Why You Need A Career Bucket List In 2013

Career bucket list for 2013

Make your first million. Get the corner office. Start your own company. Take over the family business. Publish a book. Retire by a certain age.

Career goals may vary, but they all mark the reaching of a professional achievement. While it's up to you to decide what career accomplishments matter most, you might not know where to start. "The first step is to visualize what you want and then you create a plan to execute," says Roy Cohen, career counselor, executive coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.

Cohen shares his tips for developing your career bucket list, or the goals you want to reach before the end of your career:

1. Set stretch goals.
Create objectives that contribute to larger goals, such as expanding your knowledge, raising your professional visibility, getting a promotion or finding a new job. You can do this by taking classes, getting a certification or writing an article for an industry publication. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for free tuition toward classes and certificate programs through your state's labor department. It takes time, so plan now.

2. Establish relationships with influencers.
Influencers are people who are in the loop on industry trends, opportunities and career insights. View them as mentors or advisers to whom you reach out for direction, perspective and ideas. They usually have dynamic careers and are involved in diverse initiatives, and as a consequence, they can offer you a more informed perspective.

3. Repair damaged relationships.
If you left a job on bad terms, or you've been out of touch with former colleagues, it's time to catch up with them. Time can be a neutralizer of frayed edges and unresolved issues, so it's worth reaching out. When it comes to achieving goals, one of the biggest barriers to moving forward is the baggage you carry from unresolved relationships and issues.

4. Wrap up and follow up.
Since 2013 is just around the corner, now's the time to reassess 2012. What could you have done differently? Recognize that achieving your goals is all about follow-up and gratitude. Is your follow-up correspondence showing your potential to add value and offer solutions? Is it well-written? If not, get feedback on how you can improve the way you communicate.

When creating your bucket list, ask yourself what's important to you, what accomplishments you've admired in others' careers and what goals would get you closer to reaching nonwork-related milestones. A career bucket list doesn't have to be completely serious; balance hard work with more lighthearted plans, such as earning a bonus so you can buy yourself something special or accruing extra vacation time so you can visit a dream destination.

Source: AOL

10 Things NOT To Do In A Job Interview

Blowing the job interview You spent years honing your career, driving your on- and offline brand, and equipping yourself with the right resume. Now, you've been invited into that all-important job interview. To succeed, there are several things you should always do, but perhaps more importantly, there are also things you should avoid at all costs. Here are 10 ways you could fail at your job interview, and ways to steer clear of them:

1. Arrive late.
There is no excuse for interview tardiness. MapQuest and auto navigation systems are at your fingertips to set your on-time driving course effortlessly. Plan for traffic jams and other logistical obstacles by leaving for your interview way ahead of your appointment. The worst that can happen is you arrive early. Use the bonus time to review your prep materials.

2. Dress inappropriately or appear ungroomed.
Women: Are you displaying excessive cleavage, wearing a too-short skirt or globbing on the makeup? Men: Are you arriving unshaven, sporting long hair or stifling the room with aftershave? Also keep in mind that body piercings and tattoos can be distracting to an otherwise open-minded interviewer. Consider expectations of interview process formality; often, the most flexible cultures anticipate a conservative presentation during the interview meeting. Instead of asserting your unique personal style, focus on what's important: dialogue that convinces a hiring manager that you will contribute to the company's bottom line.

3. Arrive unprepared.
If your response to the question, "Why do you want to work for ABC Company?" is a deer-in-the-headlights stare, then you failed. This seemingly innocuous question is actually a power-packed opportunity to genuinely demonstrate why the company should be interested in you. Be specific in identifying one or two key reasons the company's culture, leadership, product, or service appealed to you and then couple that with a particular example of how YOU will fit in/add value. With today's access to deep-Web insights (via Glassdoor, LinkedIn, corporate websites, and Google searches), there is no excuse not to brush up on a company before the interview.

4. Behave disrespectfully.
Whether it's the front-line receptionist greeting you in the foyer, the human resources professional pre-screening you, or another employee passing you in the hallway, mind your manners through each interaction. Everyone with whom you come in contact is a potential influencer to the decision-maker who impacts your future.

5. Chew gum or fidget.
While nerves may be in check before the interview, the simple act of crossing the "threshold" into the interviewer's quarters often triggers a visceral reaction that can induce excessive gum chewing, fidgeting, and/or sweating (or all of the above). Have a plan of action to manage your nerves so that they don't manage you. Spit out your gum; practice crossing your ankles and folding your hands, and/or wear sweat-resistant clothing or special deodorant.

6. Drone on and on.
Preparing a flexible script ahead of time will help avoid rambling as you search for the right words. Typically, there is a common pool of questions from which interviewers draw upon. By preparing for 15 to 20 of those, you will be equipped, to a large degree, for many possible questions. You can pull from a combination of those practiced (but not memorized) responses to create succinct, intelligible replies.

7. Forget your resume.
While it's likely you were called into the interview based on the resume that the recruiter, human resources professional, or hiring decision maker received, don't assume they won't appreciate a hard-copy resume at the time of the interview. Bring several printed copies to the interview, as you may be meeting with a series of folks. Each one deserves his or her own fresh copy.

8. Bring a bad resume.
Amateurish, outdated, and non-value-add resumes can be a strike against you. Executed poorly, a sluggish, old-school, inarticulate, and unfocused resume may be just the reason to eliminate you from the running in a tight race.

9. Forget to say thank you.
Demonstrating appreciation for the interviewer's time during, as well as following the interview is critical. Manners matter, always.

10. Think the interview is mostly about you.
The interview, at least initially, is about the company's requirements. It is considering hiring and paying you to fill a void. You must prove you can fill the employers' particular needs; that you can remove pain, solve problems, fix customer issues, save time or money, generate more revenue, build upon profits, and/or reverse declining market share.

Yes, you will be choosing a company that fits "your" needs, too, but initially at least, your primary focus is to influence them to want to know more, and ultimately, extend an offer.

Many of these interview-derailing behaviors will be exacerbated by the inherent stress of employment meetings. By quashing them now, you can take necessary steps to reduce chances of failure and increase opportunities for new job success.

Source: AOL

3 myths about older job seekers

Big Foot roams the woods of North America. The Loch Ness Monster lurks below the water's surface in Scotland. Hiring younger workers makes more sense than hiring mature ones. Which one of these myths is most widely believed?
Big Foot and "Nessie" may be out in the wild somewhere, but mature job seekers are just as attractive job candidates as their younger counterparts. More experienced, more mature, more reliable -- mature job seekers are the total package when it comes to hiring. So why do employers buy into the notion that their age is a drawback? Learn how to bust three common myths about older workers and get hired.
Myth No. 1: You're out of touch
Perhaps the most common myth is that mature job seekers struggle to keep up with technology and industry trends. The truth is that it's every job seeker's responsibility, regardless of age, to ensure he has the experience and skills needed for the job he wants.
While younger job seekers may receive the most current education, mature job seekers can take advantage of this opportunity, too. If your job search isn't yielding much interest, it may be time to consider attending a workshop or seminar in your field. Tailor your résumé to the job posting's requirements. Research the company and mention specifics in your cover letter. Also note your skills and experience, including your technology capabilities. You can beat this myth and market yourself as the total package. You have experience, judgment and dependability on your side.
Myth No. 2: You'll expect a leadership position
The experience, judgment and dependability that make you the total package may also make you appear to be a high-maintenance job seeker or somebody who expects a leadership position.
Combat this assumption in your cover letter by explaining that you're interested in the specific position and that you look forward to joining the team. You may be moved into a leadership position soon after starting, but don't expect a warm reception if you mention a leadership position as a requirement to being hired. Instead, explain your leadership qualities and how they apply to the job for which you're interviewing, as well as how you'll fit into the company culture.
Myth No. 3: You'll retire soon anyway
The classic "Where do you see yourself in five years?" question makes an appearance at most job interviews, though for mature job seekers, this question may sound loaded. Will you still want to work in five years?
While younger job seekers may respond with a positive answer about how they hope to still be working with their team, mature job seekers may need a more specific answer. Hiring managers may worry that more mature job seekers are looking for a pastime before retiring. Make it clear that the age of retirement is rising and you're looking at this position as an important part of your career. Share how you've previously met your professional goals and how this job will contribute to your other goals. Then, transition to the company's goals and how you're a great match.
No matter your age, you can bust these three myths and present yourself as the total package. Prove that you're keeping up with industry trends, make it clear that you want to be a part of the team, and share your career goals to show your commitment.


A balanced approach to phone interviews

Phone interviews lack many of the qualities that can make an in-person meeting with a potential employer so stressful. You don't have to make your way to an unfamiliar location and hunt for a parking spot, meet -- and impress --prospective colleagues in the hallways, or figure out an elegant way to hide that spot on your shirt.

As a result, some job seekers approach phone interviews less seriously. That can be a risky move in a job hunt since acing the phone interview is often your ticket to an in-person meeting.

This article outlines a few guideposts to help you walk the line between over-preparing and not being prepared enough. Stay within these lines, and you'll have a better chance of making it to the next round in the hiring process.

Be professional ...
From the beginning, you must present yourself as polished, considerate and professional. That means greeting the hiring manager with, "Hi, Joanna, this is John Douglas. It's a pleasure to speak with you" as opposed to the kind of casual greeting you reserve for close friends. And if your outgoing phone message is casual or goofy, change it in case the employer's call goes to voice mail.
Just before the scheduled interview time, disable call waiting and get set up in a distraction-free environment with a strong cell signal or landline connection. Have your résumé and the job listing in front of you. Smile as you talk to give your voice confidence.
At the end of the call, thank the hiring manager for her time. If she hasn't mentioned the possibility of an in-person interview, ask politely about the next step.

... But be yourself.
Being overly formal can have the opposite of your intended effect. Needlessly officious language can create a barrier between you and the employer. Ideally, you want to find common ground. The same holds true for projecting too much enthusiasm if these feelings don't come naturally for you. It can come across as insincere.   
In the likely event that the hiring manager is calling several similarly qualified candidates, he will most remember the one where the conversation was easy and friendly.

Prepare yourself to answer thoroughly ...
Research the company and its current challenges, just as you would for an in-person interview. Swallow your pride and ask a friend to conduct a practice phone interview with you. Ask your friend to prepare standard-issue interview questions as well as a curveball or two.
This dry run can give you invaluable practice talking about yourself while helping to identify weaknesses ranging from the technical ("Your headset sounds terrible") to the substantial ("You seemed evasive about your last job").
Afterward, make a list of key talking points that match up with the position's requirements. Keep it handy during your interview to use as a reminder -- but not as a script.

But don't overdo it.
During in-person interviews, nonverbal prompts make it easier to carry on a natural conversation. You can generally tell when the interviewer wants you to talk and when to wait for the next question.
That distinction is trickier over the phone; a few seconds of silence can turn you into a radio DJ scrambling to fill dead air. Keep in mind that the interviewer may simply be taking notes, so don't talk just to avoid silence.

Follow the interviewer's lead ... 
During the interview, you'll need to pick up on not just the content of the hiring manager's questions but also the tone. Don't be so fixated on your talking points that you miss these cues.
If the interviewer seems relaxed and open, you can take more time answering the questions. If her tone is matter-of-fact and abrupt, focus on getting your points across quickly and economically.
In either case, make sure you're listening, not just waiting for your next turn to speak. Asking a salient question in response to something the interviewer has mentioned can demonstrate your ability to think and talk on your feet.

But don't lose the thread.
The interviewer may establish the tone and structure of the discussion, but it's your responsibility to tell your story -- however briefly -- within those confines. Make sure your answers don't stray too far from how your skills and experience meet the employer's needs.
These tips may not be black-and-white, but neither are today's phone interviews. In fact, if you take part in several interview calls, you might find that they bear little resemblance to one another. In some cases, you might even be vastly overprepared after the call. If that's the case, consider your preparation a head start on the next round. Just be sure to get that shirt dry-cleaned first.

Source: careerbuilder

What do employers think about overeducated job seekers

Job seekers rarely consider the commitment a company makes when hiring somebody. Training, health benefits, salary, office space, technology, equipment -- these are investments companies make in a new hire, along with the hope that their newest employee will be a return on their investment.

Hiring managers often see a red flag when an overeducated job seeker applies for a position. While the job seeker sees this as an advantage -- surely he is more qualified than most applicants -- hiring managers see him as a flight risk, or somebody who won't stay at the company long before finding a better opportunity.
If you're overqualified, how can you combat this stereotype and land the job?

Why it's a problem
A certain liability comes along with overeducated job seekers, which weighs against the education advantages they have over other job seekers. "The problem may not be the over-education," says Marcia LaReau, president of career-services company Forward Motion LLC. "The question that generally comes up is, 'Is this person looking for something better, and will they leave if/when it comes along?'"

Helen Cortez, human resources manager for Next Day Flyers, agrees. "Often when I read through résumés, I come across candidates who at first glance appear to be overqualified and overeducated for the openings. As a company, we may be a bit hesitant to bring in these individuals. The concern is longevity. There is an expense tied with bringing new team members on board, and there is also an adjustment by the team they work with. That's not to say we don't bring in overqualified candidates, because we have, and we feel very fortunate to have these individuals on our team."

Why it might not be a problem
Employers are just as aware of the tough economy as job seekers. They know that many overqualified people are willing to take any to get a paycheck, but they still need to make smart business decisions. Make the choice easy by marketing your qualifications as an added perk.

"The company wants the best employees but also wants assurance that these workers will stick around," says Amber Dixon, marketing director of Intermountain Financial Group LLC. "They are aware that the individual may not stay with the company once the economy improves, but they can benefit from the knowledge of the educated employee until that happens. And, they hope that the individual and the company will create a strong working relationship that will persuade the employee to stay, but maybe in a higher capacity."

If you're an overeducated job seeker, make your intentions and your career goals clear in your cover letter and during interviews. "We've found [that] a discussion on the topic can be very enlightening," Cortez says. "Candidates may be at a stage in their life where they don't want to travel or where they want to be a part of a smaller organization that's in a growth cycle rather than a Fortune 500 company. The right circumstances can lead it to being a win/win situation."

Also, stress the benefits of your education and training. "I know that we care more about being educated than overeducated," Dixon says. "In my circle of networks, many employers have mentioned that they would rather hire someone with a higher degree than someone without one in this economy."
Ideally, you'll find a job where there's room to grow. "What's more productive is to apply for higher jobs where the candidate gets to grow into the position," LaReau says. "HR professionals know that the best jobs are the ones with the right balance between experience and growth." Whether you're over- or under-educated, or somewhere in-between, explain why you and this job are a good match and what each side will get out of the relationship.

Source: careerbuilder

How To Get A Good Raise Next Year, Even When No One Else Does

get a raise 2013

Raises have been minimal, or non-existent from 2010 to 2012, according to a survey from Mercer, a New York human resources consulting firm. Most raises have been in the 2.7 percent range this year -- less than the 2012 cost of living adjustment of 3.6 percent.

Clearly, the struggling job market is enabling employers in many sectors to keep raises low. (In-demand jobs, like engineering, for instance, are enjoying better pay.) Still, there are ways you can increase your odds of getting a good raise -- even when no one else is getting one. Here are some tips:

1. Become indispensable.

Pulling your weight is not enough. Employees really need to illustrate why they are exceptional at what they do.

Make yourself the go-to expert in your area and provide solutions to issues that are essential to the company success. If you can distinguish yourself as someone they cannot lose, your chances of being given hefty raises will grow significantly. If you need to develop additional skills or competencies, consider this an investment in your career future and ask for work that will help you demonstrate these skills visibly within your workplace. Being indispensable will also help make you less vulnerable when mergers, lay-offs, and right sizing occur.

2. Manage up.

Don't assume that your boss knows everything that you're accomplishing throughout the year. Unless you are doing a poor job, most bosses leave you to your own devices and rarely check-in.

Share your accolades and "wins" regularly. Send your boss a brief monthly report to outline the goals you have met and the solutions you provided that met the strategic plan of your company or department. Be specific because you are a building a case for a merit-based raise. These mini-reports for your boss will add facts to back up why you deserve a salary increase much more effectively than the generic annual performance review. Plus, it helps you keep track of what you have accomplished so you can talk about this effectively during your evaluation and beyond.

3. Ask.

Don't assume your boss knows you want a bigger than 2.7 percent raise (or whatever the standard raise is in your company). Don't be passive. Ask your boss for the raise you want --and back up your request with comparative salary data and the list accomplishments during a given period. (You can check salaries on AOL Jobs' salary calculator.)

The fact that you took on more responsibilities is not enough.

Everyone is taking on more work; everyone's jobs are expanding. Everyone is learning new technical skills. What will make you stand out as a high contributor warranting a larger than average raise are specifics about how you contributed to the bottom line. Metrics are persuasive.

Also: be prepared to come to the discussion with a negotiating mindset. Which brings me to the last point.

4. Come to the bargaining table with a plan.

In this economy, it's common for a boss to say "You've done a great job this year but we just don't have the budget to give you a raise right now." Instead of sulking back to your office feeling deflated, ask your boss to plan for your raise in the next fiscal year or some shorter time period. Ask for a percentage that reflects your outstanding work so it can be figured into the line item budget for the next period.

Remember: "No" doesn't mean "no, forever" -- it simply means "not now" and it's your responsibility to follow-up and offer a plan which indicates your value-add to the organization and your desire to stay with the firm for the foreseeable future. Management is more likely to invest in you if they believe you will be sticking around.

You can also be creative and ask for a bonus, instead, to make up for the lack of increase to your base pay. These alternative incentives are often more affordable and easier to grant, so be creative and come to the bargaining table with multiple options.

5. Finally, think big.

Don't suffer from low expectations, set your sights high and be clear about what you want and why you deserve it. In this economy, you can't wait for a raise to come to you no matter how stellar you are at work. You must make the powers that be aware of your value-add, ask for what you deserve, and come to the negotiation with facts and a strong ability to negotiate.

Source: AOL

Tackling Job Offer Dilemmas

You've been on several job interviews, but the phone's been silent. Suddenly, the employer at the top of your list calls and offers you a position. The only problem is the pay isn't nearly what you expected.
In a situation like this, where a decision isn't clear-cut, you need to think critically before accepting or rejecting an employment offer. Following are examples of some tough job offer dilemmas and suggestions for determining the best course of action:

You're offered a dream job ... but the pay is low
What if you are offered a job you've always wanted, only to find out that accepting the position means a pay cut?
This can be an especially difficult choice in an uncertain economy, depending on how much your salary will drop. Because future salary levels are often based on past compensation, a drop in pay can have long-term consequences. Of course, a smaller paycheck shouldn't automatically dissuade you from taking a job you really want. You may even be able to offset the effect by negotiating a sooner-than-usual salary review or more benefits such as additional vacation time. Other factors, including workplace culture and advancement opportunities, can also make a lower-paying job more rewarding.

You're offered a dream job ... but there's a lengthy commute
You're up for a transfer to a position in another office that interests you. The only problem is it would require you to commute an hour-and-a-half each way.
In this scenario, your first concern might be the cost of commuting, especially given the current record-high price of gasoline. Your employer may be able to help in this regard, however. According to a recent Robert Half survey, 17 percent of companies offer ridesharing or vanpooling and 11 percent provide telecommuting options to offset the rising cost of commuting.
In addition, don't forget to evaluate the time you'll be sacrificing. If you are a new parent, for instance, you likely won't want to spend three hours a day in the car.

You're offered a dream job ... but it's halfway across the country
You're on the job hunt and have been offered a dream position on the other side of the country. Do you stay or do you go?
You'll need to consider the change in cost-of-living and how much it will affect your quality of life. Would you be happy in the new location? Visiting ahead of time can help you get a feel for the community and decide if you'll enjoy it. Also ask the firm about steps it plans to take to help you acclimate to the area, such as providing assistance with your house hunt.
Another factor to consider is what you would do if you move to another city or state and the position doesn't work out. Will you be able to find another job? It helps to research the local economy, especially as it relates to your particular industry, to determine the likelihood of locating a similar position should you need to look for work.

You're offered a dream job ... but it's with a struggling startup
You've been with a large, established company for a few years, but you've been offered an exciting position with a new company that is just starting to get off the ground. Do you leave the security of your current job for the excitement of the unknown?
Your personality becomes an important factor in this decision. Do you see yourself as a risk taker, or are you more comfortable with stability? If you've been with your company for a while, you've probably become accustomed to a particular workplace culture and a new environment could be jarring. Also, consider the possibility that a less-established firm could struggle in an uncertain economy. Find out more about the new organization and its future prospects by conducting some Internet research and speaking with people in your professional network. At the same time, don't overlook the reasons a smaller company might appeal to you, such as offering you more responsibility and greater autonomy, as well as the potential for quick advancement.

You're offered a dream job ... then another
You're on the job hunt and your qualifications have drawn interest from several employers. In fact, on the same day, two firms extend an employment offer.
While flattering, receiving multiple offers can make for a difficult decision. Ask the companies for some time to consider your next move. Also let each hiring manager know you are evaluating an offer from another employer; this could be a good negotiation tactic. If you are having a hard time choosing, put together a list of pros and cons. One factor you don't want to overlook is workplace culture. While this element may be hard to quantify, it's an important consideration, and your definition of a good work environment should match what a prospective employer offers. In addition, don't hesitate to contact the hiring managers with questions. How each person responds to your concerns could tell you a lot about the organizations.
In most cases, determining whether to accept or decline a job offer is fairly straightforward. But when the decision is so difficult you feel as if you're taking the SAT, the key is to collect as much information as you can. By asking yourself and the employer the right questions, as well as conducting additional research, you can be confident in the choice you make.

Source: careerbuilder

6 Ways to Create Interview Chemistry

Interviewing is a lot like dating. When two people agree to go to dinner or watch a movie with each other, it's generally because they had something in common, found each other interesting and wanted to spend time together.
When interviewing job candidates, interviewers are looking for these same things. They don't want to hire just anyone. They want to hire a candidate who can do the job and connect with others in the workplace. Therefore, it's not enough for job seekers to highlight their skills, knowledge and experience. They must be able to create chemistry and connect with the interviewer if they want that person's buy-in for the job, according to Susan Britton Whitcomb, author of "Interview Magic, Second Edition."

"During an interview, you will be judged on three dimensions: chemistry, competency and compensation. The first dimension -- chemistry -- is critical. You'll want to connect with the company's mission, its people and its customers. And you'll certainly want the interviewer to connect with you," Whitcomb says.

Given only a brief amount of time, many people find it very difficult to connect with interviewers, who are often complete strangers to them. Further complicating the task is the fact that many people think of interviews as high-stress, pressure-packed situations. This attitude influences job seekers to spend their time worrying and trying not to make mistakes, instead of making an effort to connect with interviewers.
To help job seekers overcome this common obstacle and quickly create chemistry between themselves and interviewers, Whitcomb offers the following tips in "Interview Magic":

1.  Share commonalitiesDiscuss your passion for your field or enthusiasm for a new product or service, as well as personal commonalities such as family (i.e., children of the same age), recreational activities, hobbies or interests.
2.  L.I.S.T.E.N. attentivelyLaser your focus. Investigate and be curious. Silence your tongue -- hold your judgment and open your mind. Take brief notes and take time to formulate your response. Elevate the other person. Note the nonverbal, including your body language and that of your interviewer. It is impossible to connect with others if you don't listen well.
3.  R.E.S.P.O.N.D. well
emember your objective; Engage the interviewer. Share succinctly. Point to benefits. Offer proof. Never drone on. Dedicate yourself to a win-win relationship.
4.  Pay attention to the 'howchas'The "howchas" are how you say something (as opposed to what you say). Tone, inflection, body language, attitude and motive combine to make how you say it just as important as what you say. To improve your 'howcha's,' remain deferential, respectfully curious and concerned about the interviewer/company's welfare. Use verbal and body language mirroring to enhance communication, matching aspects of your interviewer's voice, language, mannerisms and body language.
5.  Recognize their learning style, whether auditory, visual or kinesthetic/tactile.Offer variety in your interview so that each style is addressed. This might include answering questions for the auditory learners, writing an outline on a whiteboard or showing a PowerPoint demonstration for the visual learners, and engaging the kinesthetic/tactile learners in activities or encouraging them to take more thorough notes.
6.  Understand their temperament Theorists (often seen in executive roles) value impressive training or credentials, and stress vision, logic, innovation, mastery, progress and excellence. Catalysts (often seen in human service roles) value harmony in work relationships and appreciate ideal, meaningful work environments. Stabilizers (often seen in finance and management roles) value factual, reality-based responses in a sequential, detailed fashion. Improvisers (often seen in sales/marketing roles) value action, excitement and variety, and prefer solutions that are practical and effective to help them get what they want.
Making these efforts throughout the interview will go a long way toward impressing the interviewer and positioning yourself ahead of other candidates. Even if you don't win the job offer, the interviewer may be inclined to recommend you to others or keep you in mind for future opportunities if he or she developed a connection with you.
 "Acing an interview -- even for a job that isn't perfect for you -- will put you on the radar screen of those who can help you in the future," Whitcomb says. "Remember that interviewers have their own network of contacts that will likely be valuable to you."

Source: careerbuilder

Secrets To Getting A Raise That Your Boss Won't Tell You

get a pay raise

Picture the payday ahead: A 10 percent pay raise plus three extra vacation days.

If you want this to be more than wishful thinking, pull out your goals and get your game on for the performance review and raise season that's just ahead. Most companies hand out merit raises after the first of the year. Next year, in U.S. metropolitan areas, raises will average between 2.9 to 3.1 percent, according to WorldatWork, which focuses on compensation research.

Here are five suggestions on how you can show why you're worth more, courtesy of Jim Hopkinson, a blogger and author of Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You.

1. Show recent successes.
Your boss is more likely to overlook a mistake early in the year if you rack up some wins in the last six to eight weeks. Plus some managers are plagued by a "What have you done for me lately?" syndrome, Hopkinson writes. So, roll up your sleeves, push hard and make sure you have some recent successes.

2. Pounce on pet projects.
"Every company has their big project, the thing that gets the most buzz," said Hopkinson. Lately, it's been anything around mobile or apps or video storytelling. You want to contribute to that. And, if there's an in-house contest or an appeal to recommend ideas to aid the company, "that's just screaming for someone to step up and get noticed," he said. He knows one woman who did that and won the competition to "put herself on the map." It shows your team spirit and also makes a good bullet point for your review, he noted.

3. Build your brand and online presence.
This is important if you're going for a promotion or considering seeking a job elsewhere that pays more. When Hopkinson speaks to student groups, he asks them how many own their own domain. Usually, only 10 to 20 percent do. "They're not controlling their message," he said. Hopkinson is so passionate about this that he's created a site, Getyournametoday.com (which is affiliated with GoDaddy) to show people how to do it, easily.

4. Practice your pitch.
For some, developing bullet points may be enough preparation to guide the conversation with your boss. But anyone who gets nervous or has trouble speaking up for what they want may want to practice some specific answers and comments, especially to questions that could derail your raise. This allows you to give a strong response and deflect or neutralize the most likely roadblocks.

5. Bring along a brag report.
This could be your digital portfolio, packed with visuals and stats, showing how you influenced the business in the last year. Or it could be a one-page bulleted list of accomplishments, broken into key categories. Some of them clearly must show bottom-line impact -- how you saved money or made money or helped others do that -- and others must align with your boss's goals and priorities for the year. Start working on your "Success Portfolio" well ahead of your review date, so you can give your bosses time to see all that you have accomplished.

One final piece of advice: Stay cool, and be prepared to wait a few days after your meeting, Hopkinson says. Just because you've been working on this for 10 days doesn't mean your boss is prepared or able to give you the 7 percent raise you've requested. She may need to get her boss' buy-in -- especially if the raise is as big as you've been hoping.

Source: AOL

10 Interview Questions Decoded

Anyone who's ever spent time in a job search has probably walked away from at least one interview knowing right away that he botched it. Quite often, people who do feel confident about their last interview know they still could have answered one or two questions much better than they did.

The problem behind such scenarios is that too often, job seekers misunderstand or underestimate what they're being asked during an interview, according to Jack Warner and Clyde Bryan, co-authors of "Inside Secrets of Finding a Teaching Job." A question such as, "Do you have any more questions for me?" may seem innocent and simple enough to answer, but candidates who give a weak response are usually the ones screened out of consideration for the job.

Job seekers should be aware that every question an interviewer asks is an opportunity to sell themselves as the most outstanding, must-have candidate for the job. In their book, Warner and Bryan identify some of the most popular interview questions, reveal what interviewers really want to know when asking them and offer tips to help job seekers develop a savvy response.

These questions include:

Tell us about yourself.
What they're really asking: What makes you special? Why should we hire you?
Tips: Prepare several selling points about yourself. Give a quick "elevator speech" that overviews your experience and achievements.
What are your greatest strengths?
What they're really asking: How do you perceive your talents and abilities as a professional? Will you be an asset to our organization?
Tips: Sell yourself. If you don't promote your strengths, nobody else will. Prepare six or seven responses. Be "confidently humble."
What are your greatest weaknesses?
What they're really asking: How honest are you being about yourself with us? How realistic are you?
Tips: Present your weakness as a positive. Don't talk too long or emphasize your downfalls.
Why are you interested in working here?
What they're really asking: How dedicated are you? Do you have a passion for this type of work?
Tips: Keep your answer simple and to the point. Stay away from such responses as, "Many of my friends have worked here." This response isn't very impressive.
Why should we hire you?
What they're really asking: Can you convince us you're "the one?" Can you sell your "product?"
Tips: Make a powerful statement about the value you'll bring to their organization. Toot your own horn, but be wary of sounding arrogant.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
What they're really asking: Will you be here for only year a before moving on, or are you committed to staying here for a while? Are you a stable person? Can you set goals for yourself?
Tips: Be aware that they might not want to hire someone who will be around for only a year or two. Feel free to say that you have one goal at the moment: to be the very best employee for that particular job.
What are some of your hobbies?
What they're really asking: How well-rounded are you? What do you do outside of work that might transfer positively into the workplace?
Tips: Emphasize any hobbies or activities that may relate to the job. Help the interviewer learn more about you and perceive you as a person, rather than a job candidate. Therefore, don't just answer questions, respond to them.
Would you be willing to pursue an extra certificate or credential?
What they're really asking: How is your attitude? How flexible are you?
Tips: Tell the interviewer how important professional growth is to you. Understand that the person who will impress the interviewer the most is the one willing to do the extra work.
What were you hoping we'd ask today, but didn't?
What they're really asking: Is there anything special about yourself that you want us to know?
Tips: Consider this a "show and tell" opportunity. Use materials from your portfolio to convince them how valuable you'll be to their organization.
Do you have any questions for us?
What they're really asking: Are you prepared to ask questions? How interested are you in this position?
Tips: List five or six questions on an index card. Ask at least one question, even if all of your prepared questions have been answered. Never say, "No, you've answered all of my questions."
Warner and Clyde remind job seekers that it's important to sound natural and thoughtful when replying to such questions, saying, "Don't let your responses sound 'canned' or rehearsed. It's important to make the interviewer feel as though you've given serious thought to their question and are genuinely interested in the job."

Source: careerbuilder

8 Ways Employers Can Discriminate Against Workers -- Legally

legal discrimination at work
I talk lots about illegal discrimination, but there are many forms of employment discrimination that are perfectly legal. Here are some of the types of discrimination that may be legal if they happen to you:

1. Bankruptcy
The Bankruptcy Code says: "No private employer may terminate the employment of, or discriminate with respect to employment against, an individual who is or has been a debtor under this title, a debtor or bankrupt under the Bankruptcy Act, or an individual associated with such debtor or bankrupt . . . ." Yet several courts have decided that this provision does not apply to potential employers. The 3rd, 5th and 11th Circuit Courts of appeal say you may be denied employment due to your bankruptcy.

2. Political Views
Some, but not all states have laws prohibiting discrimination based upon political affiliation. But in most situations you can be fired because you exercise your right to free speech and express political opinions. Only government employees have First Amendment rights. The one big exception is that the National Labor Relations Act says you can't be fired for discussing working conditions, including discussing which candidates would be best for working conditions. For more information about political discrimination, you can check out my blog post on the topic.

3. Favoritism
Many Americans think favoritism at work is illegal. It isn't. Discrimination against you because you're you is legal. If you're being subjected to favoritism because of your race, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, pregnancy, color or genetic information, that is unlawful discrimination. If you have to complain, make sure you complain about something illegal. Your employer can retaliate against you legally for complaining about favoritism, but they can't legally retaliate for reporting discrimination.

4. Nepotism
I get emails all the time complaining about employers who favor family members and friends. Playing favorites is not illegal. Hiring relatives is not illegal -- not if you're in the private sector. If you work for government, every state has some law about conflict of interest or hiring relatives at a certain level. Under Sarbanes-Oxley, management has to disclose potential conflicts of interest. So hiring of relatives, while probably legal even for publicly-held companies, can't be hidden from shareholders. If the favored few are all of the same race, religion, national origin or other protected category, the company could be engaging in illegal discrimination. If the boss favors only individuals who have engaged in sexual relations with her, and you've turned her down, you might have a sexual harassment claim (although sexual favoritism is mostly legal).

5. Appearance
Very few states or municipalities have prohibitions against appearance discrimination, and there are no federal laws against it. Sometimes, women are subjected to appearance standards when men are not (or vice versa) and that would probably be illegal discrimination. But hating someone because they're beautiful? Probably legal.

6. Credit History
If your state is like most, an employer can refuse to hire you due to bad credit. Some states finally got wise and passed laws against using poor credit history as the basis for employment decisions. If your potential employer is going to run a credit check, then they must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The EEOC is looking closely at the use of credit reports in employment decisions because they frequently have a disparate impact on women and minorities.

7. Weight
As I wrote in my article on weight discrimination, it's mostly legal. A very few states and municipalities have limitations on appearance or weight discrimination. Otherwise, if you're morbidly obese you are likely protected under disability discrimination laws. If you need medical treatment for a condition relating to your weight, you may be protected for the days you miss work under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you're held to different standards than members of the opposite sex, it might be sex discrimination.

8. Unemployment
Discrimination against the unemployed is indeed legal. Many companies consider unemployment to be a factor that automatically disqualifies applicants. Unemployment discrimination is rampant. While a handful of states (New Jersey, Oregon, D.C.) have passed laws against unemployment discrimination, it's legal almost everywhere in the United States. Other states have tried to pass laws and failed or been vetoed. President Obama has proposed the American Jobs Act, which has many provisions that will help put Americans back to work. Included in that law is a prohibition against discriminating against the unemployed, but it hasn't passed yet. Unemployment is having a disparate impact on older workers and minorities, so you might be able to pursue a discrimination claim if you've been subjected to unemployment discrimination and a less qualified younger employee or person of a different race, sex or national origin was hired.

So there you have it. Lots of types of discrimination are illegal. (Hopefully employers won't use this as a primer on legal discrimination.) However, some of these "legal" kinds of discrimination may also have an illegal effect. Try to look around and see if what's happening at work is really about sex, race, age, disability, pregnancy, national origin, or some other type of illegal discrimination.

Source: AOL

Beware of Hidden Interview Pitfalls

Suit. Check
Two hours of company research. Check
Three hours practicing answers to interview questions. Check
Extra copies of resume. Check
Fancy leather folder thingy to hold extra copies of resume. Check
Limp, wet handshake. Huh?

All the expert interview advice and all the practice in the world still might not prepare you for hidden traps that can trip you up and foil your job interview.

Weak Handshake
Science backs up what the etiquette books have been saying all along, that a firm handshake helps make a good first impression for both males and females. A University of Alabama study found there is a substantial relationship between the features that characterize a firm handshake (strength, vigor, duration, eye contact and completeness of grip) and a favorable first impression.

The proper handshake should be firm, with an energy that communicates sincerity, strength and professionalism, says Dianne M. Daniels, a certified image coach and author of Polish and Presence: 31 Days to a New Image. Extend your arm with your hand outstretched with thumb straight up. Slide your hand into the other person's until your webs touch and give a firm, not squeezing, pump.

Not Asking Questions
Not asking an interview questions sends a signal that you don't know enough about the business to ask an intelligent question, or it shows that you don't see yourself within the environment of the company. At best, it shows a lack of creativity. Your questions do more than show your interest; they can also provide valuable information you can use in assessing the job.

If you are a good listener, you should be able to follow up on something the interviewer said during your visit. Ask him or her to expand on what was said. This shows you were attentive and also shows where your interests lie.

Most career counselors advise applicants to have a number of questions rehearsed and ready to go. Many of the prepared topics will be discussed during the course of the interview, but there should be some left over at the end. Have several ready so you can return the serve.

Employment Background Check
Statistics show that the number of companies conducting background checks is growing. For some jobs, screening is required by federal or state law. For others, it's a way for employers to learn more about each candidate and ensure the hiring decisions they make are good ones.

Some employers will use your credit history to gauge your level of responsibility. Whether a valid assumption or not, employers who run credit checks are likely to believe that if you are not reliable in paying your bills, then you will not be a reliable employee. Unfortunately, a bad credit report can work against you in your search for employment.

So you won't be surprised, you can do your own check and make sure the information is correct. Order a copy of your credit report, check court and DMV records and ask to see a copy of your personnel file from your old job. One option CareerBuilder.com offers is SureCheck, which enables job seekers to increase their marketability by pre-screening their own personal histories and credentials for potential employers.

Brainteaser Questions
Tell me about yourself. Why does this job interest you? How many quarters would you have to stack to reach the top of the Empire State Building? Designed to measure candidates' intelligence, creativity and analytical skills, brainteasers and logic questions often involve obscure subjects.

Recruiters aren't that concerned with whether a candidate comes up with the precise answer, but rather insight into their thought process and whether they work thorough problems in a logical manner.

These types of questions are meant to make you think on your feet; the trick is to start big and take it one step at a time. The only sure-fire way to fail at these questions is to be stumped. Offer up your ideas even if they seem bizarre. 

Source: careerbuilder

How to triple your chances of getting a job

As a job seeker or someone trying to flourish at work, ever wonder, out of the hundreds of "expert" tips, which ones are actually proven to work? Here's what 98 percent of top employers worldwide say and groundbreaking research studies prove makes all the difference.

Mindset trumps skill set
Give employers what they want. When forced to choose, "Who would hire, A) the person with the perfect skills and qualifications, but lacking the desired mindset, or B) the person with the desired mindset, but lacking the right skills, 98 percent picked mindset over skill set.

Mindset means money
When forced to choose, 91 percent of employers say they will grant a pay raise, as well as a promotion, to the person with the right mindset over the person with the right skill set. And, an independent study shows, those who score the strongest on mindset make the most money.

Use a winning mindset
Mindset is not about attitude. It's deeper. It's the lens through which you see and navigate life. It therefore affects all that you think, believe, say and do. Breakthrough research reveals that there are 72 qualities that make up a winning mindset, or "3G Mindset."

Global mindset -- think big picture!
It's not about multicultural sensitivity (which can't hurt). It's about time and distance. It's about pulling your head out of the weeds and tapping the horizon. Global is your vantage point, or how well you lift your eyes beyond the immediate here and now, employ curiosity and openness to reach out, connect with and draw from a broad array of ideas and people to arrive at superior solutions.

Good mindset -- good guys finish first!
Turns out integrity and kindness -- doing what's right and being good to others -- pays off, big time. Good is the bedrock of a winning mindset. When the news is packed with mounting immorality and ethical implosions, employees with a good mindset are gold.

Grit mindset -- take on the tough stuff!
This is the fuel cell of a winning mindset. It powers all the rest. See, it's all about adversity. Employers want people who flourish even in the worst weather. Good news is, in most jobs, there's plenty of it. Your capacity to not merely survive or cope, but grow with and harness the tough stuff really sets you apart. Grit fuels pay, promotion, retention, performance, engagement, energy and more.

Tap the top hits -- mindset matters more
Open, curious, big-picture, connecting, considerate, agile, adaptable, resilient, growing, focused, tenacious, moral, honest, trustworthy, authentic, kind, compassionate, generous, other-minded, contributing, tenacious, improving, fair, courageous, creative and determined is a short list of winning mindset qualities. Embed them in all you say, think and do.

The 3X factor -- give your résumé the mindset boost
Which résumés win and which ones lose? Mindset gives you the edge. An independent study of 30,000 résumés shows A) the conventional wisdom (standard tips) do nothing. In some cases they backfire! But, the "Mindset-in-action" formula does.

Here's how it works:
Mindset quality>>>>put into action>>>>>to achieve a specific outcome.
Example (tenacity): Pioneered, piloted and proved a new customer response system and cut complaints by 87 percent.
Example (generosity): Volunteered to mentor new hires before and after work hours and cut first 90-day turnover by 72 percent.

Triple (or better) your chances with 3G mindset
Here's the breakthrough finding: Résumés with one "Mindset-in-action" statement are three times (3X) more likely to win the job. Those with two or more are 7X more likely to get the offer! The proof is in. Mindset helps you stand out from crowd, get paid more, be promoted sooner, be retained when others are cut and win the best jobs, even over people with better qualifications. Remember: skills matter, mindset rules!

Source: AOL

What Not To Say In An Email: Lessons From The Petraeus Affair

David Petraeus email scandal Paula Broadwell
News of events related to the scandal involving Gen. David Petraeus and the former CIA director's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, reminds us that even the powerful and successful succumb to poor professional judgment. What's one important lesson for "regular people" to learn? It appears as if inappropriate emails created a paper trail that led to this story breaking in the news. Some agencies reported that Petraeus and Broadwell might have even employed subterfuge to avoid having their online communication tracked.

It raises the question: What should you never, ever put in an email (or in writing at all), especially when it relates to work? The answer is easy: If you don't want it broadcast, forwarded or publicized, don't share it electronically, either in email, Facebook or other social media tools or via text messages.

Specifically, consider the following topics off-limits, especially for your work email:

1. Critiques of your company, your boss or your colleagues.
You don't have to love everything that happens at the workplace, but if you have to complain, make sure it isn't via an email exchange between you and another disgruntled colleague. Realistically, your biggest concern is that someone may forward one of your emails to someone you don't want to see it. However, if there's one thing we've learned from news of this recent scandal, everything online can be tracked. Even if you aren't the director of the CIA, assume it's possible that someone may eventually monitor or review your emails.

2. Extremely private or personal matters.
Of course, this includes romantic (especially illicit) affairs. Assume everything you put in writing is fodder for a billboard for everyone you know to see. This includes text messages, social media communication and email. Never assume you have any privacy online. While you may not have the FBI looking into your personal matters, a private citizen can easily lose a job -- or even a career -- over an inappropriate romantic matter.

3. Discriminatory opinions.
If you are a racist, homophobic or you believe women belong in the kitchen and not in the boardroom, keep it to yourself. When you broadcast these opinions via email, you run the risk that your controversial, backward views will become public.

4. Gossip.
Most people succumb to sharing gossip, at least occasionally, with close friends or colleagues. However, when you use email to pass along the juicy details you overheard at the water cooler, you leave a paper trail and risk shifting what you may consider harmless gossip to printed documentation with the capacity to easily put your job at risk.

5. Non-work related photos.
Hopefully, you don't need a reminder that personal photos of any kind should not cross your work email. Even an otherwise innocent picture can be misinterpreted and become grist for the gossip mill in the best-case scenario and grounds for firing you in the worst-case scenario.

Source: AOL

10 Things To Never Say To Co-Workers

never say to coworkers

Whether you love your co-workers or hate them, you're stuck with them for hours each day -- and they're stuck with you. If you're not thoughtful about what you say to each other, you can make one another uncomfortable or even miserable -- and can harm your professional reputation too.

Here are 10 things you should never say at work.

1. 'Are you pregnant?'
If someone wants you to know she's pregnant, she'll tell you. Until and unless that happens, assume it's none of your business -- and asking is a good way to offend most women, pregnant or not.

2. 'You owe $10 for this gift for the boss.'
Many workers don't want to budget for going-away or shower gifts for co-workers and resent being asked to give up their hard-earned cash. That's doubly true when the collection is being taken up for the boss, who presumably earns more than them. Besides, etiquette rules say that gifts in the workplace should flow downward, not upward.

3. 'You're so skinny! Why aren't you eating?'
Commenting on other people's bodies should be off-limits in the workplace, even if you intend it as an expression of concern. Your co-workers are there to work, not to have their eating choices or their bodies scrutinized and judged.

4. 'That's not my job.'
Protesting that something isn't in your job description is a good way to plummet in your co-workers' esteem -- and your manager's. Most people end up pitching in to help on things that don't fall squarely within their job descriptions, and refusing to help will quickly earn you a reputation for being unhelpful and probably a little bit lazy.

5. 'The new manager is a real jerk.'
Snarking about the boss is rarely good for your career. Even if others join in, your comments may get back to your manager. And even if they don't, you don't want to become known as a wellspring of negativity.

6. 'I heard Kim is dating Ryan.'
If you spread office gossip, your co-workers might listen eagerly, but they'll note that they can't trust you to be discreet. It's great to bond with co-workers over life outside the office, but the details of other people's lives aren't yours to share.

7. 'You're HOW old?'
Whether you're implying someone is surprisingly young or surprisingly old, keep your amazement to yourself. Show respect for your colleagues as professionals, and don't baby the younger ones or make the older ones feel that they're one step away from retirement.

8. 'Don't ask me. They don't tell me anything.'
Complaining about how disempowered you are is a good way to undermine your own credibility and authority. If you don't have the information you need to do your job, you should go ask for it -- not complain to others that you don't have it.

9. 'Why are you so dressed up today? Got a job interview?'
You might not be thinking when this pops out of your mouth, but there's no outcome here that doesn't put your co-worker in an awkward position. If she does have an interview, you're forcing her to either confide in you or lie. If she doesn't, she now has to worry that you think she does.

10. 'I'm so hungover.'
Telling your co-workers about your long nights partying might seem like no big deal, but if you get a reputation as a lush, you'll find your credibility diminishes -- no matter how good your work.

Source: AOL

Use Your Age to Your Advantage

While it's true that not all employers will be gung-ho about hiring, or even retaining, older workers in the coming years, the overall statistics might well be on your side if you're 50 or older. The limited numbers of younger generations simply will not match the rising need for workers over the next 10 years.

This means that employers will be forced to look at alternate labor sources. Sure, they can outsource, further automate or contract their staffing ranks, but this will not suffice in all cases.

The plain fact is that you hold many advantages over your younger colleagues, but you're going to need to play your age to your advantage. If you have a few years under your belt, here are four tips to use age as an advantage in your job hunt.

Go on the offensive
Too often, older workers think they have to apologize for their years of actually working. Remind yourself that you're experienced, not old; you're seasoned, not over the hill; you're here and now, not history. It's all about spin and reframing, so drop the apologies.
You may be older, but you're not stupid and you're not dead. Use your savvy to sell against youth and inexperience. There are benefits to being older, like having wisdom, common sense and a long work record of accomplishments that you can translate into benefits to the employer. In other words, sell your track record. During the interview, take advantage of your successful work history and draw from those successes to meet the needs of the employer.

Sell results, not years
Realize that hiring managers today are looking for results, not years. Talk the language that an employer understands and appreciates: return on investment. Instead of citing 20 years of experience, identify the benefits to the employer and put them into monetary terms as much as possible. Back up your accomplishments with facts that are benefit-based. Sell them from the perspective of the result and how it benefited your present and previous employers.
Money talks and it talks loudly. Here's some good news: Money can trump age. As an employee, you either make money or save money for your employer. If the hiring manager doesn't see your value in one of these two categories, then you don't want to work for this company. In this recession, if the company isn't concerned about its bottom line, then it may not be around for long and isn't a viable option for you anyway. Get as close to money as you possibly can through the language of your accomplishments, and list them on your résumé.

Wear just one hat
While you may have accumulated experience in a number of areas, don't confuse the person reading your résumé with all the different roles and jobs you performed over the years. Focus only on the job title for which you're applying. Tell the hiring manager what he wants to know and nothing more.
Most likely you've worn many different hats during your career. If any of your duties and experiences don't directly address the job title's requirements, don't emphasize them. In fact, remove them from your résumé entirely, if possible, as they will only give employers another reason to screen you out, and you don't want that. This is your story. Tell it your way. Magnify only the aspects of your background that are relevant to your target objective. You want to focus your résumé to reflect yourself in the most positive, powerful ways possible.

Modify your résumé
Take another look at your résumé. Ask yourself, "Would I hire myself for this position?" Spin your story in your favor by reworking your résumé to emphasize your strengths. Make sure everything on it relates in some way to your desired job objective. Drop older job titles. You generally shouldn't need to show more than 10 years of work history. Any prior work is most likely irrelevant now and will take the reader off track. Remove obvious road markers, like dates. For example, remove college degree dates and other older professional training dates that may go back more than a few years.

Source: careerbuilder

10 Things to Know About Background Checks

You have been working long and hard on your search for a new job opportunity. Finally, you have an awesome interview and you get a great offer. The hiring manager indicates that the only thing remaining is a background check (BC).

Your heart starts to pound and beads of sweat appear on your forehead. Questions fly through your mind: What are they looking for? What are they going to find? Who are they going to talk to? How do they conduct the process? Am I in trouble because of the DUI I got when I was 20 years old? Will they find out about the company I didn't include on my résumé because I only worked there for two months? Will they find out I got fired instead of quitting? Will my bankruptcy from 12 years ago prevent me from getting the job? What will my vindictive former boss say about me?

Let's answer these questions for you.

Companies are using BCs now, more than ever before, to make certain they are hiring the right person. Unfortunately, BCs are now more common because so many job seekers have a tendency to "exaggerate" on their résumés. Companies want to identify severe problems in the candidate's employment or personal history. But what information are they entitled to and what privacy rights do you have?

Robert Mather, CEO of Pre-Employ.com, which specializes in background checks, has some interesting insights into the industry and process. Let's take a look at what Bob has to say and what you can expect from a BC.

Mather says that the larger BC companies conduct between 4,000 and 12,000 checks per day. The cost will vary from about $19-56, depending on the type of information the company is seeking. In addition, companies cannot conduct a BC without your written authorization. If you are turned down because of a BC, the company must tell you why, according to federal law.

Let's review the most common BC items:

1. Criminal History
Felony and misdemeanor searches can be conducted by county, state or throughout the nation. Each respective search costs an additional fee. Some states will only provide information for the past seven years. You need to check each state for its policy. Only information of public record is available. Juvenile records cannot be accessed. Bob Mather indicates that identity theft and false criminal reporting are on the increase and can appear on your BC. More about this later and what you can do about it.

2. Civil History
Similar to criminal history and includes whether the job candidate is/was a plaintiff or defendant.

3. National Wants and Warrants
If the candidate is "wanted," it will appear through the NCIC system, but this information is not frequently requested.

4. Credit Report
This is a very common item for BCs. Companies are searching for financial stability. Bankruptcies prior to seven years will not appear.

5. Social Security Reports
This will reveal where the candidate has lived for the past seven years. Name variations are frequently used to verify addresses and locations.

6. Previous Employer Verification
This is the item that makes most job seekers nervous. Almost everyone has had some form of disagreement with his or her boss. The concern centers on what the employer will say and whether they will release employment files. In most cases, because of a dramatic upsurge in lawsuits from job seekers who received false bad references, previous employers typically only confirm dates of employment. Compensation and good or bad references are not generally provided; however, that doesn't mean it is not done. A job seeker might want to consider hiring a "reference check" company to verify what previous employers are saying.

7. Drug Tests
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of all BCs include a drug test. BC companies typically contract with local medical clinics to conduct the test. It can be expensive, so it is not done in all cases. In most cases, the job requirements determine if a drug test is necessary, particularly for anyone operating machinery or a motor vehicle. Executives are also frequently screened for drugs.

8. Reference Verification
The employer or BC firm will contact references provided by the job candidate. Typically, the questions are very specific regarding job performance as opposed to personal or private information. They rarely contact anyone other than the designated references provided by the candidate.

9. Education
The BC will verify attendance, majors, degrees, certifications and dates earned. This has become a common BC item as a result of overwhelming falsification by job candidates. We have all seen news reports of leading politicians, executives, teachers and celebrities who have falsified their education. Here is a tip: Job candidates without a formal degree should not waste their money on the phony degree or certification programs where you pay a fee to get a degree based on experience. Be honest about your education. If you believe you need additional education, enroll in an accredited school. Your efforts to complete or enhance your education will definitely be viewed positively.

10. Driving History
A common and almost mandatory BC item for people required to operate a motor vehicle. They are checking for license status, holder, dates of issuance and expiration, violations, suspensions, or other actions.

"Errors in criminal history frequently occur as the darker side of identity theft," Mather says. "Most people quickly become aware of problems on credit history as a result of identity theft. But you should also be aware that false reporting of crimes may be reflected on your BC because someone has stolen your identity."

If you have any concern about identity theft, or if you wish to learn what a BC will reveal about your background, you may wish to conduct a BC on yourself for a nominal fee using www.mybackgroundcheck.com. This site also has great free resources regarding background checks and how to clean up your report if you find any errors -- use the "Consumer Resources" link.

Finally: Relax. Too often job candidates worry too much about a BC. In the overwhelming number of cases, minor problems on your BC will not be an issue. Problems that occurred in the distant past will be overlooked based on your current history and ability to perform your job with talent and integrity. If a company is going to do a BC, be straightforward with them about any problem that might be discovered. Offer evidence that this is no longer an issue. Your hard work and honesty will help overcome any mistakes from the past.

Source: careerbuilder

10 things to do after the interview

How to keep the momentum going

The interview may be over, but your chance to make an impression is not. Here are 10 strategies to continue boosting your candidacy.

1. Show that you're still interested.
Leave no doubt in the interviewer's mind about where you stand. Ask for the job at meeting's end with a phrase such as, "I would really like to contribute to this company and am hoping you select me." Also, don't leave the room without a clear idea of what will happen next in the hiring process. Will select applicants be invited back to meet other people? By what date do they hope to fill the position? Such questions demonstrate enthusiasm for the job, and knowing the hirer's timeframe will help keep you from panicking if a week has passed without a phone call.

2. Set the stage for further contact.
Nobody wants to be a pest, but could your silence as days pass be misinterpreted as indifference? Avoid the guesswork by finding out before heading home what the employer prefers in terms of checking in. Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land the Job You Want," suggests asking the recruiter about her preferred method of follow-up communication and whether it would be okay to touch base again.

3. Be punctual.
If you tell the interviewer you'll send a list of references tomorrow morning, make sure you do it. Keeping your word and answering requests in a timely manner speaks volumes about the type of employee you might be.

4. Know when to sit tight.
If an interviewer requests that you follow up by phone in a week, respect her wishes. Calling the next day can be construed as pushy and desperate.

5. Send a prompt thank-you note.
A positive, nonintrusive way to stay on an employer's mind is to send a thank-you note. Vega recommends emailing one within 24 hours of the interview, then following up with a handwritten note that arrives one to three business days later.

6. Send each interviewer a personalized, powerful follow-up letter.
This piece of communication is another chance for you to shine, so don't waste space with generalities. Ford R. Myers, a career coach and author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," recommends including specific references to each person you met and tying your accomplishments directly to the company's stated challenges. You also can use the letter to introduce achievements that didn't get discussed and to elaborate on interview answers that you felt lacked punch.

7. Address one of the company's needs.
Another effective way to follow up is to act more like a consultant than an applicant. "During the interview, you learn a lot about a company's weaknesses and/or areas where the company wants to expand," states Linda Matias, president of CareerStrides.com and author of "201 Knockout Answers to Tough Interview Questions." "Consider creating a proposal on how you would address one of those areas. Doing so will demonstrate that you have the knowledge and also the enthusiasm to make a significant contribution."

8. Keep thinking and learning about the company.
Be prepared for additional interviews or follow-up phone calls by continuing to research the organization and the field. Gain new information about a topic brought up in conversation. Think of additional questions you'd like answered. These actions show the hirer that you didn't stop caring about the company after the interview was over.

9. Leverage outside resources.
Networking should never stop. "If you have contacts and connections with anyone who might influence the hiring decision, or who actually knows the interviewer, ask her to put a good word in for you," Myers says.

10. Accept rejection with grace.
Finally, keep emotions in check and don't burn bridges if someone else gets hired. One never knows what the future might hold. The accepted candidate may not work out, or a different position may open up. "If you are rejected, the first thing you should do (ironically) is send a thank-you note," Myers says. "This will help distinguish you from other rejected candidates and put you in a positive light."

Source: careerbuilder

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