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.”

4/28/19 - 4 Ways Your Perfectionism Is Killing Your Job Search


After months of unemployment, one of my career coaching clients desperately needed a new job, but she wanted to make sure it was in a field she loved. So, we re-did her resume and LinkedIn profile, wrote a cover letter, talked about potential transferable skills, and reviewed the descriptions of jobs she was interested in.

There was just one problem: After two months, she still hadn’t applied to anything. When we talked about why she wasn’t applying, we realized that she was chasing perfection and it was paralyzing her search.

Don’t get me wrong—you should do your very best when applying to a job. But if you try to be absolutely flawless, you’ll probably get in your own way.

At a certain point, you need to accept that what you’ve put together is good enough. If you don’t, then the whole effort was pointless. After all, it’s hard to get a job if you don’t actually apply.

The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the job will no longer be available. In the beginning, my client listed 10 specific jobs she wanted to apply to. By the time she was ready to hit “submit,” most of the positions on her list had already been taken down or filled.

Finally, wasting too much time making everything “perfect” subtracts from the time you need to spend on a very crucial part of the job search: networking. Instead of agonizing over every detail, you could be attending events, reaching out to contacts, or meeting someone for an informational coffee. These activities will get you much further than an award-winning LinkedIn headline, trust me.

If you’re like my client and can’t help but let your perfectionist tendencies get in the way, here are some bad job search habits you need to be aware of and cut out of your process—now.

1. You Only Apply to Jobs You’re the Perfect Fit For

Here’s the cold, hard truth about job descriptions: Hiring managers are describing their dream candidate—one they know they’re unlikely to find. Because the chances of that person existing and just happening to apply for this specific opportunity are pretty small.

So why do hiring managers do this? It’s more beneficial for them to create a wish list and hope someone who’s 90% there applies than to list the bare minimum and end up with a candidate who’s missing several crucial skills or qualities.

Of course there will be roles you won’t come close to being qualified for. If it’s a nursing role and you never went to nursing school, or it’s a software engineering job and you don’t know how to write a lick of code, or it’s a management position that requires 10 to 15 years of experience and you’re in year one of your first job, it’s not going to happen, so don’t even bother applying.

But otherwise, if you can fulfill a majority of the requirements—say 75% of them, give or take—or you fulfill the most important requirements, you should still try. You may be surprised to find that you have some transferable skills that technically apply to that other 25%. Or that some of the skills you’re lacking may not be a priority to the hiring manager. Or even that the hiring manager values passion over skill set (which can often be taught).

Worst case? You don’t get a callback. That’s not such a horrible outcome.

2. You Sweat the Small Stuff Way Too Much

There’s a lot of advice out there about addressing your cover letter that can be scary to anyone who considers themself super detail-oriented.

And it usually leads a perfectionist down a rabbit hole desperate to find the name of the exact person they’re contacting, a feat that can often take hours (if not be impossible), depending on how niche the role or company is.

But the only rule you really need to live by is this: Don’t start with “To Whom It May Concern.” Or “Dear Sir or Madam” for that matter.

Sure, you want to put some effort into finding the person. But a few minutes tops. Ultimately, it’s only a few words on the paper, and while they’re important, the more important words come after it.

In your cover letter and everywhere else on your application, that’s the stuff you should spend time on—the substance. Like, say, making sure that you’re highlighting how your experience will help you with certain role responsibilities (oh, hello, transferable skills!) and that your passion for the company and position is clear. At the end of the day, proving why you’re a great fit is 10 times more important than nailing a salutation.

3. You Quadruple Check for Typos

You should spell- and grammar-check your application—of course you should. You want to spell the hiring manager’s name right and your name right, and not mess up “its” versus “it’s” (is that just my pet peeve?).

But perfectionists tend to get a little wild when it comes to proofing their materials, spending way too long looking them over for any sign of error.

Here’s the thing. Recruiters spend six seconds looking at your resume. Yes, seconds. Not minutes.

Given that, it’s pretty unlikely they’ll catch minor typos (unless they have super skimming vision). And even if they do, most people understand that all humans—even job candidates!—make mistakes sometimes.

And if you do happen to spot a mistake on your application and it’s driving you nuts, you can always follow up once you realize it—yes, really!

The point is, you don’t want to let your fear of typos stop you from sending in your materials at all. So trust your proofreading skills. If you’ve gone through everything with a careful eye at least once, you’re probably just fine.

4. You Ask Too Many People to Review Your Materials

Your partner. Your coach. Five friends. Heck, let’s ask the Starbucks barista, too!

Having another set of eyes on your materials is incredibly helpful, especially if you’ve been looking at them for way too long and need a fresh perspective. Someone else can catch errors you may have missed and tell you if something is confusing or feels irrelevant to the job.

But when you ask too many people for their input, you waste a lot of time waiting for them to get back to you, and risk losing your chance to throw your hat in the ring.

And many times you end up with too many (often conflicting) viewpoints. Because each person has different life and work experiences—and different context about your life—that can lead to them giving you advice that’s colored by their particular point of view. And trust me—you do not need three, four, or nine different perspectives on this. You’ll never satisfy everyone, and you’ll start to lose who you are in the process.

Stick to two outside opinions, max, and make them people you truly trust and respect. When you find yourself looking for a third person to chime in, just send in the application instead.

You need to believe that you’re a solid applicant and that you’re capable of putting together top-notch materials. (Because you are.) Otherwise, you’ll spend way too much time second guessing yourself.

The job search is already tedious enough. Don’t spend more time on it than you need to, and definitely don’t let the need to be perfect hold you back. So, please, for the love of job seekers and kittens everywhere, hit submit and move on with your life. (Oh, and good luck!)

Abby is a writer, career coach, and health educator living in Portland, Maine. When she’s not trying to make the world a happier and healthier place, you can find her cuddling with her cats, hunting down the city's best coffee and grilled cheese, or dipping her toes in the Atlantic.

4/21/19 - When to reject a company recruiting you 

Question: After multiple interviews, a well-known company made me a job offer that I refused. The offer was good, considerably more than I earn now. But the deal was unacceptable because, from one meeting to the next, the team showed me the company is undisciplined, disorganized and incapable of conducting business with someone they want to hire. And they recruited me! I didn’t go to them looking for a job! This of course tells me they are not worth doing business with, period.

I’m writing to you because I’ve concluded that I should have cut the meetings off sooner. I was so focused on performing at my best that I didn’t calculate the problems that now appear so obvious to me. Can you poll your readers and ask them what signals during interviews tip them off that a company is not worth working for?

Nick Corcodilos: Don’t feel bad. In the throes of the evaluation process, a candidate is understandably trying so hard to impress that he or she dismisses signals that suggest it’s time to walk away. Nonetheless, there are indeed signals you should be looking for early in the process. You should not wait until after you’ve invested many hours and loads of effort to calculate whether an employer is worth it!

6 reasons to reject an employer
San Francisco recruiter Ken Hansell posted this story on LinkedIn, from a job candidate who rejected a job offer and declined to negotiate further. Like you, this candidate probably waited too long to tell the employer to take a hike.

I declined the offer… I’m staying where I am. The recruiter called me and asked why? This is one of the top companies. What’s the counter offer? Me: No counter offer.

1. I had six rounds of interviews.

2. I was grilled with questions but nobody took the time to explain what the job is like and did not even ask if I have any questions.

3. Lots of questions did not make sense – like why I am leaving my employer. I was not, your recruiter approached me and convinced me to come for your interview. Where I see myself in 5 years. They could not tell me where they see their company in 6 months.

4. The hiring process is too long, too disorganized.

5. The offer took too long.

6. The interviewers did not compare notes because during the six rounds of interviews they were asking the same questions. This should not look like an interrogation. They also looked tired and stressed.

If you want to hire talent, fix your basics. Treat candidates as people, not as applicants.

This job candidate has outlined six clear signs that showed the company was not worthy of consideration. All these signs are important, but the third one is key: The interviewers behaved as if the candidate is chasing the company when, in fact, the company is recruiting the candidate.

Who’s recruiting whom?
This critical distinction is lost on most people. Applying for jobs you have sought out is one thing. But when a company finds you, pursues you, solicits you, and convinces you to come talk about a job — then the calculus changes entirely. 

As you and the candidate in the LinkedIn story both noted, you were not looking for a job, so asking you why you wanted to leave your old job is not just presumptuous and rude — it reveals a totally misguided approach to hiring.

When you are recruited, an employer should do three things:

These are not unrealistic asks. Some employers do it right. (See Smart Hiring: A manager who respects applicants.)

When you are recruited, an employer who fails to treat you as an honored guest reveals a profound ignorance of how the world works. That’s simply disrespectful. It’s the sign of an uncouth, uncultured, stupid organization that’s bound to fail — one you’d be wasting your time with. (See Stupid Recruiters: How employers waste your time.)

Blind recruiting is spam
I’ll repeat that: When a company — whether its manager, its recruiter or its headhunter — comes to you and suggests it is interested in you, it should treat you with special respect and deference.

Blind solicitations are not recruiting; they’re spam. The trouble is, most people don’t understand this. They allow companies that recruit them to treat them like beggars. Don’t. You’ll save a lot of time if you separate employers you pursue from those that come to you.

This is not to say other employers can get away with not treating you respectfully. But when a company or recruiter solicits you, expect to be treated well — or walk away if you’re made to feel like somebody who applied for a job.

What the 6 signs really tell you
The six signs above tell you that an employer is wasting your time. Here’s why.

By — Nick Corcodilos
Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

4/14/19 - These are the salary trends you need to know before your next negotiation

This is the information you need in order to make your case before you go into a salary negotiation.

Even as the job market breaks records, wage growth has remained sluggish in the U.S.–and employers don’t seem too anxious to change their penny-pinching ways. Two-thirds of employers reported retention as a top concern in PayScale’s “2019 Compensation Best Practices Report,” up 7% from 2018. But of the 81% that are planning base pay increases, slightly more than two-thirds are estimating an increase of 3% or less.

So if you’re seeking a higher number on your paycheck, it’s likely up to you to make it happen. Before you go into a salary negotiation for a new job or a bump in pay for the position you already have, here is the information you should seek out to make your case.

Annual salary guides and compensation reports like those from PayScale, Randstad, Robert Half, and others may give you some insight into general salary trends. You can get a sense of how respondents say they’re budgeting for salary increases, what their main concerns are about compensation, and how they’re thinking about salaries in general.

In addition, sites like Glassdoor and can also give insight into specific companies and their compensation practices. The general information you find on the internet can be a helpful starting point, says Lydia Frank, PayScale‘s vice president of content strategy. “It’s a good idea to get your information from a variety of sources,” she says.

PayScale’s research found that, over time, some U.S. metro areas led in compensation growth while others lagged. For example, the PayScale Index for the fourth quarter of 2018 found San Francisco having the largest year-over-year wage growth at 4.9%. Los Angeles, Boston, and New York were tied for 7th place with 2% year-over-year growth. The Nashville metro area came in at No. 32 with -0.7% growth.

If you’re in a growing sector in a high wage-growth city, this could be a promising indicator for compensation negotiations. But when you factor in inflation, wage growth generally isn’t much to write home about. “Mostly we have less spending power in our paychecks, even if it’s a higher number than we did in 2006, because inflation has eaten away some of those increases. I think that’s a nuance that gets missed,” Frank says.

Jim Link, chief human resources officer (CHRO) at Randstad North America, says one thing that stood out to him when reviewing the Randstad U.S. “2019 Salary Guide,” was the rise in importance of some positions that hadn’t seen much of a base pay increase in the past, especially in manufacturing and logistics sectors. Even assemblers and programmable controllers, where a relatively small degree of technical skill is needed, are seeing average raises in the 5% range.

“To me, that’s a good sign for our economy, but it’s also fascinating to me that it’s taken this long for those positions to really flex their muscle in our economy. It’s about time and a little overdue, in my mind,” he says.

This year, Randstad’s research found more marked salary jumps in some specializations and skill intersections, which may offer a salary negotiation advantage, too. For example, engineering coupled with project management experience and information technology (IT) pros with healthcare experience got bigger pay increases than their counterparts who didn’t specialize, he says.

Frank encourages people who feel like they’ve taken on more responsibility to check in with human resources. Ask to look at the job description that is being used for your current job. If you’re performing additional tasks, especially those that are typically done by someone in a higher-level job, that can be a great negotiating tool.

“Sometimes, HR doesn’t understand how the job has evolved, and the manager doesn’t necessarily know they’re supposed to alert HR to that,” she says. Frank believes most HR departments will be open to this conversation so they can write more accurate job descriptions in the future.

Whether you’re seeking information for your current job or a new one, seek out colleagues who formerly worked for the company or champions within the company who have supervisory responsibilities. They may be able to provide insight into compensation levels or expectations, Link says. More important, they may be able to give you insight into how the company thinks about pay. For example, they may help you see whether the company is more open to investing in benefits or performance-based compensation than base salary increases.

Of course, be prepared to show the results you’ve generated and the value you’ve contributed, Link says. Whether you’re negotiating for more pay in your current company or proving your worth to a prospective employer, walk in with a list of how you’ve gone above and beyond in your job, the skills you have added, and how you’ve helped make a difference in the company’s performance. “Never forget that the best information you have is about your own performance,” he says. Show that you’re a team member worth adding or retaining, and you may be rewarded with additional compensation.

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.

4/7/19 - How to answer 5 of the craziest job interview questions

How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Certainly feels like an absurd interview question, but managers are trying to suss out your critical thinking, creativity, and ability to work under pressure. So here’s how to answer.

What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer? How would you describe the color yellow to a blind person? How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the U.S. each year?

 The questions may sound absurd, but they’ve all been asked in professional interviews, and may have even been the most consequential test of the entire hiring process.

That’s because employers know that candidates can list skills like critical thinking, creativity, and ability to work under pressure on their resume, but the best way to test their abilities is often through seemingly absurd and unexpected questions. Furthermore, in an age where candidates can research, anticipate, and prepare for likely interview questions, the unexpected and unrehearsed responses often prove the most revealing.

“These kinds of questions allow us to dive deeper into a candidate’s thought process and kind of gauge their personality,” said Michael Pearce, a health care recruiter with Addison Group.

Pearce says that when evaluating candidates he typically asks them to name their favorite board game, explaining that their response often reveals more about their personality and professional strengths than their resume.

“For example, if a candidate chose Risk, it highlights to me that they’re methodical and strategy focused and would best fit into a role that requires those skill sets,” he says.

When recruiters ask open-ended questions, Pearce says, there’s often no wrong answer, but warns that a more specific question could suggest the they’re looking for something precise. For example, Pearce says one client requested that he ask each candidate how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“They were specifically looking for people to be as descriptive as possible,” he says, adding that the role required strong communication skills. “They’re looking to see if the candidate included a step-by-step process as if they’re explaining it to someone that’s never heard of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Glassdoor’s senior director of corporate communications, Scott Dobroski, similarly makes a distinction between two different oddball question categories. He explains that the open ended questions are often intended to test creativity and critical thinking, while more quantitative questions are designed to test how the candidate solves problems under pressure.

In either case, however, Dobroski says that hiring managers are often more interested in the thought process behind the answer than the answer itself.

“It could be ‘what’s your favorite breakfast food and why?’ and someone might say ‘Cheerios, because it’s the breakfast of champions,’ and explain how they’re a champion in the workplace,” he says. “It’s the open ended questions where you’re given the opportunity to take something quirky and relate it to the workplace and who you are as an employee and what you bring that’s different from competitors.”

Dobroski adds that it also reveals something about the candidate’s personality, which can help determine whether they’d fit with the company’s culture.

Quantitative questions are similarly intended to evoke a detailed explanation, but attempt to reveal how the candidate approaches challenges under pressure rather than something about their personality. One example employers could ask is how many pencils they could fit in the interview room.

“What they’re looking for is not a one-word response, but thinking out loud on how you would get to a solution or a conclusion, because that’s what we do all day when we’re working,” says Dobroski. “We’re faced with planned and unplanned challenges, and problem solving is an asset in every job.”

He explains that when faced with a quantitative question candidates should do their best to think out loud, feel free to ask questions, and even request more time to think it over before responding.

“You want to ask questions to get to the best answer,” he says. “Like ‘Are they standard sized pencils?’ ‘What’s the thickness of the pencil?’ Do I have anything at my disposal to chop up the pencil before?'”

When it comes to odd interview questions there’s often little candidates can do to anticipate them, and that’s okay, explains author and job search expert for The Balance Careers, Alison Doyle.

“Don’t even try, because you can’t anticipate them,” she says, explaining that there are other ways to prepare. “What you might think about is if you’re asked something off the wall, what’s the best way to respond.”

Doyle explains that instead of trying to practice answers to wacky questions, candidates should instead practice how they would approach them in more general terms.

“Stay calm, think about it a little bit, and remember that you can ask questions if you need to,” she says. “Try and be creative, like if they ask, ‘Iif you’re a new addition to a crayon box, which color would you be and why?’ they’re looking at how you answer more than the answer itself.”

When asked an odd question in a job interview Doyle says it’s far more important for candidates to remain composed and demonstrate an ability to defend their answer than it is to arrive at the “right” answer. After all, responses can be as absurd as the questions themselves, as long as there’s also an equal amount of thought and purpose behind them.


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.

3/31/19 - Making this common mistake can be a 'career killer'

by Courtney Connley 

Many professionals will probably recognize this situation: You go to a meeting or an event and, assuming that everyone there already knows you, or that you're playing a minor role, you introduce yourself with your first name — or not at all.

No big deal, right?

Wrong. "I see it happen all the time, and it's terrible," bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch tells CNBC Make It. "Your identity is an important piece of information for context in any business situation."

Welch, a career coach, says it drives her crazy when people fail to say their full names during an introduction. But worse, this blunder could be hindering your professional advancement. "Not stating your full name at the beginning of a business encounter essentially announces, 'I don't matter,' or 'I lack confidence' — or both."

Welch says that a failed introduction is not just "first-impression poison," but "it can be a career killer, because who wants to listen to a person who doesn't believe in themselves?"

This was first pointed out to her 10 years ago, when bestselling author and financial advisor Suze Orman scolded her for making this mistake during a speech. Welch says that after she left the stage, Orman grabbed her and said, "You didn't say your name!"

Welch protested that she had been introduced, but Orman said it didn't matter. "Even when you think people know who you are, say your name — both first and last. Own your name and you own the room."

She took Orman's advice to heart. Recently, Welch spent a day coaching MBA students. The event included a Q & A, and Welch says she "watched person after person take the mic and say, 'Hi, umm, my question is blah blah...'" As each student came forward, she sat there thinking, "Who is going to hire you if you can't even introduce yourself properly?"

"Please take this advice about your name," she says. "I promise you'll see an impact on you and everyone in the room right away — and eventually on your career."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at

3/24/19 - What Actually Is a Letter of Intent (and How Is it Different From a Cover Letter)?

by Alyse Kalish 

You scan a job posting and everything looks normal (responsibilities and requirements, check, lots of jargon related to your field, check), until you come across the following: Please submit a resume and letter of intent.

Huh. That’s a phrase you’ve never seen before: “letter of intent.” Do they mean like a cover letter, but in a different, slightly confusing way?

Well, yes and no. There are plenty of similarities between the two, and also several differences. Here’s what you need to know about letters of intent.

 What Is a Letter of Intent?

To play off the name, a letter of intent is about stating your intentions to work for a particular company. There may be a specific role you (or the employer) has in mind, but more often you’re interested in tossing your name into the hat for any opportunities an organization may offer.

“In my experience, I’ve seen an intent letter used usually when there’s not a specific job that a candidate is interested in applying for,” says Kaila Kea, a career coach on The Muse. So you’d probably write one if you’re submitting a general application to an organization you’re a major fan of that isn’t necessarily hiring for your dream job just yet.

 How Does a Letter of Intent Differ From a Cover Letter?

It can be easy to confuse a cover letter with a letter of intent. In her experience working with job seekers, Kea differentiates them this way: “Intent letters tend to be a bit more company focused—you’re talking a little more about the employer than the specific job.” They’re also more general in terms of how you talk about your skill set.

“On the flip side of that, the cover letter can be more job-focused, a little more position-oriented, because there’s a specific job that’s posted that you want to speak to,” she adds.

As a result, each type of letter requires a different approach.

For example, says Kea, with a cover letter you might say, “I’m highly interested in a product manager role at [Company] for the following reasons,” while with a letter of intent you’re more likely to say something along the lines of, “I’m highly interested in a managerial role at [Company] for the following reasons.”

Going broader “gives you more wiggle room into what the employer may align you with in terms of roles,” says Kea. Rather than pigeonhole yourself into one path, you allow the hiring manager to slot you into the best-fit scenario.

Letters of intent can also present themselves in situations outside the application process—for example, if you want to follow up after a job fair or a networking event. “Again, there may not be a specific role listed that you’re interested in or that you can apply for at that time,” Kea says, but emailing a letter of intent is a great way to express interest in working for their organization one day.

 Why Do Companies Ask for Letters of Intent?

Companies ask for letters of intent mainly when they’re as torn about what they’re looking for as you might be.

“In some cases, employers might have several jobs posted at once for one department or for one specific project,” says Kea. They may ask for a letter of intent because they’re not entirely sure what kind of person they need to fill the gaps in those departments. Maybe they’ll end up hiring two senior-level managers, or they may be just as satisfied with one mid-level exec and one entry-level employee—depending on which people wow them in the application process.

Letters of intent are also frequently used to hire for contractors or freelancers who aren’t your standard W2 employees, because if, for example, a contract falls through, companies can easily line up the next qualified candidate for the job.

Put simply, a hiring manager most likely wants to widen their candidate pool, so they’re looking for anyone and everyone who shows an eagerness and passion for the company.

The type of letter can also vary across sectors. “In my experience, the more established organizations [and] private companies typically go with a cover letter,” says Kea, while letters of intent might present themselves at startups or nonprofits that are more mission-focused and growing at a greater rate.

“So from a candidate perspective, if you’re asked to submit a letter of intent, that may mean that the company is newer, that they’re trying to source talent in a different way, whereas the cover letter [is] more of a classic go-to,” she explains.

 How Do You Go About Writing a Letter of Intent?

First off, you want to express plenty of interest in the company itself. “A lot of people get really wrapped up [in saying] ‘I’m the perfect person for this job, I want this job, I’m great for this job, hire me for this job,’” says Kea. “And there’s nothing wrong with that…but one of the things that makes an intent letter so successful is really showing that you identify with the company’s mission, their values, their goals.”

Letters of intent can also be more current. For example, rather than talk broadly about the company, you may mention something about them in the news or a recent update to their product. You want to include “anything that would grab the attention of the employer and also show that you’re keeping up with what’s happening with that organization or in your industry,” she says. (Of course, you could also reference something current in a cover letter, too, if that’s how you want to grab the reader’s attention to start off.)

And, as with a great opening line to a cover letter, “it helps to capture their interest and encourage them to keep reading; that’s of course the goal,” she adds.

If you’re struggling to come up with something specific about the company to discuss, then talk about something that’s engaging about yourself, says Kea. What makes you stand out? What unique skills, experiences, or passions do you bring to the table? And how do these align with what the company needs, given what you know about them?

Overall, you want to make it general enough that you’re showing interest in the company as a whole, “but also specific enough so that the employer walks away with at least one key takeaway from you and your skill set and what you can bring to this organization,” she says.

Let’s go back to the product manager versus managerial role explanation above. If you were to write a cover letter, says Kea, you’d probably try to speak to a particular product manager position. So you would focus your letter on why you’d be good at that job—the experiences you have working on a product’s lifecycle, managing vendor relationships, and collaborating across teams, to name a few examples. You’d also want to make sure you’re addressing specific points in the job description.

But if you were writing a letter of intent, you’d instead want to focus on how you’d be great for a managerial role—whether it’s as a product manager or something else entirely. In this case, rather than mention your product manager experience, you might talk about how you led a team, managed expectations, or coordinated logistics for meetings. You’re referencing specific skills, sure—and your resume is highlighting both sets of skills—but you’re tailoring your letter to what the hiring manager may be looking for.


A Sample Letter of Intent
Let’s say you’re an experienced designer and product manager looking to join a startup in some capacity. You do some digging to figure out who to address your letter to (please, please don’t use “To Whom It May Concern”), and discover that the head of the product department is named Caroline Coffman.

You might send her the following:

 Dear Caroline Coffman,

When I was 10, my brother fainted while waiting to ride a rollercoaster at Six Flags. It was an incredibly hot day, and we’d been in line for an hour.

I don’t remember anything else about that day—what other rides we took, what we ate, even who exactly we were with—but I distinctly remember the feeling of wanting to know why. Why did this happen? Why did we have to wait in such long lines? Why hasn’t anyone come up with a solution to the problem of overcrowded amusement parks?

It’s for this reason that I’m thrilled to apply to work on the product and design team at Rydes. Not only does your mission of revolutionizing and adding efficiency to theme parks spark my curiosity and eagerness to fix things, it also reminds me of the bigger picture: that you should leave an amusement park, or any family outing for that matter, with fonder memories than your sibling passing out. Your latest product update featured in Forbes around waiting times on lines especially spoke to me and further encouraged me to write this letter.

A little bit about me: I majored in design and applied arts because I wanted to be self-sufficient in how I solved problems, and because I enjoyed working with my hands as well as my mind. I took on a role as associate UX designer at a small startup because I was fascinated with making websites that were seamless and free of obstacles, then shifted to a product manager position at a larger company because I realized how much I liked collaborating across departments and working with various experts to brainstorm ideas and solutions. To me, the most rewarding part of my day is helping my team members be productive, feel motivated, and achieve their goals. With this experience and skill set, I’m ready to leap back into the startup world and work for a company whose ambitions align with my own.

I want to thank you for considering me to join this fantastic team of innovators and creatives, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Williams

Now that you know the difference between a cover letter and a letter of intent, go tell your friends this new fun fact! And maybe consider this new form of applying the next time you set your eyes on your dream company.


3/17/19 - 6 common body language mistakes to avoid in your next job interview

by Debby Carreau - @debbycarreau 

Most of us prepare for job interviews the same way: Research the company, Google "how to answer common interview questions," practice answering them out loud and then hope for the best. But rarely do we think about how we present ourselves to our potential future employers.

Body language is a large indicator of your confidence and comfort level in any given situation, and it can make or break your chances of landing the job. Here are six common body language mistakes to avoid in your next interview:

1. Not optimizing eye contact
One of the most important skills to master for a job interview is maintaining appropriate eye contact. In a 2018 CareerBuilder report, 67 percent of the 2,500 hiring managers surveyed said that failure to make eye contact was the top body language mistake job seekers make. (Another study, dating as far back as 1979, found that people who sustain extended eye contact are more likely to be perceived as intelligent and credible.)

"Express warmth by smiling often and avoid making shifty eye movements."
That's not to say you should be intensely staring down at your interviewer the entire time. Start the contact when you first meet them at the initial handshake. Express warmth by smiling often and avoid making shifty eye movements.

2. Poor posture
No slouching — always keep a strong, straight back. Lean forward slightly from time to time to show interest.

 A strong posture will not only make you look more confidence, it can also help you feel more confident and perform better in your interview. Studies have shown that individuals who sit up straighter are more likely to view themselves as having strong leadership skills, whereas those with hunched postures have higher risks of feeling easily stressed.

Fake it 'til you make it, right?


3. Smiling too much (or not enough)
Succeeding isn't as simple as just smiling. Smiling at the beginning and end of your interview — but not as much in between — will make you seem more approachable and likable. It's all about balance. Do what feels natural and don't overthink it. A simple trick is to try and match the energy or demeanor of your interviewer.

4. Fidgeting
Too much fidgeting will make you look anxious and nervous, which might cause your interviewer to question your assertiveness and interpersonal warmth. Avoid the temptation to fidget your fingers or, even worse, nearby objects!

By embracing stillness, you can display the persona of a confident and capable leader. If you have a hard time doing this, practice answering questions while keeping as still as possible in front of a mirror.

5. Not dressing for the job
From your clothes and accessories down to your shoes (and even the way you style your hair!), what you wear is an extension of your body language.

"When in doubt, go for shades of blue or black."
The little details matter, so put plenty of thought into how you want to appear on the day of your interview. Are your shoes polished? Did you shower that morning? Are the colors you chose to wear too bold, or just bold enough, for the job you want? When in doubt, go for shades of blue or black, but steer clear of anything too bright or boring, like orange and brown.

6. A weak handshake
Your handshake is the first and last impression you will make in a job interview. According to a study from the Beckman Institute, a strong handshake can both diminish the impact of a negative impression and make a positive interaction even better.

Another tip: at the end of your interview, ensure a strong handshake accompanied by strong eye contact and a few kind words. It can be as simple as: "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me [interviewer's name]. I really look forward to hearing back from you."

Debby Carreau is an entrepreneur, author and founder of Inspired HR. She has been recognized as one of Canada's Top 25 HR Professionals and is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, among many others. She is a board member for FinDev Canada, Young Presidents Organization and Elevation Group. Follow her on Twitter @DebbyCarreau .

3/10/19 - What Is a Job Simulation & How Can You Prepare for One?

by Emily Moore 

Job seekers, take note — the next time you head in for an interview, it may not be the typical question-and-answer format you’re used to. More and more companies are implementing creative interview strategies that go beyond the surface and dig deep into your skills, personality and behavior. Case in point: the job simulation.

A job simulation is any task that is designed to give you an accurate preview of what the role you are interviewing for entails on a day-to-day basis. Job simulations are becoming increasingly popular among employers, as they help companies more accurately predict whether or not candidates would be successful if hired.

“For us, it’s all about being efficient and making the right hire, the first time,” says Jeff Rizzo, Founder & CEO of product review sites RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard, who implements job simulations in his companies’ hiring processes. “We’ve been burned in the past when we hired candidates that interviewed well, but weren’t nearly skilled enough when it came time to actually produce work. We are looking for fit, of course, but the simulator serves as our final test of acumen.”

Job Simulation Formats
Job simulations can take many different forms, such as in-person assignments, online exams, take-home assignments, role-playing, presentations or even virtual simulations. Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting, described some of the more common job simulation formats in depth:

In-basket exercises: “Here, the candidate is required to complete certain tasks such as responding to emails, taking phone calls and handling grievances within a set amount of time. Often, these exercises are best for administrative and managerial positions.”
Situational judgment tests: “The candidate is presented with a work-related scenario and is asked to use their judgment to provide a solution that can amicably resolve the situation at hand. These tests lend themselves well to positions such as customer service and supervisory roles.”
Work sample tests: “These, typically hands-on tests, require the candidate to complete certain activities that are similar to actual tasks they would perform on the job. Examples include writing code, take-home assignments, collaborating with others to design a website or completing an onsite construction task.”
Role-playing: “Role-playing is probably the most common of all job simulation formats. These exercises help to evaluate a candidate’s ability to navigate interpersonal challenges in a work environment.”

This is far from a complete list, though. Because job simulations mimic the tasks of actual jobs, the possibilities are virtually endless.

Tips for Acing a Job Simulation
So, what should you do if you find out a job simulation will be a part of your job interview? First things first, you’ll want to do some research into what exactly it might entail. Turn to Glassdoor’s interview reviews section and look up the company you’ll be interviewing with to see if any other previous candidates have described what the interview process involves.

You can also “research types of simulation exercises by talking to employees in similar roles or work environments [or] reviewing industry journals,” points out Diana Brush, Associate Director or Employer Relations at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. And of course, you can ask the recruiter to provide some insight — odds are, they will be happy to share some basic information.

Once you know a bit more about what to expect, it’s time to brush up on your abilities.

“Review your knowledge, skills and abilities for the position being assessed to identify your strengths and weaknesses,” then “practice and then demonstrate the task/issue that will be assessed,” Brush says. “Record yourself performing the task and ask co-workers to observe and provide constructive feedback.”

No matter your specific field — software engineering, consulting, sales, finance, etc. — a quick online search should reveal plenty of practice assessments.

And finally, try to relax.

“Candidates should always come off as calm and collected,” Rizzo says. “[Simulations] aren’t always about judging skill — most of the time they’re looking to measure intangibles such as critical thinking ability and emotional intelligence.”

Job Simulations: Beneficial for Employers & Candidates Alike
If you’ve never faced one before, a job simulation can be intimidating. But just remember: job simulations aren’t just for the employer’s benefit — they’re also for yours.

“Job simulations enable self-selection where, after being immersed in the actual job environment, a candidate can determine whether the job is the right fit earlier on in the process,” Chancey says. “Candidates who stick to the process and are hired are more likely to stay with the company longer, report higher levels of job satisfaction and demonstrate greater productivity.”

3/3/19 - 4 ways helping a friend with their resume can benefit your resume

It can open your eyes to different keywords you could be using, formatting styles, or make you realize you have a lot of extra content. 

If your pal or co-worker is looking for some help revising or updating their resume, the benefits could be more than just helping them polish their resume. By getting your creative juices flowing, your proofreading skills sharpened and getting your head back in a job-circuit mentality, you may become inspired to re-craft or update your own resume.

Here, experts share why it’s not only nice to help a friend but why it may help boost your own resume success.

You remember your own accolades
When helping a friend build and improve their resume, you may be inspired to improve your own resume.

“It always inspires me to improve my own resume because it makes me think of experiences I had not highlighted in the past, and it helps me remember programming or events I had not considered putting in my resume but are absolutely beneficial,” says Jen Fry, a resume expert.

You can reframe your own experiences
If you’ve worked in a particular sector for a long time, your resume may have tunnel vision.

“By reviewing a friend’s resume, particularly a friend who works in a different field, you can see how other people prioritize and talk about their skills,” says career coach Meg Duffy.

Your resume can get a structure re-boot
Helping friends in their job search is always a great way to develop your job-seeking skills since you can get their perspective and see how they go about it, while also engaging in discussions when you provide them with advice, says Valerie Streif, with Pramp, a mock interview platform for job seeking developers, software engineers, data scientists, and product managers . When you see how someone else formats and structures their resume, you can get an idea of how to improve your own.

“It can open your eyes to different keywords you could be using, formatting styles, or make you realize you have a lot of extra content on your resume that doesn’t need to be there,” says Streif.

Your benefits can go beyond a resume
Through brainstorming resumes with a friend, it can spawn peer-to-peer interview practice which is also an excellent way to boost skills, says Streif.

“Because working with another person is going to give you a chance to see their strengths and weaknesses, and their feedback on your performance gives you an idea what you need to work on before your real interview interaction,” Streif continues. “Sometimes, we don’t realize the little body language signals we give off to the interviewer, so having a chance to ‘check this’ is valuable.”


2/24/19 - Here’s How You Navigate Those “Informal Conversation” Interviews

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
by Zulie Rane 

Everyone has participated in an “informal conversation” when looking for jobs. It’s kind of an awkward halfway house, where the potential employer wants to get to know you as a person, but doesn’t want to commit to giving you an interview just yet.

It’s hard to know how to approach these — do you wear relaxed clothes? Should you go full suit? Do you bring a reference?

There’s no reason not to treat it like a full-blown interview in certain ways. Chances are, your future employer will make up their mind during this “chat” on whether or not they can see you working together.

Here are three ways to make the most out of your next informal chat.

1. Be prepared for anything.
This is more than just a scouts motto — it’s applicable to every facet of life. At this casual meet-up, you should be prepared for everything from just getting a coffee, to a full-blown interview scenario.

While you may not want to wear black tie, you should look presentable. Make sure your clothing is stain-free, and at least neat if not smart.

Make sure you have interview materials ready, should they ask for them. At a real interview, I start by getting my resume, cover letter, and references out. During informal chats, I tend to keep them in my bag to bring them out if asked for.

There’s nothing worse than showing up to these informal conversations, being asked for my resume, but not having it. Surprise them by being prepared for any situation.

2. Take advantage of the situation.
This is your chance to ask more relaxed questions than you might feel comfortable asking at an official interview. Ask what the employees do for fun, ask about your interviewer’s hobbies.

It’s also a good opportunity for them to start seeing you as a real person rather than just a job applicant.

You can also bring a notepad to take notes with. This might be a bit off-putting at a job interview where you should be fully focused on the questions you’re being asked.

However, at a casual conversation, you’re both still at the information-gathering stage and it’s totally acceptable to write down important tidbits — which will be useful should you make it to the next stage of interviews!

3. Remember it’s a two-way street.
While you may see the informal chat as a way for them to suss out your employability, it’s also a way to tell if this job is a place where you want to work.

For example, at a recent informal chat I asked what my interviewer was doing that weekend. She told me that she and her team needed to finish a project and would be at the office.

An informal conversation is the ideal place to find out if they’re the right match for you, and it’s often an overlooked opportunity. Here, you can be frank about your expectations for company culture, working habits, and employee events without worrying you’re in the wrong setting for it.

You get a much better feel for the personality of the person interviewing you than you would at a more formal job interview, and it can be really telling if they’re someone you get along with or not.

Now you know the three tenets of the informal chat! Next time a prospective employer asks you for a casual conversation, you’ll be prepared.

The informal interview has both benefits — like the fact that it shows your potential future employer wants to take the time to get to know you — as well as pitfalls — being difficult to navigate.

As long as you show up ready to get to know them and show them your best side, you can handle it.

2/17/19 - 4 simple ways to get recruiters to come to you

Courtney Connley 

Almost everyone has had this experience: You hear that your friend got a great new job, and they didn't even have to apply — they were contacted by a headhunter.

"It's completely human to get a twinge of envy when you hear a friend is being recruited," says bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch. It's easy to hear that it's happening for others and wonder, "Why aren't headhunters calling me?"

Welch tells CNBC Make It that if you find yourself pondering this dilemma, there are four simple steps you should take to increase your chances of catching a recruiter's eye:

1. Update your LinkedIn profile
Welch says it's absolutely imperative that you have a stellar LinkedIn profile.

"In fact, it needs to be so complete and descriptive that it achieves 'all-star' status on the site," she says. "Don't worry if you don't know what that means, LinkedIn will guide you there with tips."

In addition to building your "all-star" profile, Welch says you need to make it known to recruiters that you're interested in being looked at. You can do this by going to the jobs menu on the platform and clicking the box that indicates you're "open to offers."

"Have no fear about your current employer," she emphasizes. "This selection is private."

2. Boost your industry profile
Headhunters often go after professionals whose work is seen and known in their industry. That's why, Welch says, it's important that you raise your profile, not just by attending conferences or networking, but also by pitching yourself to speak on panels. That way, you're able to bring greater awareness to the expertise you have to offer.

Additionally, she says, you should also "write for or get quoted in industry publications — or better yet, do both."

3. Maintain a mature online presence
Outside of LinkedIn, Welch says you want to be sure that your other social media accounts "demonstrate a vibrant, mature presence." You want to show "that you care about trends and events in your industry, and you have intelligent, constructive views about them."

Doing this, she says, will show that "you're part of the conversation."

"I'm not saying you have to eliminate the cute dog pics, but your social feeds should be curated as if a headhunter is looking at them, and when she does, she's thinking, 'Here's a smart grown-up.'"

4. Contact a headhunter directly
If you're really interested in making a connection with a headhunter, Welch says "there's no reason not to contact them by email, with a concise, persuasive letter about your skills and career interests — and of course a link to your profile on LinkedIn or elsewhere."

She warns, though, that recruiters usually don't like to be contacted by phone. In order to avoid seeming desperate, she says you should "keep all communication digital until they call you."

"Being headhunted is not just for top execs or superstars anymore," Welch says. "Plenty of companies are looking for talent. Use these four strategies to make sure you're on their radar."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at

2/10/19 - 8 essential resources for researching your next employer

Knowing where to find inside information about a potential employer can mean the difference between getting a job from a great company and heading down the wrong path.

By Sarah K. White 

It’s tempting to jump on the first job offer you get, but the last thing you want to do is find yourself working for a company that doesn’t align with your goals or values. But it’s difficult to get a full picture of a company’s culture and working environment in a few short interviews and one tour of the office building.

“Before starting your research, take some time to think about what you want and need — both from and beyond the job — to be successful and truly engaged at work. Think about the core values and principles you hope guide that company, the type of work you’d like to do there, and the kinds of people who create and preserve the culture itself,” says Kathleen Pai, vice president of HR at Ultimate Software.

Whether you are at the beginning of your job search or preparing for an interview, being armed with as much knowledge as possible about a potential employer is in your best interest. Not only will it help you formulate more insightful questions, it will boost your confidence as well.

Glassdoor offers reviews of companies based on user-submitted feedback, or as Glassdoor calls it: "employee-generated" content. Glassdoor also offers information about salaries (provided anonymously) and potential interview questions. You can find information on employee benefits and company culture, and you can read reviews from current and past employees.

“I suggest looking at Glassdoor reviews and researching the management team. What do they talk about and publish? Look for signs that tell you whether the organization values bottom-up ideas or if the culture is directive from the top," says Adriana Roche, vice president of people and places at Segment.

While every employee’s experience will be different, you should be able to get a strong sense for how the business operates. Companies will even advertise jobs on Glassdoor, so if you stumble on a company that looks like a good fit, you can instantly see what openings they have.

Like Glassdoor, Indeed has thousands of company reviews that are submitted from current and past employees. Unlike Glassdoor, Indeed is first and foremost a job aggregator, with listings from practically every job site out there. Reviews, however, are not aggregated from outside sources and are hosted solely on

“While pay and job security remain essential, factors such as trust, open communication, professional development, and company reputation play an increasingly important role in influencing employees’ long-term happiness and commitment to the workplace. Consider what you’re looking for in a company and use that to steer your research,” says Pai.

Indeed is a useful resource if you’re in the process of looking for jobs and want to know what you’re getting into before you apply. You might quickly recognize the job isn’t a good fit by looking at the reviews and salary data. Or, you might feel the company culture doesn’t align with what you’re looking for in your next job, saving both you and the recruiter some time.

LinkedIn is more than a networking site; it’s a resource for job seekers to research companies and potential co-workers and a place where recruiters find talent. LinkedIn doesn't provide user-based company reviews like Glassdoor or Indeed, but it’s a great way to see whether you have any current connections working at the company who might be able to give you insight into what it’s like to work there, or to establish a new connection — as long as you are upfront about your intentions.

“Don't have any connections? Go to Linkedin and search your second-degree connections. Don't be afraid to message that person, let them know about your mutual connection and active interest in the company, and then ask for 15 minutes of their time to ask a few questions. Be sure to have questions prepared as you never know how different employees may influence the outcome of the hiring process,” says Heather Doshay, senior vice president of people and places at Rainforest QA.

CareerBliss features over 3.5 million job postings, 4 million salaries and 700,000 company reviews, according to its website. It’s a one-stop shop to find open jobs, determine a fair salary and read employee reviews on the company. It’s been around since 2008, with a focus on helping users “find happiness in the workplace” and in their careers. It’s easy to forget in your job search that it’s not just about finding a job — it’s finding a place where you can thrive.

“Interviewing is a two-way street, and research is beneficial to the interviewer in two ways. Not only does this help the candidate impress the company with their knowledge, but also for the candidate to determine if the company is a good match for their career goals,” says Doshay.

CareerBliss also offers a unique feature that will allow you to compare jobs side by side, using a proprietary “Bliss Score.” A company’s Bliss Score is determined through several factors, including job satisfaction, pay scale and overall employee happiness. If you’re looking for the right cultural fit, it’s a great way to stack up the competition.

Social media
You’d be hard pressed to find any business, small or large, without some type of social media presence. And you can learn a lot about a business by looking at its social media pages to see what leaders in the organization post and share.

“Most companies these days have more than just websites; they keep a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Crunchbase, etc. These sites highlight recent press about the company, new product releases, and highlight the company culture, says Doshay.

Head to popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what content the organization posts and shares. If they have a YouTube channel, watch a few videos to get insight into the products, services or software the company offers. And while Crunchbase isn’t your typical social media platform, it’s a valuable resource in your company research. It was originally set up to offer information on startups, but it’s grown to include information on public and private companies around the world.

Fairygodboss is specifically targeted to women in the workplace, offering “job reviews for women, by women.” Women often have more to consider going into a new company — especially in the male-dominated tech industry. Fairygodboss focuses on offering women reviews that reflect salary practices, maternity and pregnancy benefits, work-life balance and career advice.

“Trusted, third-party review sites such as Fairygodboss and The Muse can provide valuable insights on a company’s culture, leadership, business trajectory, and more — offering candid reviews from current employees about what it’s like to work there, and even video walkthroughs on day-to-day responsibilities for various roles,” says Pai.

There are even discussion boards where women can connect to share experiences and ask for career advice. For women working in male-dominated fields, or in potentially toxic work environments, it’s a safe place to reach out and find a position with a company that better represents its female workers.

The Muse
The Muse is a valuable career resource where you can find information about a company and see open job listings at the organization. For example, HP’s profile on The Muse includes photos, mission statements, headquarter locations, videos about the corporate culture, key employees at the organization and open jobs. You can also find links to the organization’s social media pages and explore content from HP about working at the company.

“Websites like The Muse allow you to see how community members such as customers, partners, investors and current employees are describing the company you’re researching,” says Tim Falls, director of developer relations at DigitalOcean.

The Muse also offers advice for job seekers as well as the opportunity to connect with coaches or to take courses. You can have your resume reviewed, partake in a 30-minute career Q&A, learn more about job search strategy or get advice on how to improve your LinkedIn profile. It’s a one-stop shop for job seekers looking to do their homework before applying for a job.

If you’re researching a company and the only resources you can find are from the organization itself, with little insight from past or current employees, you might want to branch out to get another perspective. At Quora, you can ask questions on nearly any topic and people will reach out to share their knowledge, perspectives, opinions and ideas. It’s a great way to gain an outside perspective on working for a company or in a specific field or job title. If you aren’t comfortable posting a question yourself, you can search to see if anyone else has asked it before and read those responses instead.

“To gaze through a different lens, you can often find questions and answers around, ‘what is it like to work at [insert company here]?,’ on sites like Quora — and because the perspectives presented in such communities tend to be less filtered and more raw, it’s possible to gain an otherwise overlooked view into the employee experience,”Falls says.

2/3/19 - Can a two-page resume increase your odds of getting hired?

Compared with single-page resumes, two-page resumes increase the amount of time recruiters spend reviewing the applicant, and can ultimately improve the candidate’s likelihood of getting hired.


Until you’ve reached the mid-point of your career, or unless you’re in a unique industry like academia or medicine, your resume should always be one-page long, right?

 Maybe not.

Despite the long-held convention, a recent study has found that two-page resumes are actually preferred by recruiters, no matter the candidate’s experience level. The study, conducted by resume writing service ResumeGo, found that compared with single-page resumes, two-page resumes increase the amount of time recruiters spend reviewing the applicant, and can ultimately improve the candidate’s likelihood of getting hired.

ResumeGo asked 482 recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals to screen nearly 8,000 resumes in a hiring simulation, over 5,000 of which used at least part of a second page. The study concluded that recruiters were 2.3 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes, scoring their ability to “summarize the candidate’s work experiences and overall credentials” higher by an average of 21%. Furthermore, when it came time to make a final decision, participants spent an average of more than four minutes reviewing two-page resumes, compared with less than two and a half minutes on those that were confined to one.

“We were pretty surprised ourselves,” says Peter Yang, the CEO of ResumeGo. Yang says that after seeing candidates whittle their resumes down to a single page by increasing the margins, reducing the font size and even removing some potentially relevant information, he decided to test the conventional wisdom that forbids page two. “I think that belief wasn’t actually grounded in any scientific data or research, and I’m not sure how it came about,” he says.

Yang adds that if a resume doesn’t require two pages, job seekers shouldn’t take his study to suggest they need to add more information just for the sake of reaching the second page. “It would come across as unnatural,” he says. “It would seem clear to the reader that you’re just adding in fluff.”

The study ultimately found that employers were 2.9 times more likely to prefer a two-page resume when hiring for managerial positions, 2.6 times as likely to prefer them for mid-level positions, and 1.4 times as likely to prefer a two-page resume for entry-level job openings.

Similar research conducted by AI-driven resume optimization and job search platform TalentWorks found that interview rates slowly increase along with word count, until sharply dropping around the 600 mark.

“For almost everyone, your hireability drops off a cliff if your resume is too long,” saysTalentWorks CEO Kushal Chakrabarti. Despite the sharp decline in interview rates for those that go overboard, reaching the 600-word target would still necessitate a second page; especially a resume page that’s been formatted to not appear cluttered.

Some industries, however, expect their applicants to go well beyond the 600-word threshold. “Longer is better if you’re an academic, industrial scientist, college professor, school teacher, or social service worker,” says Chakrabarti, adding that some industries also punish longer resumes more harshly than others. “For example, in business, long resumes were a whopping 72% less hireable than those in the sweet spot [of 600 words].”

It’s hard to say exactly when two-page resumes became socially acceptable or even preferable, but experts point to a number of trends that have slowly made them the norm. For example, despite the stereotype, many younger and entry-level employees actually have more of a story to tell on their resumes than their parents and grandparents did when they entered the workforce: enough to necessitate a second page.

“With more recent graduates, compared to 10 years ago, there’s more of a focus on internships while they’re in school, they’re doing study abroad programs, working part time, volunteering, or working on a political campaign,” said Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “Perhaps recruiters want to know more about these experiences that they’re having because there’s more opportunities [outside of academia] now.”

On the other side of the hiring equation, the way in which resumes are evaluated today is dramatically different than in previous generations, explains Salemi. Applicant tracking systems have automated much of the initial vetting phase, and there’s an inherent advantage in giving keyword-searching robots a little extra text to scour.

The incorporation of this technology also means that recruiters rarely handle printed resumes before the interview stage. While printing and reviewing a second, physical page may have once been considered a nuisance, scrolling down a digital page hardly requires any additional effort.”With everything being online it’s just a matter of scrolling down and looking for those keywords,” says Salemi.

Though the ResumeGo study suggests that job seekers at all levels can now feel comfortable using a second resume page it’s important to keep the most relevant information front and center.

According to that study recruiters will spend an average of 2 minutes, 24 seconds reviewing one-page resumes and 4 minutes, 5 seconds reviewing two-page resumes, but only when they’ve narrowed their decision down to their final contenders. An oft-quoted 2012 study conducted by Ladders, Inc. found that hiring managers only spend an average of 6 seconds deciding whether to give a resume further consideration, and a follow-up study recently updated that time to 7.4 seconds.

“Six seconds, or 7.4 seconds, is just that initial glance, where I’m looking for where they went to school, what degree they have, what they’ve been doing most recently, how long they’ve been there, are they employed right now; there’s about six pieces of information we’re checking out,” explained Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert at professional resume writing service TopResume. In 2012 Augustine served as a career management expert and spokesperson for Ladders, where she contributed to that foundational research. “As soon as they get it down to a manageable number [of resumes] where they feel comfortable that the remaining resumes are all worth a closer look, that’s when you spend a bit more time with each.”

According to Augustine resumes are now subject to a keyword review by an applicant tracking system, a 7.4 second initial glance by a hiring manager as well as a more in depth review. As a result, user-friendly formatting is still important, second-pages are permissible, and the top-third of the first page is still the most important section of the document.

“The top of the first page of your resume has to be a snapshot of everything you really need a recruiter or hiring manager to see and know about you,” she says. “You have to get them interested enough to continue reading to page two.” For example, Augustine says after a few years in the workforce education should be pushed to the bottom of the resume, with any recent certifications or degrees listed in a “career highlights” or “professional summary” section at the very top. Key requirements listed in the job posting should also be addressed as early as possible, with the rest of the resume providing a more detailed narrative, adds Augustine.

“The resume is no longer merely a timeline of your professional and educational experience; recruiters want to be able to read your resume like a story,” she says. “Like a good book you’ve got to hook them in at the beginning if you expect them to get to the end.”


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.

1/27/19 - How to handle job search rejection with grace

it is possible to deal with that letdown in a way that presents you in the best way possible — and set yourself up for opportunities.

We’re all familiar with that period of torture after you submit a job application and are forced to wait (sigh, for what feels like ages) for any sort of response.

In the end, the waiting is all worth it if you land the job of your dreams. But, if things don’t go according to plan and you’re eventually met with rejection? There’s no doubt about it—that stings.

Here’s the thing: dealing with rejection is never going to be fun. You’re never going to hope that you get turned down for something. However, it is possible to deal with that letdown in a way that presents you in the best way possible—and hopefully sets you up for even better opportunities in the future.

Here’s how to handle job search rejection with grace:
1. Don’t respond immediately.
If you’re being rejected face-to-face (ouch), then you obviously have no choice but to respond immediately. In those circumstances—regardless of what your insides are screaming—simply thank them for the opportunity and get out of there.

But, if you’ve received a job rejection via email, the smartest thing you can do is take some time before replying. This gives you the time you need to cool off, get your emotions in check, and avoid firing off a heated reply that looks something like, “Thanks for wasting my time!”

You can go ahead and type out a reply right now if you feel like you need to get your thoughts on paper—just don’t send it. Come back to it later when you have a clearer head so you can ensure you don’t send a note that you’ll regret.

2. Start with a “thank you.”
Huh? They just gave you a sucker punch to the ego? Why on earth would you thank them for that? I get that this seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. It’s not only a professional and polite way to start your response, it’s also well-deserved.

Despite the fact that you didn’t end up with the position, that employer still sunk time and resources into your candidacy—whether it was just in reviewing your resume or in putting you through multiple interviews.

So, start your response off with something like, “Thank you so much for letting me know, and for the opportunity.” Trust me, it goes a long way when it comes to bolstering your reputation.

3. Ask for feedback.
Rejection hurts, but it can also be an incredibly enlightening learning experience if you’re open to it.

After you thank the employer for their time and consideration, ask if they have any feedback about how you could improve moving forward. Let them know that you’re still actively continuing your job search and would value any insights they have about how you could be an even more impressive candidate.

Be aware that not everybody will be willing to fulfill this request—some companies actually have policies against it. If you get some helpful feedback in return, that’s great. But, if not, even asking shows that you’re someone who’s not only willing to accept disappointments, but learn and grow from them.

4. Resist the urge to trash talk that employer.
When we think about responding to rejection, we often only think about what happens in the heat of the moment and what we say directly to that employer. However, it’s not just what you say when you’re in earshot that matters.

I get that you might want to vent about your disappointment, but resist the temptation to talk poorly about that employer or about how they “strung you along.” You never know who in your network is connected or how the things you say might make it back to the wrong person. If and when someone prompts you to find out if you landed that specific job, keep things vague by saying something like, “I didn’t land that role, but it was a great experience as I continue looking for new opportunities.”

Here’s the hard truth: rejection is always going to sting. But, how you react to it will make all of the difference—especially as you continue your job search. Use these four tips to respond to rejection as positively as possible, and you’ll move on from that letdown with your reputation (and your professional bridges) intact.

This article was originally published on FlexJobs.

NOTE: from Jeff Morris - Founder of CareerDFW - If you were the finalist (the last 2 or 3 people) - Put a reminder in your calendar to contact them again in 60 days. Maybe they hired someone who does not "FIT" or maybe they can not do the job. If you made it to the finals before, they like you, they just happen to select the other person. Let them know you are still in a job search and you really enjoyed meeting the people you interviewed with. Are there any new opportunites that may have come up in the past couple of months with the company? 

1/20/19 - 10 Ways to Calm Your Interview Anxiety

Treat your anxiety as an ally not an enemy.
by Katharine Brooks Ed.D 

I've never met anyone who doesn't get nervous before an important job interview. With so much riding on your performance it’s not surprising that you would experience some anxiety about everything in the process-- from not wearing the right outfit, or not answering questions “perfectly," to looking foolish, or perhaps the worst fear, not getting the job offer.

Feeling stressed or anxious about an important interview is just a sign that you want to do well. Your anxiety can actually motivate you to be better prepared, provide you with energy and keep you alert during the process. But, anxiety can also keep you from doing your best by distracting you or weakening your memory, so here are 10 quick tips for calming your anxiety and maybe even taking advantage of it:

1. Be careful what you eat or drink prior to an interview. It probably goes without saying, but avoid caffeine before the interview. It's also never a good idea to have an alcoholic drink before an interview, even if you think it will “relax” you. Eat something light before your interview so your stomach isn't growling or you get light-headed. A heavy meal can make you tired, so eat moderately. (And make sure you check a mirror for any leftover spinach!)

2. Don’t “force” yourself to calm down. Forcing yourself to calm down will just increase your stress.

3. Control what you can by preparing for the interview. You can’t always control what you will be asked or what will happen in the interview, but you can control how you prepare for it. Use your anxiety to motivate yourself to prepare. Research the organization, practice responses to interview questions, practice your handshake, practice telling powerful stories about your skills, etc. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are about your potential employer, the better you are likely to perform in the interview. If possible, do a mock interview beforehand. If you’re in college, many career centers offer mock interviews. Otherwise, give some typical interview questions to a friend and have them “interview” you. Also, if you’re traveling to the interview, make sure you know where you’re going and allow plenty of time to get there. Don’t rush in at the last minute—allow for possible traffic delays or late flights. Here's what the Senior VP for People Operations at Google has to say about preparing for an interview.

4. Write down your spinning thoughts. Make a list of everything that’s popping into your head. Writing can be one of the most therapeutic and helpful tasks you can do to reduce your anxiety generally, beyond just at job interviews. Dr. James Pennebaker’s research at The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated the healing value of writing.

5. Question your thoughts. Ask yourself: “Is this true?” Remember, just because you feel it doesn’t make it true. Can you dispute your emotional thoughts with logic? Try changing your thinking to change your mind. The Australian Centre for Clinical Interventions provides a great worksheet on “Unhelpful Thinking Styles.” See if any of these unhelpful thoughts might be raising your anxiety.

6. Breathe. When you’re anxious, your breathing is shallow. Try breathing in for a count of 4, hold for 2, and breathe out for a count of 4. Do this for a minute or two. You can usually practice breathing anywhere (like the waiting area before your interview); no one will likely notice it. Try taking a few minutes to sit and breathe calmly in your car after you park at the interview site. If you find that breathing techniques help you, Dr. Andrew Weil offers several breathing exercises to try.

7. Try Sighing. Sometimes it can be hard to breathe deeply when you’re stressed, so try sighing instead. Take a breath and let it out like a sigh. You’ll probably feel your shoulders relax (tension around the neck and shoulders is a common response to anxiety).

8. Assume the super-hero posture: it’s a power-pose and the opposite of anxiety. Stand tall and place your hands on your hips with your elbows jutting out, like you’re standing on top of world and observing everything in your domain. Take some deep breaths. Remember, you’re in charge of the world. (Just be careful where you do this...) Watch this TED talk by Ann Cuddy to learn about how your posture affects your mood.

9. Practice self-compassion. Focus on these words: Wisdom. Strength. Warmth. Nonjudgment. Repeat them to yourself while you breathe. Try not to critique yourself as you go through the process. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to a good friend. One of my favorite resources for reducing anxiety and increasing self-compassion is Dr. Christopher Germer's book, The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion.

10. Get outside of yourself. Anxiety causes us to become very self-centered and self-focused. Make a point of focusing on others and being empathic. Greet the receptionist at the interview site. Ask your interviewer how their day is going. Pay attention when someone tells you their name, and make an effort to remember it. Smile. Engage with others.

You will likely always experience a certain amount of anxiety at an interview, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But if it is debilitating or keeps you from moving forward in the job search, seek professional help. There are many treatments for anxiety and it doesn’t need to be an excuse for not doing well at an interview—in fact, as you now realize, there are ways to take advantage of it and use it to improve your interview performance.

1/13/19 - How to figure out what you’re worth

Businesses have to figure this out regularly. We should be doing it too.

There’s no shortage of advice on how to tackle the tricky business of salary and fee negotiations. What to say, and more importantly, what not to say during these conversations can make or break your chances to get the number you want. But how exactly do you calculate your worth?

The good news for jobseekers is that private employers in states and cities across the U.S. are banned from asking candidates about their salary history in order to set their pay for a new job. Candidates are free to come up with a fair number on their own that doesn’t tie them to their previous wages. But this doesn’t apply to freelancers and business owners.

The first step is to recognize that this exercise is no different than what businesses have to do in order to remain viable. “All companies take their time when calculating their value in the market,” says Soulaima Gourani, a lecturer, corporate consultant, and author. “They know how much they are worth,” she says and that information helps them survive under unsettled conditions of the slow economic recovery, as well as if they have to apply for a loan or sell the company.” Similarly, Gourani thinks that we should simply ask ourselves what our worth is in terms of yearly salary, hourly wage, or client fees.

One way to accomplish this is to look over your own work history. John Crossman, CEO of the real estate firm Crossman & Company, says it is easy to overestimate yourself if you’ve had a number of years under your belt. “I simply reviewed what I had consistently made working as a broker for several years and averaged it,” he explains, “I felt like it gave me a healthy baseline.”

Another good place for jobseekers to start is to do market research. Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, says, “I researched the salary for my most recent role by looking on and PayScale to see if they had any salary data for roles similar to my title.” Augustine says that she uses these sites to customize a pay range based on her years of experience, education level, and employer size.

Before she recently got promoted, Jill Gugino Pante, director of the Career Services Center at the University of Delaware, used LinkedIn’s growing salary survey, as well as NACE, which is an industry-specific publication. “Using general sites can help,” Pante asserts, “but also identifying any industry-specific sites that report salary data can be key.” Recent grads with little to no full-time career experience may want to tap the Career Services Center at their alma mater. “Most universities and colleges report salary data on major and degree,” Pante says.

However, in Augustine’s case, she was interviewing for an unconventional position and struggled to uncover enough intel online to aid her negotiation. So she turned to her network. “I am fortunate to have cultivated many great relationships with others who work in a similar capacity for other companies and in similar industries,” Augustine says. “These conversations were crucial in helping me develop a salary range for my new role so that I could confidently prepare with insider’s knowledge before walking into the interview room.”

Pante says she employed a similar strategy by asking previous managers and coworkers to share their salary history. “I took into account when they started and how often they moved positions and organizations,” she adds.

Then Pante looked at her job description and identified how much time she would spend on tasks inside and outside her regular responsibilities. “This helped me figure out the impact I was making on the organization above and beyond what I was hired to do,” she says. Finally, Pante looked at her organization’s HR website for the salary ranges of the position she wanted to be in.

While it’s all pretty straightforward for jobseekers, it can be more challenging for freelancers because of all the factors they have to weigh in order to come up with a fee for their work. This means that many of them undercharge, according to the Freelancers Union.

Some do it because they believe their fees should match what they made per hour at their 9-to-5 job, and/or they don’t have the confidence to price what they’re worth. Others underestimate how long a project will take. For most, the conversation around value is just too awkward, so they’ll take what they can get without negotiating.

Alison Grasso, a freelance film and video editor, says that commercial editing rates are by the day and you’d be booked for a determined period of time. “I typically do a project rate and just make sure any important or necessary deadlines are clearly indicated and that I am able to meet them,” she says.

However, as her freelance work is a side hustle to her full-time staff position in commercial editorial, she’s able to tap into industry intel, which gives her an idea of what things cost on a large scale, and what brands often pay for the work that she does in the context of a commercial production. “In that way,” she explains, “I have a somewhat concrete notion of what my time is worth based on what people regularly pay for it.” If she’s working with a smaller client, Grasso realizes that their budget may not be as large and she adjusts accordingly.

As for getting over the hump of awkwardness during fee negotiation, Grasso says that she presents links to relevant work to potential clients so they can see exactly what she can do, and also what she intends to do for them.

Pricing services is a next-level discussion, according to Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer and founder of Talent Think Innovations. And one that requires some serious prep. “In the beginning, my learning curve was really trial by fire,” she recalls. People were asking for her services before she had a chance to research and set pricing models for them. This led to many instances of misalignment between her offerings and what she was charging.

This is when Truitt tapped her network. “I started to share my frustrations with my entrepreneurial coworkers and some mentors who had been in business longer than I had.” These inner-circle conversations yielded advice about what she needed to consider to set prices.

Truitt also looked up her competitors’ baseline pricing and looked at blogs or forums that gave her the considerations she needed to adjust her strategy. “Other times, I was completely blind and had to devise my own criteria based on what I knew so far,” she admits.

Although she doesn’t make it a habit, Truitt has learned that there is a trick to justifying fees. “There are industries and certain types of companies that will gravitate towards you when you have demonstrated that you possess a strong body of knowledge, skills, and experience alongside the proposed services,” she explains. Clients in the education, healthcare, and any government sectors value seeing her resume alongside a scope of work as a way of justifying her fee. “That said, it is very rare that I get this request from potential clients,” Truitt points out.

For anyone trying to calculate their worth in dollars, Gourani suggests above all to align the core of who we are with the life skills we’ve acquired. “If we stay true to our values and remain immune to other people’s opinions of us, we can price ourselves more efficiently,” she says. “Before you can negotiate your worth, you need to focus on the best you have to offer and let that shine through.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

1/6/19 - 5 Ways to Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

If you have a LinkedIn account, you have a brand statement. But does it make you easily discoverable and motivate others to connect?

 by Mel Carson
Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications 

If you’re reading this, you likely already have a personal branding statement: If you have a LinkedIn account, for instance, you have a branding statement. But, is yours the kind of summary that makes you easily discoverable and motivates others to reach out and connect?

Maybe yes, but maybe no.

A strong personal branding statement is connected to your professional purpose, or the reason you do what you do. While your professional purpose serves as an internal compass, pointing your passion in the right direction, a personal branding statement is above all your calling card.

It’s the first impression of you that you offer on paper and the thing on which many will base their “Do I engage or not?” decision.

So, yes, your branding statement is a big deal. It’s a living statement about you, your passions and your capabilities and should therefore be written with thought and care. But, honestly, for all that’s riding on crafting a strong branding statement, it’s not that hard to do.

Here are five quick ways to make sure yours stands out in a crowd.

Move beyond your professional purpose.
Do you have a professional purpose? A statement that describes the why behind your work? If you don’t, that’s step one. A personal branding statement combines your purpose with some relevant data about your professional world to accurately describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. To gather that data, take a few minutes to free-write about the following:
> Your education experience
> Your work experience
> What you love about what you do
> What you find hard about what you do
> Where you want to be in three years

Here's the formula: purpose + data = personal branding statement.

Pull out the mission.
This is your opportunity to be bold and clear about what direction you want your career to go in. Look at all the information you’ve written down and use it to flesh out a mission -- this should be a powerful sentence or phrase that tells people who you are.

Your mission sentence can be helpful for two reasons: It serves as a personal reminder to you and carries with it an element of accountability, but also helps prospective employers or clients quickly assess if you’d be a good match or not.

Identify your value.
Within your personal branding statement, identify your professional value.

A subjective term, this "value" could be described in the following ways: your experience, industry expertise, noteworthy clients, education level and personal passion.

At this juncture, I would encourage you to take a moment and empathize with prospective clients, customers and employers. What would be a strong value indicator in your field of work? What are they looking for? Don’t be fictitious, of course (an immediate career killer); but do be choosy. Include points of value geared toward both your professional career goals and your industry niche.

Be real.
Sounds simple, right? Be real, be you, but it's it one of the hardest things to do. Writing about ourselves is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to find the right balance between not saying enough and saying too much. Here are a couple of pieces of advice I would offer toward the goal of being real:

Avoid the fluff and stay away from fancy claims you can’t back up. They will bite back.
Stay away from buzzwords. (Here’s a list of words to avoid in your LinkedIn profile.) They will do the opposite of what you intended.
Be self-aware and write a statement that accurately reflects your experience, passions and capabilities. Simplicity is OK. Short statements are, too.
Here’s an example of my own personal branding statement broken down: “Focusing on helping businesses and individuals achieve success through enduring social media, digital PR and personal branding strategies …”

Next, I put the customer (my target audience) first and mention my fields of expertise: “My 18 years of online advertising industry experience and seven years at Microsoft as digital marketing evangelist, enable me to provide counsel to my clients that is truly relevant, robust and real-time.”

Notice that I make sure to draw attention to my seven years at Microsoft (a value indicator) and state my mission: “Always striving to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of digital media and technology, I aim to improve my clients’ competitive position through partnership, tenacity and accountability.”

I continue on about my mission, but also describe my aim for achieving clarity, using my own words without sounding over-stated.

Revisit the statement on a quarterly basis.
Your personal branding statement should grow with you. As you rise in your career and work with new, interesting clients, take on new projects or learn a valuable skill, your personal branding statement should reflect those changes. I would encourage you to revisit it every three months or so to double-check that your purpose, mission and values still ring true in the present day.

Happy Holidays 2018 - 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 2019 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!

12/16/18 - Networking is not a dirty word

Networking is an art and a science. Networking is smart for success. Networking is a ‘must do’ not a ‘nice to do’.
By Janine Garner 

Networking has always been considered a dirty word. It conjures up images of people standing around awkwardly, thrusting a business card at each other, giving a sales pitch and then almost scurrying off in their eagerness to make the next connection – to not miss an opportunity to spread the word according to Mike or Mary Smith.

Does networking have to be such hard – well, work? And is it just me who views ‘traditional’ professional interactions this way?

Networking, connecting, meeting, doing coffee, lunch dates and even speed connecting – all terms synonymous with meeting others to drive skill sets, contacts and ongoing business and personal growth.

But there is much more to networking than collecting likes, friends, connections or old-school business cards. Networking as we know it has to evolve. It is no longer a business card-swapping fest or, as I once heard it described, one hand to give your business card, the other to shake.

To really succeed, and break out beyond the online realm, you must become the master of your network both at work and in life generally. The right network is about having the right people and the right relationships in your professional and personal life.

Everyone needs a network, whether you are a recent graduate hunting for your first job, a manager who has just scored a promotion, a parent planning on running your first marathon, a philanthropist, leader, consultant, entrepreneur, speaker, freelancer or writer – it doesn’t matter what you do, what level you operate on, what industry you are in, and whether you work for an organisation or are self-employed.

Without networks, opportunities are missed, new possibilities aren’t spotted, your thinking stagnates, and the dreams and career aspirations you once had become unreachable. You change jobs, move location – and suddenly, you have to start out all over again. You find it hard to push through tough times, to get that job or promotion, to sell that idea, to get noticed.

There is an art and a science to building networks that work.

It is an art in that it requires basic human skills in communication, connection, authenticity and the ability to be ‘in the present’ and engaged with people and conversations.

It is a science in that building your network strategically requires continuing analysis and audit, and a sustained curiosity about whether you are leveraging your network in the best way you can.

Networking is ultimately about seeing the lines that connect people and ideas to create opportunity.

In ‘Building an Innovation Factory’ in the Harvard Business Review, Andrew Hargadon and Robert I. Sutton discuss how to broker and capture good ideas for true and long-lasting effect.

One of the companies they studied is IDEO, an international design and consulting firm founded in Palo Alto, California.

The most respected people at IDEO are part pack rat (they have great private collections of stuff), part librarian (they know who knows what) and part good Samaritan (they go out of their way to share what they know and help others).

Approach your network in a similar way.

You need a personal board of advisers who add to your thinking and bring out the best in you; an intelligence bank of the right people with the right strengths and skills that will sustain you across the long-term; and a marketing machine that champions you and your cause, that will drive your net worth and influence, creating opportunities for you to tap into.

A strong, connected and mutually beneficial network and the intentional support of another helps to boost confidence, achieve clear goals, create business leads and support decision-making.

Get in control of your network and focus on quality over quantity. Surround yourself with the right people, people who will guide and mentor you and cheer you on, and ensure your success. Choose your network wisely.

Networking is not a dirty word. Networking is smart.

As former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “I’m not the smartest fellow in the world. But I can sure pick smart colleagues.”


By Janine Garner - Founder and CEO of LBDGroup (the Little Black Dress Group), Janine Garner works with business leaders to foster community and build high-performing teams.

12/9/18 - 12 Interview Questions You Should Ask To Uncover Company Culture

by Emily Moore 

If you want to know what it’s like to work for a company, you can’t exactly waltz up to a recruiter and ask “What’s your company culture like?” Besides the fact that company culture covers a whole lot of ground and summing it up in one answer isn’t totally possible, it’s more likely than not to yield a polished, marketing-approved answer than a candid discussion.

“If you are asking… about the culture, [recruiters] will know that and attempt to tell you what you want to hear,” says Henry Goldbeck, President of Goldbeck Recruiting. “So, if you are going to ask about company culture, it’s better to ask specific questions.”

There are a number of questions you can ask during an interview that, while seeming fairly straightforward on the surface, can help uncover deeper intel about the inner workings of a company. We asked a handful of career, recruiting, and HR experts to share a few of their favorites — keep these in mind the next time you’re in an interview and want to know the scoop.

1. How long have you been with the company?
“This is a question to ask each of your interviewers. If everyone you meet has only been there a short time you need to probe further,” says Career Counselor and Executive Coach Roy Cohen. “Unless the company is a startup, expanding rapidly, or the department is newly established, this is a serious red flag. High turnover could be a sign of low pay, long hours, lack of opportunity for career advancement, or incompetent management.”

2. What was the last big achievement that was celebrated?
This question “gives [interviewers] the chance to reveal if employee efforts are acknowledged and appreciated and if people enjoy having company parties/gatherings,” says Valerie Streif, Senior Advisor at career services company Mentat. “If they don’t do anything to celebrate, it may be a thankless and cold environment.”

3. What’s the dress code like here?
“Companies that have no dress code or a very loose one are often less traditional than companies with full business-dress requirements. Certainly, there are exceptions, but I rarely find a company where everyone wears a full suit and tie or skirt suit every day that also has dogs in the office and nap rooms and free beer,” says Jill Santopietro Panall, HR consultant and owner of 21Oak HR Consulting, LLC. “Be careful, here, though, because an informal dress code doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s less pressure or stress. Many tech companies have no dress code but are also total pressure cookers. Appearance standards are only a small clue to the environment, not the whole picture.”

4. What activities do you offer for employees?
“If companies have softball leagues, trivia teams, company outings, retreats or other planned social events, it can often give you a clue to how important they think it is for co-workers to LIKE one another, not just work together,” Santopietro Panall says. This can be especially important if you “have recently moved, are entering the workforce after college or anyone else that needs a social aspect in the workplace,” adds Nikki Larchar, Co-Founder/Human Resource Business Partner at simplyHR LLC.

“On the flip side, that kind of togetherness may not be for everyone,” Santopietro Panall acknowledges. “If the thought of socializing with your co-workers leaves you cold, you may want to look for a company with a more 9-5 environment.”

5. What was the department’s biggest challenge last year and what did you learn from it?
It may come across as an obvious question, but it actually does a great job at revealing “whether or not the company blames processes or people when something goes wrong. The former indicates that they are a continuous learning organization and the latter may be a sign of a blame culture,” says Mary Grace Gardner, career strategist at The Young Professionista. “Listen to who or what gets blamed for the failure and if they have taken steps to learn from it.”

Keep an ear out for how their answer hints at the degree of politics present in the office, too. “Company politics play a huge role in overall job satisfaction, and it’s important to know ahead of time how decisions are made and conflicts are resolved,” shares Natasha Bowman, Chief Consultant at Performance ReNEW and author of the upcoming book You Can’t Do That At Work! 100 Common Mistakes That Managers Make.

6. How much time do the owners/leaders/founders spend in the office?
“This question tells you whether or not you have leaders in place who are in touch with the work and making knowledgeable decisions. The best and brightest ideas oftentimes come directly from the people actually doing the work, so if a leader rarely spends time with staff, it points to a lack of innovation and support in their culture,” says Gardner.

This question may not be quite as important to ask of a large business, but “in a small business, that interaction with the top level may be key to you getting ahead, being able to get things done and having that person’s vision be carried out by their team,” Santopietro Panall says. It “might also give you a key to the level of the workaholism that you can expect there. If the recruiter says ‘oh, our CEO Sally is here 90 hours a week, she never takes a day off!’ you’re going to know that the culture is going to be very focused on putting in a lot of hours with a lot of face time.”

7. What do people on the team that I’d be joining do for lunch every day?
“Finding out what people tend to do on their lunch hour will tell you whether they are slammed with work, don’t want to spend time with their colleagues, or tend to be social and enjoy each other’s company,” Bowman says. “This information can also tell you whether or not your potential colleagues might be more extroverted or introverted. Depending on your own preferences, this response can give you some valuable insight into the team that you’re joining.”

8. How do you measure success and over what time frame? How are these metrics determined?
If you want to avoid a boss with outrageous expectations, this is the question to ask. “Before you accept an offer you need to know that your new boss has realistic expectations with respect to what you will accomplish and by when,” Cohen says. “No matter how attractive an offer may be, if you do not, or cannot, deliver results you will fail. So, if you are told that the bar is outrageously high and you don’t have enough time to come up to speed, think twice before accepting the terms without discussion or negotiation.”

9. Would you be willing to show me around the office?
This question is probably best saved for a last-round interview so you don’t seem too intrusive, but “taking a walk around the workspace is a great way to get a real feel for the day-to-day culture,” Larchar says. “Are individuals interacting with one another? Do the workers look stressed? Are the individual workspaces decorated? What is the setup of the office? Does the work space seem inclusive? How are the departments organized? If you thrive on working with others, you’ll want a work environment where that feels natural.”

One thing Santopietro Panall recommends keeping an eye on in particular is how many senior-level employees have their own offices. “It’s a clue to how structured and hierarchical the company is,” she says. “Companies with few or no private offices tend to be less top-down than companies with a lot of private offices or a whole CEO floor. There’s a strong trend, in many businesses, of removing private spaces in offices and making all space communal — some companies are loving it and finding it effective and others are dreading it, but whether a company would even consider it is a sign of how much they are trying to embrace a certain kind of flexible, collaborative work style.”

10. Does the company give back to the community? In what ways?
“If it is important that you and the company are aligned in terms of shared priorities such as corporate responsibility or giving back, then understanding their level of involvement offers important insight,” Cohen says. “Some companies make a point of promoting their community activities. Others view philanthropy and volunteering as a distraction. At the very least, if there is a disconnect, then you will not be disappointed when the company opts for limited commitment.”

“This also ties back into the question regarding social activities,” Larchar adds. “Are there events outside of work that the company supports and do they align with what you believe in or value as an individual?”

11. How many of the current team members have flexible schedules?
“Rather than asking ‘Can I have a flexible schedule?’ in your initial conversation… ask if others already do,” recommends Santopietro Panall. “If nobody does now, you’ll know that the culture is more formal and any requests for flex-time or alternate work arrangements may be met with less enthusiasm. If lots of people have flexible schedules, you’ll get a read on the work-life balance.”

It’s important to keep in mind the level of seniority for flexible employees as well, however. “It’s not helpful to you if you’re applying to a mid-level position and a senior manager has a flexible work schedule. Ask specifically about what location and scheduling flexibility exists for others in positions similar to yours,” Bowman says.

12. What continuing learning opportunities do you have for your employees?
“Besides the benefits of getting a degree or a certificate program subsidized by the company, this question offers insight into several other important aspects of company culture,” Cohen says. “Does the company view continuing education and advanced degrees as adding value to your profile? Does the company make time for you to pursue outside training? And even more important, if there is time for training, does this mean working there will allow for balance and a life outside?”

Beyond that, it’s also a good indicator of whether or not a company cares about employee retention. “Pay attention to if a program exists and what it comprises of: conferences, mentorship or an internal leadership development program are all positive signs that the company is interested in retaining its employees for the long haul,” Gardner says.

12/2/18 - Four well-meaning pieces of career advice you want to ignore

Even the most well-intentioned person can lead you astray. Here’s how to spot the bad tips.

The science of career success is well-established. There are thousands of academic studies comparing the power of a variety of factors that predict performance and achievement across all possible jobs and careers. Unfortunately, it is usually ignored by those who provide actual career advice to the wider public.

This is largely due to the fact that academics tend to publish their findings using technical language and in subscription-only journals with limited access. This is unfortunate, not least because their research is funded by taxpayer dollars.

Another issue is that even though academic findings are more reliable than personal anecdotes from self-proclaimed gurus, they rarely make news, because intelligence, hard work, and social skills aren’t ever going to be viral hits. Likewise, some of the scientific evidence on why some people are more successful than others would make for depressing rather than uplifting reading, and cannot easily derive into practical life hacks.

This is why, despite the evidence that much of our career success is already determined at birth, no one is writing self-help articles advising us to “be born rich” or at least “in a rich country.” And why, despite the fact that 40% of happiness is driven by genetics, it is pointless to suggest “being born with the right personality” (i.e., extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability, which are also partly predetermined at birth).

In contrast, popular advice on how to be more successful focuses on uplifting or feel-good tips, designed to boost people’s self-esteem and make them feel in control of their careers. Here are four popular examples that usually come from a well-meaning person but are actually not terribly helpful.

This is obviously much more appealing than doing what you hate. But is following our passions an effective approach to attain success? Extensive meta-analysis suggests that this may only work when your interests are correlated with your actual abilities. The better advice would be, “Follow your passions as long as they relate to your actual skills.” You should also consider whether your passion is in demand. I may have a great passion for the things I’m good at, but if nobody cares about those things, I will probably not be successful.

If we measure success in financial terms–which of course tells just part of the story–that is only marginally related to how much people like what they do. As a meta-analysis showed, there is only 9% overlap between people’s salaries and their level of career satisfaction. The best-paid jobs are not always the most fun to do, and some of the most enjoyable or meaningful jobs are generally not compensated well. But the general rule remains the same: When it comes to objective markers of career success, you are better off being relatively good at something you dislike, if there is demand for it, than being exceptional at something you love, if there is no demand for it.

This suggestion is also much more enticing than the alternative, which would be to censor yourself. However, it’s far more likely to make you successful. Just imagine going to a job interview and being truly yourself–the way you are with your close relatives or best friends–without any social inhibitions. For instance, when the interviewer asks you a dumb question, you can just tell them they’re stupid. And when they ask why you want to work for them, you can tell them that you don’t, but that none of your preferred options invited you to an interview. Or when you answer a psychometric test designed to evaluate your potential, imagine answering that you don’t enjoy meeting new people, that you stress out easily, and that you are not a team player. Finally, once you are at work, you should feel free to tell all your colleagues and your boss what you really think in any given situation–as opposed to exercising good citizenship.

“Just be yourself” in those terms is a recipe for disaster. If you really think you don’t need to worry about what other people think of you, you can be sure that they will never think highly of you. Successful people are rarely themselves. They are extremely good at controlling the undesirable aspects of their personality and putting on a likable and charming performance that requires a great deal of effort and self-control. Studies show that political skills are the strongest predictor of career success. There are probably just five people in the world who have learned to like–or at least tolerate–the unfiltered version of you, and I doubt your boss is one of them.

We don’t even need to tell people to do this, they do it naturally. It is a bit like going to the gym and exercising the same muscles every time. You will see progress, but it’s limited to your existing abilities. The only way to develop new skills is to focus on your gaps, and your limitations pose a much bigger threat to your career success than your underdeveloped strengths.

Overused strengths are a liability. For example, you are better off being confident than overconfident, moderately ambitious than greedy, mildly extroverted than exhibitionistic, and modest than insecure or hypercritical. It may be comforting to ignore your weaknesses, but it’s what other people think of you–not what you think of yourself–that matters most. As great as your strengths may be, others are unlikely to ignore your flaws.

Most people do already, and for those who don’t, the real issue is whether others believe in them or not. Your career success depends on others’ perceptions of your talents and output, rather than what you make of them yourself. In fact, many studies show that in any area of competence, it is often the most inept who show the highest levels of self-belief, while true experts are relatively self-critical and modest. This should be obvious, but it’s good to be aware of your limitations, and an accurate estimate of your skills and flaws is more beneficial (for you and others) than a delusion of your prowess.

Our inability to detect actual competence in others often benefits those who are unaware of the limitations, because it is easier to fool others when you have already fooled yourself. However, you will still stand a better chance of developing competence and climbing the ladder of success if your belief in yourself is related to your actual talents.

Boosting your ego won’t build skills, and an overinflated ego without the talent to back it up equates to narcissism rather than career success. And while narcissists often succeed, that’s not a personality trait you need in order to be successful, particularly if you have the talents to back it up.

So take a bit of time to consider advice when it comes your way. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, particularly when it comes to your career.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in leadership assessment, people analytics, and talent management. He is the Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup and a Professor of Business Psychology at both University College London and Columbia University. His latest book, The Talent Delusion, was published in February 2017, and you can find him on Twitter at @drtcp or online at

11/25/18 - How to Ask for an Awesome Letter of Recommendation (and Actually Get One)

by Kat Boogaard 

You’ve found your dream company. The even better news? They’re currently hiring for a position that’s perfect for you.

You’ve already tackled all of the application basics. You did your research, tailored your resume, wrote an impressive cover letter, and even sent the department head a friendly LinkedIn request.

But, with all of that under your belt, you’re looking for one more way that you can stand out and elevate yourself above the competition.

We have three words for you: letter of recommendation.

Is it Common for Employers to Ask for Letters of Recommendation?

Honestly? It’s rare that you’ll be explicitly asked to hand one of these over. (It’s much more likely that you’ll be asked for references.)

“Except for junior roles where someone lacks experience or senior roles where character is as important as skill set,” clarifies Tara Padua, a Muse Career Coach.

Should You Have These Letters in Your Back Pocket Anyway?

I know what you’re thinking: If these letters aren’t an expectation, why would I go through the trouble of getting them?

Well, just because an employer won’t demand them doesn’t mean you can’t use them to separate yourself from the job search competition.

“If you have a letter, hiring managers could get more of a sense of your skills if they aren’t able to connect live with your former supervisors for whatever reason and only get the basics from HR,” explains Muse Career Coach Kelly Poulson.

Beyond giving you the opportunity to emphasize what makes you a no-brainer for that role, these letters can also serve as an awesome confidence boost.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt on days when you’re doubting yourself (we all have them!) to have something to refer to that reminds you of how valued you truly are,” Poulson adds.

How Should You Go About Asking Someone to Write You One?

You might be convinced of the power of a solid letter of recommendation—but, that doesn’t necessarily mean asking is any easier. Fortunately, there are ways to make this request a little less nerve-wracking.

First things first, think carefully about who you’re asking. Poulson warns that you don’t want to request too much of any one person—meaning you might want to stay away from your references when thinking about who to ask for a letter. “Be mindful of your asks and pick folks to write letters who likely won’t be doing calls as well,” she adds.

While a letter of recommendation from someone who’s high up the ladder can be impressive, make sure that you’re asking people who actually know you and your work. “Having a senior person write a generic letter of recommendation without any real knowledge of you and your skills will produce the opposite effect,” explains Padua. And even if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t help.

In terms of actually making the ask, Poulson shares that a little bit of flattery can go a long way. “Start out with how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and how much you value their opinion,” Poulson adds.

Finally, make the process of writing the letter as painless as possible by empowering them with the information they need. “Make it easy for the person to recommend you,” Padua says, “Tell them specifically what you would like to highlight.”

That might mean looking back at your work ethic or impact on the team in a previous position, or emphasizing a specific skill set that matches the type of roles you’re targeting in your search. Whatever it is, make sure you’re clear about what you’re looking for.

And that includes being clear about your timeline as well. Remember, you’re asking this person for a favor, so you need to be realistic with your expectations. It’s smart to give contacts at least a week (but ideally more) to get the letter drafted and returned to you.

Make sense? Great—let’s pull all of those tips into an easy-to-use template.

Asking for a Letter of Recommendation
Hi [Name],

I hope you’re having a great week!

I’m reaching out because I’m applying for [type of role] with [type of company] and am pulling together a few letters of recommendation to emphasize why I’m a qualified fit for this kind of position.

I really enjoyed our time working together at [Company]—particularly when we were able to collaborate on [project]. With that in mind, I thought you’d be a great person to vouch for my expertise in [key skill area] and my ability to [impressive result].

I know you’re busy. So, if it’d help, I’m happy to pass along some additional talking points and information to make writing this letter a little easier.

Would you be comfortable writing a letter of this nature for me? Please let me know if you have any questions about this, [Name]. Let’s catch up over coffee soon—my treat!

All the best,
[Your Name]

No, letters of recommendation aren’t a job search staple the way your resume or your cover letter is. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to your advantage.

If the only thing holding you back is the fact that asking for these letters can feel more than a little awkward (believe me, I get it), take a deep breath, use these tips and this template, and just send that email.

You’ll be armed with an impressive letter or two in your back pocket that you can use to prove to employers that you’re the candidate they’ve been searching for.

Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 - 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

11/11/18 - Robots are reading your resume, so here are 5 tips to meet their approval

by Jill Cornfield | @jill_cornfield 

Companies are increasingly using AI to take the guesswork out of job searches and find the candidates whose resumes match what they are looking for.

The first step to a successful job hunt is knowing how the algorithms work. Then, tailor your resume to use AI to your advantage.

Without even thinking about it, we interact with artificial intelligence every day.

Siri finds nearby pizza places or dry cleaners. Alexa turns on lights and gives the day's forecast.

So it may come as no surprise that AI is now a deep but unseen part of your job hunting.

Just as spellcheck alerts you to a typo, other algorithms pore over your electronically submitted resume for misspellings, grammar and information about your work history.

With thousands of previous versions of a job that can be scanned, the algorithm uses the available data on resumes to find the best candidates for a talent recruiter, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, an online job marketplace.

"Machine learning can cherry-pick and rapidly learn from the employer how to do a lookalike search," Siegel said. "That turns out to be by far the best method you can use to match."

On the other side of the job hunt, AI can match a person to a pool of applicants who have experience or skills in common with the job seeker, and show the jobs they've applied to.

"AI is the new version of keyword algorithms," which have been around since the 1990s, said Robert Meier, a job transition expert and CEO of JobMarketExperts, which deals with a range of employment issues. "Typically, the algorithm looks for continuity of work history, job title progression and education," he said. Specific companies may have different metrics they look for, such as software experience or credentials.

What has changed is the number of applicants. Digital applications are easy and free, Meier says, and any job opening now has so many more candidates for a company to screen.

But most are eliminated almost immediately, and only the top 2 percent of candidates make it to the interview, Meier said.

The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself into the best-match list.

Cover letters still matter
The algorithms are the table stakes to get you in the door, Siegel said. Give yourself every advantage of getting yourself on the best-match list.

More resumes submitted on apps and tablets mean fewer cover letters.

"But it's still an opportunity to stand out and give yourself an advantage," Siegel said.

He recommends every cover letter include what he calls an essential sentence.

"Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible."
-Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter

Do some research on the company you're applying to and make sure your letter says, "I am so excited to apply for this job, because ..." Fill in that blank, Siegel advised, with a phrase such as "I love your product" or "My skills are a perfect match to take your product to the next level."

Convey your availability and enthusiasm to project the most attractive version of yourself, Siegel said, and use this as a best practice to approach an opportunity that really interests you.

Given all these behind-the-scenes algorithms, job hunters need to know how their resume looks to computer "eyes" rather than human ones. Here are five things to do on resumes you submit electronically.

1. Be straightforward
"Put things in the simplest, most straightforward language possible," Siegel said.

Clearly list your skills and the years of experience you have with each one.

Instead of "professional sound engineer with varied experience in wide variety of software," check the job description for specifics. Better to say you're a sound engineer with four years' experience using Avid Pro Tools. "The algorithms are really good at deducing these are the key skills for a job," Siegel said.

2. Spelling counts
It's critical to remember that algorithms on job sites scan for a range of signals.

"You might be cavalier about spelling and grammar," Siegel said. "That's an easy signal."

For most companies, that means your resume is automatically discarded.

3. Have an up-to-date format
Algorithms try to turn the information on your resume into usable data, said Siegel, so make sure you use a traditional, text-based format.

Don't use Photoshop on your resume: The algorithm can't derive data from a picture. "Use a modern text editor," Siegel said. "WordPerfect will make for a challenging document."

4. The magic of 'results'
A resume filled with results — not duties and responsibilities — attracts employers like moths to a flame, JobMarketExperts' Meier said.

Phrase your accomplishments as revenue, income or money saved. Perhaps you made some aspect of a company function more efficient or found a way to cut costs.

A resume that includes specific numbers, percentages and quantities will get a closer look.

5. Have a mobile-ready resume
Most job-seeking activity happens on a cellphone or tablet, but those are not particularly text-friendly.

"Create your resume and cover letter in the right format on a desktop," Siegel said. Use a cloud-based service such as Google Drive so you can apply on any site using a mobile device.

11/4/18 - Should You Always Negotiate Your Salary?

by Emily Moore 

It’s no myth that failing to negotiate your salary can seriously impact your earning potential. In fact, last year, Glassdoor released a study that found that the average American could be earning about $7,500 more per year than their current annual base salary. Not only does that hurt your bank account in the short term — since raises and subsequent salary offers tend to be based on your previous salary, a lower initial salary has a compounding effect. Some studies estimate that failing to negotiate can cost you up to $600,000 over the course of your career.

So it’s clear that salary negotiation is important. But does that mean you should always ask for a higher salary when starting a new job? What if you get an offer that’s already fair, or fear that the opportunity might be rescinded if you try to ask for more?

To get to the bottom of this question, we asked a handful of career and salary negotiation experts to weigh in. The verdict? With very few exceptions, yes — you should always try to negotiate your salary. Here’s why.

Most Offers Have Built-in Wiggle Room
You might feel guilty asking for a higher salary than what your prospective employer offered, but odds are, they’ve anticipated that reaction — and their salary offer reflects that.

“In today’s job market, most recruiters expect that the candidate will make a counteroffer and typically leave room for negotiation on base pay or various incentives,” says Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer of Fjuri.

Typically, employers have a set salary “band” for a given position (for example, a company may budget between $75,000 to $110,000 for a marketing manager position). They want to offer a salary that’s competitive enough to attract talented candidates to the role, but they still have a vested interest in saving money where they can. So in this case, the company might choose to offer $90,000, knowing that if the candidate pushed back and requested a higher salary, they could offer an additional $20,000 while still staying within their band. But if the candidate fails to negotiate, that’s an additional $20k saved.

You never truly know what you can get unless you ask, so it’s well worth pushing back on a job offer — especially because the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.

The Worst-Case Response Is Usually a ‘No’
When I first began interviewing for jobs post-college, I was terrified to negotiate my salary, fearing that a recruiter would view my request as greedy and rescind their offer as a result. But in reality, that hardly ever happens.

Why is that? For one reason, if you receive a job offer, the employer has probably already invested a significant amount of time and energy into recruiting you. Rescinding your offer just because you asked for a bit more cash would mean they’d have to begin the recruiting process all over again — and that’s not a cheap or easy thing to do.

“They’ve chosen you, made [an] offer and are invested in the idea that they’ve filled the position,” says Eli Howayeck, the founder/CEO of Crafted Career Concepts in Milwaukee. “Candidates get nervous or afraid that asking for more money or non-financial benefits could put their offer in jeopardy. Employers like this because it keeps salaries from rising too quickly. The reality: the worst thing likely to happen if you ask for more is that your request is denied, in which case, you can still accept the offer and move ahead!”

That’s not to say that no one has ever had an offer rescinded after they tried to negotiate. But on the rare occasion that it happens, it’s probably more about how they asked than simply the fact that they asked.

“Offers are rarely rescinded — and if they are, it’s most likely because the candidate handled the negotiation poorly and displayed behavior that wasn’t aligned with the company’s core values,” says Marielle Smith, VP of People at GoodHire.

Even if the unthinkable happens and a company does reject you for trying to negotiate, there’s a good chance that it’s not the kind of company you would want to work for anyway, points out ICF-credentialed HR Specialist and Career Coach Kristyn Lang.

“If the company does react very negatively and holds it against you, then you have seen their true colors and have dodged a company that probably does not have a great culture,” Lang says.

It Might Be a While Before You Can Revisit a Raise
Some job seekers rationalize taking a lower-paying job by telling themselves they can just push for a higher salary when performance review season rolls around. But unless you’ve been explicitly told otherwise, you shouldn’t just assume that a raise is guaranteed.

“I think you should almost always try to negotiate your salary because you’re not likely going to have another opportunity to address compensation for another year,” Smith says. “As a job candidate, you’re going into a new position with good faith based on a job description and a few interviews — you don’t really know what to expect.”

Even if you knock it out of the park on day one, there are multiple reasons you might not get a raise. Some companies aren’t able to offer raises or bonuses if they’re struggling financially, and others have policies about how long an employee has to stick around before they’re eligible for a promotion or raise — so you need to make the most of each negotiation opportunity that’s presented to you, because you don’t know when the next one will come up.

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean that you’ll be guaranteed a higher salary if you just ask for it. You still need to understand your market value, lay out a compelling argument and make your request respectfully (and even then, a more competitive offer isn’t a sure thing).

But if you don’t ask, you won’t receive — it’s as simple as that. You don’t want to be kicking yourself ten years from now for earning far less than you deserve, all because you couldn’t work up the nerve to negotiate your salary when you had the chance. Who knows? With a little preparation, you might just be able to secure the salary you always dreamed of.


10/28/18 - A psychologist’s trick to being more likable on dates and job interviews

By Leah Fessler 

Few situations are as anxiety-provoking as job interviews or first dates. Without appearing desperate, you’re trying to convince a stranger that you’re more worthy of their time, money, attention, and affection than a slew of strangers who you’ve probably never met. It’s awkward, and you’re probably wearing uncomfortable clothes.

Many of us respond to this pressure, which psychologists call “impression management,” by highlighting our successes and talents. This self-selling can be exceedingly obnoxious: “I’m a natural-born leader,” a date once proclaimed, before reminding me for the third time that he worked at Goldman Sachs.

But more often than not, sharing our talents is a well-intentioned instinct. From childhood on, we’re praised for earning high marks, winning games, and earning promotions. It’s no surprise our self-confidence (or lack thereof) is intimately tied with quantifiable success, and the romantic delusion of “innate” talent.

However, a new study from the City University of London’s Cass Business School, published in the journal Basic and Applied Psychology, suggests we’re approaching impression management all wrong, especially on interviews and dates. Instead of emphasizing success, we’d be better off focusing on effort, the seemingly less-flattering flip side of talent.

“A success story is hardly complete or convincing without an explanation for the success,” writes Cass professor Janina Steinmetz, author of the study. “Did the success come easy, thanks to one’s talents, or was it effortfully attained through hard work? Both of these attributions can be part of successful self-promotion, but which attribution is more likely to garner favorable impressions?”

To answer this question, Steinmetz conducted three experiments, two of which emulated job interviews, and one of which emulated a date. Participants were asked to imagine either the role of the impression manager (the interviewee, or the “sharer,” on a date), or the receiver (the interviewer, or the “listener” on a date). The impression manager tries to figure out what will make them appear in a positive light, Steinmetz explains, and the receiver reports what the impression manager would have to say so to make a positive impression.

All three experiments rendered the same conclusion: Impression managers overemphasized their talents and successes, while sharing their efforts far less than the receivers would’ve liked.

“In impression management situations, people usually try to come across as competent because that’s what usual gives them social capital and esteem,” Steinmetz tells Quartz. “Talking about success makes people feel competent, that’s why people do it. But it’s misguided if people only talk about competence and not also about effort.”

Effort, as Steinmetz defines it, means talking about struggles and hard work—the less-glamorous stuff that makes us human.

“When I asked you how you have accomplished so much in your career, you can say, ‘I’m talented,’ or you can say, ‘I struggled and worked really hard.’ The latter is a sign of effort, which is liked by others,” she says. “Effort conveys warmth, likability, and is relatable. Talent conveys competence and ability.”

The key, says Steinmetz, is to do both: People are overly concerned about appearing smart, so they talk about whatever makes them seem smart. However, they forget how much others care about warmth and likability. One is not more, or less, important than the other, but while over-communicating talent sounds arrogant, too much humility is rarely, if ever, a bad thing.

10/21/18 - Changing careers all get the same piece of advice

An executive coach who's helped countless people change careers gave them all the same piece of advice
Shana Lebowitz 

During a job search, it's best to focus on changing either industry or function. Don't look to switch both at the same time.
That's according to Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and former executive coach at New York University.
Keswin also recommends mapping out the skills you can transfer from your current gig to your new one.

As an executive coach at New York University's Stern School of Business, much of Erica Keswin's day-to-day involved dealing with clients who wanted to make a career change.

Maybe they'd grown bored; maybe they thought they'd stagnated; maybe they felt their true calling was elsewhere.

To all of those clients, Keswin, who is a workplace strategist and the author of the forthcoming book "Bring Your Human to Work," gave the same piece of advice, which she shared on a call with Business Insider: "It's very difficult to change industry and function at the same time."

Yet too many people get overeager and want to do a total 180-degree turn when making a career transition.

For example, say you currently hold a finance role in the fashion industry. Keswin recommends that you consider either staying in fashion and moving to the role you'd prefer or staying in a finance role and moving to the industry you'd prefer. Once you have some experience with either a new role or new industry, you can think about making a bigger switch.

Keswin also led many coaching clients through an exercise in which they mapped their transferable skills.

"These are some jobs that I'd be interested in; this is what I used to do," Keswin said. "On paper, [the new job] looks nothing like [my old job]. But when I really peel back the layers, it's clear that I have many of the skills that would enable me to do [the new job]."

It all comes down to being patient, cautious, and thoughtful — traits that, admittedly, aren't so easy to display when you're fed up with your current job.

Indeed, career coach and former Googler Jenny Blake guides clients through a four-step process when they're making a career change, whether that's moving into a new role at their company or launching a startup. The first step involves figuring out what's working well in their current career stage and how they can leverage that.

Narrow down your options to three new opportunities

Once Keswin's clients completed the mapping exercise and pinpointed some potential new gigs that wouldn't look too dissimilar from their old role, Keswin would advise them to narrow down their options to three opportunities.

That's because, she added, "most people that I work with end up getting that first interview or that next opportunity through some type of relationship that they have built," and not through submitting their resume online.

So you'll want to invest the appropriate amount of time and energy in forging those relationships — think reaching out to former colleagues or classmates. "You can't really go deep enough to make traction if you're looking at any more than three opportunities," Keswin said.

10/14/18 - 30 Brilliant Networking Conversation Starters 

When it comes to conversation, you’re a natural. You can chat up a storm with just about anyone, you’re a pro at listening, and you love meeting and connecting with new people.

But when it comes to starting that networking conversation? That’s a different story.

This is one of the most common concerns we hear about networking: How do you just walk up to someone you don’t know at an event—and start talking?

Well, it’s a tad easier than it sounds. Fact is, no one’s going to turn you away if you walk up, smile, and say, “I’m so-and-so. Nice to meet you.” In fact, others will probably be relieved that someone else started the conversation!

But, the process is definitely a lot easier when you have a few go-to icebreakers in your back pocket. So, we’ve put together a handy list to refer to before your next event—some of our own lines, a few favorites from our career expert friends, and icebreakers our Twitter and Facebook followers have used, too!


1-5 - The Classics

When in doubt, just try the basics: asking what someone does, inquiring why he or she is at the event, or even just reaching out your hand and saying hi.

1. “What’s your favorite conversation starter at a networking event?” - Connie B.

2. “So, what do you do?” It gets them talking first and you can think about how to approach the conversation or how you could possibly work together. - @GrowSouthwest

3. “So, what brought you here today?” - @twofacedhrlady

4. “Hi there! I’m Michelle. What are you passionate about?” - Michelle E.

5. “What’s your story?” It always sparks a fascinating and non-generic conversation. - @leslieforman


6-10 - Location, Location, Location

No matter what, you’ve got at least a couple things in common with every person in the room: the event you’re attending, the place it’s being held at, and the food and drink you’re consuming. Use that to your advantage by striking up conversation about what’s going on around you.

6. If I’m at an event with food, I’ll often use that as a conversation starter, à la “I can’t stop eating these meatballs. Have you tried them?” - @erinaceously

7. “How did you hear about this event?” - @myuliyam

8. “It’s so hot (or cold) in here.” Hey, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but the person will either agree or disagree, and pretty soon you’re talking about weather patterns, your best umbrella, and then your career goals. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse

9. “I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by the deluge of info that’s being firehosed at us today. Is there one nugget of brilliance that’s really resonating with you?” - Alexandra Franzen

10. “What a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?”


11-15 - The Newsworthy

Another thing you have in common with, well, everyone? What happened in your city or the world today. While you don’t want to start up any hot political debates, some light-hearted headline sharing is a great way to break the ice.

11. “What do you think about [insert topic germane to the event or person here]?” I’m biased: News is a great engagement tool. - @thatsportsgirl

12. “Wow, I just can’t believe all the crazy news headlines today. What a week!”

13. “Any chance you read the news today? I missed it, and I’m dying to know what’s happening with [insert news topic here].”

14. “So, was it a pain for you to get here?” The mode of transportation and location in the city are always on peoples’ minds. There’s bound to be a story about it. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse

15. “Did you catch the game last night?” It’s a classic, but it’s a classic for a reason.


16-20 - Great for Introverts

If you’re an introvert, walking into a room full of unknown people can feel extra intimidating. One of our favorite approaches is to look toward the outskirts of the room and find someone who looks a little lonely. Maybe that woman sitting by herself at the table doesn’t know anyone and is just hoping that someone will come talk to her. Be that person, and try one of these lines.

16. “Man, these networking events can be so crazy. Mind if I join you over here where it’s a little quieter?” - Careerealism

17. “As we’re both here at the (buffet, bar, waiting room), I feel I should introduce myself. I’m [name] from [company].” - @ainegreaney

18. I like to compliment people on their clothes and accessories. I find this approach to be more friendly and less about professionally connecting, especially if you’re at a networking event. I believe both men and women can compliment each other on their choice of attire and use it as a conversation starter! - @MsMeganGrace

19. “Excuse me. Do you know how much a polar bear weighs? Enough to break the ice! Hi, I’m Andi. Nice to meet you.” - Andrea M.

20. “Man, I hate networking.” If you sense a fellow party-goer has similar misanthropic tendencies, walk up and start a conversation about your mutual distaste. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse


21-25 The Funny

We don’t recommend using anything like the joke, “How much does a polar bear weigh?” (Answer: Enough to break the ice.) But when you’re meeting new people, a little humor is a great way to ease the awkwardness and kick-start a fun conversation.

21. I always start by saying, “I can’t believe how under-dressed I am for this event.” A little self-deprecating humor is always good, and I’m always poorly dressed. - @EllBell9

22. Something jokey—like “I just came for these carrot sticks.” Then, ask a question, like “How’d you hear about this event?” - @beetorr

23. “So, on a scale of 1 to undrinkable, how terrible is the Chardonnay?”

24. “Did you see the Japanese ‘Attack of the Raptor’ office prank video?” Timely mixes of humor and intrigue can be great. - @kylehsf

25. “I’ll be honest, the only person I know here is the bartender, and I just met him two minutes ago. Mind if I introduce myself?”


26-30 - The Totally Random (But Hey, They just might work!)

If all else fails, try one of these.

26. “Any chance you know a great sushi place around here? I’m not familiar with the area, and I’m headed to dinner after this.”

27. “Hey, aren’t you friends with [fill in random name]?” It doesn’t matter if you really think the person is someone you know, just walk up and ask if he or she is friends with someone you know. He or she will tell you “no,” and conversation will commence. - Jessica Gordon for The Muse

28. If you see a group of people that seem engaged in quality conversation, just approach them and say, “Well, you guys are certainly having more fun than the last group I was talking to.” - CareerBliss

29. “If there is one question you do not want me to ask you, because you are sick and tired of answering it, what question would that be?” - Conversation Arts

30. “I’m working on an article about the best and worst conversation starters ever. Any particularly good or terrible ones you’ve heard tonight?”

10/7/18 - 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.

9/30/18 - Ask a Real Recruiter: How Do I Prove That I'm the Best Candidate in an Interview?

by Jessica Vann 

Dear Real Recruiter,

What’s the best way to answer when the interviewer asks why they should choose you over another candidate who has the same qualifications?

Not Just Another Number

Dear Not Just Another Number,

Standing out in your job search is crucial, but it’s also hard. The truth is, a lot of people are just as qualified as you when it comes to comparing resumes.

So, don’t think of it that way! Instead, dig into the intangibles of who you are. No, not the straightforward qualifications or keywords that got you the interview, but the actual you.

That’s the good stuff. The secret sauce. The reason they’re going to select you over the other “equally qualified” candidate. Here’s what you can emphasize.

 1. Your Grit and Determination

Your rival may have everything you do on paper, but do they have staying power?

No job, no matter how glossy it appears from the outside, is without its challenges. Unexpected dynamics, resource and training shortages, internal political bottlenecks, irate customers, failed product launches—these are all potential realities looming in your future.

Disappointments are a given. The real question is how will you handle them?

In a rapidly-changing business environment that is complex, unpredictable, and intense, no one wants a flake. Demonstrate to your interviewer that you have the fortitude, conviction, loyalty, and staying power to see yourself (and them) through whatever comes your way.

 2. Your Enthusiasm

Do you love what you do? Are you passionate about your career, or is it just a means to a paycheck?

You and your rival can both do the job, but if this work lights you up, then let your interviewer know that.

People are attracted to people who are excited about and genuinely love what they do. A client of mine just told me, “I’ll take less experience. I need someone who loves the game. The details. The sport.”

 3. Your Cultural Fit

Skill sets are one thing, but employers are increasingly concerned with the cultural dynamics of the workplace and an employee’s fit within it.

Not only are they assessing your skills, but they’re also trying to imagine how you will integrate within their existing team and cultural framework.

As an interviewee, it’s your job to pick up on those cues and speak to them. What are the values and qualities they’ve said are important? Are they looking for someone devoted to their colleagues and interested in mentoring? If so, speak to that. Are they looking for someone coachable? If so, display that you’re receptive to feedback and learning.

Interpersonal dynamics often trump skill set when it comes to making a hiring decision (particularly when candidates are evenly matched) and could easily elevate you above the competition.

Remember that if you’re asked by an employer why they should pick you over another candidate, this is not a curveball question but rather an opportunity to reiterate all the wonderful qualities and intangibles you possess.

It’s not just something your mom told you—you are talented and capable and deserving, so let the real you shine.

Jessica Vann is the Founder and Principal of Maven Recruiting Group, a boutique firm in San Francisco specializing in administrative and human resources staffing throughout the Bay Area. Vann earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in economics “to be practical” and rhetoric “to feed [her] soul.” Born and raised in San Francisco, Vann lives in the Bay Area with her family.

9/23/18 - Uncovering the Secrets of the Cover Letter

As a job seeker looking for positions beyond faculty roles, you have to achieve a lot in one page, and Joseph Barber provides tips on how to make the most of it.

By Joseph Barber 

While specific styles of résumés can reflect different career fields and industries, the cover letter offers a much less structured document, and so often leads to much more confusion among job seekers. You will no doubt get different advice from everyone you ask about cover letters for jobs beyond faculty roles, and what I discuss here will certainly add to that cacophony of recommendations.

But having read a frighteningly enormous number of cover letters in my role as a career adviser, my advice comes from a certain amount of experience. That experience can be divided into positive situations, where the letters were interesting to read, and neutral-to-negative ones, where the letters were readable but not very engaging. When you are thinking of your cover letters, the description of “readable” should be the absolute minimum outcome that you aim to achieve. Ideally, your letter will be interesting, engaging, unique, positive, energetic, relevant and optimistic. That’s a lot to achieve in one page!

The first question to ask yourself is what is the purpose of a cover letter? If you have already created a customized résumé for the job you are applying to (and this is essential), then you have already highlighted your relevant skills. You don’t just want to provide exactly the same information again in your cover letter. Reading such information twice doesn’t make it any more impactful but can definitely make it less interesting. Used strategically, the cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight some of the best parts of your résumé in a slightly different way, and with the goal of explaining why you’re the right person for the job, why your experiences are relevant, and why you want to use your skills and knowledge in this new role at this new organization.

The answers to these questions are not punchy bullet points. Instead, they need to be slightly more narrative in their form. When you use more narrative formats, you can start taking some storytelling approaches to engage the reader. The benefit of telling stories is that you don’t just have to state empirically what happened -- which is what the bullet point in the résumé does -- but you can also talk about the broader impacts of the experience. That includes what you learned from it, how it made you feel, why you sought it out, what was so surprising about it, why is was challenging and so on. Those perspectives are distinctly yours, which makes them interesting to the reader, who won’t have read them in 100 other cover letters. And they can help make your letter more energetic by bringing in action-based emotional states. People remember stories more than they remember generic statements that you have important skills.

Let’s cover the basic structure of a one-page cover letter that I tend to recommend. To make it easier to consider, we can break it down into three separate sections.

First paragraph/opening.
Make a clear statement of intent at the start to help the reader put the letter into context. That means avoiding statements such as: “I am writing to possibly explore the opportunity to be so honored to be interested in applying for the position of …” Instead, a more direct approach might be: “I am applying for the position of X that was advertised on your website.”

You can add to that, of course, but be direct. The rest of the first paragraph should be present a takeaway conclusion about yourself. Yes, you can start your letter with a conclusion. That means that the reader immediately knows you have something that they want and makes them more likely to read the rest of the letter to find out more. If you are going to start off with a conclusion, though, make sure that it is relevant to your reader by summarizing what they are likely to care about the most. Take a look at this introduction sentence and see if you can identify what some of the key takeaways are -- and thus what some of the job requirements might have been:

"With eight years of experience managing multistep data collection projects in academic and industry settings, and an ability to establish and maintain relationships with clients, stakeholders and international collaborators, I am excited to bring my creativity and structured approach to this data analyst role."

Middle paragraphs.
Once you have made a conclusion statement in the introduction (I know, it sounds a little weird!), the main part of the letter should expand on those themes. You don’t have to go through all of your experiences from the résumé; rather, you will want to highlight the best parts. Everything in your cover letter should be echoed by something in your résumé, but not everything in your résumé needs to be mentioned in your cover letter. And if you are wondering why you can’t just customize your cover letter and send a standard résumé as part of your application, just remember that not everyone will read a cover letter. You want them to, but you cannot make them!

The main body of your letter will contain good illustrations of your relevant skills in action, all wrapped up in a narrative form that includes just a sprinkling of drama. Here is an example of a story without much drama:

"As a project leader in the student health-care consulting group, I oversaw a team of three students and completed an extensive market analysis of the medical device field to determine a suitable pricing model for a wearable device developed by the client."

None of this is bad information; it is just not that engaging. It would be much better as a bullet point in a résumé. And if it were already a bullet in the résumé, it should not just be repeated in the cover letter. Here is an alternative version with a little more drama.

"When I was serving as a project leader in the student consulting group, my team had engaged with a client seeking market access information for a new wearable device. We faced two immediate challenges with this work: the device was unique with few comparable products, and this was the first consulting experience for half of our four-member team. In thinking about the project, I saw their lack of experience as a possible advantage and took the opportunity to encourage the two new team members to think creatively about comparable products in the medical space and beyond. In two brainstorming sessions, we successfully generated sufficient data for our market analysis. I found it really satisfying to see how well the new members complemented and then learned from our more practiced approach."

This is not just a statement of what was done; it illustrates how you approached the assignment. Every project you have been involved with has presented its own distinct challenges. If you can state what those were, and talk about how you have used skills and abilities relevant to the job to which you’re applying to overcome them, then you have the basis for good examples. Concepts that you can touch on in a cover letter that are hard to highlight in a résumé include:

> learning from an experience that went well or badly;
> combining experiences from two separate roles you have had (that might be separated by years on a résumé) to show how you solved a problem;
> explaining why you did something, not just that you did it; and
> demonstrating passion, or enjoying or being excited about something.

Final paragraph.
Once you have given some examples to illustrate the themes highlighted in the first paragraph, you can move to the final one. Here you might want to answer the questions “Why do you want this job?” and “Why do you want to work here?” The answers to those questions should flow nicely from the examples you have been giving.

"In all these projects, I have found myself most engaged when I have been able to bridge disciplines and draw upon my relationship-building skills to establish productive collaborations. I would enjoy the opportunity to liaise between the marketing and science teams in this project coordinator role, and that would make exceptional use of my lab research skills and creative mind-set. I have spoken with three alumni from my university who work at your institution, and each has highlighted the mentoring program for junior staff as wonderfully helpful for their own professional development. I have been fortunate to have strong mentors in my current lab, which has certainly helped me progress in my research, and I am very excited about learning from the experience of senior staff through this program."

The more you know about an organization, and the role itself, the easier it will be to come up with an authentic answer to the “why this job?” and “why this company?” questions.

There is no perfect cover letter, and different approaches can be just as effective. After all, different people will read each letter, and they have their own ideas about good and bad ones. But I hope you can apply some of these suggestions when composing your next cover letter -- and uncover just a hint of drama as you successfully describe your exceptional skills, knowledge and experiences.

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

9/16/18 - 7 ways to show emotional intelligence in a job interview


Yes, having solid technical skills is important in landing a job, but maybe not as important as you might think. In fact, in a recent survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals, 71% stated they valued emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ. What’s more, 75% said they were more likely to promote a highly emotionally intelligent worker; and 59% claimed they’d pass up a candidate with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is going to be even more relevant for job hunting in the future too, the Future of Jobs Report from The World Economic Forum ranked emotional intelligence in the top 10 job skills required for 2020. Since more companies are paying attention to hiring people with high emotional intelligence, if you’re looking for a job it’s an important skill to demonstrate in your interview.

Here are 7 ways that to demonstrate emotional intelligence in a job interview

Instead of focusing on a response to the question being asked, give all your attention on the question itself. Don’t give in to the urge that you have to answer the question immediately. Interviewers are looking for a thoughtful response, instead of an immediate one that indicates that you are giving them an answer that you have rehearsed. Repeat the question back in your own words to make sure that you understand it the way that it was intended. If you are not sure if you are answering the question ask the person asking it.

Many interviewees, due to nervousness, can came come across as wooden and tightly controlled. It’s not only okay to show some emotion, but the right emotions will form a connection between the interviewer and you. Smiling, as long as it doesn’t appear forced or inauthentic, is always good. Showing enthusiasm and some excitement is also good if it is real. The caveat is not to force any emotions. If the interviewers get a whiff that you are coming across as someone other than yourself, it will cause them to mistrust you and decrease your chances of getting the job.

Take a cue from professional athletes when they are interviewed after a win or achievement. They always credit their team mates, their team, rather than taking personal accolades. When asked about a project that you are proud of, or that was successful, be sure to share credit with the team, unit, and others who were involved in the project. Make it clear that you are proud to be a member of the group that was involved in the success. This gives more credibility to you being a team player, than if you simply claim that you are, which everyone does.

The typical advice for answering a question about your weakness is to frame it as something that is actually a strength. For example, claiming to be a perfectionist, or becoming too involved in your job, which can be seem as strengths by an employer. These answers do not cut it any more, as interviewers are looking for something more substantial. When disclosing a weakness be sure to indicate what you are actively doing to work on it and give examples of making progress. Interviewers know that we all have weaknesses and suspect that we may try to hide those in the interview. As long as your weaknesses do not raise any red flags, being honest, open and genuine will help gain their trust and respect.

For the question about your strengths, rather than only focusing on your qualifications or technical ability, talk about your ability to work well with others in a teamwork setting. Your ability to adapt to change or setbacks and work well with coworkers and customers is important to bring up. Instead of simply mentioning these things, be prepared to come up with examples of when you had to use those skills. Perhaps there was conflict within your unit or you had to deal with an irate customer. Talk about how you used your soft skills to effectively deal with these situations

When the interviewer asks about a situation where things went off the rails, the worst thing you can do is to blame others for the situation. State what happened but avoid casting blame. Before answering this question, it is okay to acknowledge some emotions through your expressions and body language. It will send the message that the situation was real and not something that you made up that was of no real consequence because you had to answer the question. Let it be known that it was a difficult time and you struggled if that was the case. What the interviewer wants to know is how you reacted and if you did anything to improve the situation. If asked what your part in it was, be prepared to accept your share of the responsibility but speak in terms of what you would’ve done differently looking back on the situation. Interviewers expect people to make mistakes, but want to know if you are someone who learns from mistakes and took away the lesson.

At the end of an interview we are typically asked if we have any questions. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your emotional intelligence. Ask questions around the culture, values of an organization and what it takes for people to be successful in it. Bring up any positive experiences with people in their organization or their customer you have had in the past and your observations. It will show that you are not only interested in a job but are looking to see how you will fit into the company. This indicates to them that you are aware of yourself and the importance of matching their needs with those of your own. They are also trying to assess this, and your awareness will help them in deciding. If you are a fit, it will work in your favor. If not, you are better off knowing at this point and spending your time and energy looking elsewhere.

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

9/9/18 - Why experts say you should remove this common word from your resume immediately

by Ruth Umoh 

When crafting a resume, it’s important to include powerful, action-focused words that highlight your skills and expertise.

But too many job applicants make the mistake of using weak words that dull their contributions. One of the most common offenders? "Helped."

“‘Helped’ is not a good word,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at career consulting firm Keystone Partners. “It’s kind of a vague thing.”

The word “helped” lacks any true meaning, she says. Plus it lacks substance, fails to grab the recruiter's attention and doesn't paint candidates' prior experience in the best possible light. A resume with the word "helped" communicates to an employer that "there’s no level of ownership,” explains Varelas.

Even if you worked in an administrative or junior position, says Varelas, there are much more powerful words to show that you assisted on a project, such as “supported,” “managed” or “collaborated.”

But regardless of the word choice, you must still provide concrete examples of your achievements.

Varelas gives the following example, "I helped our marketing team launch an annual PR event.” This description is extremely vague, she says. For all the hiring manager knows, your role could have consisted solely of carrying boxes into the event space.

“Instead of saying, you 'helped,’ tell me how and what you did,” says Varelas, because recruiters want concrete details showing how you implemented change and owned a position or task. In the previous example, you could briefly describe how you reached out to and secured vendors, got notable people to attend or garnered media coverage for the event.

Varelas notes that the main reason people use weak words like “helped” is because they fail to ask themselves three key questions: What was the problem before you arrived? What action did you take to resolve the issue? And finally, what was the end result in comparison?

Using powerful words sets you apart from the competition says Barry Drexler, an interview coach with more than 30 years of HR experience at companies like Lehman Brothers and Lloyds Banking Group.

A recruiter is much more likely to interview a candidate whose resume says, “I called 200 corporations and managed to get 75 to advertise with our company, which boosted our revenue by $100,000 within a one-year period,” over a resume that says, “I helped the ad sales team increase their revenue by $100,000.”

Drexler adds that even if you’re not applying for a leadership or managerial position, companies still want to see that you can take ownership of a project, or a subset of it, and deliver results. And if you really didn’t do much more than help, then that information probably shouldn’t be on your resume to begin with, notes Varelas.

“Your resume needs to be specific, and it needs to show me a skill,” she says. “Being helpful is a nice skill, but it's not meaningful. “

9/2/18 - How to Deal With Being an Older Employee at a Modern Company

by Aimée Lutkin 

There’s a lot of discussion about diversity and inclusion at companies, in particular those focused on tech, but one marginalized group that often gets overlooked is older people. What constitutes “older” varies wildly depending on your industry and personal outlook, of course, but anyone closer to retirement than their college graduation is approaching work differently. Here’s how you can help yourself in a workforce that seems to get younger every year.

Don’t Try To Hide Your Age
There are a number of invisible barriers to getting the job you want if you’re older and searching for work or entering a new company. People start leaving dates off resumes and strongly editing their work history. It’s possible doing so might get you through the gatekeepers to that interview, but if so, you’re still showing up as yourself.

Remember that you probably don’t want to work at an ageist company, and a hiring manager who doesn’t recognize the value of employees with different perspectives and life experiences is probably not someone you want controlling your day.

Recognize Your Value, Too
You have a lot to offer: if you’re approaching or over 50, you’ve experienced recessions, bounced back, worked in a ton of positions, and you can manage yourself. A study from TalentSmart indicated this ability gets better as you age, according to a survey they did of 10,614 people between the ages of 18 and 80:

Self management skills appear to increase steadily with age—60-year-olds scored higher than 50-year-olds, who scored higher than 40-year-olds, and so on.

There are probably some other benefits to being older that you haven’t even considered; U.S. News reports that older people take better care of themselves in general, eating well and exercising, so they’re actually healthier than most millennials. Sounds great for a manager who needs someone reliable, and potentially also flexible: people heading towards retirement or with big families may want to work only part-time. You’re the right fit for the right job.

Stay Engaged Socially
There are challenges to staying involved in company cultures that don’t make an effort to consider the needs of older people on the payroll. Social events may focus on alcohol or rock-climbing, and you may not want to try and outdistance the college intern doing fireball shots up a 40-foot wall. The camaraderie built among team members during social events is important, and you don’t want to be excluded.

Plan ahead for how you will participate, if you can. If you can’t, this is something worth bringing up with HR. It’s okay to advocate for events that are not only more inclusive to different age groups, but to families with children. There may be people outside your age-range at your company with similar needs, and you could reach out to them for support.

Stay Engaged With Your Work Performance
In the office, there are a few ways to remind your co-workers that age does not equate to disinterest. has a number of recommendations for older workers in IT, specifically, to show they’re “in the know.” Is that phrase dated? Oh well.

One of their main pointers if to stay up to date on everything—take classes, ask about trainings, and even work on Open Source projects to appear engaged with the world of tech outside your day job. Constantly learning is good for your resume, but also for your brain. Monster also suggests keeping a tech blog, suggesting it gives people the impression that you’re staying connected to your industry.

Become A Mentor
Hey, you know a whole lot and your workforce is constantly being flooded by people who are just getting started. That’s kind of the whole issue. Ask about opportunities to teach a workshop or mentoring programs. Give some thought to what you want to do or how you think you can contribute. This showcases your valuable experience as an employee, and that you can connect with your team to help them grow.

And remember that mentorship can go both ways. You can probably learn something from younger people, too. Plus, letting someone show you how to do something is a great way to make friends. You need somebody to hang out with at the rock-climbing wall.

8/26/18 - How to Display the Ideal Body Language When Networking

Learn when it's appropriate to use hand gestures and head nods when building new relationships.

by Ivan Misner, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI 

Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first few minutes of meeting you. I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the years. Here are some of their questions along with my answers relating to the use of body language in networking environments.

1. What can you do to increase your confidence and to come off as warm, friendly or knowledgeable to others?
People over-think this issue. The answer is pretty straight forward -- be more “interested” than “interesting.” When you are meeting people, practice being an interested interviewer and an active listener. Learn about them and during the process make sure that your facial expressions match that interest. Don’t look bored -- look engaged. You can do that with a smile, appropriate reaction to a comment or a few nods (but not like a bobble head doll). Also, use your eyebrows to show your reaction to comments. Do this in an authentic way. If you really show interest in other people, you will be amazed at some of the stories you hear and people you meet. You will also make a great impression on these individuals. All of these things will help to make you look warm, friendly and confident.

2. What is the latest reputable science saying about hand gestures and how they effect the way we're perceived by other people?
In a study done by Holler and Beatie, they found that gestures increase the value of someone’s message by 60 percent! They analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks and found one striking pattern. The most watched TED Talks were done by people who used effective hand gestures.

Specifically, they analyzed the top and bottom TED Talks and found that the least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minute talk, and the most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures during their talk -- or almost double!

Remember that hand gestures are good when talking to someone, but don’t turn it into “jazz hands,” where your hands never stop waving! Be purposeful with your gestures.

Also, when doing certain hand gestures, make sure to do them from the listener’s perspective, not yours. For example, if you are talking about the growth of a business, you might naturally do a hand gesture going from your lower left to your upper right. That looks like growth from your perspective, but it would be the opposite from the listener’s perspective. The same goes regarding a timeline. For you, the start of a project would be on your left and the end of the project would be to your right. However, for the listener, your hand gesture should be flipped so that the gesture you are making supports the point you are sharing according to the other person’s perspective. This is a very subtle technique that can really help in your discussions with people.

3. We've been hearing about how the so-called "Power Pose" or "Superman Pose" (hands on hips) may not be as effective as research initially showed -- is this true? Are there other poses that increase confidence?
The “Power Pose” is great if you are Wonder Woman or Superman. For mere mortals -- not so much. It just looks theatrical. Power Posing is a discredited theory of psychology that was based on a 2010 study that has even been refuted by one of the original authors of the paper.

Instead of “striking a pose,” be your best self. Don’t hunch over or look like a wallflower, don’t cross your arms and, above all -- maintain good eye contact. Don’t be looking around the room as you are talking to people. It makes them feel like you don’t care about them. Remember, be interested and look interested when you are talking to someone.

4. Personal space is sometimes an issue. How close should you stand to people when you are talking to them?
The study of proxemics has an application to personal space in a conversation. Personal space varies by culture; however, generally speaking, in North American cultures, personal space is roughly arm's-length away. Don’t get in someone’s space unless you have a relationship with them that would justify that. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable by standing too close. In this day and age -- that is particularly important with the opposite gender.

Body language in networking environments can be very important. Keep the above points in mind. Be comfortable and authentic while not trying to overthink the issue. The key is to practice, practice, practice and observe reactions over time.

8/19/18 - 7 warning signs that you shouldn’t accept a job offer

It’s hard to get a real sense of a company’s culture in a 20-minute interview, so here’s what to look for. 

If you have a skill that’s in demand, chances are you’ve received more than one job offer. Money or a title may be tempting, but don’t jump at your first opportunity—you could be walking into a toxic work environment, says Piyush Patel, author of Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work.

“It’s difficult to know a company’s culture in a 20-minute interview,” he says. “Everybody’s on their best behavior, and the skeletons are hidden. If you’re a great candidate, people are trying to sell you and recruit you. They’re not going to tell you anything bad.”

You might assume you can assess a company by looking at review sites like Glassdoor, but they aren’t always accurate, says Tom Gimbel, CEO of the staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Like anything, more people go online to complain than praise,” he says. “The majority of reviews are going to be negative. Don’t discount them, but don’t be blinded because somebody you don’t know had a bad experience. You may have different views on work, life, and business.”

Instead, get a feel for the culture by playing detective. Here are seven subtle clues that can provide insight:

You can tell a lot about the environment by watching employees. If your interview is in the morning, go at the start of the workday and observe employees.

“Are they running late, walking in like they don’t want to be there?” asks Patel. “Or do they come in early, talking and mingling with coworkers?”

On the flip side, pay attention to the end of the workday. Do employees perform a mass exodus right at 5 p.m.? Do they look relieved to be done with work? These are signs that the culture is bad.


Companies often have a list of core values, such as “quality first,” “teamwork,” and “collaboration.” It’s one thing to list values, but you want to learn if they live them, says Patel.

“During your interview, ask what they are, and then say, ‘Can you share some stories about how people live your core values on a regular basis?'” he says. “If they can’t readily tell you stories, they’re not living them.”

A company with a good culture will often have candidates talk to the employee who previously had the role they’re being interviewed for, says Gimbel. “If they can’t show you somebody who’s grown out of the role and is still with the company in a different capacity or vertical, then they’re hiding something,” he says. “Meeting with a peer provides a perspective about upward mobility.”

You can also contact peer employees on LinkedIn before an interview, adds Patel. “Say, ‘I’m thinking about applying for a job there. What do you love about your job?'” he suggests. “You’d be surprised how much they’ll share.”

While you may not meet with the CEO or C-suite members, knowing that they are involved in the business on a day-to-day basis is a sign of opportunities for growth and promotion, says Gimbel. “If you have a C-suite that’s present and involved, it makes for a lot more continuity,” he says.

If you aren’t given a tour of the office, ask for one, says Patel. “Pay attention to employees’ desks,” he says. “Do they have a picture of family members on their desk, or does it look like they keep the bare minimum? When you’re living in a temporary space, you don’t move a lot of stuff in. Desks are the same way, and they can be an indicator of how long people plan to stay.”

If you’re interview is around lunchtime, see how many employees are working while eating their lunch. “If you work in an organization that respects you and your time, they’re going to let you have time to eat,” says Patel. “If not, how much work do you have that you can’t pause to eat?”

Companies should encourage people to take a break, or sit with coworkers and people from different department to eat and talk. “It’s building a tribe versus hurry up and get your work done,” says Patel.

Before you leave, ask to use the restroom and look for two things: a mess and how much toilet paper there is.

“When people don’t respect a space, they’ll leave it a mess,” says Patel. “It’s easy to happen in a bathroom because it’s private and seems like nobody’s looking, but it reveals character.”

What’s worse, though, is finding an empty toilet paper roll. “That demonstrates an attitude of ‘That’s not my job,'” says Patel. “You don’t want to work with somebody like that. They’re not a team player. When you take the last piece of toilet paper and don’t make an attempt to refill it, you know you’re about to be a jerk. Employees have the choice to act like a team or not.”

8/12/18 - 3 Job Search Mistakes To Quit Making Today

by Amy Elisa Jackson 

We’re halfway through 2018. If you made a few resolutions in January, now’s the time to check in to see how much progress you’ve made. And if one of those resolutions was to find a new job, how’s that going? Don’t get down on yourself if you haven’t secured your dream job quite yet. You may have been making a few mistakes along the way.

The good news is that you still have time to rectify those job search mistakes and get back on track. We’re in a hot job market right now where companies are clamoring for top talent with sharp skills and a variety of life experiences. Here are 3 job search mistakes you may have made in the past, plus how to correct them in order to land your next great gig before the end of the year.

Mistake #1: Waiting days or weeks to apply to a newly posted opening.
In the job hunt, as with most things in life, timing is everything. A study by TalentWorks revealed that there is a “golden hour” of applying to a job. They found that if you submit a job application in the first 96 hours, you’re up to 8x more likely to get an interview. Therefore, applications submitted between 2-4 days after a job is posted have the highest chance of getting an interview. After that, every day you wait reduces your chances by 28%.

By having the Glassdoor Job Search app on your phone loaded with your best resumes, you’ll be ready to pull the trigger on any open job you see. Save jobs or apply directly from your phone so you’ll never miss out on a good opportunity. Look for the “Apply on Phone” label. If you prefer to use your laptop to apply, simply swipe on a job listing to email it to yourself, view the company profile or follow the company and more.

Don’t miss out on your next great job because you waited too long to apply.

Mistake #2: Failing to evaluate how much you could earn before you apply.
We’re in the age of transparency. Gone are the days when you had to hope to be paid well. With salary information in job listings plus salary reviews from current and former employees on Glassdoor, you can uncover exactly what a company will pay you. Take it one step further by learning what you could earn in your industry, city and role by using Know Your Worth, a free, personalized salary estimate based on today’s job market. Glassdoor calculates your worth using millions of salaries and current job openings relevant to you.

According to our research, the number one piece of information job seekers want employers to provide is detail on salary or compensation packages. Employers know this and they feel the pressure to be transparent about pay. It’s a job seeker’s market; remember, you’re in control.

Mistake #3: Only looking for one specific job title.
Job titles are as diverse as the companies that create them. One company’s PR Assistant might be another company’s Corporate Communications Strategist, but their roles might be the same. By searching one specific job title, you may be missing out on exciting roles at cool companies that simply describe the role differently.

When you’re setting up job alerts or looking through job postings online, try searching for job responsibility keywords instead of titles, then narrow down the results on your own. For example, if you’re looking for a writing job, consider setting up job alerts for terms like “Content,” “Writer,” “Editor,” “Content Creator,” and “Content Marketing.” While you may have to spend more time wading through postings that may not apply, you’ll be glad you aren’t missing out on what could be your dream gig.

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8/5/18 - 7 steps to rebrand yourself for a career change

Just because you don’t have experience in a new field doesn’t mean your skills aren’t valuable in that field. Here’s what to do before you make a move. 


Ready for a career change, but worried you don’t have the experience or skills to land a job in your desired field? Filling your resume with your previous work experience that has no similarity to the job you’re applying for is likely to land your resume in the trash can. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a career you hate forever.

Dawn Graham, PhD, career coach, psychologist, and author of the book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Career–and Seize Success, says rebranding your professional experience is key to a successful career switch. “When you’re making a switch, you need to be a good fit for the role, and while some of your skills and experiences may be transferrable, many may not be,” she says. Here’s how you can prove that you’re worthy of the title, even when your resume shows no previous experience in the field.

Use social media to your advantage to rebrand yourself in your new career area. Follow thought leaders in your target industry and comment on their posts. Connect with relevant industry groups and associations, share relevant and interesting articles within your online network, comment on posts, attend the biggest industry conferences, and develop a network of contacts in the industry. “Technology makes it easier than ever to market yourself in a way that appeals to the audience you choose,” says Graham. The more you can demonstrate that you’re serious and invested in your new target industry, the more credible you will seem.

Rebranding yourself takes time and introspection. Everyone has transferrable skills, even if you think you don’t. Graham gives the example of a recruiter who wants to move into social media marketing. “You can show off your customer research, analytics, and technical savvy skills,” she says. Demonstrating how you can reach new customers using the same skill set you used to uncover qualified candidates is a way to prove that your experience is relevant.

To determine your skills, Graham recommends breaking down achievements. “If you contributed to saving a large client, consider the steps that got you to that result–perhaps problem solving, diplomacy, creativity, and influencing.” Do the same with other accomplishments and you’ll soon notice a pattern of core strengths. Try going through this exercise with a colleague or manager who may be able to see strengths that you are overlooking.

In order to find out what skills and experiences are most relevant to your new career choice, spend time learning as much as you can about your target position. Speak with professionals in your target industry, look for volunteer positions in the industry, take courses, and attend professional events to learn what experiences and skill sets are most valuable in the new industry.

While most of us use our job title when introducing ourselves, this can be an error when you’re switching careers. Many companies use language that doesn’t translate outside the industry. A title can cause confusion for someone in another industry, and biases their opinion toward your application. They may think right away that you’re not a good fit without reading further into your experiences. Instead of focusing on your title, place the emphasis on your value–the skills you developed in that position.

In order to highlight your value and position yourself as a good fit for the job, you need to know the challenges the hiring manager is trying to solve. “Many job seekers have incredible accomplishments, but without knowing what is important to your audience, you risk leading off with accomplishments that, while impressive, lead the hirer to think you’re not a fit for the role,” says Graham.

When in a job interview, make one of your first questions about the challenges the company or department is facing at this time. Once you find out the hiring company’s pain points, you can select the achievements from your background that best align with what the hiring manager is looking for in the role.

Some of your best accomplishments and achievements may not be impressive to the hiring manager if they have no relation to the job you’re applying for. To be most effective in rebranding yourself professionally, select the parts of your experience that align most closely with your target role. To make your application in this new field stronger, highlight these experiences in your LinkedIn profile. If hiring managers are reviewing your resume and then jump over to LinkedIn and see a whole different type of experience highlighted, they may be confused and cause them to put aside your resume. Rebranding your professional experience may mean dropping what you think are some of your best accomplishments, but by focusing on “fit” first, you will have a better chance of a recruiter recognizing you as a potential candidate for the position.

“Every hiring manager wants to know why this job at this company at this time,” says Graham. Your answer to this question will be especially important if you’re a career switcher. Graham argues that switchers can have the upper hand in answering this question because they have most likely spent a great deal of time studying the industry, thinking about what they want in a job when making their career switch decision.


Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto who covers topics related to mental and physical health. She strives to help readers make small changes to their daily habits that have a profound and lasting impact on their productivity and overall job satisfaction.

7/29/18 - How to Write a Resume Summary That Grabs Recruiters’ Attention

by Lillian Childress 

To include a resume summary, or not to include a resume summary? The nagging question that has plagued many a job seeker.

Well, here’s some advice to clear the matter up: yes, you should include a summary. Unless you are really pressed for space, have a significant amount of description writing in the body of your resume, or you’re specifically directed not to include a summary, it’s an essential addition to a professional resume. “Most people should have a summary,” says Lynn Carroll — a career coach who writes about authenticity in the job search, gender equity in the workplace, and inclusion — who we reached out to to learn how to create an eye-catching resume summary.

Carroll distinguishes between a resume objective, which she says is what the jobseeker is looking to find in a company or position, and a resume summary, which tells a recruiter what the jobseeker can uniquely offer to a company or position. “The objective is now considered by most recruiters as an out-of-date function because it focuses on the jobseeker… The summary is considered more current and a better way to describe the relationship between the jobseeker and the company because it talks about what they can offer,” says Carroll.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your summary:

Keep it Short
There are plenty of opportunities to expound on your qualifications and experience in the job search process, like in your cover letter or the interview. The resume summary is a place to make the resume a bit more personalized, and to frame your resume in terms of the type of candidate you believe the company is looking for. For this reason, it’s important to keep the summary short. Carroll recommends writing a full paragraph at first, and then gradually whittling it down to two or three sentences full of powerful, important words. “By condensing — rather than on the very first pass have a short summary — sometimes you give a lot more thought to what the most important pieces really are,” she advises.

Tell a Story
A resume summary isn’t a place to re-hash your professional experience, or to list out your soft skills. It’s about giving the reader a brief, vivid taste of what kind of person you are in the workplace, what drives you and makes you tick, and what kind of environments you thrive in. Keep this in mind as you write your summary: tell, don’t list.

Use Relevant Keywords
Keywords are important for several reasons. First of all, they can help you stand out in applicant tracking systems, a type of software that companies use to digitally sift through job applications. Second of all, you can show that you know how to speak the same language as the company. “If you were using the word ‘customer’ for example, and they were using the word ‘client’ in their job description, the idea is the same but they don’t see that you are using their same lingo,” Carroll says. “They might feel like you’re not in touch with where they’re at.”

Use Vivid Language
Carroll says she always encourages her clients to use vivid, descriptive language, that brings their experience and skills to life. “If I describe a meeting I ‘organized’, that seems like I set the conference call up. If I describe a meeting that I ‘envisioned,’ or I describe a gathering that I ‘developed’, that sounds like I had more input into the content,” she says. Using verbs that have active connotations rather than passive connotations can help this, Carroll adds.

Match the Tone to the Occasion
There’s no one tone to strike in a resume summary. It all depends on the type of job you’re applying for and the kind of company you’re sending your resume off to. Carroll gives the example of someone applying to a job at a more traditional, hierarchical Fortune 500 company versus someone applying to a job at a Silicon Valley startup. At the Fortune 500 company, she says, the applicant might want to use phrases like “solid foundation” and “excellent skills” to imply stability and reliability. At a startup, however, one might want to use phrases like “creative,” “innovative,” or “dynamic.” It all depends on the job you’re applying for, and also – don’t forget! – what describes you as a candidate the most accurately.

7/22/18 - 3 Job Offer Traps and How to Avoid Them

You probably have some room to get a little more.
by Daniel B. Kline 

When you get the call and hear that you're being offered a job, you deserve to take a moment and mentally congratulate yourself. You made it through the hiring process and landed the job -- that's a very big win.

Once that happens it's tempting to exhale and celebrate feeling that your work has been completed. In reality, landing a job offer is not the last step in the process. You still have to make the best deal possible for yourself, and there are multiple traps you can easily fall into.

That means you need to get a formal job offer and examine every bit of it. Is it fair? Is the money what you expected? Are there any odious clauses you don't want to accept? Just because you want the job does not mean you have to accept a first offer. There is usually some room to make yourself a better deal.

1. What to do if the salary is too low
Salary is an important part of a job offer to many people. If the number offered is too low, it's important to address that. Your first step is to simply ask for more money. Sometimes a low-ball offer is simply an attempt by the employer to make the best deal possible and a counteroffer is expected.

It's important to state what you consider a fair number. If the employer won't meet that figure, see if the company will consider a path to get you there over time. If you don't set the expectation of where you want to be and you accept a low number, you may fall into a trap where percentage-based raises mean you never get to the salary you deserve.

2. The vacation policy is sub-par
If you're not new to the workforce you should not be treated as an entry-level employee. Many companies have a policy where vacation is awarded by seniority. You can ask to be treated based on your seniority in the industry. If you were at your last job for 10 years, it's reasonable to ask to be considered as a longer-term employee when it comes to vacation.

3. There are benefits issues
In addition to salary and vacation, the benefits package is an important piece of the job offer. Some parts -- like 401(k) matches -- probably aren't negotiable. Other benefits, however, might have more wiggle room.

One area that can sometimes be negotiated is the waiting period for when health insurance kicks in. If a company starts health insurance for all new employees on the first of the month, there might not be any wiggle room there. If, however, there's a 90-day waiting period, you may be able to shorten that.

No matter what the benefit is, it never hurts to ask. If you want to work from home one day a week or have flexibility during bad weather, ask and make a case for yourself.

Be willing to walk away
Turning down a job over money or poor benefits isn't fun, but it's something you have to be willing to do. Obviously, your willingness to negotiate or even walk away depends on how much you need the job.

If you have options, however, it's best to not accept a bad offer. You might be passing on a job you wanted, but you're also passing on a company that perhaps does not fully value you.

Consider not just your short-term happiness, but also whether you can accept the situation six months or a year down the line. If the answer is no and the company won't budge on its offer, you may have to move on.

7/15/18 - Perfecting Your Resume [Checklist]

by Jillian Kramer 

Your Christmas wish list isn’t the only list you need to read and check twice. A resume checklist—a list of must-dos for your resume—can be essential for job search success.

“Most of the time, people just dive head-first into the resume, with a purpose of including everything and the kitchen sink,” according to Dawn Rasmussen, certified resume writer and founder of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. But, “without a checklist, people often end up including non-essential information and forget critical things,” she points out.

With a resume checklist, you can avoid mistakes and “provide a potential employer with the exact information that they are seeking,” Rasmussen says. But what should go on it?

Glassdoor has created an easy-peasy guide to help you craft the perfect resume, along with a checklist you can read and tick off as you write. But below, you’ll find the TL;DR version, in which we and Rasmussen walk you through the essentials of any good resume checklist.

Design matters.
According to Glassdoor’s guide, you shouldn’t go overboard with intricate or decorative resume templates. Instead, stick to styles with sufficient white space and an 11-point font.

What’s more, Rasmussen recommends placing your target job title at the top of a resume. “Every resume should have a target job title headline at the top of the document,” she says. “This acts as an introduction so the reader’s expectations are shaped as to what they can anticipate reading about. This job title headline acts as a clarifying driver and a lynchpin.”

List your experience.
In your experience section, you must include—at a minimum—the following information:

But perhaps more importantly, you must find a way to quantify the experience you list out. Our guide encourages you to use concrete data points whenever possible, and Rasmussen agrees. “It is very tempting to do the old copy and paste of your current job description into your employment experience, but a critical element of success here is to demonstrate the ‘so what?’ by creating concise bulleted sentences that take tasks and put them into practical application with measurable results,” she says. “For example, you don’t want to say you met with clients. It’s much better to say, ‘generated $50,000 surge in new revenue after meeting with clients to better understand how company products could fit their needs.’” In other words, “complete the thought of what you want to say and provide the impact not the task.”

Include other positions.
Our guide advises you to include all your positions—even those that may not directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Why? Because those jobs can still be used to show off the skills you have and will presumably use in your new job and at your new place of work.

Plus, “career movement is critical for job seekers,” Rasmussen says. “Employers like to hire movers and shakers, so how are you demonstrating traction? Make sure that professional development is on your resume checklist so you can show employers that you have current job knowledge, minimal skill gaps, and are well-poised to contribute thought leadership that will propel companies into meeting future clients’ needs as well as industry changes.”

Use keywords.
When you’re writing or editing your resume, make sure to check the job listing for relevant keywords you can add to your document. It’s important for those keywords to make their way onto resume because many companies use tech that scans applications for keywords. And if the tech can’t find the words it’s looking for, your resume could end up in the trash.

Make it human-friendly, too.
While you need to optimize your resume for technology, as described above, you also need to make it human-friendly by “putting the things most relevant and interesting to this job up top,” the Glassdoor guide recommends. “Remember, hiring managers spend an average of six seconds looking at your resume, so you want to [very, very] quickly catch their eye.”

Revise—and revise again.
The last thing on your checklist should be to reread your work, checking for errors in both grammar and spelling, and any missed opportunities to show off your skills. Even resume writers edit their work. “Resume writers must embrace perfection yet they are also human and therefore prone to making mistakes,” Rasmussen says. “The best words of advice I received about writing a resume then editing was to read the document from the bottom up. We are trained to skim from top down, and that’s where our eyes can completely skip over or block out glaring issues. Reading the resume from the top up is challenging though.”

You may also want to have another person—a trusted friend, colleague, career coach, or mentor—read over your work before submitting it. “When you have read something a thousand times, a fresh pair of eyes can help zero in on mistakes,” Rasmussen points out.

Click here for a job seekers toolkit for resumes from Glassdoor: 

7/8/18 - The Top Reasons You’re Not Hearing Back After Sending Dozens of Job Applications

by Emily Moore 

Unfortunately, rejection is an unavoidable aspect of the job search. With so many different companies looking for different qualities, you cannot be everything to everyone — and as such, you’re going to get rejected (or even more likely, hear radio silence), every now and then.

But if you’ve sent out 10 or 20 applications and haven’t heard a word in response, it’s time to stop thinking of it as a series of flukes and start thinking of it as a pattern. More likely than not, there’s a reason you’re not hearing back. The good news? It’s often entirely in your power to fix what’s wrong.

In the spirit of radical candor, here are a few of the most common reasons you’re not hearing back from recruiters and hiring managers, and what you can do to pivot to a winning strategy.

1. You’re Not Being Thoughtful About Where You Apply
In their first-ever job search, most people take a “spray-and-pray” approach, which involves applying to just about every position that catches their eye. While many quickly learn that this isn’t the best strategy, others never grow out of it — perhaps they lucked out with this tactic early on and mistakenly credited their success to it. But this game plan will burn you sooner rather than later, cautions Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.

“Individuals in the job search often send out resumes indiscriminately. They have been programmed to believe that more is better,” Cohen says. “But if the fit is imperfect, no matter how many are sent, the resume will be ignored — and, despite the fact that it was wrong from the start, it still feels like a rejection.”

Sure, you may be excited about a job, but that isn’t reason enough to believe it’s a good fit — especially if you don’t have the relevant skills and experience needed to succeed.

“If you don’t meet at least the minimum qualifications of the role, your resume may be screened out of the pool… You don’t necessarily have to meet every single listed qualification on the job description, but you do have to demonstrate that you are a good match for the role,” says Mary Grace Gardner, career strategist at The Young Professionista. The fix for this is easy: review job descriptions carefully and don’t apply if you don’t think you’re quite there yet.

On the flipside, you may not be the right fit for the role because you’re overqualified. “If your experience far exceeds what the job requires, your resume may be pushed to the side because hiring managers may assume they can’t afford to hire you,” Gardner shares.

If that’s the case, you have two options: either “look for positions that require experience and skills either equal to or slightly above what you have,” or, if you’re willing to accept a more junior role, “make sure to highlight only the relevant parts of your skills and experience for the specific job you are applying to,” Gardner suggests.

2. Your Resume Needs an Overhaul
To paraphrase Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation is usually the best one. Sure, it’s possible that your application slipped through the cracks or that the recruiter just can’t recognize a good resume when they see it, but the odds of that happening over and over again are slim. When you constantly hear rejections, it’s time to take a good look at the most important document in your job search: your resume.

There are many reasons your resume may not be up to par. One of the most common reasons could be that you aren’t using the right keywords.

“Resumes are scanned nowadays for keywords and phrases to demonstrate fit. If a resume is generic in its content and tries to cover as many bases as possible, it will lack the precision that is essential to demonstrate both qualifications and passion,” Cohen says.

In order to prove that you’re a strong contender, “highlight key experiences you’ve had that match the description of the role you’re applying for and make sure to strategically use industry-specific keywords on your resume and cover letter,” Gardner adds. Make sure to tailor this section for each position you apply to.

Other resume mistakes you could be making: typos, failing to demonstrate the impact of your actions, burying the lede, exaggerating, unexplained resume gaps, etc. If you want to avoid errors like this, share your resume with others — especially any recruiters, HR professionals, resume writers or career coaches you feel comfortable reaching out to — and incorporate their feedback.

3. You’re Not Networking
You might have heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” before. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration — skills and experience matter plenty — it is true that a referral can help you get your foot in the door.

“It’s no secret that the resumes that float to the top of the pile are oftentimes the ones that have a warm connection in the form of a referral from a trusted colleague. For highly competitive roles, there may be thousands of applicants and dozens or even hundreds of people who sound just like you on an application,” Gardner says. “To stand out from the crowd, ask your network of family, friends and colleagues if they know anyone at the company you are applying to. If so, ask if they would be willing to refer you.”

Don’t worry, though — you’re not totally out of luck if you don’t already know somebody at the company.

“Applying online is great, but you also need to follow this up with outreach to the hiring manager or other contacts within the company,” says career coach Angela Copeland. “Taking the time to do something extra will ensure you get noticed.”

A more subtle, but nonetheless powerful, way to network your way into a job is to ask for an informational interview with someone at the company.

“If the informational interview goes well, you can tactfully mention you’ve submitted an application to the company and ask if they have any recommendations as you pursue the role… Having someone with clout vouch for you can dramatically increase your chances of hearing back from a recruiter,” Gardner shares.

Outside of these activities, “focus on building your LinkedIn network, or your social networking tool of choice. The goal is to establish key contacts at desirable companies,” Cohen explains. “Embrace the company by reaching out to multiple points of contact and entry. That is how you will hear about openings and potential opportunities; some that may never reach the posting stage. Plus, these are the folks who will serve as your advocates; lots of companies actually offer incentives for introducing terrific candidates who eventually get hired.”

4. The Company Dropped the Ball
As mentioned before, receiving rejections over and over again is probably an indication that you’re doing something wrong — but if it’s just a select few companies you’re not hearing back from, it’s possible that there are things occurring behind the scenes that you’re not privy to.

“Companies may not fill every role in the way that we picture as job seekers. For example, they may have an internal candidate that’s preselected” but post the position anyway, Copeland says. In cases like these, it might be “standard company policy to keep a position open for some specified period of time” even if they already know they have a strong internal contender, Cohen adds.

Other times, “they may put a position on hold due to budgetary constraints or because the reporting structure has changed. Companies rarely communicate these details to the job seeker,” Copeland says. Still other times, they could just “be slow to process applications. They are filling many positions at one time, with many moving parts.”

The most important part when you encounter roadblocks like these? “Don’t give up hope,” Copeland says. If you’ve verified that you’re doing everything right, “keep applying and eventually, you will begin to receive responses.”


7/1/18 - 7 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

by Julia Malacoff 


There’s definitely an art to writing the perfect cover letter, and it’s one that many job seekers don’t take the time to learn. While it does require some effort to get right, once you learn how to write an effective cover letter, it gets easier and easier each time you do it. Here are the biggest cover letter mistakes career coaches and job search pros see, and what they tell their clients to do instead to seal the deal.

1. Regurgitating Your Resume
When candidates don’t know what to write in their cover letter, they often resort to restating their job history. But this isn’t a great tactic. “Remember, the employer already has your resume, so there’s no need to repeat your entire work history,” points out Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume. “Focus on making your career narrative and relevant qualifications crystal clear.” In other words, tell the reader a story about not just your past jobs, but how you got where you are today and why you think this position you’re applying for is the right next step.

It’s also okay to make things a little personal, as opposed to your resume, which should be totally professional. “Your cover letter should not only whet the reader’s appetite, but also add value to your entire job application,” Augustine says. “Use this opportunity to give the reader a sense of your personality. While the resume can be a dry document, your cover letter is your opportunity to imbue your personality so the reader can begin to assess your cultural fit for the organization.”

2. Using a Generic Template Letter
“I often see cover letters that were obviously copied-and-pasted,” says Christopher K. Lee, founder and career consultant at Purpose Redeemed. Basically, you don’t want to use the same cover letter for every job with just the contact name, company name and position title swapped out. “Even when the hiring manager and company name are correct, you can tell that it’s a generic template letter.”

“Instead, take time to review the job listing again and identify the top three things the hiring manager appears to be seeking in an ideal candidate,” Augustine suggests. “Use this information to customize your message. Explain how you are a good fit for the role by summarizing your qualifications based on their requirements. Better yet, open your cover letter with a story that provides proof of your skills the employer cares about most.”

“For an added personal touch, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn or Twitter,” Lee recommends. If you can find something you have in common, like a school, volunteer organization or hometown, find a way to slip it naturally into your cover letter. “Don’t force this, however — it must be a genuine connection,” he says.

3. Only Talking Up Your Soft Skills
“The worst mistake I see in cover letters is candidates adding too many soft skills rather than focusing on job-related skills,” says Nancy Spivey, a career coach. “Many fill the cover letter with content about how they are reliable, motivated and dependable. Well, let’s hope that you’re reliable, motivated and dependable. Those characteristics are bare minimums that a hiring manager expects from any applicant.” Instead, do your best to set yourself apart by explaining how your hard skills and experience could add value to their organization. “Tell them about your accomplishments with those skills as it relates to the job,” Spivey says.

4. Writing Too Much
“An overly wordy cover letter is a waste of time and a big mistake,” states Jessica Hernandez, an executive resume writer and president and CEO of Great Resumes Fast. Keep the body of your cover letter to 150 words or less, she suggests.

“Employers are pressed for time and simply do not see the value in investing their time reading a lengthy cover letter,” Hernandez says. “Additionally, many employers and recruiters are reading on their mobile devices, so keeping your cover letter brief will ensure it is easier to read… which increases the chances that it actually will be read.”

5. Including Non-Essential Information
The main thing you want to get across in your cover letter is why you’re the right fit for the job. That means everything you include should be specific to the company and the position you’re applying for. “The manager doesn’t need to read about extracurricular activities that are not work-related or about every book you’ve ever read,” Spivey says. “In fact, an applicant that I know had a hiring manager respond to his cover letter once to give him some advice. The manager stated that he had initially thought that the candidate was a close match for the position based on his resume. However, the cover letter had changed his mind because of the way it rambled and included so much unnecessary and irrelevant information.”

6. Not Easing Fears About Relocation
“Out-of-town applicants are typically at the bottom of the list of candidates since the odds of this candidate coming to work for them is less than slim and expensive,” notes Russell Cranford, the owner of Resume Pundits. If you’re applying for a job somewhere far from your current city, be sure to use the cover letter as an opportunity to quash and concerns they might have. “Find a way to connect yourself to the area. Examples could be: You are originally from the area, you have family in the area or your partner/spouse accepted a position in the area,” he says.

7. Not Referencing Next Steps
Don’t miss the opportunity to plant the seed of an interview in the recruiter or hiring manager’s head. “This is one of the oldest sales strategies known to man, but it works,” Cranford says. “Close your cover letter by giving the employer your interview availability. By doing this, the reader automatically thinks in their head, ‘Hmm, what am I doing that day?’ By getting into their mental schedule, you are already penciling yourself in.”

Cranford’s suggested closer: “Based on your requirements and my passion for this position, I feel like I would be an ideal candidate. I am available to speak via phone or in person on Wednesdays and Fridays after 1 p.m. and welcome the opportunity to discuss my candidacy.” According to Cranford, it works like a charm.

6/24/18 - 6 Steps to Figuring Out If You’ve Got The Right Job Offer

by Julia Malacoff 

You’ve landed a job offer. Congratulations! Now, you have to decide if you’ll accept it. Occasionally, an offer is so good that the choice is obvious, but most of the time, that’s just not the case. Every position has its benefits and drawbacks, and no two companies are exactly alike, but there are some common questions you should ask yourself and factors you should contemplate before saying yes or no to an offer. Here are six key things to consider.

Step 1: Do a gut check.

Before you think about negotiating or even get into the details, take a moment to consider your initial reaction to the offer and the job itself. “While data is important, you also want to trust your gut,” says Mikaela Kiner, an executive career coach and CEO of uniquelyHR.

“During your interviews, were you hopeful things would work out? Or, would you have been relieved if they chose someone else? Don’t dismiss concerns, even if they were just fleeting thoughts,” she says. Your instinct and intuition about whether or not a job is a good fit are usually right.

Ask yourself how you felt when you first got the offer. Was it excited? Disappointed? Something else? You answer can be incredibly revealing about whether this is the right opportunity for you or not.

Step 2: Ask yourself the big questions.

Before diving into the numbers and other specifics in the offer, you should ask yourself the following important questions, according to Dana Manciagli, a career coach and speaker: Are the tasks and responsibilities of the job something you want to do full time? Did the team and environment you will be working in seem pleasant and safe? What are the sacrifices you’re making by taking this particular job, and are any of those sacrifices things you don’t want to give up?

Basically, you want to be sure that you’re going to be happy with your day-to-day life in this new gig before getting any further along in the process. “If you feel good about your answers, then move along,” Manciagli says. “If not, ask for another meeting to get some questions answered OR communicate it is not the right position and you’ll pass. The key is not to accept or negotiate an offer if you are not willing to work there.”

Step 3: Decide if taking this position will help you advance your career goals.

If you’re job hunting, you’ve probably taken the time to think about what your career goals are. “I recommend my clients make a list of what they are looking for even before they begin searching for a job,” says Amy M. Gardner, Certified Professional Coach with Apochromatik. “If you’ve done that, go back to the list you created and evaluate the offer against the factors you initially listed.” How does this current job offer measure up in terms of opportunity to accomplish these goals?

It’s also key to look beyond financial objectives, Gardner emphasizes. Money is important, but for long-term job happiness, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. The list of questions to contemplate, Gardner says, should include: “Are there enough other areas within the organization that you can have room for advancement, even if your immediate supervisor is there for eternity? Does the company support and encourage employees to continue to learn and grow? Will you be able to get home in time for the non-work things that are important to you? Will your stress level be what you’d like it to be?” If you feel good about the answers to these questions, move on to the next step.

Step 4: Carefully evaluate the salary and benefits package.

Obviously, compensation matters. “It’s important that your needs are met by your job,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, an automated recruiting platform. “When evaluating an offer, you need to look at the entire offer, not just the salary.”

Often, the base salary alone does not provide the whole compensation picture. “It may be that the salary is $5,000 lower than you had hoped for, but the full package being offered counterbalances it,” Miklusak explains. “What does the total package contribute to your personal and financial needs? Sometimes, a job that at first glance looks like it’s paying less can actually provide more financial security than a job with a higher salary.” Take into account benefits like subsidized child care, bonus opportunities, and health care options.

Step 5: Understand who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis.

This is easier said than done, but it’s important, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your new team. While it’s tricky to execute, if you can find out more about your future team, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision. “It’s important to ask yourself whether you will be working with the kind of people who will engage, excite, and challenge you—without driving you crazy,” Gardner says.

“Whether and how you can get to know people in advance varies depending on whether you are in the same city as the employer, what your role will be, and how big the group is. But do what you can to get a sense of your future team, because they will have a huge impact on both your job satisfaction and your success,” she adds.

Step 6: Decide whether the company is really somewhere you want to work.

If you’ve made it this far, the main thing left to determine is how well the company fits into your life, not just in terms of location and size, but also in terms of company culture. “Ask everyone you can about company culture—not just their brand, but what it’s really like to work there day to day,” Kiner recommends. “No one is going to say ‘Our culture is toxic,’ but you can figure it out through a combination of questions and observations.”

“Ask about what you’d look for in a healthy work environment. That might be access to training, how often people get promoted from within, flexibility, recognition, or teams that celebrate together,” she says. “If too many of these are missing, it’s a red flag.”

Another thing to consider is why the job is open in the first place. “I’m always cautious when a position is open because someone left the company,” says Laura Handrick, HR Analyst at “If HR tells you the company is growing, that’s great! If the former person whose job you’re replacing moved up in the organization, that’s also a positive sign. But if you see job openings at this company all the time, it may be a telltale sign that it’s not a great place to work.” In other words, turnover can be an important clue as to what it’s really like to work somewhere—one you shouldn’t ignore.

6/17/18 - How to Sell Yourself in a Video Interview, According to a Remote Worker

by Kanika Tolver 

As an Information Technology professional for the last 14 years, I have discovered a passion for applying to 100% remote jobs. Most of these remote-friendly companies are not in my local Washington D.C. area. Therefore, the entire interview process is done via video using Skype, Google hangout or Zoom. Even companies in my local area have decided to utilize video technologies to pre-screen employees before they request a face-to-face interview. The gift and curse of conducting interviews via video conferencing are that you don’t have to get all dressed up, but you have to sell your personality, experience, and knowledge on camera.

Throughout my career, I have conducted over 20 video job interviews with federal government agencies and private sector companies. I’ve learned a lot about how to sell myself by simply being authentic and adapting to the energy of the interview panel. Because I have been successful, I know that you can sell yourself into the job of your dreams and never step foot in a corporate office.

Here’s how:

1. Get on Camera in a Bright and Quiet Place

When I perform my video job interviews I always make sure I am in a quiet place in my house on in a private office at a coworking space. I make sure to turn off my cell phone and music so there are no distractions. Also, since you are going on camera via your laptop or desktop, make sure you are in a room with good lighting, so the interview panel can clearly see your face.

2. Be Presentable, But Don’t Over Dress

For all of my video job interviews, I dress casually. I usually iron a long sleeve blue denim button down top. I make sure my hair looks perfect, apply light makeup with a neutral lip gloss, and wear my red eyeglasses, which is my signature cool geek look. It is not necessary to dress up in business attire for a video interview because they will only see your you face and chest. Not to mention, you want them to see your authentic self and fancy clothes may be a distraction.

3. Bring Authentic Energy on Camera

Now that I am dressed comfortably in my casual cool geek attire, it’s time to sell the real me. I always do my best to provide a warm welcome at the beginning of the interview. Also, since I have a big personality, I try to convey my excitement, passion and drive throughout the entire interview. Most companies are looking for a culture fit so it’s important to let the interview panel know who you are on camera without being fake. Please be the real you, so you can easily describe your expertise and past work experience.

4. Clearly Answer the Interview Questions

I love answering job interview questions in the form of storytelling and technical explanations. When I am asked about my past career roles, I briefly describe each role and give them a small snapshot of what I did and what I accomplished. I am always prepared to answer scenario-based questions, clearly describing how I would develop and execute a technical solution. You have to sell your knowledge on camera by making good eye contact, smiling as you respond and projecting your voice so they can hear you. It’s important for you to ask non-typical questions at the end of the interview. You want to ask questions that will amaze them about their company, technical processes and the role. Always make sure you stand out from the other candidates.

5. Follow-Up with a Thank You Email

Once the video interview is over, you want to send them a thank you email to display your interest in the role. Most of my video interviews involved more than 1 round with a new interviewer. So, I always send a thank you email within 24 hours of the interview. Always display your excitement for the role you interviewed for when you compose your thank you email. Lastly, make sure you sell why you would be a good fit role in the thank you email.

In the future, video job interviews will continue to become more popular. Please be ready to sell your personal and career brand on camera. Most good companies are looking for authentic personalities, strong career experiences and solid technical knowledge.

Kanika Tolver is a former highly-decorated government employee turned rebel entrepreneur and Certified Professional Coach. She is a serial innovator who’s fueled by an extraordinary commitment to social change and to helping others create their own “epic lives.” Tolver helps individuals establish themselves at the “architect of their own life” to realize career, business, life and spiritual success — all in a way that promotes restoration, balance and nurturing one’s authentic self. Her services include career coaching and technology coaching.

6/10/18 - This Is How You Prepare to Nail the Interview for Your Dream Job

They know you're nervous. They want to see how you deal with it.

John Boitnott, Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor 

I’ve talked with a lot of hiring managers over the years and most of them say they hope every interview goes well. The faster they find the right person for the job, the sooner they can move on to tackling other pressing goals.

But the reality is, only a handful of candidates crush the interview process. Few applicants prepare for it properly, leaving their professional fate to hiring managers who must often choose among a group of equally qualified candidates.

What you want to do is put the hiring manager in a position where making you an offer is a no-brainer. Follow the four strategies I outline here to do just that.

Embody the organization’s culture.
As a candidate your job is to display two sets of traits, the first is related to professional excellence. Hiring managers want to find people who will make their lives easier, which is why they try to hire the most talented people they can find. A good candidate will get in tune with roles that a company is trying to fill, learn more about those, and be ready to speak about how they can fill the need.

The second set of traits is related to culture fit. If you think you can nail the first side of the equation, it’s time to focus your energy on embodying the organization’s culture. To do this, you’ll need to invest time in researching the ins and outs of the company. Read the articles and books authored by members of the company’s leadership team. Watch videos of that feature senior leaders.

Look for a company culture deck published on the company’s website, on Medium, or Slideshare. Read positive employee reviews on Glassdoor to better understand the mindset of happy employees.

During the interview, you can demonstrate that you’re a culture fit by carefully thinking about the examples you provide when prompted by interviewers. Ask incisive questions that show your thinking aligns with the company’s zeitgeist.

Since culture is hard to pinpoint, review your notes and prepared questions right before your interview. Your research should help you to mirror the kind of attitude hiring managers are looking for when speaking with candidates.

Calm your nerves.
I’ve seen it before. A candidate is great on paper and performs well during the phone interview. But during the in-person interview their hands shake and their voice quivers. As a result, they’re unable to deliver the goods during a critical question.

Anxiety isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s actually kind of endearing, especially if the candidate’s knowledge shines through. But if he or she can’t work through their anxiety and deliver cogent answers to questions, then you have to question whether they can handle on-the-job pressure. That means you, the candidate, need to take active measures to ensure you’re as calm as possible during the interview.

On the day of the interview, go about a routine that gives you a sense of normality. Arrive to the interview 10 to 15 minutes early. In the few minutes you have before the interview, do some yoga poses or deep breathing exercises. Once you’re in the interview, maintain eye contact and speak with conviction.

Demonstrate your value during the interview.
Most hiring managers are busy people. If they’ve been given the greenlight by HR to open a new position, it probably means their team is at or over capacity. As a result, hiring managers are looking for candidates who can immediately offer value.

Offer value during the interview process to demonstrate that you’re a smart and motivated professional. Think about organizational challenges that you’ve uncovered in the job description or in the interview process and solve for them. If all else fails, outline a 90-day plan that reviews what you’ll do if you’re hired. Share it with the hiring manager after an interview to show your willingness to immediately contribute to the team.

If you don’t get the job, apply again.
A dirty little secret of hiring teams I’ve been a part of is that if your resume is archived, it will never be resurfaced again. Even when we sent an automated rejection email saying the company would reach out if a position was a fit, chances are we were too busy and we forgot about you.

It may feel strange to apply to a company that already rejected you, but if you notice a new position that interests you, by all means apply again. Second time could be the charm. When you do, reach out to a member of the HR team and explain why you’re worth a second look. In most organization, this kind of tenacity can work in your favor.

Hiring managers are looking for candidates who are great at what they do and who can fit into an existing team. When preparing for an interview, put in the research time so you can show them that.

Try to think about it in terms of not leaving the decision up to the hiring manager. Take the bull by the horns. Prove you can add value early and show you’re a culture fit. You’ll significantly increase the odds of getting an offer at your dream job.

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

6/3/18 - How to Compete in the Job Market as an Older Worker

Hiring managers aren't allowed to mention age – and you shouldn't, either.

By Rebecca Koenig 

Age discrimination in hiring is illegal. Nevertheless, it happens, and it's one of the reasons why workers over age 50 experience longer bouts of unemployment than younger people.

A study on laid-off workers from 2008 to 2012 shows 65 percent of those older than 62 were still unemployed after 12 months, compared to 47 percent of those ages 50 to 61; 39 percent for those ages 35 to 49; and 35 percent of those ages 25 to 34, according to economist Richard Johnson, senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Biases are one barrier blocking older workers from good opportunities, says Dan Ryan, principal of Ryan Search & Consulting: "There's a perception among some people making hiring decisions that [older workers] may be less adaptable to change."

Salary expectations are another salient factor that sometimes work against older people who are hunting for jobs.

"Many people making hiring decisions think that they can hire someone with less experience, if the job warrants that, for a lower rate of pay," Ryan says.

So what can older workers do to improve their chances on the job market? Experts recommend the following approaches:

Improve Your Digital Footprint

Most modern jobs require at least some use of digital technology, and in many industries the hiring process itself has migrated online. That means it's important for older workers to demonstrate that they're savvy with digital tools and to use best practices with social media.

Older workers should take the time to create strong profiles on the business social network LinkedIn, experts say. Highlight specific skills and completed projects, suggests Josh Howarth, district president of Robert Half human resources consulting firm. Take advantage of the option to use a vanity URL – one that clearly identifies your name – for your profile, says Ashley Inman, who works in human resources for the multinational company Ferrovial.

And only use photos that look professional, says Unique Morris-Hughes, interim director of the Washington DC Department of Employment Services, which offers a program that helps people ages 50 to 64 find work.

"You might love your grandkids, but it's not the best idea in your photo to include you and all your grandkids," she explains. "Avoid the playful photos that make folks question your seriousness or your intent." Instead, for LinkedIn photos, she recommends that job seekers wear clean, white shirts and ask friends or relatives to take simple headshots with the camera lens focused on the face.

Just like all job seekers, older workers should learn about privacy settings on the social media accounts they use and "avoid posting things that are controversial or could be considered inappropriate," Morris-Hughes says.

The email address you use may accidentally reveal your age, Ryan warns. Email services offered by AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail date back to the 1990s, while Gmail launched in 2004, making it more likely that someone who uses AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail is "a more mature worker," Ryan says. He advises job seekers to ditch AOL accounts in favor of a more modern option. It's also important that your email address has a professional username.

Keep It Current

Your resume should reflect your experience, not your age.

If you've worked for three or four decades, you're probably proud of all that labor. But hiring managers are only interested in your experience that's most relevant to their needs.

So "limit work history to the last 10 to 15 years" on your resume, Morris-Hughes says. "At the end of the resume, you can summarize the remaining years at a very high level."

Consider removing dates related to your education background from your resume, Ryan suggests. The year you earned your college degree may serve as an immediate – and unhelpful – signal of your age and prove to be a "limiting factor" to your job search, he says. Using a functional resume organized by skills rather than chronological jobs is another way to avoid using dates.

Shore Up Your Skills

If your line of work requires certifications, make sure yours are still valid, Howarth says. That might require taking a few classes to meet new standards or simply contacting the organizations that manage those credentials and asking that they be reactivated or renewed. Acquiring new certifications can also make older workers more competitive in the job market. Ryan recommends a project management professional certification, since it's relevant to many fields.

Joining and staying active in relevant professional associations is another good way to keep your skills current. Plus, Ryan says, these kinds of memberships "show linkage, activeness and value" to potential employers.

Don't Discuss Age

In the hiring process, age should remain a taboo topic. The person interviewing you shouldn't bring it up and neither should you.

If someone much younger than you is doing the hiring, it may be tempting to point out the age difference, but that's a big mistake that comes across as condescending, Inman says. Avoid phrases, no matter how playful, such as, "I've been working longer than you've been alive."

"People think they're assuming a parental frame to break the ice, but it's not helpful," Inman says.

Use a Positive Frame

Older workers should, however, discuss in positive terms what they have to offer potential employers thanks to their many years on the job.

"Speaking about the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring to the workforce is a way to highlight their maturity and age," Morris-Hughes says.

For example, in fields like sales and business development, older workers likely have many connections and wide networks, which can help companies boost revenue, Ryan says.

People who have been working for decades are often experts in workplace communication and team management, Inman says, and they often possess those hard-to-define qualities that younger colleagues haven't yet honed, such as "managerial courage" and "executive presence."

She recommends job candidates highlight these qualities during interviews with statements such as: "I'm a very experienced leader of people. I can identify talent successfully."

Get to the Point

Brevity is an important communication strategy during the job search process. Many of the older job seekers with whom Inman interacts tend to "oversell" and "overtalk."

"Quite frankly, the attention spans of millennials are not as long" as those of baby boomers, Inman says. "When you're giving an answer, make sure you've rehearsed it."

Develop a 30-second pitch that summarizes your experience, strengths and what you have to offer a potential employer, Morris-Hughes recommends.

"In the first 30 seconds or minute, I have formed a thought on a person," she explains. "Use those first 30 seconds carefully and wisely in a job interview."

Rebecca Koenig is the Careers reporter at U.S. News, where she covers employment, workplace culture and editorial content supporting Best Jobs. She previously worked as a reporter for The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Chronicle of Higher Education, where she won the David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists, and as managing editor for Town & Style St. Louis Magazine. She studied English and history at the College of William & Mary. You can follow Rebecca on Twitter or email her at

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5/27/18 - 6 reasons you’re not getting hired and how to fix them

By Kyle Elliott 

Finding a job is not an easy task. It’s especially frustrating when you’ve sent out resume after resume and haven’t landed the dream job you’ve been working so hard for. It may be time to reflect on the real reasons you’re not getting hired and how you can fix them so you can finally land a job you love.

1. You’re overqualified or underqualified
Recruiters and hiring managers expect your experience, strengths, and skills to align with at least 1/2 — preferably 3/4 — of those listed in the job posting. So honestly ask yourself, are you applying for jobs that are above your area of expertise? Or are you beginning to feel desperate and just about ready to accept any offer, even one well below your pay grade?

Solution: It is your job as the candidate to show how your previous experiences line up with those outlined in the job posting. Use language found directly from each individual job posting, then relate it back to your own experiences and skills before applying. If your resume doesn’t clearly show how you’re a good fit, you’re not going to get calls.

2. Your resume needs some TLC
With recruiters only spending a handful of seconds on the first pass of a resume, your resume game needs to be on point and immediately catch their attention.

Solution: Start your resume with a brief summary that quickly highlights how you’re the perfect fit for the company and position. Use the remainder of the page to focus on the value and results you have delivered over the course of your career. A majority of this should be done using accomplishments.

3. You’re submitting your resume and not doing anything else
Submitting your cover letter and resume is not enough. Every application you submit should be coupled with extensive company research and networking, as networking accounts for upwards of 85% of new jobs.

Solution: Each time you apply for a job, seek out five people at the company who hold similar positions to the one you’re applying to. Send a friendly message and don’t be afraid to reach out to them by setting up a networking call or coffee meeting to learn more about the company and the work they do. You have nothing to lose and might just get yourself a reference — or job.

4. You’re networking passively or overly aggressive
Sending your resume to a recruiter or hiring manager with the message, ‘Attached is my resume. Please let me know if you have any positions available’ is passive networking.

Proceeding to then connect with them on multiple forms of social media outside of LinkedIn is overly aggressive networking — and honestly just a bit creepy.

Solution: You need to play an active role in your job search. Networking takes time, energy and effort as you work to develop two-way relations. As a job seeker, you need to put in just as much work as the recruiter or hiring manager.

Follow the companies you are interested in working at and reach out to employees to get a real glimpse into the company’s morale. And don’t be creepy!

5. You’re in need of some honest feedback
If you’ve followed all of the above steps and still aren’t landing interviews, you’re likely in need of some honest feedback.

Solution: Seek out a mentor or coach who can give you the advice you need to hear, not the advice you want to hear. While family and friends can serve as great support systems, they are not the objective lens you need. A mentor or coach can work with you to identify obstacles and remove roadblocks during your job search.

6. You’re blaming it on bad luck
While luck is involved in any job search, the role it plays is small. A vast majority of job search success comes down to hard work and effective job searching methods.

Solution: Focus on the aspects of the job search you do have control over — updating your resume and cover letter, leveraging LinkedIn and networking, seeking out mentorship and coaching, and preparing for your interviews.

Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES is the Career Coach behind where he helps people find jobs they LOVE (or at least tolerate). He loves coffee (if you couldn’t tell), writing, and eating the same thing at different restaurants.

5/20/18 - A top recruiter explains why you're hearing crickets after a job interview


You nailed the interviews, submitted great references, and were told the hiring committee would make a decision soon. As days—and maybe weeks—drag on without any word, it’s common to ask yourself questions such as:

As someone who’s counseled thousands of job seekers over the years, I’ve had many conversations with people who have faced a long and mysterious wait after the interview. And in a Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers, 57% of respondents said the long wait after the interview is the most frustrating situation in the job search.

My advice to them is to remember that when you face a long silence after an interview, it’s not always about you. Hiring managers should keep you posted on delays, but they don’t always follow through. Here are some reasons you may not be hearing back.

The budget has changed: The hiring manager may have had approval to hire when you applied and interviewed, but something may have changed since then: The firm didn’t meet sales targets. A major client departed. Another department has a more critical need and is now taking the headcount.

Decision makers are out of pocket: Most candidates meet several people at the firm in a series of interviews. One of the interviewers may have been called away for urgent business out of town. There may be an unexpected absence because of illness or family emergency. If a crisis is brewing that impacts the firm, the interview process may be on hold until the situation is resolved. (Some examples: a cybersecurity breach, lawsuit, or natural disaster that hits one of the firm’s locations.)

Something—or someone—was left out of the loop: Before opening a search, I advise firms to bring all the decision makers together to agree on the job description, commit to the hiring timeline, and set the salary range. When that doesn’t happen, surprises can crop up that stall the process. Suddenly, there’s one more person who needs to interview candidates, a skills test that the candidate must complete, or a couple of requirements that are added to the job description.

They’re having trouble making a decision: Companies sometimes get nervous before making the final decision, as they don’t want to make a costly hiring mistake. They may be struggling to decide between two great candidates. Or, late in the game, they may decide to open the search to consider more people.

What to do while you wait

The good news is that silence does not mean a “no” on your candidacy. It also doesn’t mean you should stand still. Focus on what you can control to keep your momentum and spirits high while you wait. Here are some ideas.

Check in with the hiring manager: In our survey of more than 300 hiring managers, 100% advised candidates to check in after the interview. Sixty-four percent recommend contact by e-mail; 36% said the ideal time to reach out is between one and two weeks after the interview. If you’ve received other offers or are nearing final interviews with other firms, let the hiring manager know.

Continue with your job search: You may be very close to the finish line with this opportunity, but don’t let it hold you back from other roles. Continue talking with your network and engaging with recruiters to uncover new opportunities. You may find a company that’s a better fit.

Talk to your mentor and referral source: If you’re feeling anxious, talk with your mentor to get an objective view on the situation. If a networking contact referred you for the role, reach out and ask if he’s aware of any developments. Don’t vent your frustration in writing via email or on any social media site—it’s not productive and will come back to haunt you.

Step away and recharge: Spending all your free time on a job search can be draining. Make sure you spend time with people you enjoy doing things you love.

Believe in your talents and don’t let long waits chip away at your confidence. In this market, talented people are in the driver’s seat. Companies that give prospective candidates the silent treatment are sending a clear message about their corporate culture and ability to make decisions. If this is how they communicate with prospective hires, what will it be like on the job? It’s something to think about.

Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half.

5/13/18 - Get ready, this year your next job interview may be with an A.I. robot

A 2017 Deloitte report found 33 percent of survey respondents already use some form of A.I. in the hiring process to save time and reduce human bias.
This year about 38 percent of Americans will be looking for a new job, according to a report by Glassdoor.
A number of start-ups and companies now offer A.I. recruitment tools.

by Tonya Riley, special to 

"It felt weird. I was kind of talking into the void," said Sarah, a 27-year-old marketing manager in Ohio of her first time using HireVue, an on-demand video interview platform for job seekers.

The recruiter she was working with told her it was "just like an interview on Skype," so she followed the interview tips on the company's website, making sure she was dressed appropriately and had a well-lit background. But to her surprise, there was no human involved. Her recruiter never mentioned that the interview would be analyzed by advanced machine learning, her facial expressions and word choice evaluated by a series of algorithms.

"You usually have a little time to do some small talk, but in the HireVue interview, I only had a practice question and then just went into it. There's not a lot of time to feel ready," she said of the interview that took place early last fall. "For me first impressions are everything, and it was hard to set that tone."

It must have worked, however, because she got the job offer.

About 38 percent of working Americans are actively looking for a new job or plan to sometime this year, according to a recent report by Glassdoor. But, like Sarah, they might be surprised to find that those "first impressions" so carefully emphasized by career coaches are now being outsourced to artificial intelligence.

A 2017 Deloitte report found 33 percent of survey respondents already used some form of A.I. in their hiring process. With jobless rates at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent according to a February report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, recruiters are increasingly looking for ways to bring in the best candidates faster and more efficiently than before. An emerging crop of new, "smart" hiring tools can do just that by cutting down interview processes from what traditionally took weeks to a matter of a few days.

Some of the new tools involve as little as answering a text message. In 2012, while building his company FirstJob, an online job board for millennials, Eyal Grayevsky discovered that many candidates never heard back from employers and that their materials seemed to go into a "black hole."

Four years later Grayevsky launched an A.I. recruiting tool named Mya (short for "my assistant") and rebranded his company as Mya Systems. Mya helps in the recruiting process by directly engaging with candidates via text, asking basic questions such as start date and salary requirements. Candidates can also ask Mya questions; when she doesn't know the answer, she will query the recruiter.

Within minutes Mya rules out candidates based on a preprogrammed assessment model or moves them along to the next part of the interview process. The experience is so seamless that 73 percent of surveyed candidates who had interacted with Mya reported they had interacted with a recruiter when they in fact had spoken only with the bot.

"Now 100 percent of candidates are getting a response; everyone is getting a chance," said Grayevsky. "Candidates feel like they really get a chance to express themselves to the company with more than just a résumé."

The 'race' for talent
Video hiring-tool companies, like HireVue and Montage, also boast speed as a key for why more and more recruiters are relying on their services. On-demand video allows candidates to interview any time of day, and in turn recruiters can review and compare dozens of interviews, all in the time it takes to commute to work.

"The most overused metaphor is that there's a war for talent right now, but it's actually not a war, it's a race," said HireVue CEO Kevin Parker. "And the people that are the fastest-selecting and reaching out to candidates are the people that win and enjoy a competitive advantage."

As for candidates who feel more trepidation than empowerment from video interviews, HireVue offers tips on its website and frequently engages with users on Twitter about how to best handle the hiring process. Many of the suggested steps are ones that interviewers will be familiar with, such as researching the company, practicing and preparing for common interview questions and dressing appropriately for the job.

Where on-demand interviewing differs is that you should also practice your facial expressions and exaggerate them — a huge smile that might seem ridiculous in person will be picked up more easily by the A.I. You'll also need to make sure you have a good internet connection and bright lighting.

One question they get frequently, said Lindsey Zuloaga, director of data science at HireVue, is if an applicant is able to trick the A.I. Her answer: "If you can game being excited about and interested in the job, yes, you could game that with a person as well," she said. "You're not going to game it without being a very good actor."

Eliminating human bias
Another big advantage for HireVue is that it offers a customizable A.I. to help assess candidates' video interviews. The A.I. gives each video a score based on more than 250,000 data points, including audio, tonality and speech patterns, the importance of which can be customized for the client's need. Because of machine learning, the A.I. can refine its accuracy over time based on new data.

Jim Cochran, head of global recruiting at J.P. Morgan Chase, tells CNBC that the process of working with HireVue to build an A.I. that matched their recruiters' needs took about a year, with a substantial part of the process geared toward evaluating the factors that best target a successful employee within the general population.

But after some tweaking, he said their recruiters have been happy with the results so far and are planning on working with A.I. modules for more positions. Though J.P. Morgan has been a HireVue customer for four years, the company believes that adding A.I. has helped speed up the process of filtering through videos.

"It's unstructured video and audio coming in, and this is a way of structuring," said Zuloaga of HireVue. "It's just kind of hard to get the information that you really want to know about a person from a résumé or a multiple-choice assessment."

Zuloaga works with the company's industrial psychologist to make sure the product's assessment tools are up to industry standards, but adding A.I. to the mix gives the tool an important advantage: rooting out bias.

"We can measure it, unlike the human mind, where we can't see what they're thinking or if they're systematically biased," said Zuloaga. If the team does notice a skew in results, it can evaluate the algorithm to see what went wrong and remove the bad data.

And while there's no guarantee that A.I. will completely eliminate bias in hiring, especially once the candidate reaches a human recruiter, companies using HireVue have reported a much more diverse candidate pool. Parker pointed to Unilever, which has improved the diversity of its talent pool by 16 percent since partnering with HireVue.

Grayevsky said Mya's customers have seen similar results.

"It's really easy [for recruiters] to go to the applicants that feel safe or the ones they recognize, whether it's the school or the types of companies they've worked at in the past, but Mya really is only interested in who's active, who's interested," said Grayevsky.

HireVue and Mya are just a few of a growing number of companies looking to make their mark on a recruitment industry that is valued at up to $200 billion and growing. TalentSonar, a California-based start-up, seeks to eliminate bias from job descriptions by using A.I. to tweak the language so that it's more appealing to women and minority applicants.

In addition, to help automate the recruitment process, Entelo analyzes a candidate's social media presence to determine their fit for a position.

Technology to find Grade A players
Though A.I. can speed up the process of getting the right candidate in the door, in professional industries with limited job seekers, making candidates aware of positions in the first place presents a larger hurdle. In fields such as nursing, IT, and middle management, Mya serves customers by actively reaching out to candidates already in their application system, alerting them to new opportunities. Grayevsky says the company is also in the process of launching a partnership with several job board sites in order to further widen the pool. Ultimately, his goal is to "create a scenario where candidates know to reach out to Mya for support" before starting their jobs search.

HireVue is also interested in working with companies improve their internal matching for open positions. The company already offers analysis of predictive job performance, something that the machine learning can only refine through updated data.

Parker says that they also want to help companies directly match applicants, especially recent graduates, with positions based on assessments rather than relying on traditional job listings that might miss the right candidate.

Games or simulations to help candidates get a better sense of a job position are also gaining popularity, with 29 percent of global business leaders using some version of the technology according to Deloitte. Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of Montage, which works with a number of Fortune 500 companies, stressed the important of these kinds of highly branded, personalized experiences in an age of competitive hiring.

"Through technology candidates behave much more like consumers, they want and deserve convenience at their fingertips," he said.

But convenience isn't always enough. Cochran expressed concerned that, without proper follow-up, on-demand videos could turn into another "black hole" for candidates.

"I'm very focused on making sure this additional step we're asking them to take is met with a very responsive recruiter or recruitment system," he said.

And while Sarah felt a little thrown off by her first HireVue interview, she said she plans to go back to the same recruiter for her next job.

"Facial recognition is just everywhere. If I can just put on some makeup and that adds a couple points to my score, I'm not going to be mad about that," she said. "I think it's just making sure candidates are informed."

5/6/18 - Stop Confusing Your Job Skills With Your Credentials

The big-name employer you worked for or the elite university you went to may matter less than you think. It’s what you did there that counts.

Credentials ruled in the traditional job market. Candidates were coached to dial up the prestige on their resumes, on social media, and on job interviews. Saying you went to Harvard was better than saying you went to the University of Illinois. Describing a stint at Deloitte at age 22 was better than talking up the rare and desirable skills you picked up in a second-act career.

That’s finally staring to change, but not every job seeker has quite gotten the memo. Many still tout their credentials as stand-ins for the job skills recruiters and hiring managers are really looking for. Here’s how (and why) to switch up your approach.

Employers in all industries are finally wising up to the limits of fancy credentials as predictors of on-the-job success. Too often, high test scores and degrees from elite universities signal wealthy parents and other forms of privilege at least as much as they signal competence and expertise. Relying on signs of prestige doesn’t provide either the diverse perspectives or the grit that employers need their workforces to possess in order to thrive in the modern business world.

For the 2018 Job Preparedness Indicator, my nonprofit organization, the Career Advisory Board, asked 500 U.S.-based hiring managers to share their thoughts on nontraditional job candidates. We defined nontraditional college students and graduates as meeting any of the following criteria:

Since the Career Advisory Board is supported by DeVry University, a for-profit institution that attracts many students from nontraditional backgrounds, DeVry certainly has a stake in the trends my team set out to analyze. Still, half of our respondents said their organizations are hiring more nontraditional students and graduates than they used to: 50% said they “recognize valid, alternative education paths besides the typical college journey”; 34% “desire more diversity in our workforce”; and 32% feel “nontraditional students and graduates have a stronger work ethic.”

And refreshingly, fully 70% of hiring professionals agreed with the following statement: “If a candidate has the right skills for an open position, it doesn’t matter what type or format of education was used to get them.”

These attitudes are reverberating throughout the talent space. A recent LinkedIn survey of some 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers likewise picked up on intensifying efforts to shake up the traditional recruitment process to find more diverse, qualified candidates without elite credentials. And artificial intelligence is playing an ever-wider role in efforts like those. At the same time, tech leaders like Airbnb and Pinterest are expanding apprenticeship programs to hire smart, non-traditional engineers first, then train them on the job. One tech company Fast Company spoke to last year has even started intentionally hiring people with no relevant experience, as long as they possess the right skills and qualities instead.

But these evolving attitudes won’t matter if you don’t change your approach as a job seeker in order to capitalize on them. Desperately talking up every impressive-sounding credential on your resume is going to pay diminishing returns in the years ahead. So whether or not you’re a nontraditional student or grad, it’s time to start pushing your skills to the forefront. These are a few ways to do that:

Focus on on-the-job wins. Let’s say you’re applying to a job as a marketing data analyst. In the past, perhaps you led with the fact that you earned high honors studying computer science at a top university. Today you may have better luck mentioning how you mastered analytics skills by selecting and implementing new software at a previous employer, then used the mined data to tell a story about the best path forward.

Speak directly to the job description. You have to know the target position inside and out in order to show how experience directly relates to the job in question. Be prepared to tell your interviewers exactly how you have solved similar challenges–with excellent results. Then, instead of trying to prove why you’re like every “prestigious” cookie-cutter graduate who walks through the door, explain how the organization will benefit by having an employee with your special combination of determination, resilience, and resourcefulness.

Get specific. Rather than trusting that a kid who got a few lucky breaks can hack it in an often chaotic business climate, employers told our researchers that they’re after candidates who “have developed niche skill sets or unique experiences that differentiate them from the market,” “have internal drive and good time management,” “have demonstrated a track record of stable work history, including promotions and cross-functional experiences,” and who are “willing to learn the business and work in whatever capacity the company needs them.”

Arguably, these are all things that hiring managers have sought out since time immemorial–they just used fancy pedigrees as a shorthand for these attributes. As that begins to change, more opportunity is opening up to more job seekers, no matter where they went to school or last worked. All that’s left to do is seize it.

Alexandra Levit is a business futurist and best-selling author who has consulted for the Obama administration as well as Fortune 500 companies including American Express, Deloitte, Microsoft, PepsiCo, and Whirlpool.

4/29/18 - What Hiring Managers Want to Hear from Candidates in a Phone Interview

Ask An Interview Coach: What Hiring Managers Want to Hear from Candidates in a Phone Interview
by Amy Elisa Jackson 

Companies are increasingly using phone interviews at the early stages of screening candidates, before inviting them on-site for in-person interviews. This is a way to efficiently screen through large candidate pools, as the average job has over 250 applicants. Moreover, the phone screen is typically conducted by recruiters, many of whom may be remote so the phone-screen is a good medium to tap into remote talent and reduce the recruiting overhead for the hiring manager.

What is the interviewer looking for?
The recruiter has three main goals for a phone screen:

1. Confirm level of interest

Hiring managers have a limited amount of time, and a recruiter’s first filter is to make sure they are passing along candidates that are truly interested in the role. We are in the era where recruiters reach out to candidates more often than the other way around, and often prospective candidates will take a phone screen just to get interview practice and see what the market is willing to pay. As such, recruiters use the phone interview to ensure you have a genuine interest in the company and the role.

2. Match core skills

A recruiter will not typically conduct a deep-dive on each of your core skills, but rather, they want to make sure you have general experience in the core requirements of the job. For example, if you are interviewing to be a digital marketing manager they are less likely to get into the specifics of how you measure the success of a marketing campaign, but they will want to ensure you have indeed run marketing campaigns of similar size and scope as theirs. This is more of a checklist approach rather than grading your skills in each category.

3. Assess culture fit

Behavioral interviewing is how most companies comprehensively assess “culture fit” in later rounds. However, the phone screen is also meant to do a preliminary check on how well suited you are to the company’s culture. Key areas of interest for the recruiter is whether you have worked in similar environments (e.g., pace of work, level of collaboration), your overall demeanor (e.g., level of humility), and your mindset (e.g., growth orientation).

How to ace this stage of the interview process
1. Demonstrate synthesis

During a phone interview it is easy for the interviewer to get distracted (e.g., check email). This makes it even more important to be succinct and compelling to ensure you capture their attention. This can be applied to the first question the recruiter will ask – “Tell Me About Yourself.” Many candidates ramble and spend too much time on unimportant details, and miss out on highlighting the core aspects of their candidacy. A practical way to solve this and demonstrate synthesis is to focus on the themes of your career progression. For example, you might describe your career in three stages – your first role, your ascension into leadership roles, and your current job, instead of reciting everything on your resume.

You can also describe your career by functional themes especially when your career has breadth and a non-linear path. For example, you might frame your career as being a mix of bringing new products to market, developing and coaching teams, and partnering with cross-functional stakeholders.

2. Be precise about why you want the job

As mentioned earlier, often the recruiter has reached out to you, and it is important to show you are not passively taking a call, but rather have clear interest in the role. This is why it is important to do your research on the company to understand them more deeply, and then weave that into why it fits with the career path you are charting. Specifically, you should have clarity on their mission, their ecosystem (e.g., customer segments, key competitors), and their products/services. Ideally, in your research, you will find something that truly connects with your experience and/or professional interests and speaking to that will show a deep interest in the opportunity.

3. Simulate a real interview environment

A common mistake candidates make is not recreating the environment that brings out their best, professional self. Often candidates will take a call from home, while reclining on their couch, and this casual attitude shows up in their communication style, dimming their professional energy.

Given this, it is important to find an environment that can simulate a professional aura (e.g., a home office, in front of a desk), and dress accordingly as your communication style will be more polished as your brain picks up on the subtle cues. The right posture will also ensure your voice projects well, as opposed to reclining on your couch and sounding muffled.

4. Ask thoughtful questions

The questions you ask towards the end of the phone screen serve as an indicator of what is important to you in the opportunity so avoid administrative questions such as vacation policy. Instead, focus on high-value questions that show you are thinking about things that really matter such as “What does success in the role look like?” These questions will also better prepare you to engage on a deeper level in the following rounds, especially when speaking with the hiring manager.

5. Avoid reciting from paper

Some candidates use phone interviews as an opportunity to script their answers and read them word for word. This takes away from having an authentic conversation, and most interviewers can sense when you are reciting from a script. Instead, you can have a few bullet points written out that you want to make sure you cover in the conversation and also have your resume handy so you can speak to specifics when asked.


Jeevan is the Founder and CEO of Rocket Interview ( ) where his team helps job seekers ace the most competitive interviews. He was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company and a VP of a Tech Startup where he regularly interviewed job candidates. Since then he has helped clients land jobs in roles ranging from product management to marketing. His clients have landed jobs at Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and other competitive companies. Email:

4/22/18 - 3 Polite Ways to End That Networking Conversation

(That Don't Involve Obvious Excuses)
by Kat Boogaard 

Here’s the thing: I don’t really struggle to start conversations with people. But, I’ll be the first to admit that I find it challenging to end them.

This is especially true in networking situations when my nerves are already a little high and I’m concerned with leaving on a positive note.

So, my typical wrap-up? Well, it usually involves me repeating that it was nice to meet that person about four separate times before I make a break for the bar to refill my plastic cup of liquid confidence (uh… cheap wine). I know—smooth, right?

There’s so much focus placed on how we begin networking conversations. But, hardly anyone ever talks about how to end them in a way that’s polite, professional, and doesn’t involve a bunch of excuses or cringe-worthy pauses.

I know just what you’re thinking: Ugh, that’s so true! You’re in luck. I’ve pulled together three different ways to end that exchange—and avoid any dreaded awkwardness.

 1. Ask for a Business Card

This is tried and true advice for any networking event. But in the age of LinkedIn, admittedly, it’s something I often find myself skipping.

However, here’s the great thing about capping off a conversation by asking for that card: You not only get that person’s contact details, but you also make it clear that the discussion is coming to a close.

After you both have exchanged information? It’s as simple as saying, “It was great talking to you—I’m really looking forward to keeping in touch!” and moving on to your next conversation.

 2. Form a Plan to Get Together Again

Remember, successful networking isn’t about singular meetings—it’s about laying the groundwork for continued professional relationships.

It’s easy to say you’ll connect soon as you’re walking away from that discussion. But, actually pulling out your calendar and finding a time when you both could grab lunch or coffee is a great way to prove that you’re serious about staying in touch.

Plus, part of what makes saying goodbye at networking events so uncomfortable is that you don’t want to be perceived as if you’re blowing that person off for something better. This tactic gives you the freedom to go your separate ways and mingle, without making that other person feel used and discarded.

 3. Offer to Make an Introduction

Ending a conversation doesn’t mean you both have to head to opposite sides of the room—it can also mean seguing your existing conversation into a new one (with new people involved).

Let’s say that you spotted someone you know across the room. Why not offer to make an introduction between that person and the new acquaintance you’re currently talking to?

You can then excuse yourself from that conversation (or even stick around if you’d like), while still fostering a reputation as a beneficial business contact who’s all about making connections.

When you’re so concerned with making a positive impression, capping off networking conversations can be awkward at best.

Fortunately, these three different strategies will allow you to gracefully move on from that discussion—without seeming rude (or, often in my case, socially inept).

If you’re ever in doubt? Remember that a simple, “It was really great talking with you!” always does the trick.


Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.

4/15/18 - 7 Ways to Make Your Resume Easier for Recruiters to Process

by Peter Yang 

It’s easy to think that after all the work you’ve put into perfecting your resume, recruiters will at least spend the time to thoroughly reading it through from start to finish. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Recruiters are generally very busy. Resume writing blogger and long-time recruiter Steve Wang says, “During my more busy weeks, sometimes I have to fill as many as 15 positions at once, and when each position gets over a hundred applicants, I can only afford to spend a minute or two on each resume.”

So, like anyone faced with a whole lot to do, recruiters take shortcuts. Instead of looking through every single application carefully, they’ll simply skim through each resume to see which ones might be worth taking a closer look at. Because of this, it’s crucial that even a quick glance at your resume will leave readers awestruck. With this in mind, here are some techniques you can dish out to make your resume super easy for recruiters to skim through and understand.

Use Standard Headings

I get it, you want to get fancy with your headings to stand out from the pack, but doing so can have the unintended consequence of making your resume way harder to skim. Recruiters are used to reading the same old headers over and over again. If you change “Work Experience” to “Work Background”, that can throw off a recruiter’s rhythm – even if it’s just a little. So when it comes to resume headings, stick with what is tried and true.

Digitize Your Numbers

When it’s time to decide whether to spell out numbers on your resume, you might find yourself in a dilemma where you’re unsure whether to use APA or MLA style rules to approach this common concern. While it’s great that you’re paying attention to this type of detail, it’s a lot simpler than you think. Just write your numbers as digits to make information like numerical achievements nice and easy to spot. Whether you follow APA or MLA protocol is the least of anyone’s concerns here.

List All Your Skills Separately

Some job applicants like to intertwine their skills with their job experience. If they used skills A, B, and C while working for Job X, they’ll mention those skills in the same section of the resume that describes the job. While this is certainly a fine way to format your resume, it’s still important to have a separate section that lists out all your skills in their entirety.

Use Short Bullet Points

One to two lines is an okay length for bullet points. If they get any longer though, not only will your resume become more difficult to understand, but it can also hint that you’re trying to get at too many different things at once. Instead, keep your bullet points short, sweet, and to the point.

Choose the Right Template

Some resume templates do a far better job than others at making your content aesthetically pleasing and easy to understand. Make sure that the template you use is taking full advantage of techniques like bolding, USING ALL CAPS, italics, underlining, and even colors to make information like job titles, company names, and dates more distinguishable from one another. Here’s what I mean:

Job title, Company Name, New York, NY May 2016 – Present

This would be considered hard to read. While everything is bolded and italicized to differentiate the entire line from the rest of the resume, individually the job title, company name, location, and date are hard to distinguish.

Job title, Company Name, NEW YORK, NY May 2016 – Present

Here the formatting is far superior. The job title, company name, location, and date all have their own unique style, which makes everything much easier to discern.

If you’re ever unsure about whether a particular resume template might be easier to skim than another, simply test them out by skimming them yourself.

Align Dates to the Right

Keeping all your dates to the right allows you to create a clear timeline of your resume. If a recruiter wants to check to see if you have any work gaps, all the recruiter needs to do is look over to the right and all the dates will be lined up as clear as day.

Begin Each Job Description with a Summary

In some cases, even though each individual bullet point on a resume may be easy to comprehend, sometimes they don’t paint a clear picture of the job applicant collectively when put together. This difficulty is exacerbated when bullet points describe assorted one-off achievements at a particular job. To alleviate this issue, it’s often a good idea to use your first bullet point to give a short summary describing what the core of your job is all about. This way, recruiters can better contextualize how your later bullet points fit into the bigger picture of what you do.

Getting recruiters to thoroughly read your resume is a luxury you have to earn. By making your resume more skimmable for recruiters, you’ll position yourself as a strong candidate worthy of being taken seriously.

4/8/18 - Changing Careers? Here’s Exactly What To Put On Your Resume

And what to leave off…

It’s not that hard to update your resume when you’re applying for the next role up the ladder in your field. You’re an associate operations manager trying to become a senior operations manager? Just show how what you’ve already done qualifies you to do similar things at a higher level.

Things get trickier when you’re trying to change industries. You’ve got to rebrand experiences here as transferable qualifications there. You need to explain why you’re a better hire than the candidate who’s spent their whole career in the field you’re trying to get into. And you’ve got to decide which parts of your experience just aren’t relevant anymore.

Figuring this out is a highly situational challenge–what works for one career changer’s resume might not work for another’s. But Erica Breuer, founder of Cake Resumes, says there are some straightforward dos and don’ts that can point you in the right direction.

“I often work with career changers who don’t feel they have the right to include projects on their resume that were a team effort, especially when these projects fell outside of their normal job duties,” Breuer tells Fast Company. But it’s precisely those experiences you’ll want to rely on the most. “Including them, while nodding to the team-based or ‘special projects’ nature of the work is the way to go,” she says. “If it happened, it’s a fact, and it can go on your resume.”

Think of it this way: The tasks that are small, routine, or specialized enough for you to complete on your own may not be that relevant outside your industry. But bigger, collaborative projects tend to involve processes and challenges of a higher order, which draw on skills that just about every employer needs–no matter their field.

“Many career changers get the advice to tweak job titles on their resume to look like the perfect fit. This almost always backfires,” Breuer explains. “It risks looking dishonest or, worse, the self-assigned titles they create add confusion more than they align them with a new path.”

While you can’t control your past job titles, you can control how you describe what you accomplish while you held them. Breuer’s suggestion? “Add a tagline of sorts to the true job title, one that states experience related to the new career direction, for example; ‘Director of Operations—Global Recruitment & Talent Acquisition.'” This way a hiring manager in the HR field, which you’re trying to get into, can spot right away that your operations role had to do with recruiting and talent.

For job seekers with a lot of experience, it’s common to truncate anything that came before the past 15–20-year period. But Breuer says this rule doesn’t always suit, especially “when you have an early-career experience that applies to an upcoming career change. Drawing this line is important, but so is sharing the details relevant at this very moment. If you’re not doing that, the resume is pointless,” she points out.

So feel free to shake up the chronological approach if you need to. “There are a number of ways to loop early experiences back into a resume without the kitchen sink-style timeline,” says Breuer. For example, you might try breaking your work history into subcategories like “Technical Experience” and “Managerial Experience.”

A final common mistake Breuer sees pretty often among job seekers hoping to change careers is “expecting their resume to do too many things at once,” she says. “They want to capture their career wins, life story, hobbies, and persona as a whole, when a resume actually functions best when it’s a compelling and concise record of your experiences as they pertain to the role at hand.”

When you’re worried about being under-qualified, you might be tempted to overstuff your resume to compensate. Don’t do that. The key is to give recruiters and hiring managers a clear narrative about why you’re the best fit from the role because you’d be coming at it from a nontraditional angle. No, that won’t be the full story of your career, but it will probably be the most effective one for this opportunity.

To take some of the pressure off, Breuer suggests remembering that your resume–while important–is only one piece of the self-portrait you’re presenting to employers. She adds, “It should stack with other branding platforms, such as a personal website, LinkedIn profile, or even a cover letter, in order to tell the whole story of who you are and the value you bring.”

ReferenceUSA presentation by Kipp Lifson & Mike Ray

Kipp Lifson & Mike Ray have put together a presentaiton on RefernceUSA .

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

This ReferenceUSA presentation shows the step-by-step process on how to access this valuable tool, then identify and research potential target companies!


Click here for the pdf version of the presentation

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

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4/1/18 - The #1 Thing That Disqualifies People In First-Round Interviews

by Jillian Kramer 

If you’re not a confident interviewer, you may feel as if navigating an interview is akin to walking through a minefield—eventually, you’re bound to make an explosive move. But after speaking with several recruiters and hiring managers, we found out that there aren’t many moves you can make that will automatically disqualify you from getting the job. But there is one thing you can do—the No. 1 thing, if you will—that will make any recruiter or hiring manager say sayonara to you. What is it? It’s trashing a previous employer, they say.

“The No. 1 mistake a candidate might make is to disparage his or her prior employer—either the company itself or people who worked there,” says Laura Handrick, who works as FitSmallBusiness’ HR analyst. “No one wants to hire someone who talks badly of others. Employers want team players, not people who carry negative baggage. Plus, negative talk about former coworkers, the company, or a prior supervisor simply serves to make an applicant look like a whiner. A recruiter will see this person as a future ‘problem.’ and in spite of any great qualifications, they’re not likely to get called back for a second interview.”

Jordan Rayboy, CEO of Rayboy Insider Search, agrees. “If a candidate is overly negative about a current or past employer, it plants seeds of doubt in a hiring manager’s mind,” he explains. “First, that the candidate has a negative attitude in general—and no one wants to hire a potential dark cloud onto their team. Next, that the candidate will likely bad-mouth their company in the future if they end up getting hired. And it also shows a lack of good decision-making skills—as in, what to share in certain situations and what not to. Lastly, and most importantly, it’s a sign the candidate tends to blame others when things don’t work out. They don’t take ownership of their share of responsibility for things. It’s always someone else’s fault—like their current or past employer’s fault—that they didn’t hit their numbers, or didn’t last more than a year there, or anything else that may have happened.”

Trashing a previous employer is something recruiters and hiring managers hate so much that they may ask leading questions in order to see if you’re willing to bad-mouth a boss.

“In an interview, I can identify a bad team player right away by asking questions that lead the candidate talk about his previous team experiences,” says Dave Lopes, director of recruiting for Badger Maps. “When the priorities of that individual supersede the priorities and growth of the team or group, you know you’ll have someone who will not fit well.”

What’s more, “interviewers are, typically, good at getting a candidate to open up,” points out Handrick. “And once a candidate feels comfortable, they might be tempted to say something too revealing or disparaging, such as ‘I left my last company because my boss was a jerk who made me work overtime,’ or ‘they didn’t realize how good I was, so I quit when they wouldn’t give me a raise.’” These types of sayings are red flags to recruiters.

You may very well have had a terrible former boss or are leaving a toxic work environment, but the fact is, recruiters and hiring manager don’t want to hear about it. So what should you say instead? “Instead of talking negatively about past or current employers, candidates should focus on what they learned in different scenarios, how they grew, and what they are looking to move towards as opposed to running away from,” Rayboy says. “Most managers prefer hiring candidates that are looking for a launch pad instead of a landing pad.”

Another thing you can try to do, advises Jordan Wan, CEO of CloserIQ, is to “stick to facts, not judgments. You may want to consider saying, ‘I struggled to find exciting career paths for my growth at the company,’ instead of, ‘the company doesn’t promote top performers.’”

3/25/18 - These Are 6 Red Flags That You Shouldn’t Take The Job

If you see one or more of these warning signs during your interview, maybe this isn’t the workplace for you. 


The average job hunt takes the better part of three months, according to job search platform TalentWorks. That’s a long time to have your mind focused on how to land the interview, prepare, and make the best impression to get hired. So, it’s no wonder that, once there, many job seekers overlook red flags that they may not be courting the greatest place to work.

“It is important for people to slow down and realize that it’s a two-way interview, because the job is only going to be a great experience for them if it’s a good fit,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of recruitment automation platform Tilr, based in Cincinnati. And there are often a number of clues about the job, company culture, and leadership if you just know what to look for, she says. Here are six red flags to watch out for.

You may be nervous, but take a moment to look around and observe your surroundings. What you see may tell you a lot about the company and its people. “From the time that you walk in, it starts with the receptionist. As you’re walking through the office, do people seem friendly, do they try to engage with you, say welcome, say hello, make eye contact?” says Tonya Salerno, principal staffing manager at WinterWyman, based in New York City. People who are happy in their work are generally curious about and friendly to newcomers, she says.

Also, take a look around the office. It doesn’t have to be prime office space, but do you get a sense that people have pride in their workplace? Are common areas tidy or in disarray? Does the place look clean? Do people have personal effects in their work space? Does it look inviting?

“I believe an office is like a second home, and that I should take pride in the space and the people with whom I would be working,” says Salerno.

When you sit down with the interviewer, do you have a sense that they know who you are? Has the interviewer reviewed your resume and have some familiarity with your background? If not, they may not be taking the job search as seriously as you are, or it may be a sign that the company has a lot of turnover and doesn’t invest much time in replacing people, Miklusak says. The interviewer should be familiar with the job for which you’re interviewing and have at least a basic familiarity with your background.

Miklusak says one of her best “job interview hacks” is to listen for hypothetical or situational questions. If an employer asks, ‘How would you react in a situation like this?” listen to the question, she says. “The interviewer is asking because you are likely to be in a situation like that, or in some type of situation where one could make a parallel between the question and the situation.”

So, if an interviewer asks you how you would react if you were in a chaotic situation with little direction, it might be a test to see how you manage disorder. But, it could also be that the interviewer is trying to figure out if you can manage the organization’s way of operating.

If your interviewer talks about how the company is ready for change or needs change, ask a few questions, says Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager and team leader at WinterWyman. Get more information on what needs to be changed, how long it’s been that way, and most importantly, how ready they are to change it.

“I’ve had candidates get excited to be the person to truly impact change at a company, just to find out later that the managing team isn’t ready to change things. So be sure it isn’t just an ideal they’re paying lip service to, but a reality they want you to help deliver,” she says. Or the company may put the responsibility for changing things on you without giving you the resources you need to be successful.

There are a number of questions that interviewers aren’t allowed to ask by law. Yet a 2017 Associated Press and CNBC poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that more than half (51%) of those who have been on at least one job interview have been asked at least one inappropriate or personal question. Questions about marital status, medical history, and disabilities topped the list. If interviewers aren’t aware of basic employment law, that could be an indicator that they’re lax in other areas, too.

“It can be a real cultural flag. For example, if a lot of people are asking you if you have kids. It’s either a super-friendly family place, or they want to put you on a plane 100% of the time and they’re real concerned if you do [have children],” Miklusak says.

If an interviewer asks about your comfort level with certain factors, take note, Miklusak warns. “This question is a huge flag, ‘Do you think you will be comfortable here because . . . ‘ and then the because is something like, ‘Most of the people are younger than you’ or ‘This is a pretty male-orientated sales team,'” she says. Look for what the interviewer is trying to indicate about the culture. Such a question may reflect a flaw, lack of diversity, or issue that has been a problem in the past.

By keeping an eye out for red flags, you can keep focused on finding a job that will be a good fit for you—and more likely free of unpleasant surprises.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Gwen Moran writes about business, money and assorted other topics for leading publications and web sites. 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.

3/18/18 - 11 common words and phrases to avoid using in a job interview

by Ruth Umoh 

Employers use interviews to gauge whether you're the right person for a job. But you could tank your chances with a hiring manager by using certain words and phrases, says Barry Drexler, an expert interview coach who has conducted more than 10,000 interviews.

With over 30 years of HR experience at notable companies like Lehman Brothers and Lloyds Bank, Drexler says these are the 11 words and phrases that should be eliminated from your interview vocabulary:

'You guys'
Drexler hears this phrase most often used by recent college graduates. Typically, they've never interviewed for or worked in a corporate environment.

"They talk like they're talking to one of their buddies," he tells CNBC Make It. "They're just so used to talking that way."

However, saying "you guys" is much too informal and sounds like slang, says Drexler. "It drives me nuts."

Instead, he suggests referring to the company by its actual name or saying "your firm" or even just "your company."

"I wanted to get ill after I heard this [word] so many times," says Drexler. "It's too cliche."

He adds to this list other descriptors like "hard-worker" and "people-pleaser."

Not only do these words hold little weight, says Drexler, but they also won't help you stand out because everyone else is using these words to describe themselves.

"Cliches are awful," says the interview expert. "I'd avoid those."

Don't use the word "comfortable" when answering questions about why you want a specific role, type of job or position.

"The word 'comfortable' is the kiss of death when it comes to careers," says Drexler.

Your potential employer doesn't want a comfortable employee, he says, because it insinuates that you aren't a hard worker and that you'll take whatever comes easy.

Drexler suggests saying that you want a challenging role or a stimulating role. "You want something that's rewarding, not comfortable," he adds.

'Work-life balance'
Companies really don't care about your work-life balance, says the interview coach. It's that simple.

"Companies talk the talk about having a great work-life balance," admits Drexler. "At the end of the day, they want work out of you. It's just talk."

Although it may sound cynical, all your employer truly wants to hear is that you're ready to work and that you'll work around the clock if need be, he says.

"If you say you're looking for work-life balance, that translates to, 'I want to socialize and I'm only going to stay from nine to five, and at five o'clock I'm out the door.'"

No hiring manager wants to employ a "nine-to-fiver" or a candidate who is already thinking about their personal life before joining the company, says Drexler.

"I'm not suggesting that [work-life balance] is not important or that a company should work you to death," he adds, "but don't bring it up in an interview."

'Like' and 'enjoy'
Like is a weak word that doesn't really say much. For example, if an interviewer asks, "Why do you want to work here?," you should never respond with a phrase that incorporates the word like, such as "I like doing analytical work," he says.

"It doesn't mean anything," Drexler explains. "I like golf but I suck. I like analytical work but I'm awful."

Enjoy is another word that should be avoided at all costs, says Drexler, because you're wasting an opportunity to use a more powerful word. Instead, use words like "excel" or phrases such as "I do this well" to convey your strengths.

'Can't' and 'don't'

Can't and don't are negative words and negativity has no place in an interview, says Drexler.

Refrain from using phrases such as "I don't like doing this, I can't do this," or "I don't want to do this," he explains. You want to show an interviewer that you are open to taking on any role or task and that no job is too small for you.

Even if you legitimately don't have a skill that the job requires, he recommends letting the interviewer know that you're willing to learn. This gives your interview answer a much more positive spin.

"You don't want to ever be negative," says Drexler.

Drexler explains that interviewees often feel the need to bring up the fact that they were fired just to have it out in the open. However, this dampens the whole interview and isn't necessary.

Plus, there's no way for an interviewer to find out that you've been terminated.

"Get it out of your head. Get over it," says the interview coach. Instead, tell the interviewer that you feel like it's the right time to pursue other opportunities or that it's the right time to find something new.

Also, speak positively about your former place of employment, even if you were fired. Drexler advises saying that you a great career with your previous employer and that you learned a lot, not that you hated the company and the direction it was heading.

"No one is going to hire someone that's going to bash their [former] company because then you're going to bash our company too," says the interview expert.

'You should' and 'you shouldn't'
Avoid giving unsolicited advice. "Never say 'you should' or 'your company should,'" says the interview coach. "You don't work there yet. You're just a candidate."

Conversely, refrain from sharing your thoughts on what they shouldn't be doing. Don't tell an employer that they should stop doing something or that the company is doing something the wrong way unless you're explicitly asked, he adds.

"Candidates do that, I swear," says Drexler. "They're telling the interviewer how to run their own company."

The best way to address a glaring problem, he says, is to start with "In my experience, this is what works."

The interview coach adds that it's perfectly reasonable to not agree with everything a potential employer is doing, but you must bring up your concerns in a diplomatic way.

"It's not what you say, it's how," says Drexler.

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3/11/18 - The Right Cold Email Can Land You a New Job Faster Than Any Cover Letter

by Heather R Morgan 

Cold email is much more than just a tool for salespeople.You can use it to meet people you admire, raise money for a charity, or even turn a message into a ticket for an exclusive party.

You can also get a new job and even change your career path. While you shouldn’t expect a response that immediately includes an interview slot, a well-written cold email sent to the right person can give you a huge advantage over those still sending resumes through job boards. Why? Because, having done your research and selected the most relevant contact, you’re not one faceless application among hundreds of others going to human resources.

Of course, your email has to be good enough to stand out in a crowded inbox. In fact, many of the rules that apply to sales emails are just as relevant when it comes to looking for work. With that in mind, here are three things to remember and do when using cold email to find a new job or career.

1. Find the right person to contact.

A thoughtful message that paints you in your best light is useless if it goes to the wrong person. For example, emailing the Operations Manager will not help if you're after a job in marketing. It sounds obvious, but there are tons of people out there who will blast an email to multiple contacts at one company, thinking the more emails they send, the greater their chances of success. Instead, pick the most relevant person at the company and concentrate on writing an email they'll find enticing.

To do that, conduct thorough research. Gather essential details (title, size of company, job description) on LinkedIn or the company's website. Check to see if past colleagues or classmates have ever done work with this company; they might be able to introduce you. Look for recent news, awards, or published works from your contact. Referencing such things is often an effective way to open the email.

Thorough research has another advantage, too: it teaches you more about the company's business. When it comes time for the interview and someone asks you to articulate what you think the company does, you won't have to think hard to find an answer. Same goes for those making a full-on career shift—you'll learn way more about your new industry researching companies and contacts than you will reading about them on some job board.

2. Keep it short, simple, and small.

Cold emails are not cover letters. You may be asked to eventually submit a cover-letter-like document, but for this initial introduction, follow the general rule of cold email and keep it short: three to five sentences, max. Unlike a human resources department, your contact will not necessarily be expecting an email about potential employment. So if your message is a wall of text outlining your many skills or how you grew that one website's traffic to over 2 million visitors per month, the recipient's eyes will glaze over, so to speak.

The easiest way to make sure that doesn't happen is to keep your ask small. Don't just say, "I'm interested in any job openings you have in marketing. When can we discuss this?" Don't even say you'd like to meet up to talk about potential employment. Instead, ask to meet up for coffee so you can learn more about the company and what it does.

Similarly, if you see a problem you're able to fix, explain how you can help. A friend of mine got his current job when one of his favorite news sites went down. He sent a cold email to the Information Technology Manager to say he knew how to retrieve the site and get it back up; the company offered him a job about a week later.

For those changing careers, the ask is simple: just say you're considering a change to that person's industry and would love to hear their take on it.

3. Don't hesitate to send a follow-up if you don't hear back.

There's nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email if your contact has not yet responded. While I don't recommend a full eight-touch campaign, some gentle persistence can work in your favor. Maybe the contact was on a deadline when you sent the first email, and meant to respond but never did. Perhaps they're testing you by not responding, to see if you have the ambition and commitment to keep asking. Along the same lines, someone may be waiting for a follow-up to make sure your first message wasn't just a mass mailing to as many companies as you could find.

Don't spend too much energy wondering why the person has yet to respond, though. If, after a follow-up or two, there's still no response, move on. Part of persistence in finding a new job is knowing when to shift your focus to another potential employer—one who may have an even more promising opportunity waiting for someone like you.


What email tricks do you have when it comes to searching for and finding new employment? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

For more advice on cold email, sales and marketing, check out the Salesfolk Blog. You can also follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn to ask me questions.

Heather R. Morgan is an economist and the founder of Salesfolk, which has helped over 500 companies revitalize their sales prospecting strategies. Having written 10,000-plus cold emails in the past decade, Morgan has developed a new process for crafting mass email templates that still feel personal, combining copywriting best practices and game theory. Her cold emails see at least three times more responses than the industry average. The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

3/4/18 - The Best (And Worst) Ways to Find a Job

by Heather Huhman

The job market is, and always will be, highly competitive. You can bet that any job you apply for will have a handful (or five) of equally qualified — and equally determined — job seekers vying for the same opportunity. And, to stand out from the crowd, some job seekers will do just about anything to find and land a job — even if it borders on unconventional (and unprofessional).

But there’s a fine line between appearing determined and appearing desperate.

Here are three extreme job search strategies job seekers have taken, why you should avoid using those tactics, and what to do instead:

Tactic #1: The “Will Work for Food” Sign
After being unemployed for more than four months, a St. Louis man decided to take his job search to the streets. Dressed in professional attire and accompanied by a sign that read, “Unemployed. My family’s dreams don’t work unless I do! Please take a resume,” he handed out copies of his resume to passersby on a busy sidewalk.

Advertising your job skills on a busy, city street does take guts, but it doesn’t give you an opportunity to tailor your resume to different jobs and organizations. And, according to a survey by The Creative Group, almost 40 percent of executives say the most common mistake job candidates make on a resume is including information that’s not job-specific.

What to Do Instead: The nature of the Internet makes hitting the streets with your resume in hand unnecessary. There are plenty of other ways to get your resume seen by the masses, while still enabling you to tailor it accordingly.

Social professional networks and resume hosting sites allow you to post a general resume that can be easily searched and viewed by a wide variety of hiring professionals. If you want to take it up a notch, consider creating a personal branding site for professional purposes and feature your resume, a portfolio, references, and more.

Tactic #2: The Resume T-shirt
You might have seen this extreme job search tactic firsthand — the resume tee. As you’ve probably gathered, this tactic involves printing your resume, job skills, and basic need for a job on a T-shirt and wearing it around town. While this literally advertises your skills and desire for a job, it can come across as slightly desperate — not to mention lazy.

Look at it this way. If equally qualified and determined job seekers are out there doing everything in their power to find the right job fit for them and you’re simply wearing a T-shirt and hoping to be found, what does that say to hiring professionals? What’s more, what are the chances that your “resume” is getting seen by the right people?

What to Do Instead: There’s nothing wrong with taking a creative approach to your resume. In fact, creative approaches, such as video resumes, can help you stand out among a sea of job seekers all using the same, lackluster templates. However, it should still come across as professional and relevant to the industry or company you’re looking to join.

Tactic #3: The Brutally Honest Cover Letter
Considering 51 percent of employers said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on their resume, according to a survey by CareerBuilder, honesty is the best policy. There is, however, such a thing as being too honest — especially when it comes to the job search.

When drafting a cover letter, for instance, some things are better left unsaid, such as the exact reason you want the job (i.e. when that reason has to do with a paycheck, above all). Instead of being brutally honest about why you want the job, your lack of experience, where you see yourself in the next five years, why you left your last position or the reason for the large employment gap on your resume, frame your answer in a positive light.

What to Do Instead: Your goal, as a job seeker, is to find the right job fit. And you can’t do that without being honest with yourself and your potential employer. While you want to be honest, you don’t want to teeter on the brink of offering too much information (#TMI). Be honest without being brutal.

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.” And, when it comes to the job search, that may just be true.

2/25/18 - Why Your Next Interview Could Take Place Via Text Message

by Makeda Waterman 

The next time you apply for a job posting on Glassdoor, don’t be surprised if you receive a text message from a recruiter. Sound far-fetched? Think again. A Gallup News article recently shared that “sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50,” so it’s no surprise that companies like Aegis Worldwide and OpenTable have already leveraged the technology for initial interviews.

Enter: Canvas. Launched June 2017, Canvas is world’s first text-based interviewing platform. Used by recruiters, it allows HR pros to engage more candidates per day, inform possible phone interviews and engage with young talent in the way they communicate most.

“In recruiting, speed is of the essence. Recruiters and hiring managers are moving faster than ever while making smarter, more informed decisions,” said Aman Brar, CEO of Canvas. “With our latest round of platform updates and continued automation, Canvas is creating an incomparable space for recruiters to have valuable conversations with high-quality candidates while reducing the time to fill open job positions.”

The days of hiring managers sending candidates to landing pages to schedule interviews will be a thing of the past. Instead, they send messages where they know candidates will see them: their phones. But there’s a right and wrong way of responding to a text message to win the interest of a recruiter or hiring manager. Before you decide to press the send button, read these tips.

Respond, But Do So Selectively

Most people haven’t encountered a text message interview before, so they may not respond to a text right away because it is either unfamiliar or they would prefer a human connection with a live recruiter on the phone. But if you choose not to engage, you may be self-selecting out of the interview process already — so don’t just ignore it.

However, it is worth screening these messages before responding. Some job hunters have fallen victim to text message scams, in which illegitimate companies request personal information. If you ever receive a message from a person asking for your name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number or other personally identifiable information, do not respond. You can save the message and report it to your local authorities.

Keep It Professional

Text message interviews are one way to find out if an applicant has excellent writing skills and is professional, so treat your replies just as you would any other workplace communication. Avoid abbreviations like “Gr8! C U Soon” or “Thx for the invite!” as well as slang or other informal language. And don’t send any emojis — although you may just be trying to show personality, it can appear unprofessional to some recruiters and hiring managers.

A few other tips to consider when texting interview responses:

 If you ever receive a text about a job you applied for, hopefully this article will help you. If you want to receive an invite for an in-person interview, treat it as you would a live phone conversation, be as professional as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Good luck!

2/18/18 - The 7-Day Plan for Getting a New Job

by Heather Huhman 

The job search can be draining, especially when none of your leads come to fruition. So draining, in fact, that you may feel like you lack the fuel to continue your search. But, instead of halting your job search entirely, consider taking smaller steps toward achieving your end-goal of landing a great job.

After all, small steps can lead to big changes. As Robert Collier once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

To help you regain your confidence and inch yourself closer toward landing your dream job, here are small wins that you can achieve every day this week to boost your hireability:

Monday: Do your homework.

Just as you expect hiring managers to study your resume before the interview takes place, hiring managers expect you to do your homework on the company and the job at hand.

Know what role the position plays in contributing to the company’s mission and vision (which you should also know). Find out what makes their brand different from the competition. Research the organization’s latest wins so that you can reference them during the interview.

In short, know your stuff.

Start your week off by researching the companies on your wishlist. Knowing where a company has been, where it’s going, and how you can help will not only impress hiring managers, but also give you a better idea if the job and organization are a good fit.

Tuesday: Revamp your resume.

Some things on your resume will stay the same no matter what job you’re applying for, like your education, past work experience, and contact information, for instance. But, with 61 percent of employers wanting a resume that is customized for their open position, according to recent research by CareerBuilder, it’s crucial that you tailor your resume to fit the job you’re applying for.

That can be as simple as highlighting certain skills or accomplishments that are in line with the company’s job description. So, make the most of your Tuesday by customizing your resume to fit each job you’re planning to apply for.

Wednesday: Reconnect with old connections.

There’s no telling which employers will ask for professional references, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and reconnect with anyone who can vouch for various skills and capabilities. Before beginning your job search, reach out to past co-workers, managers, professors — anyone you feel will have something valuable (and positive) to say about you to potential employers.

Set aside some time to reconnect with these people via email or a professional social network, like LinkedIn. Let them know that you’re planning to begin your search and ask if it’d be OK to list them as a reference — they’ll appreciate the heads up.

Thursday: Research networking opportunities.

Don’t rely solely on job boards and social media to discover the latest jobs within your industry, as some jobs don’t ever make it online. Sometimes the best way to discover new job opportunities — especially those that aren’t advertised — is through networking events.

Take some time out of your Thursday to research upcoming industry events and networking opportunities for the week or month and mark them on your calendar. These can easily be found on local industry-related websites, professional associations or organizations’ web pages, or social media.

This takes all of fifteen minutes and can help you form new professional relationships, learn about upcoming job opportunities, as well as give you a great opportunity to practice speaking about your background and skills.

Friday: Clean up your online presence.

Before pressing “pause” on your job search for the weekend, spend some time cleaning up your social media profiles. Considering nearly half (48 percent) of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, you can’t afford to let your social media profiles get messy.

So, what social media content turned employers off the most according to the survey?

Saturday: Go shopping.

A Saturday spent shopping sounds a lot more appealing than a Saturday spent job searching. But this shopping trip is designed to help boost your hireability by preparing you for networking events and job interviews (let’s hope for a lot of the latter).

To help you look the part, stock your closet with outfits that are appropriate for the line of work you’re interested in. Keep in mind that interview outfits should always be slightly nicer than your everyday office wear. When it comes to the job interview, professional garb will work in your favor.

Sunday: Set your goals for the week.

Start your week off on the right foot by setting aside some time on Sunday evening to set your job search goals for the week. Stick to the “small steps” method outlined in this post and strive to get something small done each day to bring you closer to landing the job of your dreams.

Creating a list of job search “to-dos” will encourage you to stick to those goals, as well as help mentally prepare you for the week ahead.

2/11/18 - From Spreadsheets to Sticky Notes: 7 Strategies for Managing Your Job Search

by Sarah Greesonbach 

When you’re actively looking for a new job, you can’t afford to wing it on the organizational front. Whether you apply for five jobs or 100, you’ll soon find yourself buried in an extraordinary number of resumes, cover letters, job descriptions and interview invitations. If you don’t keep them carefully organized, you may not identify the right opportunity — or worse, you’ll flounder when the right opportunity comes along.

If you want to stay on top of all of the applications, LinkedIn requests and other digital paraphernalia that go along with your job search, it’s time to break up with your bad organization habits. Here are seven techniques that will help you overcome the most common job hunt organization issues so that you know the where, what, who and how for your next interview:

1. If you aren’t good at organizing… figure out why

Organizational skills aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are just as many ways to be disorganized as there are to be organized. Instead of haphazardly applying “organization tactics” to your job search, try to identify specific ways that you tend to be disorganized and troubleshoot those issues directly.

For example, do you tend to lose hard copies? Digital apps will be where it’s at for you. But if you forget anything that isn’t written on pen and paper, a paper calendar or sticky note wall will be a better solution. And if you aren’t sure how you like to stay organized, try something new. If you’re usually an Apple Calendar kind of person, start using a paper planner, or vice versa.

2. If you have a hard time following up… use a spreadsheet

When your job search is in full swing, it’s way too easy to send an email and forget it. Not only can this cost you when you aren’t following up at appropriate intervals, but it can also make you feel like you’re constantly treading water without getting anywhere. Your job hunt becomes an overwhelming, never-ending headache instead of a systematic, purposeful journey.

Combat this by starting a detailed spreadsheet that tracks all the pertinent details of your job search, such as the company, job listing and contact details. As you move through the job hunt process (and the interview process), highlight the steps you’ve “completed” so you can show yourself just how much work you’ve done along the way.

3. If you need reminders… go high tech

There’s nothing wrong with manual spreadsheets that lists all of the job search details you need to know if it’s working for you. But if it’s not working for you — if you frequently forget to update the spreadsheet and you’re never quite sure about what your next step should be — you need to take your job search into the 21st century with a free online project management tool like Trello or Wrike.

Using a project management tool as a job seeker allows you to organize all of the job search details and automate when and to whom you should send a follow-up note. You can also adjust your settings to automatically receive reminders when it’s time to update the individual jobs or check in on the progress of the hiring manager.

4. If you’re a visual person… try sticky notes

The sticky note wall is a tried-and-true organizational method that works for writing a book, setting goals and yes, getting a new job. First, pick a large wall you can divide into 3-4 columns. At the top of each column, mark out a different stage of the job process or your job search to-do list (e.g. “Draft Resume,” “Apply,” “Interview”). Then, write each job on a sticky note and set it in its appropriate column. As you work through your job hunt and make progress, move the sticky note to the next step.

Not only can it be very motivating to see your progress in such a visual way, but it is easy to get a quick snapshot of where you are in the process by simply glancing at your sticky note wall. Pro tip: You can also use the “Sticky Notes App” on your phone or computer if a digital version of the sticky notes would save you the wall space.

 5. If you forget the details… keep thorough notes

If you’re speaking to one or two prospective employers each week, it can be tough to remember who’s who and what you talked about. If you don’t take careful notes, you may unwittingly repeat yourself or send a thank-you note to the wrong person and reference the wrong conversation. Talk about awkward!

If that sounds like something that could happen to you, use a free tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote to keep track of the meetings you have. For extra memory help, pull the LinkedIn photo of the person you’re speaking with into the note sheet and capture notes like the person’s company, job title and location. Not only can you look at a picture of a real person when you’re in the midst of a phone screen interview, but you can also easily go back and remember who you spoke with when you’re considering job offers or writing thank-you notes.

6. If you’re losing motivation… make a list of reasons you’re searching

If you find yourself putting off your job search or simply not looking forward to any part of the process, you’re letting the discomfort of a job hunt distract you from the reason you’re looking for a new job. Get back in the right headspace by bringing the focus back to what motivates you.

Make a list of the reasons you’re looking for a new job — toxic workplace, skipped over for a promotion, low salary, etc. — and keep it in a prominent place. Not only will this motivate you to stick to your plan and find a new job, but it will also prepare you for the interviews ahead by keeping your deeper purpose of your job search front and center.

7. If you’re feeling burned out… schedule some downtime

Little tasks can pile up, especially if you’re managing a full-time job during your job search. Instead of spending a whole day on your job hunt once a month and getting frustrated with your lack of progress, set short but regular periods of time to check in and make consistent progress. A half hour two or three times a week will ensure that you’re responding to hiring managers at appropriate intervals and staying on top of new opportunities as they come out.

 A job search is a job of its own: you’re practicing time management, patience and even customer service as you balance your search with your current job. But you don’t have to let the complexity of all the resumes, cover letters, applications and interviews throw you off. Just find an organizational method that works for you so that the energy you put into the job search pays off with a new job — not a new headache!

2/4/18 - What Every Employee Needs to Know About the Future of Background Screening

by Michael Klazema 

Whether you are interviewing for full-time jobs or workers from the gig economy, there is a good chance background checks are going to figure into your professional future. Background screening—both as a pre-employment due diligence measure and a post-employment monitoring technique—is evolving fast.

Being cognizant of the trends and changes in background screening will help you prepare for your next job interview and understand what your current employees are thinking. Here are four background check trends that every employee and prospective employee needs to know.

1. Background checks for on-demand workers are becoming more common

For a long time, businesses used nontraditional methods to screen and vet nontraditional workers. Detailed background checks were essential for full-time workers, a little less common for part-timers, and virtually unheard of for contract employees. As the gig economy grows, this habit is dying out. Businesses are increasingly coming to terms with the importance of having freelancers on their teams. They are also starting to recognize that freelancers are still representatives and ambassadors for their brand—even if they are a little more removed from the business than full-time workers.

According to Intuit, gig workers are expected to make up 43 percent of the workforce by 2020. As the freelancing trend continues to spike, more and more employers are running full-fledged background checks on contract workers.

Bottom line, if you are part of the gig economy, you should expect to submit to background screenings to land freelance jobs. These screenings could include anything from criminal history checks to educational verifications. They will likely get more detailed as the gig economy continues to grow.

2. Questions about criminal history on job applications are going to disappear

Depending on where you live, you may have already noticed this trend: more and more employers are removing questions about criminal history from job applications. Some companies are doing it voluntarily, but most have been spurred by a legislative movement called “ban the box.” Ban the box policies are intended to reduce employment discrimination against ex-criminal offenders. By removing the criminal history question from job applications and delaying the background check until after a conditional offer has been made, these policies seek to help ex-offenders get a fair chance at employment.

According to the National Employment Law Project, 29 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ban the box policies. Some of these laws and ordinances only apply to public (i.e., government) jobs. Others, like a policy on the books in Los Angeles, apply to public and private employers alike.

You can click here to find out whether your city, state, or county has a ban the box policy. Even if it doesn’t, it will only be a matter of time before ban the box is the rule rather than the exception.

 3. Continuous background checks and ongoing criminal monitoring will become the norm

Virtually all employers have adopted pre-employment background check policies. Companies are split when it comes to screening current personnel. Some require existing employees to update their background checks every five years or so. Others use continuous screening to get real-time alerts when a current employee is convicted of a crime.

Over the next few years, it’s likely that employers are going to come to a consensus on how to screen existing employees. What that consensus will be remains to be seen: it could be an every-five-years policy, an annual background check policy, a semi-annual policy, or a continuous real-time monitoring policy. In any case, job seekers and employees should know that what they do after they get hired is going to matter just as much as what they do before they get hired.

 4. Employers are going to continue using social media for pre-employment screening

“Social media background checks” are sketchy from an administrative standpoint. Employers like to look at Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to learn more about what their candidates are like in real life. However, findings on these fronts are often misleading, out of context, and based on assumptions. Worse, social accounts can reveal personal, potentially bias-creating information—such as sexual orientation, gender identification, race, religion, nationality, and political affiliation—that employers cannot use in employment decisions.

CareerBuilder statistics show that social media background checks are 500% more common than they were a decade ago. As there is still no law or EEOC/FCRA guideline that prohibits or restricts social media screenings, they are likely to remain common for the foreseeable future.

Some employers are changing how they use social media screenings. Some use third-party businesses to do the social media search, requesting reports that exclude information that might create unintentional bias or discrimination. In other cases, a hiring manager might ask an employee or HR rep not involved with the hiring decision to do the social media check.

Employees and job searchers should be aware that companies are looking at what they do online. Ramping up your privacy settings and thinking more critically about the things you post will help you avoid trouble. You may also want to go back through older posts and photographs and delete anything potential employers or current bosses might find objectionable.

Preparing for Your Background Check
As you get ready to start your job search, know that employers aren’t changing their practices because of you. While three of the four trends listed above emphasize employers’ desire to learn more about their workers and candidates, those policy shifts aren’t personal. Instead, businesses are ramping up their employee screening strategies to safeguard their brands, their reputations, their existing employees, and their customer base.

As a job seeker or employee, the best strategy is to be honest, forthright, and amenable to all employer requests. Many employers are willing to overlook past mistakes, but almost none will overlook dishonesty.


Michael Klazema has been developing products for criminal background check and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

1/28/18 - The 3 Kinds of LinkedIn Messages That Are Unlikely to Get a Response



As a career coach, my inbox is often flooded with messages from people I’m connected with on LinkedIn who are reaching out about something or another. Now, I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I often find myself sighing with annoyance when I open them up—so much so that I was motivated to write this article.

You see, the thing is, I’m open to making new connections and willing to talk to anyone, so the fact that I often put off responding to messages means people are missing the mark. And that stinks because it takes effort to both find people to connect with in the first place and then cultivate a networking relationship from there.

I want to be excited when I read your message and I know you want that, too (or at least I hope you do!). Often times, it only takes a few tweaks to your words or tone to make that possible.

Below are messages inspired by real ones I’ve received along with my thoughts on why they’re not the best approach.

Quick note though: Unless you have LinkedIn Premium, you’ll need to connect before you send a message. But that doesn’t mean you can just send the generic invite. Instead, send a customized one with with these short templates so they’ll accept your request and you’ll be able to actually send over a note.


1. The Empty Query

Initial Reaction

It’s nice that you want to find a way to help one another out, but this message doesn’t give me anything to work with. Perhaps there’s something in my my background that led you to reach out in this manner?


Why This Is Better
Anyone can spot a generic, non-customized message from three Wi-Fi zones away, and if you care about standing out, you’ll be careful not to be labeled as generic, right? The updated version attempts to start building a rapport. By including a customized, targeted line, I can tell George has looked into my background and is excited about finding a way to potentially work together. And that makes me much more inclined to respond to this.


2. The Vague Ask

Initial Reaction
How’s everything? Hm, that’s a rather large question for someone I don’t know in real life. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even know where to begin in responding to this person.

 The Revised Message

Why This Is Better
Being clear up front is just good business. It sets clear intentions and demonstrates professionalism. Many people have experienced accepting a meeting only to find it turn into a sales pitch. If you’re clear about the reason why you’re reaching out, you’re going to build a higher level of trust out the gate and find people who are attracted to your proposal. This is what building a network is all about.


3. The Forceful Demand

Initial Reaction
Hi Matt. My current profile has been updated to indicate that I’m no longer a recruiter (not to mention I definitely don’t specialize in the Florida market as I’m in Los Angeles). If you’re going to spend the time, energy, and effort in sending messages and attempting to foster relationships, it’s far more more effective if you target the correct audience.

 The Revised Message

Why This Is Better
If you’re actively seeking a new position and are wanting to connect, it makes a huge difference if you can share in a couple of sentences what you’re looking for and a glimpse of what you bring to the table. Even though I’m no longer entrenched in the recruiting world, I’m still well-connected.

If Matt had demonstrated clear professionalism in a straightforward introduction, and made note of target roles he’s seeking, I’d for sure be inclined to point him to resources or ask him for his resume to pass along.


The thing to remember is that if you’re asking one of your LinkedIn contacts for something, you need to make it as easy as possible for that person to follow up.

It may be difficult to see it, but every piece of correspondance counts—from the way you first connect to how you stay connected. Don’t randomly reach out to 20 of your LI connections for the sake of hoping something falls into place in your job search. By building off of the revised templates above, you’ll be able to initiate conversations that result in meaningful networking relationships.


Emily Liou is the founder of CultiVitae, where she teaches, coaches, and advises thousands of ambitious corporate professionals seeking career transitions. As a former recruiter and human resources professional, Emily has the inside scoop on what companies are looking for. Her passion is in the area of personal and professional development, and she believes everyone has the ability to cultivate their lives. When not reading books and blogging, Emily is often found exploring $ or $$ restaurants in Los Angeles, or rock climbing.

1/21/18 - Should I Use a Salary Calculator to Negotiate a Job Offer?

Ask a Real Recruiter: Should I Use a Salary Calculator to Negotiate a Job Offer?

Dear Recruiter,

I think I blew my last interview by asking for too much from a nonprofit using a salary figure that I found through Google. My question is, when asked about salary requirements, is it okay to say a number and then mention that's the number you found on or
Still Figuring Out My Worth


Dear Still Figuring Out My Worth,

For many people, the dreaded salary question is the most nerve-wracking stage of the interview process.

Did you aim too high and shoot yourself in the foot? Or, did you aim too low, undervalue your worth, and leave money on the table?

You’re right to want to be prepared for the question, because if things are going well, you’re going to need to face it. So, let’s start with the question you asked:

Data aggregators, such as the two you mentioned, may be useful as one data point, but they shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. Even further, I wouldn’t recommend volunteering that your source is a salary calculator, as it could signal a lack of insight about your profession and the marketplace you’d be working in, as well as an inability to see the big picture.

Which brings me to understanding the big picture. And I’d actually like break this up into two parts because I think it often goes overlooked in most tactical advice on this topic:


The Big Picture Within Your Own Life

Market data is one approach. But, at the end of the day, it’s what matters for you that should govern what you negotiate—provided you’re being realistic. Consider things like your cost of living, as well as the totality of how this job does or doesn’t makes sense for your life.

For instance, if the pay’s slightly lower, but it provides the work-life balance or flexibility you desire, that’s worth considering. What are the benefits or perks like? How about things like the culture or growth opportunities? In addition to salary, you’re allowed to negotiate for these things, too. (It could be easier for a company to give you an extra week of vacation than 10K more than they budgeted for the role.)

Only you know what would make you feel fulfilled and happy in your role, so take the time to really think about it.


The Big Picture Within the Company, Industry, and City

The hard question: Are you being realistic?

Understand that most positions have a salary range and your experience will likely dictate where in that range you fall.

For instance, are you on the more junior or senior end for a role of this type? Do you have relevant experience or are you more of a transitional candidate?

Moreover, what is the industry you’re applying to, is the company currently profitable, and what do the standard salaries look like based on your answer to those two questions? A Series A start-up is likely to have a very different compensation plan than a publicly traded and more established tech company.

Now, those calculators you mentioned can be a part of how you evaluate what standard is. But, in addition to that, I recommend speaking to your network (and even asking in informational interviews) so you can get a real understanding of what’s normal.

Understanding the above should help you go into the conversation with more confidence. And combining that with reading up on articles like this list of negotiation tips and this piece about knowing your worth should make this part of the process way less painful.


This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Real Recruiter in the subject line.

Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.