have attended to get a sense of what people wear in different environments. You have various avenues available to gather information, di Giusto says. Use them.

You want the people interviewing you to see you as capable of doing the job for which you’re being hired and then some. “Your appearance is your logo,” says Sheila A. Anderson, founder of Image Power Play, an image branding agency, and author of I.C.U.: The Comprehensive Guide to Breathing Life Back Into Your Personal Brand. “Your clothing is the first filter. It gives clues to what you believe in. Think of the clothes you wear in terms of visual data. They help others makes sense of who you are and what you stand for.”

So, think about the requirements of the job you’re seeking, and dress to be appropriate for the most professional circumstances you’ll face. For example, will you be going on sales calls to new clients? Show up as you would for such meetings. You want the hiring manager to feel comfortable that you’ll represent the company well, Anderson says.

It may be tempting to reach for the old standby outfit, but if it’s too big or small, that may be a mistake. The importance of wearing clothes that fit you can’t be overstated, Anderson says. If your clothes are too big or long, they may look sloppy. If they’re too tight, they may be unflattering and make you uncomfortable, which can be distracting and have a negative effect on interview performance or body language.

Regardless of how formally you dress, details matter, Anderson says. Clothes should be neat and pressed. Avoid scuffed shoes, pilled sweaters, or clothes with other signs of wear and tear.

And, while some suggest wearing a memorable statement piece, di Giusto advises caution here: “On the one hand, I say yes, you can show your personality.” That may mean a great silk pocket square in a suit, a pop of color on your socks, or a great piece of jewelry to show your creativity and style. But, if the piece is too over the top, it could backfire. Opt for tasteful instead of attention-getting.

This generally isn’t the time to test out a whole new look or a style that isn’t comfortable for you, Anderson says. Buying a very on-trend outfit that isn’t really representative of who you are could leave your interviewer with the wrong impression. “Stand out for who you are not with what you are wearing. You want the interviewer to focus on you and not be distracted by what you have on,” she says. At the same time, update your look to reflect trends. Choose cuts of clothing and shoes that reflect a modern style.

Still stumped? Unless your industry has specific expectations—such as a “suits-only” culture or other specific dress requirements—there are some classic options that almost always work. Anderson says most people can’t go wrong with dark trousers, a collared shirt, and a stylish jacket. You can always take off the jacket if you feel overdressed and accessorize the outfit to reflect your style, she says. But avoid jewelry, belts, or other items that will be cumbersome or noisy, as they may be distracting.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for choosing a great interview outfit. But, if you do your homework and reflect the best version of the company’s style, you’ll make a good impression before you say a word, Anderson says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and websites. She was named a Small Business Influencer Awards Top 100 Champion in 2015, 2014, and 2012 and is the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010), and several other books

11/10/19 - 3 Simple Things That Will Make You the Most Interesting Person in Any Conversation

Time to get rid of the small talk.
By Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core 

Tired of showing up to those networking events or cocktail parties because your brain has already decided it's going to be a drag being asked the same dumb questions and exchanging fake smiles?

To reinvent your networking routine so that others are attracted to you like flies to a sticky trap, stop showing up with the expectation of getting something from them. Here are three key actions of the best conversationalists that will immediately draw others to you.

1. Be intensely curious.
As you meet someone new, it's crucial to find something interesting about the other person, perhaps a fascinating fact or idea that you can follow up on with interesting questions of your own. This means activating the genuine curiosity within you.

Several studies suggest that curious people have better relationships, connect better, and enjoy socializing more. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals that display curiosity.

George Mason University psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of Curious?, states in Greater Good that "being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that's what gets the dialogue going. It's the secret juice of relationships."

2. Be a good listener.
Making a good impression is key to kick-start a conversation that works to your advantage, but beware of dominating the conversation early on.

Since people love to talk about themselves, be the one who lets the other person talk first. Why? Talking about ourselves triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.

Harvard University neuroscientists found the reason: It feels so rewarding to the brain when people self-disclose in a conversation that they can't help sharing their thoughts.

So, by saying little, listening intently, and allowing the other person to have his glory, you will make an excellent impression because people who are liked the most, ironically enough, are the ones who often say the least.

3. Stop asking dumb and uninteresting questions.
Being interesting is about being interested in other people's interesting lives and not asking dumb questions that won't elevate the conversation beyond the dreaded small talk.

It means avoiding boring questions like, 'What do you do?' or ''How are you?' when you don't actually mean it. Also steer clear of the weather and discussing your favorite reality TV show.

You don't learn anything by asking boring and predictable questions and unknowingly make the other person less interesting than he or she truly is.

To counter the effects of a boring conversation from the get-go, be the more interesting person by asking questions like:

By taking the initiative and making the conversation about the other person, this selfless act of shining the spotlight on someone else first gives you the edge -- making you the more interesting person in the room.

11/3/19 - How to Answer: "How Do You Like to Be Managed?"

By Kate Johanns 

Nothing is certain but death and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin—but if he'd been around in the 21st century, he might have added the interview question "How do you like to be managed" to his list. After all, you’re almost guaranteed to be asked this question at some point during the interview process, no matter how far along you are in your career. So how should you prepare to answer this interview standby?

Be positive
First and foremost, stay positive when you answer this question. The hiring manager wants to know whether you'll be a good fit, but she also wants to see how you handle a potentially sticky situation. Don't fall into the trap. Save the venting for happy hour with your best friend or significant other, and focus on what you’re looking for in a supervisor. Even if you've had a series of unfortunate bosses, flip the script and discuss the (opposite) positive trait. For instance, if you're currently working for a micromanager, don't say "I don't like to be micromanaged." Instead, say you like to work to find solutions on your own with regular check-ins and support from your manager.

Remember—the hiring manager knows you're on your best behavior during an interview, so she’s looking to see how you'll behave with your customers, clients, and coworkers.

Do your research—but be true to yourself
By the time you're asked this question during the interview process, you might have an idea of what the corporate culture is like—or even what your potential boss is like. You could have mutual acquaintances, or perhaps you know the company by reputation.

This is all good information to have, but you shouldn't spend so much time focusing on what you think the hiring manager wants to hear that you aren't true to yourself. After all, during an interview, you’re still on equal footing with the hiring manager—once you've been hired, you're no longer in the position to state your preferences about things like management style. You want to convey your flexibility, but it's better to figure out the position isn't a good fit now rather than six weeks into the job.

Be concrete and specific
Because this is such a perennial question, you can have a standard answer at the ready. When you prepare for your interview, think about past supervisors. You might want to jot a few notes about the characteristics you found most appealing. For instance, perhaps you appreciated a former supervisor who scheduled regular check-ins with each team member to discuss the employee's current projects and career goals. You could cite these meetings as an example of a manager who is committed to frequent communication and mentoring—certainly worthy aspects of any management style.

As you think about the past, also think about what management approach meshes best with your own work style. Do you prefer written or verbal communication? Do you like to bounce ideas off another person, or would you rather brainstorm on your own?

Consider your preferred leadership style
Organizational psychologists have developed multiple frameworks for defining leadership styles. They might describe the coaching-style approach as the "democratic approach" or a by-the-book manager as a "bureaucratic" manager. Each leadership style has its place. Brushing up on how these styles are defined and understanding what works best in your industry can help you formulate your answer. For instance, if you prefer a bureaucratic, by-the-book approach, working at a rapidly growing startup might leave you feeling rudderless.

Don't let "How do you like to be managed?" throw you off your game. It's a good question. Job-hunting is a lot like dating—you might have to "meet" multiple job opportunities before you find the right fit. You need to be true to yourself and have a good understanding of what environment will make you the most effective professionally. After all, if you're not comfortable in your role, you won't be able to contribute at your highest potential—and it's quite likely you'll find yourself back on the job market.



Plenty of helpful information such as:

10/27/19 - Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Looks for These 2 Traits Before He'll Hire Anyone

These are two qualities any leader would kill to have a greater mix of on his or her team.
By Scott Mautz 

Microsoft is on a roll again under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella. I gave a keynote address at their Redmond, Washington, headquarters in June and was struck by a conversation I had with a few Microsoft leaders at a dinner reception after my talk.

They were telling me they'd been doing a lot of hiring of late (given the pace of growth that Microsoft has been experiencing). I was curious about what they were looking for in new hires, and what criteria were most important for a job candidate to demonstrate to increase their chances of being hired.

Their answer caught my attention.

They told me they like to keep in mind what they called Nadella's Necessities. These are two simple but powerful things that CEO Satya Nadella wisely says that he looks for in new hires. Nadella confirmed this himself in an interview he gave the Wall Street Journal in 2015.

1. Do they create clarity?
What a brilliant way to comb through a bevy of candidates you might be interviewing. Looking back, which one created clarity? That person will stand out for certain. I spent over a decade running a recruiting team for Procter & Gamble (P&G) and I can tell you that I looked for clarity from job candidates in four ways:

2. Do they create energy?
You can tell energy zappers and energy sappers a mile away. Energy zappers, those who exude and seem to create energy, are an often underestimated add to any team. Everybody likes working with somebody who gives them energy.

I used a simple acronym-based question I'd ask myself during interviews as a screener: "Are they firing SCUD missiles?" By SCUD, I mean

Spark. Curiosity. Urgency. Drive.

My experience has been that you can't teach this. People tend to either have it or not. And while different people, of course, show it in different ways, it's important to show in your way that you are indeed an energy creator.

For example, if you're an introvert, you don't have to fake being an extrovert; connoting energy happens in ways more than just showing outward displays of it. Energy is created (perhaps even more powerfully) by simple voice inflections, small, targeted shows of passion, and by being extra clear and articulate in your answers.

So I think Nadella is on to something. And you might be on to something new in your life--a new job--if you're prepared to demonstrate Nadella's Necessities.

10/20/19 - Extreme ways CEOs are testing soft skills in job interviews

From paying candidates not to work for them to asking them to drive the CEO’s car, employers are finding unique ways to put a prospective employee’s soft skills to the test.

The evaluation process for those interviewing at Zappos begins long before sitting down at their offices and ends weeks after they receive a job offer, unbeknownst to many.

Because the company is based in Las Vegas, the online clothing and shoe retailer often flies in its candidates and offers them a shuttle ride from the airport. “The interview starts the second they’re in the shuttle, or when they hit the front desk,” says Christa Foley, the company’s senior director of culture and head of talent acquisition.

Foley explains that both shuttle drivers and front desk staff are instructed to report on the conduct of every candidate who arrives for an interview. “If someone is not pleasant to what they might consider someone in a lower position, that’s something we want to know,” she says.

Foley says that in its more than 15-year history, the company of over 1,500 has seen many candidates who were rude or pushy to drivers and front desk staff, only to turn on the charm when the recruiter arrived. They’ve also seen plenty who have wowed the staff, swaying the odds in their favor before the interview even begins.

Zappos is just one of many employers that have come to recognize that a traditional résumé and interview isn’t necessarily the best indicator of whether or not a candidate will be a good fit. That’s because both candidate and employer are (naturally) trying to paint the best pictures of themselves in interviews, résumés, and job postings. But, down the line, those exaggerations or inaccuracies can prove problematic.

Though many employers base hiring decisions at least partially on the institutions and employers listed on a candidate’s résumé, others feel those points are irrelevant. Instead, they value traits like self-awareness, adaptability, ability to multitask, and a power to inspire others. If asked in an interview, most will claim to possess those skills, which is why some employers are plunging candidates into unexpected, real-world scenarios as part of the evaluation process.

“The technology is changing so much what we do that it’s not useful to have any specific hard skills necessarily, because our needs are changing all the time,” says Gabriel Fairman, CEO of content localization platform Bureau Works. “I do not look at a résumé before the interview, because that will completely misguide me.”

Fairman says he’s spent his time as CEO finding ways to “deconstruct” the traditional interview process, expressing little patience for the charade of perfection that has come to define the interaction. There was even a time when he dressed up as a janitor to see how candidates greeted him, but he eventually felt that method was a little too deceptive.

Now he tries to provoke honesty and transparency by starting the interview listing all the company’s shortcomings, and urging the candidate not to work for him. “That changes the tone of the interview completely,” says Fairman. “If we start off the interview by being very truthful about who we are as a company, that’s an invitation for the candidate to also be honest and truthful.”

Fairman explains that while some will take him literally, others will push back, and engage in a more honest conversation about their own motives and ambitions, as well as their shortcomings. Not only does it help him better understand the true character of the candidate, but Fairman believes it begins the relationship in a more honest place, as neither party has to live up to an impossibly high expectation.

The tactic seems to be working. According to Fairman, there have been no unwanted departures in the previous 24 months, 96% of employees evaluate company culture as “good” or “great” in internal reviews, and Bureau Works maintains a 4.9 out of 5 rating on the employer review website Glassdoor.

Zappos, for its part, uses a similar method, offering trainees a full month’s salary to quit midway through the month-long onboarding process. “It’s more expensive to replace someone as time goes on, and they’re probably not doing their best work for you if they’re not happy,” explains Foley. She adds that the percentage of those who take the company up on its offer has dropped from about 8% to under 1% in recent years, which she attributes in part to the input of shuttle drivers and front desk staff.

Applicants to the internet marketing services company TechnologyAdvice once had to react to a curveball—actually, several dozen—following a formal interview. According to CEO Rob Bellenfant, the company used to engage every candidate in a game of table tennis as part of the evaluation process.

“We were not judging anybody’s ability to play the game, we were looking at the metadata,” he says. “Do they take risks? Do they ask questions to learn about the rules? Did they ask questions about how they were being judged through this test? How hard did they try? Did they give it a lot of effort or treat it like entertainment?”

Bellenfant also asked candidates to rate their own abilities before and after the games, which helped him evaluate their level of self-awareness. While some candidates declined to engage, those who did demonstrated an openness to new experiences. Though he no longer puts candidates through the ping-pong test—as it takes too much time and resources—he says the process taught him a lot about his own team members as well.

“We learned a lot about what our different teams valued across the company, and how some hiring managers put greater emphasis on different components of the table tennis test,” he says. “For example, the sales team values competitiveness. Other teams don’t.”

Ron Kaplan has an even more nerve-wracking and potentially dangerous way to evaluate the personality traits of potential employees. The former CEO and current chairman of composite deck manufacturer Trex always conducts interviews in the morning and concludes by offering to take the candidate to lunch. As they approach the parking lot, however, Kaplan hands over his keys, insisting the candidate—who likely doesn’t live near their Winchester, Virginia, headquarters—drive his car.

“What I really want to see is whether or not they can multitask,” says Kaplan, adding he believes it’s one of the most valuable traits for senior managers. “What I want to see is how comfortable they are receiving multiple directions and getting questions at the same time. You can very quickly figure out who’s comfortable in that situation, and who isn’t.”

Kaplan, who’s been a company CEO or president for more than 20 years, says he developed the unconventional evaluation method after experiencing problems with hires who had stellar résumés.

“I’ve fired three Harvard MBAs in my life. They were all supposed to be really smart, and I’m sure they are, but geniuses are a dime a dozen,” he says. “What I look for is someone with the ability to attract talent, motivate talent, and hold them accountable. That doesn’t jump off a résumé.”

Other indicators Kaplan looks out for include how they describe their home life (“I’m not trying to make a judgment; I just want to see if they’re happy with it, whatever it is,”) and how concise their answers are to basic questions. (“If I’m asking someone if it’s raining and he’s telling me about cloud formations, I’ve got a problem.”)

While employers like Kaplan still confirm that candidates have the skills needed for the job, that’s only a baseline evaluation. Instead of superficial conversations between two parties trying to inflate their own value, he and others are finding unique ways to test the traits they believe are a better indicator of employee success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist born, raised and residing in Toronto, covering technology, entrepreneurship, entertainment and more for a wide variety of publications in Canada, the United States and around the world. When he's not playing with gadgets, interviewing entrepreneurs or traveling to music festivals and tech conferences you can usually find him diligently practicing his third-person bio writing skills.

10/13/19 - 7 ways to figure out who the hiring manager is when it's not listed in a job posting

Shana Lebowitz and Allana Akhtar 

Just because a job posting omits the name of the person in charge of the hiring process doesn't mean you should address your cover letter "To whom it may concern."

According to Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume, you'll always want to direct your cover letter to a specific individual (unless the posting is anonymous). Otherwise, you might give the impression that you didn't put any effort into your application or you don't pay attention to detail.

So how do you figure out who's doing the hiring? Augustine shares her top strategies:

Reread the job description.

Before you panic and conclude that there's no name listed, go back and reread the job posting very carefully. There might be a name and email address lurking at the bottom of the posting that you missed the first time.

Use the email address provided to search for a name.

Sometimes companies will direct candidates to send their applications to a specific email address without providing a name to go along with it.

That's a big clue.

There's a good chance the email address is the person's first initial and last name (for example, mine is, or maybe just their first name. Once you have that information, you can run a Google search for "S Lebowitz Business Insider" or "Shana Business Insider" and see what you come up with.

 Look for the person who created the posting.

If you found the job posting on LinkedIn, sometimes you'll see it was created by a specific recruiter or hiring manager, depending on the size of the company.

In that case, you should address your cover letter to him or her because that person is obviously directly involved in the hiring process.

Look for information about who you'd be reporting to.

Maybe the job posting says you'd be reporting to the director of marketing analytics, but doesn't give that persons' name. Run an advanced search on LinkedIn for any current directors of marketing analytics at the company and see who comes up.

If that doesn't work, you can run a standard Google search for "director of marketing analytics" and the company name. You might even find that person's spoken at a recent conference, for example, which would give you some insight into what interests her and what kinds of information you should include in your cover letter.

Search the recruiting agency's website.

If the job posting was created by a specific recruiting agency, go to that agency's website and look at the bios of all the recruiters who work there.

See which one works primarily with the company you're applying to.

Google part of the job posting.

It's possible that the website where you spotted the job opening isn't where it was originally posted.

To find out, take a portion of the job description that lists the specific role or requirements, put it in quotation marks, and hit search. You might find the original posting, which includes the name and/or email address of the person in charge of the hiring process.

Leverage your network.

Here's where a large professional network comes in handy.

Run an advanced search on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections who currently work at the company you're applying to. Ask that person if he or she a) knows who you should address your cover letter to, and b) would be willing to pass your application onto the appropriate person.

You can use the same strategy if there's a company employee you met once at a networking event. Simply email that person: "I don't know if you'll remember me, but…" Express your interest in the position and ask if he or she can direct you to the appropriate person.

This tactic is especially effective, since studies suggest that applicants with someone to vouch for them are more likely to land the job.

Make sure you submit your application through the standard method as well as through your mutual connection. The company may want to track each application that comes in for their records.

10/6/19 - This Personality Trait is an Interview Killer

It’s like walking a tightrope to find the balance between having the personality employers want and not coming off as having the one they hate.

When it comes to nailing an interview, your personality may play a larger role than you think. According to a recent study conducted by TopInterview and Resume-Library, 70% of employers consider a candidate’s personality to be among the top three factors in deciding whether to extend a job offer. It’s substantially more important than education (18%) or appearance (7%).

So, what personality traits will make or break your chances of landing the job? Employers reported that “overconfidence” was the most offensive. However, when asked which personality traits they find the most attractive, they rated “confidence” as the second-most important quality.

The message is clear: If you want to land the job, you must balance sounding confident, without being perceived as overly confident during the interview. It’s certainly important to demonstrate your job qualifications and your value to the company. However, if you take it too far, you may be perceived as arrogant, which will only hurt your credibility and ruin your chances of landing the job.

Here are five ways you can avoid crossing the line from confident to cocky during your next interview.

Nervous energy before an interview can be beneficial. It will keep you on your toes and help ensure you sound authentic when answering the interviewer’s questions. In fact, I often help clients figure out how to boost their energy level before an interview to ensure they make the right impression. However, if you fail to manage those nerves, you may find yourself trying to overcompensate during the interview and inadvertently come across as arrogant.

To mitigate this risk, determine the best way to release some of that nervous energy and work it into your pre-interview routine. Whether it’s a spin class, meditation, or jamming out to your favorite song, find what works for you and do it.

When you walk into an interview, you’re expected to confidently discuss your skills and your value to the company. After all, if you’re not confident in your abilities, why should a prospective employer be confident in hiring you? However, it’s how you communicate your skills that makes all the difference.

The key is to get specific. Instead of using sweeping statements like, “I’m a skilled marketer. I know everything there is to know about email marketing,” share information that demonstrates your proficiency in a specific area, such as an award you’ve won or a measurable result you’ve achieved. The candidates who can prove their success are the ones genuinely impressing the hiring manager without coming across as smug.

There’s no room for false modesty when you’re looking for work. However, be careful not to overstate your abilities, embellish your previous responsibilities, or take full credit for a team effort. No one likes a braggart, and most interviewers can see through those exaggerations with a few follow-up questions. When discussing a previous accomplishment, give credit where credit is due. Instead of pretending it was the result of a one-person show, acknowledge your other team members and explain the contribution you’ve made in bringing about the win.

No one is perfect, so don’t try to pretend you are during an interview. If you’re asked about a weakness, don’t avoid the question or provide one of those faux weaknesses such as “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m too nice.” Instead, share a work-related area that is nonessential to the job, and explain the steps you’ve taken to improve.

The STAR Method (Situation, Task, Actions, Results), which is typically used to answer behavioral interview questions, can be a great way to explain how you’ve overcome a weakness in a succinct, yet thoughtful manner.

To do this, think of a real situation or task you’ve struggled with previously, such as being uncomfortable with public speaking. Choose a shortcoming that’s genuine, but not a key requirement of the role you hope to get.

Identify what actions you’ve taken to improve this skill or overcome your professional shortcoming. For instance, if you’ve struggled with public speaking, explain the class you’ve completed to overcome your fears.

Share the results of your actions. Have you recently volunteered to present at the company-wide meeting? Have you completed a course to gain proficiency in a certain skill? Have your performance assessments in this area improved?

Demonstrating a level of self-awareness and commitment to professional development is much more attractive to employers than pretending you are perfect.

Whenever an interviewer asks you, “Do you have any questions for me?” your response should always be an enthusiastic “Yes,” whether you’re on your first or your fourth round of interviews with the company. Employers use this question to gauge your interest in the opportunity, so blowing off this question at the end of the interview will only leave you looking cocky or, worse, uninterested in the position.

While some questions will naturally emerge from your conversations with your interviewer, I find it helpful to prepare a list of questions like this one in advance that you can ask each person with whom you meet. The benefits of this extra preparation are twofold. It shows the hiring manager that you’re taking the interview seriously and you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity. It also helps you learn more about the company and determine whether the job is the right fit for you. It’s a win-win.

Amanda Augustine (@JobSearchAmanda) is the resident career expert for Talent Inc.’s suite of brands: TopResume, TopCV, and TopInterview. With nearly 15 years of experience in the recruiting and career-advice industry, she is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and résumé writer (CPRW), helping professionals improve their careers and find the right job sooner.

9/29/19 - The Art of Asking a Friend to Refer You to Their Company

By Arden Davidson 

Having friends in high places can be a definite benefit when you’re looking for a job referral. Even acquaintances can help you land your dream position if they’re so inclined. But first things first—if they haven’t offered, you need to ask. That’s where some awkwardness can come in. How do you ask a friend to refer you to their company without seeming pushy, desperate, or exploitative? Here are some tips that will help you get the referral you want without putting unnecessary strain on the friendship.

It’s a question, not a demand
You might feel comfortable enough with your friend to say, “Hey! You’ve gotta get me a job at your company!” But no matter how close you two are, no one enjoys feeling like they’re having demands put on them. This approach could make your buddy feel defensive and resistant.

Instead of telling him to give you a referral, ask nicely. Say something like, “You’re so lucky to work at XYZ Corporation. I would love to work there. Would it be possible for you to give me a referral?” Make sure your friend knows this is a request—not a requirement of your friendship.

Make sure it’s reasonable
Your friend may be awesome, but that doesn’t mean she’s a miracle worker. If your bestie works at a high-tech company and you can barely operate your smart phone, you can’t expect her to put her reputation on the line for you. After all, if your friend refers you for a job, she’s basically telling her employer she thinks you’ll be a valuable asset to the company. If that turns out to be untrue, both of your good names will be in jeopardy.

If you don’t have the qualifications, work ethic, or commitment to make your friend look good, don’t put her in an untenable position. That’s taking unfair advantage of your relationship, and it’s not likely to end well career-wise or friendship-wise.

Be prepared
As any good scout knows, being prepared is essential for success. You can’t automatically assume your friend will be thrilled with the idea of giving you a referral. The fact is, if your pal knows you’re looking for a job and hasn’t already made the offer himself, there could be a reason. So be ready to defend yourself and explain, in a calm and logical way, why you think you would be a good fit for the company.

If you don’t have the best track record and that’s holding him back, show him how you’ve changed and matured. Give examples. Show enthusiasm. Let your friend know if he refers you for the job, you’ll make him proud.

Give them an out
You should be able to give good reasons for your friend to refer you, but you also have to accept it if they just don’t want to do it. Don’t get defensive or keep trying to push your point. Simply say, “Thank you for listening. I totally understand.” Don’t badger or make her feel like you’re unwilling to let it go. Present your case succinctly and objectively, and if she doesn’t take the bait, let her off the hook. You don’t want to find yourself short a referral and a friend.

Asking a friend for a job referral can feel a little uncomfortable for both parties, regardless of the level of closeness between you. But you can reduce some of that awkwardness by being humble, reasonable, prepared, and gracious. Your entire friendship isn’t based on this, so if the answer is no, don’t take it personally. And if the answer is yes, make sure you show your gratitude (a nice dinner or tickets to an event are a good way to go)—especially if you get the job!

9/22/19 - Here’s an example of the perfect thank you email

Here’s an example of the perfect thank you email, according to Yale career experts
by Dustin McKissen 

Never undermine the power of sending a thank you note after your interview.

Whether it’s for a job or an internship, a thank you note is literally your last chance to sell yourself an employer. Aside from not sending one at all, many candidates make the mistake of writing one that’s far too generic.

Here’s an example of a strong thank you email, according to career experts at Yale University’s Office of Career Strategy:

Sample Thank You Email

(Courtesy of Yale University, Office of Career Strategy)

Don’t know where to start? Here are some essential tips on how to write the perfect thank you note:

1. Paper or email?
This is a tricky one.

While some hiring managers argue that handwritten letters are a lost art that can go a long way (provided that you have flawless penmanship), most prefer the email route because it’s more convenient for all parties.

The short answer? It depends on the company you’re interviewing at. If it’s a digitally-focused organization, for example, you’re better off sending your letter electronically.

If in doubt, send your letter via email. That way, you won’t have to worry about it getting lost or your interviewer not receiving it in a timely manner.

(Also, keep in mind that it’s what you actually put in your note that counts, not how you send it.)

2. Send one to each interviewer
If you spoke with several people at the company, be sure to ask for their business cards at the end of each interview.

Each letter should be personalized with specific information that you talked about with each person. Even if the discussions were the same, your letters shouldn’t be.

“Putting the time and effort into personalizing your notes shows that you were paying close attention to the information conveyed by each interviewer,” a career expert at Yale explained. “This will benefit you when the interviewers compare notes — which they will do. ”

3. Include the basics
While your letter should go beyond a simple thank you, you still need to:

Reiterate your interest
Express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time
Emphasize your best and most relevant qualities and skills
Mention specific topic discussed in the interview that you found to be the most appealing
Include one or two past experiences that prepared you for the responsibilities of the position

4. Go above and beyond
This is your chance to really show that you were listening attentively and took time to reflect on the interview.

Here are a few ways to go above and beyond in your thank you letter:

Mention something exciting you learned about the company that makes you want to work there
Talk about a skills shortage you now know they have that you’re uniquely poised to fill
Include links to projects or work samples you talked about in your interview
Comment on a small detail that your interviewer mentioned (e.g., wish them safe travels if said they were going overseas for an upcoming vacation)
Clarify something you said during the interview
Highlight something you failed to mention
Also, a candidate that expresses eagerness and excitement for a role is always refreshing, so don’t be afraid to add some personality. (But don’t take it too far; your employer still wants to see that you have proper business etiquette.)

5. Keep it clear and short
Your thank you note should be no more than one page. Typically, 250 to 300 words is fine.

If you’re sending your letter via email, the subject line should be simple (e.g., “Thank you - Sales Marketing Associate interview”).

6. Don’t wait too long to send it
There’s no need to send your thank you note immediately after the interview. The sweet spot is generally within the 24- to 48-hour period after the interview.

Helpful tip: As soon as you exit the building, jot down notes and specific details that you want to include in your letter. Everything will still be fresh in your head and you’ll have a much easier time writing the letter when you get home.

7. Proofread, proofread, proofread...
A sloppily written letter can blow your chance at getting the job, so always do a thorough check before hitting that send button.

Beyond grammar and spelling, make sure that:

Names, dates and email addresses are correct
The correct company is mentioned, especially if you’ve been interviewing at other places (I once received a thank you email that included the name of our company’s competitor)

Similar to the previous point, you also want to make sure you included the correct job position that you interviewed for

Dustin McKissen is the founder of McKissen + Company, a strategic communications firm in St. Charles, Missouri. He was also named one of LinkedIn’s “Top Voices in Management and Corporate Culture.” Follow him on LinkedIn here.

9/15/19 - Looking for work? Your next job interview might just come by text message

by Edward C. Baig 

Screen phone calls are so yesterday. Your next employer might want to do the initial interview via text message. 

Texting has become a fairly routine staple of communication today. Many of us don't give a second thought to having relationships in our personal lives almost entirely by text, it seems. But as the portal to that dream job, texting is still pretty foreign to most of us.

Texting for a job in lieu of the more traditional screener phone call is becoming more common. Depending on the role the company is trying to fill, texting may take you and the recruiter fairly deep into the courting process.

For Barnes, after a little research to confirm the recruiter's identity, that text exchange began his hiring journey – covering his qualifications, availability and even his salary requirements. It was well into the process that he finally got to connect with his prospective bosses in person.

That said, we may not yet be to the point of total comfort going from first contact to first day on the job via text.

In some ways, texting for hire parallels online dating, says Aman Brar, CEO of Jobvite, whose text-based interviewing platform Canvas is used by, among other places, the hospital that hired Barnes.

"In most cases, you are going to have a few live dates before you get hitched and spend the rest of your life together,” Brar says.

The path to most upper management positions, as well as doctors, lawyers, and other professionals will typically still play out the old fashion way and barely rely on text-based recruitment if at all. But Brar says his company’s text platform is used by airlines hiring pilots, hospitals hiring nurses, and employees in manufacturing.

Jared Bazzell, talent acquisition manager at CDW, a tech-solutions provider for businesses, says the mobile phone has changed recruiting. “We use texting on the principle that we want to communicate with our hires how they want to be communicated with,” he says.

Some applicants will kickstart the job hunt-by-text search by responding to an ad that specifically says, “Looking for a job? Text `Job to XXXXX,’ says Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS. Her company last year bought TextRecruit, a candidate engagement platform that uses texting, live chat, and artificial intelligence to help organizations hire.

“From an employer’s perspective, fish where the fish are,” she says of TextRecruit, which has clients such as Amazon, Chipotle, Six Flags, and UPS.

Many such positions are hourly or blue-collar type jobs. But texting might be used at any level to schedule interviews or even arrange next steps after getting a job offer.

The pros and cons
Along with potential opportunities, texting brings its own set of challenges, not least is knowing where you as a candidate stand. Absent the visual cues evident during an in-person or even video interview, it can be difficult for applicants to gauge their prospects. Same goes when a candidate can’t pick up the tone in a hiring manager’s voice.

On the other hand, if a would-be employer happens to ask you a challenging question via text – how might you resolve Problem X at our company? – you may have some time to think about and craft a strong answer, rather than having to respond on the spot. In fact, applicants can often respond to questions more or less on their own time.

What’s more, texting may let candidates casually inquire about a company's benefits or work-from-home policy as the questions occur to them.

That said, just as how to properly dress for an interview varies by job, industry and custom, the rules of how to engage a potential employer and stand out by text may vary as well.

Can I use emojis?
How do you navigate the uncertainty and avoid mistakes? The soundest advice – and this goes for almost any text exchange – is to make sure you know who you are texting with before hitting "send."

Texting with friends and family is typically casual, but that doesn’t mean messages with a prospective employer will be equally informal. Some employers may be sticklers when it comes to proper grammar or spelling mistakes; others are more relaxed.

Same goes for abbreviations (“u” instead of “you”, for example). And be wary of autocorrect. Always check to make sure your words haven't been embarrassingly or unfortunately altered before sending.

So can you use a smiley face?

Consider the job you’re applying for. A role in retail, for instance, may be more casual than a job where the quality of your writing will be critical.

“We have instructed our recruiters that texting is the fastest, most efficient way to reach your candidates instantaneously, no matter where they’re at. And therefore, using chat language – emoticons, emojis, you name it – is all fair game,” says Scott Sendelweck, HR Digital Marketing Manager at Community Health Network.

But Vitale of iCIMS advises candidates to remember that, “It’s still a job, and just because you’re using two thumbs to communicate doesn’t mean you can treat it completely casually as though you are chatting with a friend here.”

The use of emojis isn’t the worst thing, she says, but probably unnecessary.

Short and sweet is fine, too, but she recommends keeping a level of decorum and professionalism. That means capitalizing letters and using proper punctuation.

Bazzell at CDW says his recruiters use emoticons and emojis when texting candidates. “Our recruiters show empathy. They show excitement, and that’s the same thing we see back and forth. It looks and feels like a real text message.”

But spelling does count, he says, and you need to consider “How are you presenting yourself to an executive?”

Am I speaking to a human?
In the early rounds, you may not even be texting with a live person at all, but rather a chatbot instead.

“We want to keep humans at the center of the conversation but certainly use bots where they make sense,” Brar says.

Many organizations will tell you when that is the case.

Mya Systems built an automated “conversational AI” chatbot recruiting assistant called Mya, with the goal, according to co-founder and CEO Eyal Grayevsky, “not to replace human-to-human interaction, but rather connecting a job candidate with the right recruiter.”

Mya clients include L’Oreal, Pepisco, Singapore Airlines, and Adecco, with the main focus on hourly type positions. Though Mya also helps fill entry-level finance and accounting type jobs, as well as nursing, internships and new graduate programs.

Grayevsky says a candidate will know the text outreach from Mya is genuine because you would have had to previously opt in.

"Our technology is able to personalize and let you know, 'hey, you applied to a job nine months ago for a retail associate role in Atlanta, Georgia. Just wanted to check in. This is Mya on behalf of Jane at L’Oreal.’ Jane was the recruiter that they had engaged with. And there’s a link for more information to validate that.”

Many of the questions Mya asks are open-ended: “What are you interested in?” What are you looking for in your next job?” “Are you all right with weekend work?”

The system can build a summary report card and surface interactions that the human recruiter can later review.

“Text is really nice. It is short, to the point, this is not an essay. You can provide bite-sized insights into who you are, what you stand for, what you’re looking for,” Grayevsky says. “For candidates, be yourself and treat it like you’re talking to a recruiter because a recruiter is ultimately going to see these interactions.”

One thing he stresses is that a bot is not going to decide whether or not you get the job you’re after.

“Our role is not to reject," he says. "Our role is simply to move people forward that are clearly a fit as quickly as possible..”

Almost all the candidates who survive the text stage are presumably going to get a chance to impress a would-be employer in person, so be careful not to misrepresent yourself while texting.

Keeping that in mind, the best way to stand out compared to the next candidate is to put your best foot, or thumbs, forward.

Have you landed a job mostly by texting with a recruiter or hiring manager? Please share your experience: Email:; Follow Ed Baig on Twitter

9/8/19 - 5 Ways to Respond to Ageism in a Job Interview

by Rebecca Zucker 

As the global population ages, we will see increasing numbers of older employees in the workforce. Yet age discrimination is prevalent today. According to a recent AARP study, nearly two out of three workers age 45 and older say they have experienced age discrimination.

A bias for younger employees is seen not only in the tech sector, with seven out of 18 top Silicon Valley companies having a median age of 30 or younger, but also in non-tech sectors. A study conducted by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank showed that callback rates about jobs were lower for older applicants, with women having lower callback rates than men.

Despite the negative stereotypes that older workers have less energy and are less productive, the data shows otherwise. According to research from the Stanford Center on Longevity, older workers are healthy, have a strong work ethic, are loyal to their employers, and are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than their younger coworkers. Moreover, a London Business School study showed that more people under 45 were exhausted (43%) than those over 45 (35%), with the least exhausted group being those over 60.

There are some jobs where gray hair (and the experience that comes with it) is viewed as an asset, such as C-level and more senior roles. Even then, an older candidate might be competing with a person — or be interviewed by someone — who is 10 to 20 years younger.

Sanjiv was in his late fifties when he interviewed as an internal candidate for the executive director role at a nonprofit. He knew the board was looking for a leader who could drive change, and came to the interviews equipped with several new ideas for the organization. Nonetheless, he was told by the board member who interviewed him that they were looking for “younger minds.”

Anita was laid off at the age of 55 after working at a large tech company for more than 30 years. Unemployed for nine months, she was starting to get discouraged after experiencing several incidents of ageism. One recruiter said outright that the company was looking for somebody younger, and a recruiter at a fraternity-like startup asked if she would have a problem with the late-night parties and drinking. She ultimately landed a great job at a large software company, where she was hired by a boss 20 years her junior.

Lauren was 49 when she interviewed and landed a job at a popular social media company, where the average age is under 30 and her boss, who hired her, was almost a decade younger than she was. Having interviewed with many big names in tech, she recognized that ageism could have been present, but says she hasn’t felt it. Nonetheless, she was conscious of not sharing information that would allow others to “do the math” to determine her age. For example, while she was open about being a parent, when talking about her kids she intentionally did not share that they were in college.

If you are concerned about ageism, employ these strategies to help make age a nonissue in your interviews:

Lead with energy instead of experience. Show your excitement about the opportunity and the work you do. Anita credits her success in her job search to her passion, which her boss still talks about. Instead of discussing how many years of experience you have, or how many times you’ve done a certain type of project, show your enthusiasm for the job by saying something like, “This is my sweet spot. This is the work I love to do.” Calling out all of your years of experience (no matter how valid or meaningful) can have the unintended consequence of alienating or intimidating your interviewer, or making you appear to be a know-it-all.

Adopt a consulting mindset. Approach your interviews as consulting conversations, showing curiosity and a learning mindset. Use good open-ended questions, combined with engaged listening, to better understand the organization’s context and unique challenges to identify where and how you can most add value. This approach will not only be more compelling but also will help you show up more confidently, as you elevate yourself to being a peer of your interviewer. The mindset shift is part of how you can change the perceived power dynamic from you really wanting or needing the job to you having the solution or know-how that the company needs.

Demonstrate humility and a nonhierarchical approach. Lauren attributes her success in her interviews to showing genuine humility and demonstrating an egalitarian approach in collaborating with others. She demonstrated this by asking questions like, “Where do you want to take advantage of the brilliant work the team has already done, and where do you think it might be time for a slightly different approach?” She also made a point to talk about “supporting teams” versus “running teams” and was sure to give credit to the people doing the work. Given that collaboration is the norm for Millennials, anything that signals a hierarchical style, like asking about title or span of control, is a red flag about one’s ability to fit into a culture where the work is co-created.

Connect with your interviewer. Research shows that starting with warmth is an effective way to influence others. This can be as simple as a smile. In finding ways to connect personally with her interviewer, Lauren made sure to use current references that a younger person could relate to, like a popular show on Netflix. Humor is another way to connect and show the other person you’d be enjoyable to work with. However, do not use dated references or self-deprecating humor like “that was pre-internet” or “that was probably before your time.” It’s uncomfortable and alienating.

Show your ability to work well with diverse groups of people. Anita illustrated this by giving examples of projects she led across multiple functions, geographies, and levels of leadership, including new managers. In doing so, she conveyed her ability to work well with younger colleagues, without needing to specifically highlight age. Similarly, Lauren conveyed that her intent was to take advantage of people’s different experiences, and gave examples of working well with people from the military who were having their first experience in the private sector. This example showed she could collaborate with younger people who had a different set of experiences without calling attention to age.

Look the part. Fitting in with a younger crowd doesn’t mean you need to wear a hoodie or look like everyone else. You should feel comfortable and authentic while being consistent with the culture. If necessary, get help in refreshing your wardrobe and accessories. Many department stores offer styling services for free. Anita brought her 26-year-old daughter shopping and bought a few outfits and some jewelry that were stylish and versatile for a range of companies. Another client got new, fashionable frames for her eyeglasses, which she wore to the interview so that she wouldn’t have to take her readers out.

Reframe any inappropriate comments or questions. In Sanjiv’s case, he could have reframed the board member’s desire for “younger minds” by saying, “I think what you are really looking for is innovative thinking. I’d love to share some of my ideas that could help this organization amplify its impact and be a model for others in the field.” When asked if she would be OK with the late-night parties and drinking, Anita kept it brief and said, “I love to celebrate success with my team,” and then refocused the conversation elsewhere. If you’re unsure how to respond to an inappropriate comment or question, respond with curiosity, asking something like, “Can you say more about that?” or “Can you share more about what you’re hoping to learn, so I can address your underlying concern?”

While ageism exists, focusing on what you can control and employing the strategies above can divert attention from your age and refocus it on why you are right for the job.

Rebecca Zucker is an Executive Coach and a founding Partner at Next Step Partners, a boutique leadership development firm. Her clients include Amazon, Clorox, Morrison Foerster, the James Irvine Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and high-growth technology companies like DocuSign and Dropbox. You can follow her on Twitter: @rszucker.

9/1/19 - 9 Smart Things to do Before Your Next Job Interview 

If you’re preparing for an interview, you’ve probably encountered a sea of advice on how to succeed. But which job interview tips are worth following — and which are a waste of your precious time?

When it comes down to it, job interview prep is pretty simple: know who you’re talking to, understand what they need … and be prepared to make the case that you’re the one who can supply it.

That’s the short version. Here’s the long one — everything you need to know to get ready for your next conversation with a hiring manager. Follow these job interview tips and you’ll make the best possible impression:

When you’re applying for jobs, you don’t have time to thoroughly research each company. But once you’re called in for an interview, you need to have a good picture of what you’re walking into.

What’s the employer’s mission? How many people work there? Are there multiple offices and/or locations? Are you sure you know exactly what they do? Read up on recent articles about the company and the industry they’re operating in. This can help you not only get a bigger picture of where they stand — are they growing rapidly or downsizing and filling old positions? — but also decide if it’s the right place for you to work.

You can reach out to friends who have worked there by searching sites like LinkedIn or tapping alumni directories. Get an inside view of the company if you can. What’s the culture like for real, not just on social media posts?

Along with researching the company, you should also try to learn a bit about your interviewers. Check out the team’s public social media profiles and web presence. If the company has a directory with bios, you might be able to see how long the interviewer has worked there, their interests and maybe a photo of what they look like.

Knowing your interviewer by sight (and perhaps even their boss or the CEO) is a great way to avoid any wacky misadventures as you arrive for the interview. Remember the story of the guy who shoved past someone on the train, only to come face to face with him in the meeting? Yeah, don’t be that guy. And if you happen to be on the elevator with the CEO, there’s a great chance to make an impression on them on your way to or from the building.

As job interview tips go, this seems like an obvious one: read the job description before you go to the interview. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother.

Don’t skim, either — it’s important to read the details carefully. Be ready to emphasize your specific experience that matches their requirements. If they’re seeking someone with skills that you don’t have, you can also make a point of showing why you’re a great fit for the job anyway. But if you don’t read the job requirements ahead of time, you might miss your chance when you have 15 minutes to make your case.

You should also always have a handful of questions ready to ask the interviewer. The hiring manager will probably ask if you have any at the end. Don’t let this opportunity slip away. Some examples of solid questions include:

Is this a new position or are you filling a slot for someone who is leaving? Why?
What’s a typical day like for this person in the position?
What are the goals for a person working in this position? What benchmarks will you be setting in the near and long-term?
What kind of growth opportunities are available to someone in this role?
What do you like about working here? What’s the culture like?
What is the time frame for your hiring process or what are the next steps like for this role?

Your interviewers aren’t here to listen to your Ted Talk. They want to have an exchange with you, and learn what you’d be like to work with. Nobody likes someone who never shuts up and won’t let anyone get a word in edge wise.

“It’s OK to stop talking,” said one Reddit user, according to Undercover Recruiter. “I’ve interviewed far too many people who just don’t know when to shut up. Some people are nervous. Some people are unsure. Some people don’t think for a second before they start blabbing, and they’re STILL trying to talk over the interviewer as they try to steer them towards the next question.”

Want to become a better listener? Practice active listening techniques and even when you’re nervous, learn how to slow down, think about your responses and make considerate replies to questions.

Active listening skills are also great “soft skills” to show off during an interview (along with being on-time, prepared and respectful of others). They don’t necessarily come through on paper, so make sure you can practice them in person.

“When someone sees that you are actively listening, they immediately think that you care about what they are saying,” writes Mat Apodaca at “It’s well known that most of us gain great satisfaction from being understood. It’s one of those things that just makes us feel good.”

Yes! Even if you don’t give them out, having half a dozen nice hard copies of your resume, along with a paper copy of your portfolio (for creative types) is a wonderful thing to bring to an interview. You don’t want to leave that to the last minute, though. Have copies printed professionally, or do them at home on nice paper. It’s old school, but it lets you steer the recruiter’s eyes if they don’t have a hard copy.

Having some nicely printed copies of work samples from your portfolio lets you share visuals from your past work without the hassle of setting up a whole A/V presentation in a strange room. If you’re willing to bring and use a laptop or tablet to show off multimedia work, make sure to have your materials available offline. Don’t ever rely on there being connectivity or an internet connection where you interview. You might spend more time trying to search down a guest user password for the WiFi than actually talking about why you’re a good fit for the job.

“Hey, old boss I haven’t talked to in five years, here’s a heads up!” In addition to asking before you list contacts as a reference, you should also let them know when to expect a call or email. It’s polite, and you can also maybe remind them when you worked with them last, the type of role you’re interviewing for now and major projects you worked on together.

You also don’t want to hold up getting that final job offer by having references go AWOL. Make sure they’re in town, and ready to give you that final OK so you can land that job.

If they decline being a reference, don’t take it personally. Even awesome bosses get super busy and can’t be good references sometimes, especially if you haven’t worked with them for a while. Have a backup list of potential past managers, coworkers or even trusted one-time project buddies you can tap for a solid reference.

Yes, you could get asked the dreaded salary requirements question during a first interview. While it’s totally OK to ask to hear more about the role before answering, you’ll want to have a range in mind. Otherwise, you could find yourself shortchanged and resentful once you’re on the job.

Take the PayScale Salary Survey and get a free salary report in minutes. Then use the PayScale Salary Negotiation Guide to build your negotiation strategy.

I’ve fielded so many questions from friends about what shoes to wear to an interview in a snow storm (boots or business shoes?) or how to find a plain black skirt with just hours to go before a meeting. Avoid these problems now, and get ahead of the “searching for your size” problem well in advance. Think about having a couple of interview outfits ready to go in your closet, like a professional pair of pants and a couple of tops (in case you get called back for another meeting, you’ll want to change things up).

Most companies won’t require you to wear a real suit these days, but some industries that are still formal (law, banking, etc.) do expect some level of business dress. If you research your field and the company well in advance, you’ll have an idea whether it’s more laid back, or a chance to dust off your simple black suit. Have an outfit ready for the hottest of summer days and the coldest of winter so you won’t spend that night before an interview searching the sale racks for something that fits.

And yes, it’s a good idea to try it all on and see if it fits, if you feel confident and awesome in the outfit, and see if it still seems like a current style. A suit you bought 10 years ago might scream “I’m out of the loop” while something too trendy (never reach for the leggings) might broadcast that you’re not professional or serious enough.

Ultimately, you want to show your interviewer some of your own personality. You can prepare TOO much sometimes and come off tense or fake. Try to find ways to think about responses to common questions without sounding like a robot. Don’t forget to laugh or share personal moments that can make a memorable impression on this potential new coworker (or boss).

“The more free-wheeling and relaxed the interview conversation is, the more comfortable you and your interviewer will be,” writes Liz Ryan at Forbes. “You will be more memorable. You will be in your power.”

When you’re done, relax, take a deep breath and write (and send) those thank you notes. You’ve made it further than a lot of other applicants, so know that even if you don’t get the job, you’ve done great work.

8/25/19 - Why Job Seekers Get Ghosted, And What They Can Do To Stop It

By Shireen Jaffer 

While being ghosted is never a good feeling, you’re not at a loss. If you still feel like a job is the right opportunity for you, ask yourself, “How can I become a priority again?”

The digital age has introduced new, and often painful, ways of ending relationships.

None of them are more hurtful than “ghosting.” For those of you who are fortunate to not have been ghosted before, being ghosted simply means that someone has stopped responding to all communication.

And sadly, this disappearing act isn’t only happening to those dating. Candidates on the job hunt are just as much at risk of being ghosted by recruiters.

Being ghosted when you’re applying for a job doesn’t mean sending in an application and never hearing back—that happens to everyone. It means you applied, assumed the interview went well, and expected to hear good news soon.

And then, nothing.

No next steps, no calls, no emails. Just dead silence in response to your follow-ups.

Candidates can easily spend six months on the job search, and being ghosted when you thought you had a promising lead can be devastating. As rough as the experience feels, just know that it may not be your fault. And if it is, there are always actions you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Here’s why you may be getting ghosted and how you can reconnect with recruiters:

The most common reason job candidates get ghosted is also the one they have the least control over: a company simply changes focus.
A change in priorities. A position they thought they needed to fill right now suddenly isn’t as important.
An influx of internal referrals. Recruiters are often told to prioritize referrals, so even if you had a great conversation on the phone or in-person, the recruiter may be prioritizing an internal referral instead.
Timing. The recruiter you spoke to initially may be on vacation, have quit, or been let go.
A poor recruiter. The recruiter you’ve been working with might just be dropping the ball or feeling overwhelmed, and that’s why you’re not hearing back.

Now, it’s also possible the candidate has done something that resulted in ghosting.

Bombing the followup. Sometimes, candidates can have a promising interview but completely bomb the followup without realizing it. That usually means they’re no longer a priority for the recruiter.
Not showing initiative. I’ve seen candidates who were too passive in showing their interest in a role. One woman I worked with was told by a recruiter they would send her an assessment test as a next step. But she never responded to that email with a note saying, “Okay, thanks for sharing next steps. I’m looking forward to taking the assessment test.” She just assumed they would send it. But that’s not always the case—recruiters want candidates to show a consistent desire for the role

If you’ve been ghosted, you’ve been deprioritized.

While being ghosted is never a good feeling, you’re not at a loss. If you still feel like a job is the right opportunity for you, ask yourself, “How can I become a priority again?”

Making your candidacy top-of-mind means following a few simple steps:

1. Focus on thoughtful follow-up.
Hands down, the best thing you can do is to follow up.

Send one email per week for at least three weeks. Be thoughtful in your correspondence and continue to express your interest in the company and the role. Be specific. Study trends in the industry and reference your research when you correspond with your contact. Offer thoughtful discourse that continues to show them that you can walk in and begin contributing immediately. Most people don’t ignore that type of follow-up.

And even if they tell you it’s not the right fit, at least you received a final answer and can move on.

2. Connect through different channels.
It’s completely acceptable to reach out through different channels if you’re not getting any emails back.

Try sending a polite LinkedIn message along the lines of, “Hey, I really enjoyed our conversation last week and would like to chat about next steps.” Just don’t bombard the same person through every channel you find. One follow-up on a different channel is enough.

3. Reach out to build other relationships.
If you notice the job posting has been taken down, that’s a pretty clear sign the role has been filled. If it’s still up, then it may be worth reaching out to another recruiter at the company or even the hiring manager.

This is really about showing your interest and building another relationship with someone internally. But don’t be surprised if the recruiter you spoke to is very much still active. In that case, at least you know that the interview didn’t go as well as you thought and you need to pursue other options.

If you’re consistently being ghosted by companies, you need to find out why.
Sometimes, candidates get ghosted because the recruiter isn’t doing a great job or priorities change.

But if you’re being ghosted over and over, then it’s time to reflect on your own actions and figure out what you may be doing wrong. For instance, candidates often don’t know what skills and metrics the company is actually looking for, and without doing effective research to find out, candidates end up not speaking the same “language” as the recruiter.

Unfortunately, recruiters aren’t incentivized to give candidates feedback about where they messed up. It’s not part of their job. That’s why personalized feedback is at the core of what we do at Edvo. If you’re being ghosted consistently, then you may need personalized feedback from a trusted source. Having someone on the inside to look at your follow-ups or hold a mock interview with you can go a long way.

Being ghosted is an emotional experience, whether it’s done by a love interest or a potential employer. But you don’t have to let it define you. Figure out why it’s happening, make whatever changes you can, ask for help, and put yourself back out there.

With a little introspection and perseverance, you’ll find the right long-term match.

Shireen Jaffer is the co-founder and CEO of Edvo—a job search platform making it easy for candidates to identify careers on the upswing, learn how close they are to being the ideal hire, develop the skills highest in demand, and get the support they need to land the best job. Our team is on a mission to get 1 million people jobs by giving them control over their search. I am also a TEDx Speaker, an angel investor, a mentor-advisor at Rewriting the Code, and the founder of Skillify.

8/18/19 - This is the most impressive resume I’ve ever seen

This is the most impressive resume I’ve ever seen—based on my 20 years of hiring and interviewing
Gary Burnison 

I’ve received thousands of resumes throughout my entire career — and believe me, I’ve seen them all: Too long, too short, too boring, too many typos, too hard to read and every layout imaginable.

To be completely honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of resumes. Heck, I even wrote a book about all the things that are more important than the resume. Yes, you do need a one, but what most experts don’t tell you is that resumes only account for 10% of the hiring decision.

That said, it would take a lot to wow a tough critic like myself. A few years ago, however, I was surprised to find a resume that actually managed to impress me.

In fact, it was one of the best resumes I had ever seen in my 20 years of hiring and interviewing. It had no gimmicks, no Fortune 500 company listed and wasn’t folded into an origami airplane. Needless to say, I hired the candidate.

Here’s what made it stand out from the rest:

1. It was easy to read
This resume had plenty of white space and was two pages long, which is expected if you have more than 10 years of experience.

Everything was nicely organized: Line spacing was just right, company names in bold, titles italicized and job details arranged in bullet points. Oh, and not a single typo to be found.

I liked that the font was nothing fancy. Too many candidates waste time obsessing over which font to use. I won’t weigh in on Times New Roman versus Calibri, but I will say that it should always be simple and easy to read.

2. It told a story
This resume told a story about the candidate’s career journey. There were no information gaps (i.e., a missing summer). From top to bottom, there was a clear “before and after.” In just a few seconds, I was able to see a “staircase pattern” of the candidate’s career growth.

In other words, the chronological list of work history — in order of date, with the most recent position at the top — showed a clear progression of more senior roles and more advanced responsibilities.

3. It listed accomplishments, rather than just responsibilities
I’m not interested in reading what you copied and pasted from the original job description listing. What employers really want to know is whether you’re an above average candidate who’s capable of delivering quantifiable results — and this person did a great job of proving that they were.

It’s always better to highlight your responsibilities by detailing your most impressive accomplishments:


Instead of “expanded operations to international markets,” say “expanded operations to eight new countries in Latin America. ”
Instead of “led marketing and sales team,” say “supervised marketing and sales team and achieved 15% annual growth vs. 0.5% budget. ”

4. It told the truth
There weren’t any discrepancies that raised red flags. Everything was believable and the numbers weren’t exaggerated.

Even better, the resume had links to the person’s LinkedIn page and professional website, which included a portfolio of their work. This made it easier for me to fact-check the resume, which in turn made the candidate seem like an honest person.

My advice? Tell the truth — period. A colleague once told me about someone who listed “convicted felon” on her resume. The candidate submitted her resume, then called the hiring manager and asked, “Would you hire an ex-convict?” After a series of questions and some due diligence, they offered her the job. And based on what I’ve heard, she ended up being an excellent hire.

While big accomplishments and recognizable company names will give you an advantage, make no mistake: Employers will do a reference check — and if they find out that you lied about something, it’s game over.

5. It didn’t have any cliché claims
There were no generic and high-level claims such as “creative,” “hard-working,” “results-driven,” “excellent communicator” or, my least favorite, “team player.”

Including any of these cliché terms will make your hiring manager roll their eyes in less than a second. Skip the cheesy adjectives and overused terms and go for action verbs instead.


Instead of “excellent communicator,” say “presented at face-to-face client meetings and spoke at college recruiting events. ”
Instead of “highly creative,” say “designed and implemented new global application monitoring platform.”

6. It came through a recommendation
Not everyone will have a connection at their dream company, but knowing someone who can refer you is the most effective way to get an employer’s attention.

The fact that this resume came through a recommendation from a respected colleague played a significant role in getting me to open the PDF file. That, in addition to the few seconds I spent skimming it, was the one-two punch that made me want to know more about the candidate.

Blasting your resume everywhere won’t get you anywhere. I get sent dozens of resumes on the daily from people I don’t know, and the vast majority of them go unopened.

That might seem harsh, but here’s the truth: You should always go out of your way to get a warm introduction. If you don’t have a connection, do some research and find a friend of a friend who knows someone who has an “in.”

Then, ask your potential referral out for a coffee date. Once you’ve established a genuine relationship, tell them about the job opening you’re interested in and ask if they can recommend you. If you can make this happen, I guarantee your resume will get read.

Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry, a global consulting firm that helps companies select and hire the best talent. His latest book, a New York Times best-seller, “Lose the Resume, Land the Job,” shares the kind of straight talk that no one will tell you. Follow him on LinkedIn.

8/11/19 - What Aspects of Company Culture Matter Most for Your Next Job

by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer 

Company culture, the social climate of an organization, is a vital but elusive consideration to weigh when you’re interviewing for a job. Intuition alone seems an inadequate measure. How do you ask the right questions to tease out key cultural clues? How do you pick up on the right cues? How can you double check your intuition?

Knowing what you need from a professional culture anchors an informed candidacy. Leaders shape culture mindfully and purposefully. Your approach to a cultural evaluation should be mindful too. After all, cultural fit isn’t a nice add-on; cultural fit is job fit.

It’s hard to split your concentration between being a savvy cultural evaluator and being a stellar interviewee. Rather than having the distance that you need to truly observe the culture and reflect on its nuances, the interview can feel like a tour of culture guided by an interviewer who has a vested interest in shaping your perceptions.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a better approach to cultural assessment, rather than just listening to your gut? Good news: Glassdoor has just the tool for you.

Why Culture Matters
What exactly is culture, and why does it matter so much when it comes to your job satisfaction? Professors Charles A. O’Reilly and Jennifer A. Chatman define culture as “a set of norms and values that are widely shared and strongly held throughout the organization.” These values underscore employees’ experience. If your employer values innovation, for example, you feel that. The cultural framework, with which you interact daily, is infused with the value.

Interestingly, Glassdoor research reveals that eighty-five percent of CEOs and CFOs agree that a dysfunctional corporate culture leads to unethical behavior, demonstrating that leaders recognize that the culture they shape directly impacts the output their employees render.

Clearly, culture matters, so how do you evaluate it in the tight space that a job interview affords?

Tooled For Success
Created by Dr. Donald Sull, MIT Sloan School of Management senior lecturer and co-founder of CultureX, the Culture 500 tool applies AI technology to Glassdoor’s rich data, scientifically ranking the corporate cultures of more than 500 top US companies. Collectively, the companies employ 34 million people, approximately one-quarter of private sector employment.

MIT researchers started their work by analyzing 1.2 million Glassdoor reviews. They used a natural, language processing algorithm to classify free text into more than 80 culture-related topics; those were then categorized into nine cultural values, affectionately termed “the Big Nine.”

Getting to Know the Big Nine
The Culture 500 calculates the percentage of mentions and positive reviews that each company earns across each of these Big Nine values. Job seekers can customize cultural evaluations by pulling a set of companies and comparing them along any of these Big Nine values:

Agility: Agile companies are nimble, flexible and quick to seize an opportunity. Internet and management consulting companies are leading industries when it comes to this value. Uber is a top-notch practitioner of this corporate value.

Collaboration: When companies exercise this value, their employees are cohesive and productive, within their group and across teams. Fast food and retail apparel are some industries that have this down to a science; HP is a standout.

Customer: The customers’ needs are central, for businesses that radiate this value. The company prides itself on listening to customers and creating value for them. Pharma & bio tech and Medical devices are leading industries, while Chick Fil A is a distinguished player.

Diversity: Bring yourself, because there’s a place for everyone in these inclusive cultures. Diversified financial services and consumer goods are some top industries when it comes to cultivating diverse cultures, and TD Bank is a leader.

Execution: Companies implement this value by fostering behaviors like taking personal accountability for results, delivering on commitments, prioritizing the activities that matter most, and adhering to process discipline. Toyota is a high performer when it comes to execution.

Innovation: Companies that value and fuel creativity and experimentation and are eager to implement new ideas exhibit this value. Communications equipment and enterprise software are lead industries when it comes to innovation, and SpaceX is a standout.

Integrity: Staff members across the board, from entry-level professionals to company leaders, maintain a code of honesty and ethics that consistently inform their actions. Industrial conglomerates and electrical equipment companies are leading industries when it comes to integrity, and Charles Schwab is top notch.

Performance: The company recognizes performance and rewards results through compensation, recognition and promotion, and it handles underperforming employees tactfully and strategically. The insurance and semi-conductor industries stand out when it comes to performance, and Goldman Sachs is a leader.

Respect: Employees, managers and leaders exercise consideration and courtesy for each other. They treat one another with dignity, and they take one another’s perspectives seriously. Consumer goods and enterprise software are high performers when it comes to this value and SAP is a standout.

Finessing the Big Nine
How can the Culture 500 tool help you when you’re searching for a job? Start experimenting. You’ll notice that for each of the Big Nine values, the tool’s algorithm calculates the percentage of reviews that mention each value for each company, plus the percentage of positive reviews each value garners. This enables you to see a snapshot of how frequently and positively current and past employees mention each of the Big Nine values for each company.

The Culture 500 Tool is your customized glimpse into company culture for some of the US’s key companies. Use it to isolate and compare the values that foster job fit for you.

The culture That Fits Your Life
Thinking about corporate culture, and evaluating these cultural dimensions, position you to be a more informed candidate.

The Culture 500 is your touchstone-your Rosetta stone for cultural assessment. 
Use it to find the professional culture that fits your life.

8/4/19 - Understand Your Offer Letter (Before You Sign)

What does at-will employment mean? Learn this and other details like exempt vs. non-exempt status.

By Robin Reshwan, 

"CONGRATS, YOU'RE hired!" When you hear these exciting words, you'll likely also encounter a job offer letter.

An offer letter is typically a good faith effort by an employer to provide clarity regarding the position for which you just spent months interviewing. Yet it is wise to remember that this is a legal document, often designed to protect the interests of the employer.

It is very tempting to just get it signed so you can move forward with a new opportunity. However, you have the most power before an offer is signed, so it is imperative that you review and understand this employment agreement.

Set aside time to print out and review all documents. Make note of all inconsistencies and questions before you request a conversation or send an email outlining your concerns. If there is anything delicate or significant, or if you have more than three items to discuss, a call is typically better than a long (or multiple) emails. Be sure to address everything at once and in a positive manner to avoid negotiation fatigue and frustration.

The extra time you spend upfront to ensure your offer is correct establishes your attention to detail and provides a clear outline for your success in your new role. Here are some key details of an offer letter to understand and review before you make the deal official.

A job offer letter may contain these details:
Part-time vs. full-time status.
Hourly vs. salaried status.
Exempt vs. non-exempt status.
At-will vs. contract status.
A confidentiality clause.
A non-solicitation clause.
A mandatory arbitration clause.
A non-compete clause.

Inspect what you expect.
The first thing to look for is your title, salary, job responsibilities, start date, benefits and other items that you negotiated for or agreed to before being offered the position. Many offer letters start as an offer letter template or offer letter sample, so if you negotiated a different title, salary or PTO benefit than is standard, there is a chance one or more of those items may have been overlooked when generating your offer. Make a note of anything inaccurate.

Understand your employment status.
Offer letters should make it clear whether you are a part-time worker or full-time employee as well as if you are an hourly employee, a salaried employee, eligible for overtime pay or not eligible for overtime pay.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time
Part-time employees work less than 40 hours per week. Often part-time roles are under the threshold to be eligible for benefits like vacation time or medical coverage. Full-time employees are expected to work 40 hours (or more) per week.

Hourly vs. Salaried
Hourly employees typically work eight or fewer hours per day and 40 or fewer hours per week.

Salaried employees are expected to work a full-time schedule of at least 40 hours a week and to complete all responsibilities as needed, regardless of what time they started that day or how many hours they already worked that week. In other words, you work until the work is done, instead of stopping based on a preset schedule.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt
Exempt employees are ineligible for (or exempt from) overtime pay.

A non-exempt employee is eligible for overtime pay. This means if he works beyond a pre-defined, full-time schedule, he is usually eligible to receive 1.5 times his hourly rate.

The offer letter may describe how your state defines those boundaries and the overtime rate of pay. For example, in California, standard overtime is defined as more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week, and double time time applies if a worker puts in more than 12 hours in a day.

What is at-will employment?
At-will employment means that an employee can be dismissed by the employer at any time and for any or no reason at all (barring cases of discrimination, retaliation and other special circumstances). At-will employment is very normal and no cause for alarm. It is the prevailing law of the land for most of the U.S. It also means that you, as an employee, are entitled to leave your employer at any time, regardless of reason.

Look out for scary clauses.
Most offers will include a "confidentiality" and a "non-solicitation" clause. Some may include mandatory arbitration or non-compete clauses. Be sure to read these clauses or sections carefully so that you understand and agree that you can uphold what is expected. Note that some of these clauses are limited by state rules, so be sure to check your local labor law protections.

In simple terms, a confidentiality clause requires that you keep information, tools and resources that belong to the company confidential and not share that information with others or take it with you to use in your next role.

A non-solicitation clause generally prohibits you from pursuing clients, contacts or employees that you encountered while working at the company after you leave.

A mandatory arbitration clause bans workers from taking disputes they have about wage theft, workplace discrimination and unjust dismissal to court. Instead, employees must settle grievances with their employers in private proceedings presided over by arbitrators.

A non-compete clause prohibits workers from joining a competitor after leaving the company. This kind of clause may have a time limit or geographic boundary.

Get it in writing.
If you discussed any special considerations, other benefits, perks or future actions, make sure those are in writing. Often these special considerations are agreed to in good faith between you and your new manager but can go unfulfilled if not in writing.

For example, you and your manager agree that if you accomplish certain performance objectives in the first two months, she will request a $5,000 base salary increase for you. Then, your manager leaves the company a month into your new role or is swept away with an internal promotion. You are now left trying to sell to a new manager that you have this handshake agreement.

If you are accepting the role because of an additional incentive, be sure to get it in writing. It will ensure clarity regarding the agreement and it keeps you safe in the event there are management changes.

Robin Reshwan is the founder and president of CS Advising and Collegial Services. She and her team enable thousands of professionals to advance their careers through their advice, career coaching and recruiting efforts. Robin’s professional development tips are used by media outlets such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, Business Insider, Fast Company and Monster. She is a recommended career and executive coach for LinkedIn, educational institutions and Alumni Associations including Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business and University of California, Davis. An experienced entrepreneur, business executive and Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW), Robin has been honored by LinkedIn and the American Business Women's Association. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Twitter or email her at

7/28/19 - How to survive the ultra marathon job interview

By Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business 

The job interview process can be intense.

First there's the screener call, then comes the face-to-face interview, followed by another one (or two or three), possibly a test and likely some homework to prove you have the skills and ideas needed to join the team.

"You are lucky if you get away with three rounds of interviews," said Barry Drexler, an interview coach with more than 30 years of human resources experience.

The process can be exhausting, especially when you're maintaining your current full-time job and still pursuing other jobs.

"It is expensive for candidates if they have to take a half day, long lunch or fly out for interviews and take days off," said Rich Gee, a high-performance coach. He worked with one client who had six webcam interviews before getting a job offer.

While some companies are moving faster in today's tight labor market, it's still uncommon to land a job offer after one single interview. But candidates can become fatigued, or even annoyed by the time and effort required to get an offer.

Don't let your guard down
You are being evaluated every step of the interview process -- so stay on top of your game.

"Don't take the person calling to schedule your interview for granted," said Drexler. "Don't be arrogant and be flexible and careful with everyone you are talking to."

It's also important to keep your answers consistent from interview to interview.

"It's not about giving the same answer for every question," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half. "There is a level of detail you will give to different people. But avoid glaring inconsistencies like telling one person you are willing to travel and another that you aren't crazy about travel."

Keep your stamina up
It's a job seeker's market, which means candidates have more leverage than in the past, but the juggle of calling out of your current job and keeping your enthusiasm up for those lightning rounds of interviews can be draining.

Don't be afraid to ask early on about the hiring process.

"In that initial phone screener, ask the recruiter what the interview process is like so you know what to expect," suggested Sarah Stoddard, community expert at job review site Glassdoor. She added that more senior level positions tend to have a longer interview process.

Each person you interview with is looking for a set criteria, so make sure you are clear with your capabilities and experiences.

"Prepare for each person's agenda," said Drexler. "HR wants to know if you're a cultural fit. The hiring manager wants to know you can do the job and get it off his desk. And his boss wants to know you have the potential to move up. The CEO and highest level executives want to know how you think."

Merging schedules
As a candidate, you want to show some flexibility when scheduling interviews, but companies are willing to work with your time constraints.

Be clear about when and where you are available to interview to avoid multiple back-and-forth phone calls and emails to arrange a time.

Companies understand a candidate's time is limited, and are usually flexible with scheduling, including lunch and before- and after-hours interviews.

"Most companies are expecting that today," said McDonald. "They know in order to win the best candidates who are busy and highly sought after that they need to be flexible."

When the homework piles up
Assessments are a common part of today's interview process and help an employer gauge your competency or personality. But be careful about doing too much.

If you are being asked to do more than one presentation or assignment, Gee recommends finding out more information about the additional request.

He suggested asking how much longer is left in the interview process and learn more about why they are asking for more work.

"If they are asking for a whole business plan, I sometimes ask clients to push back and ask: 'Are you going to pay me for this?'"

If you are being asked to provide proprietary information or more information than you are comfortable divulging, don't be shy about speaking up and saying you can't disclose confidential information.

The never-ending interview
If the company is being inflexible or flaky during the interview process, that could be a red flag.

There are many reasons an employer isn't pulling the trigger on a new hire, according to Gee. Sometimes hiring mangers aren't sure exactly what they're looking for, want to delay spending money until the next quarter or hiring just isn't high on the priority list.

He recommends candidates that feel like they are trapped in an interview spiral try to have other opportunities in the works and ask the hiring manager what's going on.

"If it's taking too long -- especially months -- that means [the company] is disorganized, or you aren't important and the company doesn't care about the hiring process. You need to walk," said Gee.

7/21/19 - How to Follow Up on a Job Application

Learn what to say when following up on a job application.

By Hallie Crawford 

"DO I REALLY NEED TO follow up on a job application?"

Clients ask this all the time. Or they'll issue this sort of statement: "If they want me, they will call me."

This is the wrong approach to take. Once you have submitted your application for a job, unless the hiring manager tells you specifically not to follow up, you can't just leave the application hanging out there and wait.

Because job candidates now get automated emails saying their applications have been received, many people feel like they cannot follow up because their materials have already been acknowledged. But this doesn't mean you should passively check your voicemail or email in case the company eventually requests an interview.

Find a way to follow up. Doing so does not make you look unprofessional. Your priority as an applicant is to demonstrate to the employer what you would be like as an employee if hired, and following up on a job application after a reasonable amount of time shows that you are interested in the position, organized and assertive – just like you would be if you got the job.

Here's how to follow up on a job application:
     By email.
     By LinkedIn message.
     By phone.
     Through your network (on LinkedIn or otherwise).

Here's what to say when following up a job application.
Make sure that your tone, whether written or spoken, is polite and professional. Do not demand information about your job application and keep your communication short.

When following up on a job application by email, make sure that your subject line is clear. Something like "Position Name Job Application Follow-Up" lets the hiring manager know right away the purpose of your email. In the body of the message, state the date on which you submitted your job application. Then ask the following three questions:

Was my application received?
Can you please provide the approximate time frame for the recruiting process?
Do you need any additional information?
Finally, include a short statement about how you are still interested in the position and why you would be a good fit.

You can also reach out to the hiring manager on LinkedIn. Follow the same guidelines as above for writing a LinkedIn message.

Many job seekers do not prepare for phone follow-ups or voicemail messages as well as they should. To make an impressive follow-up call, practice what you want to say out loud. You may even find it helpful to write scripts that you can read word for word in case the hiring manager picks up the call or you get her voicemail machine. Make sure that you have practiced enough so that you sound natural and confident. If you need to leave a message for the hiring manager, remember to state your phone number in your message.

You may also be able to follow up using your network. If you have a connection who works at the organization, you can reach out to him and ask if he has any details about the hiring process. You can also ask if he could give you the contact details of the hiring manager if there was no follow-up information provided on the job application. Otherwise, you can look on the company's website to search for the hiring manager's contact information.

Here's when to follow up on a job application.
Generally speaking, one week after submitting your job application is an appropriate time to follow up.

To keep track of your outstanding applications, create a running list of the positions for which you have applied. In a spreadsheet, digital document or on paper, include the following details: 

Hallie Crawford (MA, CPCC) is a certified career coach, speaker, author and U.S. News Careers contributor. As a certified coach for over 18 years, Ms. Crawford and her team of coaches and resume/LinkedIn experts specialize in career direction, job search and work performance coaching. Her coaching company,, has helped professionals worldwide identify, secure and succeed in their dream job. Her team of coaches work with people of all ages, and have helped thousands achieve their career goals. Ms. Crawford has authored multiple books helping others advance, improve or change careers including, “Identify Your Ideal Career,” “Flying Solo, Critical Career Transition Tips for Professionals,” “5 Keys to Finding Your Ideal Career” and “Jumpstart Your Job Search”. She is also regularly featured as a career expert in the media, including on CNN, Fox Business News, The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger and Connect with on LinkedIn or contact them at

7/14/19 - 3 Networking Mistakes to Avoid

Building a business network takes time and effort, so be sure to do it right.
by Maurie Backman 

When it comes to furthering your career, you'll often hear that the people you know are just as important as the things you know, if not more so. Knowing the right people can open the door to new opportunities and help you develop skills you can't learn from a class or a book. And the best way to meet those key people is to network as much as you can.

That said, if you're going to network, it pays to do so effectively. Here are a few networking mistakes you'll want to avoid at all costs.

1. Not being choosy
It's a good thing to be open-minded in the process of networking, because you never know when someone you'd otherwise be inclined to write off could end up being extremely helpful to your career. That said, your goal in networking should be to amass a list of useful contacts -- not connect with every waking person who's willing to give you the time of day. If you're not at all selective about the people you add to your professional network, you'll risk wasting your time on the wrong contacts and ignoring the folks who deserve more of your attention. Therefore, be a little picky when deciding who to stay in touch with.

2. Being too demanding
You'll often hear that you need to be somewhat aggressive if you want to move your career forward. But if you cross the line into becoming obnoxiously pushy, you'll risk alienating those contacts who could otherwise be of service to you.

Therefore, be careful not to ask too much of your associates, especially those you don't know very well. If, for example, you meet someone at a business conference whose company you've been itching to work for, you should most certainly follow up with an email containing your resume and ask that it be forwarded. You can then feel free to follow up a week after the fact, and maybe even a week after that. But don't hound that contact with follow-ups the day after your first email is sent, and don't push too hard if that person insists that he did what he was asked to do. You're better off expressing your gratitude and maintaining a good relationship.

3. Not following up
Meeting someone at an industry gathering and exchanging business cards will only get you so far if you don't have another conversation following that encounter. Failing to follow up with your contacts will essentially negate the effort you put into building those relationships in the first place. Rather than let that happen, make a list of the people you need to stay in touch with, and set calendar notes that remind you to reach out with emails or invites to lunch.

You can also stay in touch with your contacts by sharing information you come across. For example, if you happen to read an interesting article about your industry, there's nothing wrong with forwarding it to a few people who might share the same view -- and that's an easy way to make contact and maintain relationships.

Networking is an unquestionably important aspect of building a solid career. Steer clear of these mistakes to avoid missing out on key opportunities.

7/7/19 - How to Interview for a Remote or Telecommute Job

by Jillian Kramer 

Working remotely, from the comfort of your home office—or even your couch—is a dream for many job seekers. But finding companies open to telecommute jobs isn’t always easy—and even when you do, navigating the waters of remote work can be tricky. That’s why we spoke with Marie Romero, director of talent acquisition for Blue Shield of California, a company committed to work flexibility for its employees. Here, she reveals everything from how you can approach asking for remote work on your resume, to what questions you can expect to be asked in an interview and how you can climb the corporate ladder from home. (If you’d like to one day work for Blue Shield of California, this Q&A is packed with helpful info, too.)

Glassdoor: Why has Blue Shield of California (BSC) prioritized hiring telecommute and remote workers? How do they factor into the larger company’s success?

Marie Romero: Blue Shield of California’s mission is to transform health care and ensure access to high-quality health care at an affordable price. This means transforming a dysfunctional health care system that is bankrupting us as a society into one that is worthy of our family and friends and sustainably affordable. We want employees who can be whole-heartedly dedicated to our mission to transform healthcare and that also enjoy family, friends, and passions outside of work. We offer full or partial remote working arrangement options for many roles because we want to enable employees to bring their best selves to work. Sometimes, that is best accomplished working remotely.

Benefits like remote working arrangements are part of Blue Shield’s larger strategy to be a great place to work for everyone. At Blue Shield, we embrace the whole person. We understand that great talent wants—and needs—flexibility to integrate work and life. We want our employees to embrace their whole life—and be fully human—which means having strong personal passions and a career with deeply meaningful work. If a remote working arrangement enables you to balance a happy, healthy life, and the business needs are still met, then we support it. What the company stands for is just as important as [its] pay and other benefits.

Glassdoor: How can job seekers highlight their willingness or ability to work remotely on their resume? Do you have any advice?

Marie Romero: Job seekers should highlight their preference or ability to work remotely by adding that at the top of their resume in the location section or in the objective area. Noting “open to remote work arrangements” is helpful. Mentioning this in the phone screening area or on your LinkedIn profile is also important. It’s best to spend time thinking about what your ideal remote arrangement could be—[either] partial or full remote— before you start a job search.

Glassdoor: Are the soft skills you look for in a remote [or] telecommute worker different from those who come in office? Why or how?

Marie Romero: The soft skills for a successful remote working arrangement are generally the same as those who come to into the office, but they are significantly amplified. For example, strong communication skills, which are necessary for all employees, are even more essential for remote arrangements. A remote employee will need to function fluidly without any of the body language clues you gather in face-to-face meetings. You need to be able to express yourself well—in both tone and content—through phone, email, instant message, screen sharing and video.

Relationship building skills are also key for successful remote arrangements. You will need to strive to build productive relationships with colleagues who you may never meet face-to-face. Blue Shield has invested a lot into training for managers and employees on how to create inclusive environments, no matter where the team is located. But the remote employee must ensure their physical remoteness from a location does not limit his or her effectiveness.

Taking initiative is another important soft skill. Every employee must independently structure their work day, determine priorities, work through barriers, and drive for results. However, the remote employee does this without any passive queues from colleagues dropping by to follow-up on a project or bumping into partners in the breakroom. When working remotely, you must motivate yourself and know when to ask for help. It takes honesty and courage to be a great remote employee. You must be confident enough to raise your hand and ask the awkward question if you can’t follow the conversation or have lost track of the project. Sometimes, you need to be vulnerable. Without that courage, it can be easy to fall behind and not deliver the results expected. Only you can guard against that!

Glassdoor: What are two or three interview questions you ask candidates for remote work?

Marie Romero: In interviewing remote employees, Blue Shield focuses on topics like the ability to collaborate, drive for results, and self-motivation. We may ask questions like: How have you established and maintained collaborative relationships with colleagues despite geographic differences? How did you keep the momentum of the project going? Tell me about a time that you handled a difficult interaction or conflict in a remote setting?

For remote employees, it’s important to be able to identify and resolve challenges, especially among team members and peers. Being out of sight doesn’t mean that struggles don’t happen. During the interview process, Blue Shield will try to identify how successful a remote candidate is at addressing issues quickly and openly. If necessary, we want to know that a remote employee can resolve interpersonal or business issues as easily as in the office.

Glassdoor: When your team is interviewing candidates, what are some of the traits or experiences that you’re looking for in an excellent telecommuting candidate?

Marie Romero: The traits that we look for in remote arrangement candidates are excellent communication skills and personal courage. It’s so important to have every employee know that it’s essential that they speak up, ask questions, request help when needed, and raise the flag when something is going wrong. Every employee is empowered to speak up. That’s personal courage and it is highly valued at Blue Shield of California. We expect this from employees every day.

Glassdoor: Telecommuting is popular among the disabled community. Why should they consider working for Blue Shield of California? What makes BSC a great place to work for all abilities?

Marie Romero: Blue Shield of California prides itself on diversity and inclusion. We have [had] seven vibrant employee resource groups emerge, including one for disability inclusion. These groups help make Blue Shield a great place to work for everyone by enhancing our collective understanding and empathy about challenges faced by our colleagues and their families. The Disability Inclusion Employee Resource Group provides programming, support, and community for people of all abilities and their allies. We encourage everyone to bring their authentic selves to work and contribute their best ideas and efforts to our inspiring mission of transforming healthcare. Knowing that you can be “entirely yourself” at work and that you will be accepted and appreciated because of who you are is fantastic feeling. You don’t have to hide or change parts of yourself at Blue Shield to fit in. This makes us proud to be Blue.

Glassdoor: Often for job seekers, it can feel like remote work doesn’t provide room for career growth or promotion. How would you suggest candidates for remote work approach the conversation of learning, development, and growth when speaking to BSC recruiters and hiring managers?

Marie Romero: At Blue Shield, we believe that you own your career trajectory. That doesn’t change whether you are in an office or remote. Blue Shield encourages people to inquire about our host of growth and development programs and opportunities for learning across the enterprise—there are many. But it is also important for a remote employee to be self-aware and reflective about what your career goals are and what are the realistic paths for development. A remote employee may have a very different career path than some others, but everyone can develop a meaningful work experience. The bottom line is that employees should strive to be recognized for the value that you bring to the organization, regardless of your location.

You may also need to be flexible and attend some meetings and events in person. Be willing to do that and recognize that the flexibility of working remotely goes both ways. Work ebbs and flows based on business needs, so the working arrangement needs to be flexible too.

Working remotely eliminates wasted commute time. Be smart and use that time for self-development, like building new skills, enhancing your working relationships, and learning more about the healthcare industry. At Blue Shield, we believe in growing leaders at all levels and providing growth and opportunity for all employees. Remote employees can participate in several company-offered leadership development and training opportunities, because we believe in investing in our talent and providing everyone with the tools and encouragement to take charge of their own career growth. It’s about finding the right balance between being remote, going into the office sometimes, saying “yes” to special assignments, and keeping hold of the reins on our career.

Candidates can talk with recruiters and hiring managers about what some of their expectations are for next steps and their career during the interview. This should be part of determining if the company is a fit for your needs. Think about your expectations before you get into those interviews.

Glassdoor: Is it still important for remote candidates to ask about BSC’s total rewards like wellness, tuition reimbursement, and how BSC builds community, even if they are working remotely or from home?

Marie Romero: Absolutely! All our benefit plans are available to employees whether they are in a building or work remotely. We have an award-winning program called Wellvolution that provides lifestyle coaching and support to our employees. With gym memberships, tuition reimbursement, and online learning and development programs, Blue Shield offers great total rewards programs. We have a robust community life with volunteering, resource and affinity groups, and corporate and personal continuous learning opportunities—as well as three paid days per year to engage in community service of your choice. Every employee can take advantage of these programs regardless of their location.

Glassdoor: Lastly, what are your top two pieces of job search advice for candidates considering applying to a role at BSC?

Marie Romero: First, candidates should get to know Blue Shield by checking us out at [our career page] and following us on Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We are mission-driven and leading a transformation in healthcare. We want people who are ready—and excited—to step up to that challenge. What we stand for sets us apart. We get to impact people’s lives in a very meaningful way, every day. If that sounds exciting to you, we’d love to talk to you!

Second, every job candidate should spend time in self-reflection about what kind of work is going to fulfill you. Beyond pay and benefits, what would make work meaningful to you? Spending time on career “self-care” and trying to better understand what interests and inspires you is very important. No one can do this work for you, and there are no shortcuts. Clarifying your personal aspirations will help you target roles where you can bring the greatest value. Sharing that insight with recruiters and hiring managers sets you apart!


6/30/19 - 10 Resume Tips You Haven’t Heard Before

by Julia Malacoff 

Having a well-crafted resume can be the key to getting your foot in the door at the company of your dreams. But figuring out how to make your resume fully representative of your experience and also stand out is easier said than done. After all, hiring managers and recruiters generally only spend about 7 seconds reading your resume before deciding whether to move forward or not. Most people know the basics of how to put together a decent work history, but here are some tips you probably haven’t heard before that can help your resume stand up to the 7-second test.

1. Only include your address if it works in your favor.
If you’re applying to positions in the city or town you already live in, then go ahead and include your address. In this case, it lets the hiring manager know you’re already in the area and could theoretically start working right away.

But if you’re targeting jobs in another area and you’d need to move in order to start working, it’s probably a good idea to leave your current address off of your resume. Why? Recruiters are sometimes less excited to interview candidates from another city or state, since they often require relocation fees.

2. Be a name dropper.
It may be poor form to drop names in everyday life, but you absolutely should do it on your resume. If you’ve worked with well-known clients or companies, go ahead and include them by name. Something like: “Closed deals with Google, Toyota and Bank of America” will get recruiters’ attention in no time flat.

3. Utilize your performance reviews.
You might not think to look to your annual review for resume material, but checking out the positive feedback you’ve received in years past can help you identify your most noteworthy accomplishments and best work attributes — two things that should definitely be highlighted on your resume. Including specific feedback you’ve received and goals you’ve met can help you avoid needing to use “fluff” to fill out your work experience.

4. Don’t go overboard with keywords.
Many companies and recruiters use keyword-scanning software as a tool to narrow the job applicant pool. For this reason, it’s important to include keywords from the job description in your resume — but don’t go overboard. Recruiters can spot “keyword stuffing” a mile away.

5. Use common sense email etiquette.
There are two types of email addresses you shouldn’t use on your resume or when applying to a job via email: your current work email address, or an overly personal or inappropriate email address, like Stick with something professional based on your name in order to make the best possible impression.

6. When it comes to skills, quality over quantity.
There’s no need to list skills that most people in the job market have (Think: Microsoft Office, email, Mac and PC proficient), which can make it look like you’re just trying to fill up space on the page. Keep your skills section short, and only include impactful skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying to.

7. Choose to share social accounts strategically.
Including links to social media accounts on a resume is becoming more and more common. But it’s important to distinguish between professional accounts—like a LinkedIn profile or Instagram account you manage for work—and non-professional ones, like your personal Twitter or Facebook account. While it might be tempting to include a personal account in order to show recruiters who you are, you’re better off only listing accounts that are professionally-focused. Save your winning personality for an in-person interview.

8. Use hobbies to your advantage.
Not all hobbies deserve a place on your resume, but some do. Hobbies that highlight positive personality qualities or skills that could benefit you on the job are worth including. For example, running marathons (shows discipline and determination) and blogging about something related to your field (shows creativity and genuine interest in your work) are hobbies that will cast you in the best possible light and might pique a recruiter’s interest.

9. Skip generic descriptors.
Hardworking, self-motivated, self-sufficient, proactive and detail-oriented are all words you’ll find on most people’s resumes. But most job seekers are motivated and hardworking, so these traits don’t really set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool. Instead, focus on the specific skills and accomplishments that make you different from everyone else applying to the position.

10. Keep an accomplishment journal.
Keeping a log of your work accomplishments and positive feedback as they come up can make putting together or updating your resume significantly easier. Include as many details as possible so you don’t have to spend time tracking them down later.

6/23/19 - 5 Things Job Seekers Do That Sabotage Their Interview Chances

by Peter Yang 

The job search process is unforgiving. It doesn’t matter how many things you might be doing right, it just takes one wrong move, one misunderstanding, or one poor decision to entirely ruin your chances of getting the job.

As a job seeker, this reality can really be frightening — especially if you find yourself in a situation where you’re simply not getting interviews no matter how many job openings you apply to, and yet you don’t have a clue what you’re really doing wrong. So with that being said, here are the most common things I see job seekers doing all the time that actually end up sabotaging their chances of getting that all-important interview.

1. Standing out — but in a bad way

Standing out in a crowded field of job applicants is a smart move, but far too often the execution behind this concept ends up hurting job seekers more than it actually helps them. For instance, many job seekers try to stand out with their resumes by using fancy templates or even turning their resume into a full-fledged infographic. In the back of their minds they think, “With such a uniquely designed resume, I’ll surely get a leg up over all those other applicants with their typical uninspiring black-and-white resumes.” However, the reality is, uniquely formatting your resume just makes it harder for hiring managers to skim through your resume. Even more importantly, applicant tracking systems often can’t parse these fancy formats so your resume ends up being discarded completely.

2. Shooting yourself in the foot with an unprofessional online presence

Sometimes the reason you aren’t getting any interviews has nothing to do with what you’ve submitted in your application, but rather what job recruiters are finding out about you online. With how prevalent social media and internet culture has become, employers scour the online presence of all their serious candidates the way law enforcement would for a criminal fugitive. Whether it’s a vulgar tweet you might have made in the past or selfie showing you getting drunk at a nightclub, any of these sorts of things can immediately zero out your hiring chances.

3. Doing it all yourself

A “do-it-yourself” mentality is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s good to be independent and put your best foot forward when the going gets tough. But on the other hand, thinking you should always do everything yourself can blind you from the reality that sometimes it’s better to seek help.

Far too often I’ve witnessed job seekers struggle for weeks just to produce a subpar resume, when they could have been far better off hiring a professional resume writer to do the work for them. Of course, finding reliable help is oftentimes tricky in and of itself, so be sure to do your due diligence when it comes to picking out a resume service or career coach who you can rely on to get the job done right.

4. Failing to address the elephant in the room

Do you have long work gaps? Alternating experience in two unrelated fields? Or perhaps you come across as a job hopper?

While you might be tempted to just hope and pray that hiring managers aren’t going to catch on to concerning aspects of your work experience, it’s oftentimes better to take the initiative in addressing these issues head-on – especially if they’re something that can’t be missed.

The fact is, recruiters are trained to be skeptical and often assume the worst when left to their own imaginations. By offering a clear explanation in your cover letter, resume objective statement or your LinkedIn profile, you might just be able to convince hiring managers to overlook any glaring issues that may otherwise plague you.

5. Being inconsistent

Inconsistency erodes trust. One of the biggest blunders job seekers make is confusing recruiters with contradictory information. If your resume says you worked at a marketing firm from 2014 to 2017 as a “content marketing manager”, your LinkedIn profile better say the exact same thing, and not contradict your resume by listing your position as simply a “content marketer” or stating that you ended your job in 2016 for example. Inconsistencies like these often lead hiring managers to assume the worst – that you’re lying and not just making a trivial mistake.

6/16/19 - How to Age-Proof Your Resume

By Jennifer Post, Contributing Writer 

Writing a resume can be difficult for everyone, but for those 50 years of age or older, it can be even more difficult. Maybe they've been out of the workforce for some time, or they haven't been able to keep up with the latest processes and technologies. The good news is that AARP and TopResume have partnered to help those in that age group.

"Resume writing is crucial as more and more older workers stay in the workforce, often looking for new jobs, or even new careers," said Susan Weinstock, AARP vice president for financial resilience programs, in a press release about the collaboration. AARP now offers a resume advice and professional writing service to help baby boomers feel more comfortable applying and interviewing for new jobs.

Follow these tips when updating your resume
There are also things you can do on your own to boost your chances of landing a new job. Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, offered 13 tips to help older job seekers with their resume:

1. Focus on your recent experience. The further along you are in your career, the less relevant your earlier experience becomes. The last 10 to 15 years is really what matters, so focus on detailing those years of experience that are related to your job search. If you really want to add older work experience, add it to a section of your resume called "Career Note."

2. Eliminate older dates. Not every position you've held needs to have the start and end dates listed on your resume. Remove the dates related to work experience, education and certifications if they don't fall within that 10-to-15-year window.

3. Limit your resume to two pages. Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing each resume and application that comes across their desk before deciding if the candidate deserves further consideration. If you want your resume to be noticed by hiring managers, keep it short so they get the gist of your work history within that 10-second timeframe.

4. Avoid a "jack-of-all-trades" approach. Although you might have held multiple roles throughout your career, your resume should be tailored to support your current career objective rather than providing a general summary of your entire work history.

5. Optimize your resume with keywords. Improve the chances of your resume making it past the applicant tracking system and on to a human by adding keywords within your resume from the job description.

6. Upgrade your email address. Don't give employers a reason to believe you aren't tech savvy. Ditch your AOL or Hotmail email account for a free, professional-looking Gmail address that incorporates your name.

7. List your mobile phone number. Only list your cell phone number on your resume so that you answer the phone yourself in addition to controlling the voicemail message potential employers and recruiters hear.

8. Join the LinkedIn bandwagon. If you've avoided using LinkedIn in the past, now's the time to create a profile that promotes your candidacy to employers. Once your profile is complete, customize your LinkedIn profile URL and add it to the top of your resume.

9. Showcase your technical proficiencies. Show employers that you've kept up with the latest tools and platforms related to your field by creating a small section toward the bottom of your resume that lists your technical proficiencies.

10. Customize your online application. Small tweaks to your resume can make a big difference in determining whether your online application reached a human being for review. After reviewing the job listing more closely, make small edits to customize your resume so that it clearly reflects your qualifications.

11. Ditch the objective statement. Avoid using a run-of-the-mill objective statement that's full of fluff and focuses solely on your own wants and needs. Instead, replace it with your elevator pitch, which should be a brief paragraph summarizing your job goals and qualifications.

12. Aim for visual balance. How your resume is formatted is just as important as the information itself. Focus on leveraging a combination of short blurbs and bullet points to make it easy for the reader to quickly scan your resume and find the most important details that support your candidacy.

13. Focus on achievements, not tasks. At this point in your career, recruiters are less concerned with the tasks you've completed and more interested in learning what you've accomplished. Use bullet points to describe the results you've achieved and the major contributions you've made that benefited your employers.

"It may be unfair, but age discrimination is a real thing in today's workforce and job search," said Augustine. "Some employers are concerned that candidates of a certain age aren't looking for a long-term gig because they're close to retirement."

People might not want to admit it, but there is a fear among businesses that they won't get what they need from older applicants. Augustine added that one of those fears is that older workers aren't tech savvy, or they are resistant to change, which might make them difficult to train and, ultimately, harder to work with.

"It's important for 50-plus candidates to dispel these concerns on their resume and cover letter as well as during the interview process," said Augustine.

Keep your skills sharp and relevant
One of the biggest fears of applicants age 50 and older (and employers) is that the skills those workers will come in with aren't as up to date or necessary to get the job done. There are ways, though, to keep your skills sharp and develop new ones.

"Many free or low-cost online courses are available through sites such as edX, Coursera and Skillshare," said Augustine. "If you prefer in-person training, seek out programs through your local library or college."

Augustine also suggested, for those interested in improving technical skills, turning to AARP. AARP now offers free technology training in various markets around the country. It's a good way to brush up on existing skills and learn completely new ones.

Updating your resume isn't enjoyable, no matter what age you are. But it does get harder the older you get, an unfortunate reality of our society. Thanks to TopResume and AARP, steps are being taken to make the process less daunting and more successful.


Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, NJ or binge watching Pretty Little Liars for the 700th time.

6/9/19 - Avoid These 3 Cover Letter Mistakes

Any of them can kill your chances.
by Daniel B. Kline 

Imagine showing up for a job interview a little tipsy, wearing mismatched clothes, and then talking for the entire time about things unrelated to the position you're applying for. Most people would never do that -- yet applicants often make the equivalent of those mistakes on their cover letters.

Your cover letter is essentially a pre-interview. It's a tool you can use to show a potential employer something of who you are in ways that don't fit neatly into a resume. If you waste that opportunity, you may never get an interview, let alone have a real chance at landing the job.

1. You spend the whole time being silly
It's fine to show some personality, or even to have a little fun. Going full absurdist may make the person reading your cover letter laugh, but a laugh isn't the same as someone wanting to interview you.

Don't go too far off the rails. Focus on why you're a good fit for the job, and if your fit is indirect, make your case but be careful to connect the dots. In most cases, if you don't write a traditional cover letter and opt for a silly story or some other form of comedy, your resume is going in the trash (and you'll never know if you got a laugh or a groan).

2. Don't talk about another job
Your cover letter should explain why you want the job being advertised. It should not expound about how your real goal is to be a mountain climber, a poet, or a sheepherder. The people doing the hiring want to think that you're passionate about the position being offered.

It's OK to confess to a hobby, especially if it relates to the work. It's not a great idea to express long-term goals that have nothing to do with the position being offered.

3. You go full-on generic
If your cover letter talks about how you the skills to succeed in any job, the hiring person won't be impressed. The same is true about talking about "drive", "passion", or how hard you work.

Those are all great things, but you need to address the specific job being hired for. Make it clear that you wrote a cover letter for this position. Cite questions raised by the job ad, and explain why you specifically fit.

It's great that you're a hard worker, but relate that in a specific anecdote that ties to what's being asked for in this job ad. Remember that every person sees themselves as qualified, and it's your job to make yourself stand out with why you'll do well in the role being hired for.

Take the time to shine
It's OK to have a rough cover letter that you adapt for every job you apply for, but make sure you adapt it. Many job ads ask questions that aren't answered on your resume. Find a way to address those things in your cover letter.

In many ways, a cover letter is a test as to whether you can follow directions. The company has asked for specific things, and if you ignore them they may well ignore your application.

6/2/19 - Want to sound emotionally intelligent in interviews? Avoid these 6 expressions

Nobody will tell you that’s why you didn’t get the job. But an apparent lack of interpersonal skills is often the underlying reason candidates get passed over.

You may be well versed in interview skills, but it’s easy to let drop a phrase or a comment that inadvertently signals you may not “fit in.” Nobody will tell you that’s why you didn’t get the job. Yet, an apparent lack of interpersonal skills is often the underlying reason candidates get passed over.

People skills are in fact one of the top requirements of most jobs today–and interviewers listen hard for any telltale sign that you may not work well with people.

To avoid ruining your chances of getting that second interview or coveted job, be careful not to use the following seven expressions that may betray a poor relationship with others.

When talking about your last job, beware of dissing your employer by saying your talents were not fully used. It’s easy to fall into this trap, because you’ll want to give a reason for your departure. But saying your employer didn’t put your skills to good use signals more than a touch of resentment.

In the same vein, avoid saying your contribution was not recognized, or your skills were not a good fit with the job. Even saying nothing about your last job but simply that you are “looking for a company that can make use of your talents” conveys the impression that your last company let you down. So avoid the undertow of such comparisons.

You won’t impress a future employer, either, by saying your last job was boring. If you weren’t challenged, it’s your fault.

Employers expect candidates to take the initiative and create opportunities for themselves. Saying you didn’t feel “challenged” essentially puts the onus on your last employer to provide you with a stimulating, fully curated experience. That’s not realistic. Any recruiter will see such a comment as reflecting an “attitude” and poor people skills.

It may be true that you want your next job to offer you something “different” than your previous job had provided, but making a statement like this will send up red flares. The interviewer may think, “Wow, this candidate was miserable where she worked, that doesn’t bode well for hiring her.”

Instead of making such an implicit comparison that casts a shadow on your previous job, tell the interviewer in positive terms what you are looking for in your future role.

You might think you’re being generous by offering up this positive comment about your boss. The only problem is that the rest of the sentence beginning with “but” will undercut anything positive you’ve said.

The “but” may be followed by “we didn’t see eye to eye,” or “the job was less than satisfying,” or “management didn’t show the kind of leadership an organization should have.” Whatever the next part of the sentence is, it won’t work for you. It’s a negative that shows you didn’t fit in for some reason.

So stick to positives by avoiding the word “but” altogether.

This may seem like a positive self-affirming statement, but if you use these words, your interviewer will likely see you as a loner who focuses on work rather than on people. The “worker” syndrome is no longer an asset, because in today’s companies, things get done by teams, by collaboration, by shared goals.

So don’t focus on yourself as a good worker, or your interviewer will hear your comment as a self-revelation that does not suggest an ability or comfort with people. Instead, you might say that you lead a team or are part of a team that has done great things in your specific area.

Recently, I’ve been told by a few VPs of HR that they are hearing this expression more frequently from job candidates, and they don’t like it. Imagine a 20-something newly minted graduate who gets a coveted interview with a senior executive, and when the executive asks where the candidate sees himself in 10 years, the young person replies, “I want your job.”

Whew! It may seem to be a statement that smacks of confidence or boldness. But unfortunately, it shows a lack of people skills, because the comment implies that the young person thinks he is capable of taking on the senior leader’s role and knows what that executive does. A senior vice president I know responds to such statements with, “What is it that I do?” And rarely does the job candidate know. Save such showmanship for less critical conversations, and instead provide an answer that is more realistic, and yes, humble.

These six expressions are frequently used in interview situations and should be avoided if you want to present a positive profile of yourself as someone who works well with people. After all, jobs will increasingly go to those who have strong people skills.

5/26/19 - 3 Harsh Realities of Being an Over-40 Job Seeker

The more experienced you are, the harder it is to find the right job.
By J.T. O'Donnell Founder and CEO, 

If you're over 40 and in the hunt for a new job, you may be wondering why it feels so much harder than it used to. Especially, when the news keeps saying we have the lowest unemployment in decades and companies are complaining about how they can't find enough talent. It doesn't take too long before even the most positive and enthusiastic seasoned professional starts to wonder if age discrimination is the culprit. I personally don't like to call it age discrimination. I call it "experience discrimination," because it's a more accurate explanation of what's happening. Here are three reasons why:

1. Why buy a Porsche when a Kia will work just fine?
I work with a lot of over-40 job seekers who get enraged when they are told they're "overqualified" for the job. After years of working hard to gain their knowledge and skills, now it's essentially working against them. They don't want to hear the realities of business. Companies want to make money. If they can do a job with a less-expensive employee, they will. I often use the example, "How can a employer justify paying for a Porsche if they believe they can get from point A to point B just as well with a Kia?" As a seasoned pro, you have a bunch of bells and whistles the employer doesn't want to pay for. And with over half the workforce being Millennials, it's the law of supply and demand. In the minds of employers I've spoken with, Millennials have fewer bad habits, are looking to impress and please them as a way to climb the ladder, and are cheaper to boot.

2. You say you'll take the lesser job. But is your ego really OK with it long-term?
After months and months of looking for work and being told your overqualified, you can see why over-40 workers might start to rationalize accepting a lesser role with less pay. Unfortunately, employers don't buy it. Why? Just like you, they live in the me-centric culture that has taught us all we deserve more, i.e. "You worked hard for this. You've earned it." Going backwards in pay and job status isn't easy to take in a society where answering the question, "What do you do for work?" is so tightly tied to our personal identities. Out of desperation to seek employment, you can rationalize the pay cut. But long-term you'll more than likely want to focus on finding a job that matches your perception of your worth. Employers know that. It's why they don't want to hire you. Why train you when they know you'll leave once something better comes along? Moreover, who wants to manage an employee who deep-down feels they're in a role that's beneath them?

3. Studies show we're not as self-aware as we think we are.
In this new age of emotional intelligence, many people think they're more in touch with other's feelings toward them than they really are. Unfortunately, we tend to over-estimate our skills in this area. Studies show as much as 85 percent of workers don't realize how they're being perceived in the workplace. Which means, you may think you're a tech-savvy, hip, 40-something professional. But it's more likely you're seen as frustrated, overly worried, longing for the gold-ole-days, and losing your edge. Especially, to Millennials who are still stinging from years of being called "lazy" and "entitled." There's a boomerang effect to chastising a younger generation. When they come of age and dominate a workforce, the payback is real.

The solution? Think "specialist", not "generalist."
Many over-40 workers think marketing themselves as a Jack or Jill-of-all-trades is the best way to get hired. In my experience, it isn't. Of course you're a generalist. You've been in the workforce a long time. You've got a wide variety of skills as a result. But now you need to convey how you will leverage your advanced capabilities to solve a specific problem and alleviate a big pain for employers. In short, what's your specialty? There's an expectation
all those years on the job trained you to excel in a particular area. And therefore, are worth paying extra for. Strip away your vast array of skills and focus in on the ones that will save or make the company enough money to justify the cost of paying more for you.

P.S. Job interviews are where most 40+ job seekers deliver the wrong message.
In my experience, the decision to not hire the seasoned pro happens in the job interview. The hiring manager gets the wrong impression based on the attitude and focus of the over-40 candidate's responses. Without realizing it, many seasoned pros give off a vibe that makes them seem opinionated, inflexible, and a know-it-all. Sadly, employers don't tell you this. Instead, they lie and say, "we think you're overqualified and would be bored here." If you're someone who has left a job interview saying, "I crushed it. They were hanging on my every word," only to get the overqualified rejection, you may fall into this category. The solution is to learn techniques for answering interview questions that send the age-appropriate message. When you were younger, what you lacked for in knowledge you were expected to make up for in confidence and enthusiasm. But as we mature, the expectations shifts. Employers are looking for more humility and situational awareness from seasoned pros. In spite of all your knowledge, they want to know you sincerely believe you have a lot to learn -- from co-workers of all ages.

5/19/19 - Salary Negotiation Scripts For Any Job

by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer 

Ask any job seeker or employee about salary negotiations and one of the most popular responses is, “I would negotiate but I don’t know what to say.” Having the right words to say, or write, during a salary negotiation is vital. Communication can make or break discussions and impact your confidence to get paid fairly.

First things first, determine your current worth in the job market. Use Know Your Worth to receive a custom salary estimate based on your title, company, location and experience. Once you have the information, it’s time to advocate for yourself.

Josh Doody, author of Fearless Salary Negotiation, knows how challenging it can be to learn to financially advocate for oneself. He took his first job without negotiating his salary. Once he got hip to the dance, he doubled that salary.

We teamed with Doody to equip job seekers and employees with exactly how to tackle tricky salary negotiation conversations.

Situation #1: Prying During the Prescreen
How should you respond when you’re asked about salary right off the bat? You want to demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic and cooperative, but you don’t want to tip your hand. Doody explains: “It’s a salary negotiation tactic disguised as a gatekeeper-type interview question.”

Suggested Script:
Recruiter: What’s your current salary?

You: “I’m not really comfortable sharing that information. I would prefer to focus on the value I can add to this company and not what I’m paid at my current job.”

If the interview team doesn’t know your salary, they can’t use it as their starting point. Doody writes, “that’s probably going to mean a higher initial offer for you.”

Recruiter: What’s your expected salary?

You: “I want this move to be a big step forward for me in terms of both responsibility and compensation.”

Doody points out, “sharing your current salary or your expected salary is not in your best interest. . . They’re interviewing you because you’re a qualified candidate, and they need a qualified candidate. . . They would also like to get a good deal. . They’re not going to stop interviewing you just because you don’t make it easier for them to get a good deal on you.”

If they pass because you won’t acquiesce, that’s a red flag. Doody says, “then they’re extremely motivated to get a bargain…That’s bad news for you even if you get the job.”

One last thing, resist the temptation to tell a white lie when asked for your salary during the prescreening process. If you underestimate what they’re willing to pay, you’re leaving money on the table. If the real answer is that they would compensate someone like you up to $75,000 dollars, and you guess they would pay a salary of only $65,000, you very literally may have just cost yourself $10,000.

If you overestimate and tell them your salary expectation is $85,000, you may set off red flags that cause them to rethink the interview process altogether. This is pretty rare, but you could disqualify yourself by being “too expensive” for them. If your expected salary is well above their budgeted pay range, they may just move on to other candidates with lower salary expectations.

The bottom line is you probably aren’t going to guess what their salary structure looks like, and if you try to guess you may cost yourself a lot of money.

Situation #2: Savvy Counter Offering
After you’ve secured an offer, Doody recommends using this formula:

“The counter offer calculator accounts for four factors—the base salary of your job offer, your minimum acceptable salary (“walk away” number), how badly the company needs you to accept the job offer, and how badly you need the job.”

Use “firm and neutral” language like this:

Suggested Script:
“Tom offered $50,000 and I would be more comfortable if we could settle on $56,000. I feel that amount reflects the importance and expectations of the position for ACME Corp’s business, and my qualifications and experience as they relate to this particular position.”

Or, if you had a competing offer:

“Thank you so much for the offer. As I mentioned during my interview process, I am speaking with a couple of other companies. If you’re able to move the pay to [insert your number], I’d be eager to accept.”

Doody explains that email is the perfect medium for this message. This way, the hiring manager can share it in a format that clearly makes your case to each person with whom it’s shared. Your case won’t get the same treatment if it’s restated recollections of a conversation.

The hiring manager will likely come back with a figure between your base salary and your counteroffer. For Doody, the distance between these figures represents your “salary negotiation window.” He recommends compartmentalizing this window into increments. In the example above, the window is $6,000, so he recommends devising a response for each possible offer.

If, for example, the offer is $55,000 or above, Doody says it’s a taker.

“If the company comes back with $53,000, then you say ‘If you can do $54,000, I’m on board!’ If they stick with $53,000, then you would say, ‘I understand the best you can do is $53,000 and you can’t come up to $54,000. If you can do $53,000 and offer an extra week of paid vacation each year, then I’m on board.’”

Decide which benefits, like vacation time or flexible working hours, are most important so that you can apply them to bolster the deal. Rank those benefits in your mind and use those in your bargaining.

Extra vacation time
Work from home
Signing bonus
If they do not accept your second-priority benefit, you move on to your third-priority benefit. Regardless of whether they accept your final response, then you’re finished; don’t get nit-picky or greedy. You have maximized your base salary and maximized your benefits as well.

Situation #3: Raises & Promotions
Doody explains: “Your primary reason for requesting a raise is that the salary you’re being paid doesn’t reflect your current value to the company. That salary was set some time in the past, so your argument is that you are more valuable now than you were. . . ” You have a fair justification. Now you need the right plan.

Start by mentioning, via email, to your manager that you’d like to discuss compensation in your next private meeting. After that conversation, Doodly advises preparing a strategically constructed, easily sharable salary increase letter.

Suggested Email Script:
“As we discussed, it has been [amount of time] since [“my last significant salary adjustment” OR “since I was hired”], and I would like to revisit my salary now that I’m contributing much more to the company. I’ve been researching salaries for [job title] in [industry] industry, and it looks like the mid-point is around [mid-point from your research]. So I would like to request a raise to [target salary].”

The letter should also highlight your accomplishments and accolades. Doody notes that if your proposal isn’t accepted on the first try, you can work with your manager to create an action plan.

“I would love to work with you to put together a clear action plan and timeline so we can continue this discussion and monitor my progress as I work toward my goal.”

Always remember, your talent is precious, and you deserve to be compensated for it. Learning to foster conversations about compensation is a vital skill that yields rewards.

5/12/19 - Why Every Job Seeker Should Strive to Be a 'Purple Squirrel' in 2019

The rise of 'hybrid jobs' can provide more work opportunities for the right professionals.

By J.T. O'DonnellFounder and CEO, 

A recent article on the rise of hybrid jobs caught my attention. It refers to new types of jobs that require non-traditional pairings of skill sets. In particular, when the author discussed the term "purple squirrels," it brought back memories! This term is commonly used in the staffing industry. It refers to people with a rare combination of skill sets. So rare, it takes a ridiculous amount of effort to identify and hire them. If you've ever worked in recruiting, then you've likely dealt with a hiring manager who's asked for the impossible. You know, the one that wants, "a bilingual brain surgeon who will be happy with $10 an hour." When I worked in staffing, I remember cringing when requests for purple squirrels came in. Why? They were hard to find and usually required a lot of money to woo away from their current employers. Which is EXACTLY why every job seeker today should strive to be one!

Want to skip the job search and make recruiters come to you? Strive to be a purple squirrel.
When you brand yourself the right way, you will build a reputation for your unique combination of skills and find recruiters knocking on your doors--or at least asking you to connect on LinkedIn. All it takes is a little research and some keyword optimization and you can improve the chances you get discovered. Here's what to do:

Step 1: Collect attractive job postings.

Find five to 10 job opportunities you are interested in where you feel you're at least a 70 percent or higher match. They should be in the same industry or skill set in order to provide some focus on the content.

Step 2: Create a word cloud.

Copy and paste the text of all the job postings in an online word cloud creator to see which hard and soft skill sets are most common across them. You'll be amazed at which key terms are popular--many of which you might not even have listed on important career tools, i.e., your résumé​ and LinkedIn profile.

Step 3: Add relevant keywords in strategic places.

Take the top 10 to 12 skill sets and add them to your LinkedIn profile and résumé​ in strategic places. For example, the terms you put in your LinkedIn headline matter greatly. It's prime real estate--when a recruiter uses a key skill set in their search parameters and you have it in your headline, the chances you'll show up in their search results increases. And the more keywords you have in the headline that match their search, the higher in the results you'll appear.

P.S. When it comes to job security, "brand or BE branded."
Being a purple squirrel is useless if nobody knows it. Branding your unique combination of skills is one of the best ways to ensure you'll be found more frequently. While every job is temporary, you can create job security for yourself in the form of a good personal brand. The more people who understand the problems you solve and the pain you alleviate for your employers, the easier it is for them to imagine you working at their companies.

NOTE from Jeff Morris, Founder of CareerDFW - Do not state you are a "Purple Squirrel". Let your key words and stated skills say it for you. Do not put the words "Purple Squirrel" on a resume, Bio, LinkedIn profile.

5/5/19 - 7 Perfect Questions to Ask While Networking

by Emily Moore 

Odds are, you already know how important networking is. You might have leveraged your network to land a job, procure a new client or even switch careers entirely — or at the very least, you probably know someone who has. But despite the endless benefits of networking, many people still dread the experience.

Often, this is because they simply don’t know what to say. After all, approaching a stranger you know nothing about can be pretty intimidating — what in the world do you talk about?

Well, the next time you find yourself wondering this at an industry mixer, don’t fret. We talked to a handful of career experts to get their recommendations on great questions to ask while networking. Use any of these questions for a quick and painless conversation starter.

1. “What brings you here?”
This light-touch question is a great way to begin a conversation, explains Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The Connector’s Advantage: 7 Mindsets to Grow Your Influence and Impact.

“This question shows you are interested in the other person and are not just trying to figure out how they can help you. Their response will give you a sense of what they are working on and what is on the front of their mind. That will lead you to extend the conversation and figure out how you can add value to them,” Tillis Lederman explains. “They will also likely ask you the question in return and give you an opening to share what your current objectives are.”

2. “How did you get involved in the industry/company?”
Once you know a little bit more about somebody’s professional background, ask them how they got their start. It can provide valuable takeaways for you, as well as make you seem more likable.

“Finding out more about their journey leading up to their current role can offer an excellent insight into what you might need to do in order to work in that industry, role or company,” says Lars Herrem, Group Executive Director at recruiting agency Nigel Wright Group. “Demonstrating your interest and enthusiasm is key to creating a lasting impression and making yourself memorable, something which will prove extremely beneficial if you end up reaching out to this person in the future.”

3. “Since you work in the industry, how do you feel about X?”
Asking about a specific, timely event in the industry — whether it’s proposed legislation, a merger, a recent news story, etc. — is a great way to show the person you’re speaking with that you are knowledgeable and thoughtful, both of which are key to being memorable, says career coach Eli Howayeck of Crafted Career Concepts.

“First impressions matter. The best thing you can do, besides being a nice person, is to demonstrate how you think and what you know about the marketplace,” Howayeck explains. “This helps direct the conversation and informs your conversation partner that you likely know what you’re talking about or, at a minimum, pay attention to what is going on in the world and [are] not only focused on yourself and your advancement.”

4. “How would someone get their foot in the door in your company/industry?”
The ultimate objective of networking is often to get a new job, but coming out and asking somebody you just met to help you get one can be pretty off-putting. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t approach the topic at all — you just have to do so delicately.

This question “is a subtle way to ask about opportunities without coming right out and saying, ‘Do you know if they are hiring?’” says career coach Madelyn Mackie. “If you are lucky, they will ask you if you are interested and then provide you with a business card to follow-up with them after the event.”

Even if they aren’t able to help you out directly, though, you will likely gain some valuable insight that will help you in your job search process.

5. “Based on your journey, what do you wish someone would have told you earlier in your career?”
This is a great question to ask if you’re speaking with somebody who is more senior than you are. It allows them to impart the knowledge they’ve acquired over the years with you, as well as appeals to their ego.

“People are way more comfortable sharing their wisdom than they are sharing their contacts, and both can be very valuable,” Howayeck says. “Seeking to learn from others honors them and shows that you’re invested in growth. It also shows deference and can endear the person to you and deepen the connection.”

6. “How do you spend your time outside of work?”
At its heart, networking is all about forming connections with others, so don’t be afraid to veer towards lighthearted chitchat. Questions like this one help people open up, and make it clear that you don’t expect the interaction to be purely transactional.

“This kind of question lowers the stakes and also gives the other person a chance to discuss what they’re passionate about,” Howayeck explains. “It also shows that you are actually interested in them as a person, and not just what they do and how it could help you.”

Who knows? You may even bond over a shared interest or activity!

7. “What’s the best way for me to get in touch/follow up with you?”
Ask this question, and you’re guaranteed to avoid one of the biggest mistakes that novice networkers make, according to career coach Nikki Bruno: “Beginning networkers often make the mistake of giving away a stack of business cards but gathering none. The only way to ensure that you’ll be able to follow up with new contacts is to get their information; it keeps you in the driver’s seat.”

“Note that this question is intentionally different from ‘May I have your card?’” Bruno adds. “Asking to stay in touch or to follow someone shows that you view him/her as a human being, not as a mere contact.”