Category Archives: Unemployment

14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Scored a job interview? Congratulations! Want to stay in the running and make it past the first interview? Then avoid asking these alarmingly common deal-breaker questions. We all know how important it is not only to intelligently answer the hiring manager’s questions, but also to ask our own questions (so we seem engaged and interested). Some questions, though, should never be asked in a job interview:

How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for hirers. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. “Raising the subject of money during the interview stage may give the impression, rightly or wrongly, that all you care about is money, as opposed to working as part of a team and giving your heart, soul, and first-born child to the corporation,” says Todd Moster, a Los Angeles legal recruiter.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

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Mind Your Job Search Netiquette with These Tips

Originally published on San Francisco Employment Jobs Careers:

Even in a world of gee-whiz technology, some old-fashioned ideals — like manners — aren’t outmoded. Business etiquette in general, and netiquette in particular, are crucially important to your career. Why? Because in an intensely competitive job market and with all other factors being equal, the candidate with better conduct is more likely to get the offer.
“Recruiters and companies presume competence based upon observable behaviors,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting in Marblehead, Massachusetts. If you don’t exhibit them, employers may take you out of the running, she says.

Here are some can’t-miss tips for exercising good etiquette during your job search.

Mail/Email Etiquette

Be professional when writing to a potential employer — even if the person is your age. “The biggest faux pas is the assumed colloquial, familiar nature of communication,” says Carolina Ceniza-Levine, a partner with SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm in New York City.

Spelling any name incorrectly or calling a Ms. a Mr. can be the kiss of death. “Double- and triple-check it if you have to,” says Mandy Boyle, who manages the social media presence for Solid Cactus, an e-commerce solutions provider in Shavertown, Pennsylvania. “Don’t let your email, CV or referral slip through the cracks because you didn’t take the time.”

Since manners are about helping people feel comfortable, skip the pithy close or potentially controversial quote in your email signature. Ditto the zany email address. “HotMama69@whatever.com is not going to impress,” say Kate Tykocki, chief communications officer of Capital Area Michigan Works!, a One-Stop career center in Lansing, Michigan. “It’s going to create a perception that you haven’t thought your job search through or that you just don’t care.”

Telephone Etiquette

It’s equally important to be mannerly on the phone. Mind your vmail greeting. “I’m out partying. Leave a message and I might call you back when I’m not wasted” may work for your buddies, but it’s not going to work for a potential employer. Record a message that gives your name, number and instructions on leaving a message, or other modes of contact.

When you’re the one calling, be brief and professional. Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Staffing, a career-preparation consulting company based in Alamo, California, suggests this process:

  1. Write down key points.
  2. Make sure the most important information is at the top.
  3. Practice to get a smooth flow.
  4. Time it. A message more than 10 to 15 seconds is too long.
  5. Make the call.

“Follow instructions on the recording,” notes Dave Clarke, communications strategist with Churnless, a New York City-based digital strategy and production company. “If the person asks for name, number and a brief message, do that and no more.” That’s an easy way to show you listen and follow directions.

Social Media Netiquette

“Your digital persona can say a lot about how you conduct yourself in real life,” Tykocki says. If you come off as negative based on a perusal of your Facebook page, tweets or LinkedIn activity, you may inadvertently turn off an employer who doesn’t want “that sort of personality in their workforce,” she says.

Think about your Facebook, Twitter and other social media use this way: “If you were asked to open any of these sites during an interview, would you still get the job after the HR director looked at them?” asks Frances Cole Jones, author of The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World. If the answer is no, clean up your act.

To avoid other netiquette errors, remember to keep the social graces in mind when using social media.

Using the maximum privacy setting is good, but not foolproof. So scrape offensive language and images from your pages and tweets to avoid turning off employers. And mind your posts going forward to avoid breeches of good taste. “Give before asking,” says Arden Clise, a Seattle-based business etiquette consultant.

“Give recommendations [on LinkedIn], comment on people’s posts, retweet people’s tweets, make introductions, send relevant articles to your contacts, etc.” Similarly, show interest in the person. “I’ve had contacts who I haven’t heard from in years request a recommendation or introduction and not ask about me or show any interest in what I’m doing,” she says. They usually don’t get what they’re asking for, she adds.

Additionally, respect people’s time by keeping your posts and tweets high value and low volume. “Notifications are instantaneous and most people check Twitter, Facebook, etc. at least a few times a day,” Clarke says. “When I see that a potential job seeker has @ replied to me 10 times in a day about nothing important [or] valuable, I’m turned off.”

While these business etiquette guidelines seem like common sense, a dizzying number of job seekers don’t follow them. To make it easier for you, Clarke boils it down to its essence: “Don’t be an idiot. If you wouldn’t want your mom to read something you posted, don’t do it.”

14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Originally published on TheJobVault.com:

Scored a job interview? Congratulations! Want to stay in the running and make it past the first interview? Then avoid asking these alarmingly common deal-breaker questions. We all know how important it is not only to intelligently answer the hiring manager’s questions, but also to ask our own questions (so we seem engaged and interested). Some questions, though, should never be asked in a job interview:

How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for hirers. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. “Raising the subject of money during the interview stage may give the impression, rightly or wrongly, that all you care about is money, as opposed to working as part of a team and giving your heart, soul, and first-born child to the corporation,” says Todd Moster, a Los Angeles legal recruiter.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

What is your policy on drug use? Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon question, says sales and leadership coach Dave Sheffield. “The funniest part of this question is that the interviewee sees nothing wrong with it,” he says.

How did I do? Sure, you want to find out if you’re a contender after an interview. “But asking that question puts an interviewer on the spot, and they’re rarely in a position to answer,” says Frances Cole Jones, the author of “The Wow Factor.” Plus, it makes you sound unprofessional. She suggests an effective alternative like, “So what are my next steps?”

No questions: “By far the worst question is the one you never ask: Not asking any questions during an interview shows a lack of interest or comprehension, or can make you look desperate, someone who will take any job under any circumstances,” says motivational speaker Barry Mather, the author of “Filling the Glass.” “Nobody wants someone nobody wants.”

Also on Monster+HotJobs:

College Grads Make Sure You’re Covered: 3 Rules for Writing an Effective Cover Letter

At the moment, college graduates nationwide are sending cover letters far and wide—many of which came to me for pre-sending inspection. Based on what I saw, I put together the following list of 3 things every college graduate should keep in mind:

  1. HR Directors aren’t there to make your dreams come true: Don’t begin by saying what you hope to gain by joining their firm, or that you’re sure a career in X will fulfill your goals/meet your expectations. Instead, state in your opening paragraph how and why your skills/experience/education are going to make their life better. For example, “Your job description states you are looking for someone who can do X. Not only can I do X, but I can do Y.”
  2. Have the values/skills you claim you have: Don’t say you’re a go-getter and then never follow up after you send the cover letter. Don’t say you have a strong network in banking if you’ve only held internship positions, and don’t claim you have tech skills that can be checked by someone saying, “Let’s have you take a crack at that right now.” Paragraph two should give specifics about the actual values/skills you embody/possess.
  3. Close with Your Hard/Soft Skill Mix: Companies frequently have several choices about who CAN do the job (the hard skills) so their choice becomes: which candidate will be a good team member/colleague? (the soft skills) Consequently, I recommend closing your letter with the phrase, “Given my work experience, my education, and my life experience, I believe I have the combination of hard and soft skills required to add immediate value to your firm.”

Since HR Directors know most students get help with their resumes, cover letters are looked at even more closely. Following these three rules ensures yours will stand up to scrutiny.

Frances Cole Jones

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Also, if you missed my FOX News piece on “Tips for College Grads” watch it here.

The Top 10 Qualities of a Successful Candidate

Everyone’s looking for that seemingly indefinable “something” that will make a management candidate stand out from the pack. I sat down with John Rodenburg, Managing Director of Gunderson Partners, LLC, a premier recruiting firm in New York City and together we hammered out the top ten list, below. Find a candidate with even 6 or 7 of these traits, and we guarantee he or she is well on their way to cementing their future success—and yours!

  1. Presence- There’s a fine line between confidence and over-compensation. You don’t want a candidate who sucks all the air out of the room. You do want one whose self-possession ensures you’re comfortable putting him or her in front of your best clients– their balance of energy and experience should guarantee your clients take them seriously immediately.
  2. Connect the Dots- One proven common denominator among many successful people is their grasp on numerous, seemingly unrelated, topics. The best leaders can find parallels between disparate subjects and demonstrate how the ‘success factors’ of one discipline can inform another.
  3. Confident Enthusiasm- Hope and enthusiasm are not strategies.  A leader must have enthusiasm based on facts and knowledge.  He or she must not only be committed emotionally, but must also be committed intellectually.
  4. Strong Vision– David Gergen was an Advisor to several Presidents including Reagan, Clinton, Ford and Carter.  In his book “Eyewitness to Power” he observes that within this group of executives, Reagan was masterful at identifying his central goals and articulating a vision that was rooted in the core values of the country.  As a result, his entire team knew exactly what he wanted and were able to move forward the goals of his administration.

    Leaders must have a strong vision that resonates with their staff and customers.  This eliminates the stress of indecision within an organization, and allows people to move forward with a like-minded mission.

  5. Ethics- Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.  You candidates must share the same high ethical values that are practiced in your corporation.  It affects the standards and culture within an organization.
  6. Evolution verses Revolution- Revolutions are rarely successful– change brought about by thoughtful “evolution” is always more productive. The best leaders appreciate what is working well, and identify the issues that are holding a company back.  Then they implement their vision in a thoughtful manner that engages the entire organization.
  7. Power of Sharing- No one wants to work for someone that has all of the answers.  They want someone with a “strong vision” and an open mind on how to execute that vision. Look for someone who actively solicits others’ opinions, and is quick to praise others’ contributions to the initiative.
  8. Be in the Moment- Someone that is too wired has a difficult time connecting with people in the workplace and in social settings.  Picking up your BB or phone while having a conversation sends the message that…”whomever I don’t know is on the phone is more important than the person sitting right in front of me”.

    Ignoring interruptions and distractions strengthens the relationship you’re in, and rarely diminishes others.

  9. Sense of Urgency- Although this might sound like something you would talk to your Urologist about, it is one of the most important traits to look for in a candidate.  You can hire the smartest person in the world, but if they can’t move an idea, initiative, or organization forward then NOTHING happens.
  10. Consistency- Simply stated, if someone has had a lot of jobs then you cannot rely on that person’s commitment.  Don’t hire them.  You have to admire people who have built careers and run businesses where they have had to live with their decisions and results.  I have seen too many executives that come in and reorganize a division, only to leave after fifteen months and never have to explain why the results didn’t meet management’s expectations.

Frances Cole Jones is the author of The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World www.thewowfactor-thebook.com

John C. Rodenburg, a former senior executive and Time Inc. and American Express publishing, is currently a Managing Director of Gunderson Partners, LLC www.gundersonpartners.com

Advice to Unemployed in Tough Job Market – Use the Buddy System

By Heather O’Neill from CityTownInfo.com:

Whether you are a recent graduate, between jobs because of a layoff, or reentering the workforce after taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom, these are tough times to be looking for work.

While the busywork of unemployment–like rewriting resumes, learning to use social networking sites, and finding productive uses of your time–can be strenuous, the emotional toll a period of unemployment takes is sometimes even harder.

In Part One of this article, you can find practical tips for cleaning house, from creating an unemployment budget to polishing your resume and online image.

In this second part of this article, experts share their advice for staying positive, upbeat and sharp during a job search.

Use the Buddy System

If you are lacking motivation or feeling shy, sometimes a buddy can lift you out of your funk.

Frances Cole Jones, author of The Wow Factor; The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World, highly recommends job seekers adopt a buddy system, both for moral support and results.

“Fitness programs have shown that making a plan to meet someone at the gym ensures you get to the gym,” she said. “Similarly, making a plan to meet someone at a networking event will ensure you make it out the door.”

To really get a fire under your job search, find a dedicated “action partner,” Joyce K. Reynolds advises. This person should be willing to encourage you when you feel stalled, prod you when you are out of gas and be a source of “relentless positive, just-take-the-next-step” energy, she said.

A buddy system is helping in creating what David Perry, principal of Perry-Martel International, calls “personal leverage.” So what is personal leverage?

“Personal leverage is a constraint that makes backing away [from your intent] much more difficult… like an engagement ring if you’re thinking about getting hitched,” Perry said. “It’s a public admission that you’re going to do something, knowing that if you fail you’ll be [held accountable]. Leverage may be the best way to overcome psychological barriers that prevent you from staying focused. There are many different ways you can create leverage. Start by defining your motivation for achieving your goals: if you can define the reason to achieve a goal, you will be much more committed to it. You need to know what’s driving you to make it happen.”

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