Questions to ask (and avoid) when interviewing for a job

Robert Half International

The success or failure of a job interview doesn't rest solely with the answers you give the hiring manager. The questions you ask can also speak volumes.

In a recent Robert Half survey, human-resources managers recounted the most unusual or surprising question they've received from a job seeker during an interview. Some of the highly questionable queries included:
  • "Do I have to be at work every day?"
  • "Would you consider going on a date with me?"
  • "Can I have three weeks off every three months to pursue my music career?"
  • "Can my husband finish this test for me?"
  • "Is the boss single?"
  • "Do you want to take a ride in my new car?"
  • "Can you help me search for an apartment?"
  • "What job is this for?"
Peculiar or presumptuous inquiries such as these can quickly undermine an otherwise solid interview performance. On the other hand, posing intelligent and informed questions shows the interviewer you're a serious candidate while also helping you to determine if the role is right for you.
Here are some smart questions worth asking:

While researching your company, I learned that [fill in the blank]. Can you tell me more about that? Impress interviewers by making it clear you've done your homework. Learn as much as you can about the organization before your meeting.
Closely review the company's website, marketing materials and recent financial reports. Tap your professional network for anecdotal insights and follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
Weaving some beyond-the-basics information you uncovered into your questions showcases both your interest and resourcefulness.

What types of training and development programs do you offer? Generally speaking, it is unwise to ask an employer what the company plans to do for you once hired; at least until the interviewer has sent signals that a job offer is likely. But bringing up training and development opportunities in an initial interview isn't the same as jumping the gun about salary, benefits or vacation time.
Companies seek candidates who are committed to continually expanding their skills. If applicable, mention several pertinent proficiencies you've gained through professional development programs in the past.

What are some potential career paths within your company for a person starting in this position? This question shows you're goal-oriented and career-minded. It also emphasizes your desire to grow with a company. Considering the significant amount of time, money and resources that companies invest in hiring and training new staff, it's beneficial to indicate that you're looking to stay onboard long term.

Why is this job open? Some questions are less about strategically pitching yourself and more about eliciting details that shed greater light on the job and the company.
For example, it's a good sign if the previous person got promoted or the position was newly created because the company is growing. If, however, there's been high turnover or your would-be predecessor is "no longer with the company," consider these warning signs that warrant another question or two.

What do you enjoy most about working here? Job seekers don't always think of it this way, but an employment interview is a two-way street, and the efforts to impress should go both ways. Good interviewers will play up the advantages of working at the company, because they want to win you over. Asking this more personal question and getting the individual to explain why she is with the company can provide invaluable insights.
Pay attention to how the interviewer responds to this question. Was the answer delivered quickly, with detail and enthusiasm? Or was there an awkward pause followed by a vague, tepid endorsement? Remember: Happy, satisfied employees won't have any difficulty describing what they like about their job and the overall organization.

Job hunting after 50: Trial runs and a review

By Tony Lewis, Senior Recruiting Specialist, Insperity

There is one final step in the process of defining, marketing and preparing yourself for the next phase of your career. It involves “test driving” your chosen career vehicle by trying out some aspects of your new, chosen career path. This will help you get a taste of what it will be like doing the work of your target opportunity.
Trail run and review 
Get a feel for your new career
Once you have researched the companies and positions within your target career, try to get a feel for the work involved and the type of people who work in the profession. See if there are opportunities for consulting or part-time opportunities at your target organization that you could perform in the evenings or on weekends to get a better understanding of life on the “inside.” Explore opportunities to sharpen skills that may have gone dormant in your current position, and gain new skills that you can apply to your targeted position.

Build relationships with industry insiders
Place yourself in local chapters of professional organizations that are associated with your targeted companies, and begin to build relationships. When I initially began looking for my dream career, I had targeted training and development opportunities and joined the local chapter of the professional group associated with those opportunities. I attended the weekly meetings, participated in discussions, assisted with events and even became the editor for their online newsletter. I had many opportunities to “rub elbows” with some of the key players in that industry within my city, and I used those associations to my advantage in obtaining interviews. Though I later changed my focus away from training and development and into general human resources, the professional network connections that I gained during that experience were invaluable to me, and the skills that I gained became a part of my personal skill inventory.

Utilize after-work hours
While it is not advisable to look for your next opportunity while in the office, there is much that can be done outside of your work time to prepare for landing your dream job. Probe your professional network for opportunities within organizations that would enable you to get your “foot in the door” with the organization, or ask select network members their advice on how to best approach a new opportunity within their organizations.

In this article series, I’ve discussed much here for you to consider as you prepare for your next career opportunity. However, please understand that it is nothing more than a logical process or sequence and that many of the points presented will be concurrent and ongoing.  Here are some key points to remember:

Know yourself: Work to get a “big picture” understanding of you — your talents, skills and dreams — and make sure that those closest to you understand what will be required of you and of them in launching into your new career direction.

Personal brand building and marketing: People are much more impressed by your potential than by your track record. Help them to see all of your potential. Describe the best of what you have to offer. Tell a story that is enticing in your résumé, your online presence and within your professional and social networks.

Prepare yourself.
  • Virtually — Create an online presence that is comprehensive, consistent, professional and compelling.
  • Physically — Work to present the best “you” possible through polishing and refining the outside so that employers will want to know the inside.
  • Mentally — Visualize the end result and work backwards from there to fill in the logical steps to reach your goal.
Trial runs. Seek opportunities to get a better understand of your new career.  Volunteer. Consult. Train. Explore. Learn. Adapt and push out.
You are not going to be remaking yourself — you are going to be refining and refocusing yourself. It is a process of renewal and revitalization. The efforts of looking for a new opportunity have likely changed substantially since the last time you were in the market, but you have acquired wisdom and experience that education alone can’t provide. Leverage your professional depth and your creativity at maximum levels so that your transition to a new and better opportunity is logical, strategic, timely and sure.  Happy hunting, and best wishes for the next exciting leap in your career.

Unconventional Places to Expand your Network

By Rachel Zupek,

Update résumé. Write cover letter. Post résumé online. Apply for jobs. Wait to hear from potential employers. Repeat.
Such was the process back in the days when job seeking was a simple process -- simpler than it is now, anyway. Unfortunately, in today's ultracompetitive job market, job seekers can't afford to be ordinary. As a result, they are turning to untraditional methods of job searching. Betsy Richards, director of career resources at Kaplan University, an online university, says it's important for job seekers to realize that they shouldn't be using one method or the other but rather, they should use the two strategies together.
"In today's market, you need to reach out to people who could give you access to new networks and employment communities outside of your field and your normal work group," Richards says. "Even effective job seekers may have exhausted their network and have to expand it. It could mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful job search."
Many job candidates are finding their job searches are taking longer than expected, Richards says. In fact, 70 percent of job searches last four weeks or longer, according to a recent study by For these people, traditional strategies won't cut it.
"You have to use every strategy that is at your disposal. Each person has to find tactics that are a fit for them," Richards says.
Some job seekers, however, are afraid to step out of their comfort zones to do something different to attract an employer's attention. They're afraid cold-calling a company or standing on the street wearing their résumé as a billboard will be too bold and turn employers away.
"You can never be too bold. If you are not bold, you won't get the contact and you won't be taken seriously," Richards says. "Some people walk a fine line between being bold and being obnoxious. For most people, the real issue is that they are shy or uncomfortable. However, some might misconstrue a low-key approach as laziness."
For job seekers who have struck out with the traditional routes to find employment, it's time to take the job search to the streets and use creative ways to get noticed. Here are five nonprofessional places and events to consider as career opportunities, according to Richards:
1.      Sporting events. Schmoozing with fellow alumni in a relaxed atmosphere can be a great career move.  "At a [Miami] Dolphins football game just last week, a fellow I was sitting next to struck up a conversation with me and introduced himself. This led to a discussion about what each of us did for a living and he let me know that he was looking for a new job. Little did he know that I advised professionals on their career advancement and could help him plot his strategy," Richards says.
2.      Social networking sites. Each day, millions of people make connections through Facebook, MySpace, BrightFuse and LinkedIn. Consider sending out a note to your "friends" and "connections" about your job search. "Job seekers should reach out to their own network to be sure friends and colleagues know what you are looking for [in a job]," Richards says. "You have to research the people in the network and the companies and organizations they are affiliated with. Then, you have to actively ask your contacts to introduce you to the others and follow through."
3.      Local farmers markets. These community hubs are great places to trade information and chat it up. "You never know who is picking out peaches next to you! The same is true at the grocery store," Richards says. "These are relaxed environments where job seekers can strike up a conversation with another shopper by talking about their favorite types of apples or kicking around ideas for recipes and preparation. All of this can lead up to an introduction and sharing your career status and experience." 
4.      Conferences not related to your expertise. For service professionals, attending industry events and seminars that attract experts outside of your traditional industry or peer group is a good way to regenerate your network. "There are a lot of career changers out there. One approach for those seeking to move into a new industry is to attend a conference focused on that professional arena," Richards suggests. "To start building this new network, you may attend conferences about topics outside of your field. Building a new network of contacts and meeting professionals with different networks is important." 
5.      Nail salon, hairdresser, local restaurants or the gym. The places we frequent can be an oversight when it comes to the job search. The opportunities to strike up conversations with people you are already familiar with could be a breeding ground for job opportunities. "The person providing services to you at a salon comes in contact with lots of people who share their personal information," Richards says. "Lots of clients will express frustrations and be very open. While you are in the chair, the situation may even inspire a conversation with the person next to you."

Here are four ways Richards says you can pitch yourself to prospective network contacts when in nonprofessional situations.
1.      Prepare an "elevator speech" of three to four sentences that introduces your most marketable skills. Keep it succinct at no more than 20 seconds.
2.      When networking, introduce yourself and ask the people what they do for work. After they tell you, you have the opportunity to let them know that you are searching for a job. Explain what type of position fits your particular background. You should ask if  they have heard of anything that could be a match for your skills.
3.      Always carry business cards no matter what the circumstance. Keep them in your wallet, handbag or cardholder at all times.
4.      Make sure your résumé and/or bio and cover letter are prepared so you can quickly send out the information if a contact is made.

Your nonverbal communication can wreck your interview

By Selena Dehne,

Giving a limp handshake, letting your eyes wander and fidgeting are just a few of the subtle blunders that can botch your success in a job interview. Although you may have been unaware you were doing these things, interviewers who pick up on negative nonverbal communication are likely to doubt your fit for the job. 

Nonverbal communication can be judged just as much, and sometimes even more harshly, than the responses you give to questions you're asked during interviews. It can even be the single factor that helps hiring managers decide between you and another candidate when you're both equally qualified for the job. That's why it's so important to be mindful about your posture, facial expression and other behaviors. 

"The most important idea is to project confidence and professionalism," says Heather Krasna, author of "Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service."

"If you find yourself becoming very nervous about interviewing, realize that this is normal. Practice interviewing in front of a mirror, on video or with a friend or career coach until you feel a bit more comfortable," she suggests.

In her book, Krasna offers the following tips for ensuring positive, appropriate and polite nonverbal communication:

  • Handshake: A firm handshake is considered a sign of confidence. Take the other person's hand in your right hand (don't use both hands), so that the space between your thumb and first finger touches theirs. Give a firm, but not crushing squeeze, and shake the person's hand up and down slightly, once. If you have sweaty hands, be sure to dry them before your interview.

  • Posture and physical distance: When sitting in a chair, sit up straight or lean forward slightly (don't slouch). If you will be crossing your legs, do it so that one knee is stacked on top of the other or cross your ankles. (Do not cross your legs so that one foot is on top of your other knee.) Alternatively, keep both feet on the floor. Do not stretch your legs out in front of you or sit with your legs spread far apart -- it looks too casual. When standing near someone, about three feet of distance is standard in most parts of the United States. Standing closer than this can be quite uncomfortable for others.

  • Arms and hands: You can "talk with your hands" to some extent, but do not do so to the point of distracting your interviewer. Sitting with your arms crossed in front of you can look defensive. Instead, try to have a more open posture. Don't fidget, play with your hair or pen, or bite your nails!

  • Eye contact: Look in the eyes of the person interviewing you. Looking down or away frequently gives a message of not being confident or being confused. Rolling your eyes up is considered a sign of disrespect. Don't stare intensely at the interviewer; just look him or her in the eye as much as possible.

  • Facial expression: Smiling is an important way of showing that you are a friendly individual and that you are enthusiastic about the position. Smile at the beginning and the end of the interview at a minimum. This can't be emphasized enough -- I know several people for whom lack of smiling was a major barrier to employment.

  • Mirroring: You can also take note of the posture and expressions of your interviewer, and adopt some of his or her tone. Be careful, though -- even if an interviewer is quite friendly and casual, that does not mean you should be too casual. It is still a professional job interview.

In addition to these tips, Krasna gives international job seekers a reminder: "Nonverbal communication is quite culturally defined," she says. "If you are interviewing across cultures, be sure to know what is expected of you."

4 Steps to Getting Started in a New Career

Every month we receive a variety of questions from people asking us how to get started in their dream career. Here are a few examples.

"I am currently working in radio as a sales assistant. I thought I always wanted to be in sales, but I have only been here four months and am already ready for a change. I am a fast-paced person who likes challenges. I don't like sitting at a desk. I am interested in starting my own business and don't know where to start. Can you help me?" - JD
"I'm very interested in becoming a personal assistant for someone important. I need advice on how to get started. I know it won't be the easiest job in the world, but I'm up for the challenge. Any advice you could give me on how to get started would be great." - Annette
"One evening, I was watching television where they were interviewing people who had dream jobs. One woman's position entailed visiting resorts and hotels in order to rate them for the companies themselves as well as travel agencies. Would you have any idea where I could go to attempt to locate such a position?" - Stephen
"I absolutely love decorating my home and all my friends tell me that I have a real eye and talent for it. I don't have any formal education or experience but would love to break into this field. Could you give me some ideas how to get my foot in the door in a decorating job so that I can start getting paid for doing what I love?" - Maria
We don't normally respond to "How do I get started in ..." questions because we don't think we can provide a complete answer in only a few sentences. However, we can provide the following basic four-step overview of the process for getting started in a new career:

1. Learn about the career
Before you start looking for a job, learn as much as you can about the career, including the nature of the work, the skills needed and employment opportunities. Some ways to learn about a new career include: informational interviews with people working in the industry, attending meetings of professional associations, taking courses, finding information online and reading books about the career.

2. Develop the skills you need
Some skills, such as being well-organized and a good communicator, are helpful in many careers. Other skills are specific to the career. For example, an interior decorator needs a good eye for design while a business consultant needs to be able to identify and recommend solutions to business problems. You can develop skills through formal education. Perhaps the best way to develop your skills is by getting hands-on experience. (See step three.)

3. Get hands-on experience
Don't worry about the classic job-hunter's dilemma: To get a job you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. There are ways to get experience before you get the job. In fact, having experience will help you move into the position you want much more quickly at a higher pay rate.

Ways to get experience before you start applying for your dream job include: volunteering your services (to a department in your company, family and friends or a nonprofit organization); securing an internship; working a part-time, entry-level position; or starting your own part-time business.

4. Get hired for the job you want
If you want paid employment, this will involve preparing job-hunting materials (e.g. résumé, cover letter and portfolio), finding job openings and applying for jobs, going on interviews and negotiating salary when you're offered a job.

If you want your own business, you'll need to handle a number of details like choosing a business name, deciding whether to incorporate, obtaining inventory, finding a location, setting your prices, marketing your business and working with customers.

As you can see, there are many steps to getting started in a new career. The good news is that there are also many excellent resources available to help you get started. 

7 Things to Tell an Interviewer

By Joe Turner,

Many years ago when I hated what I was doing for a living, I was encouraged by my career coach to write down several short stories about times and events in my life where I influenced the outcome. I was stumped at first, but after a few days, I came up with more than 15 pages of stories of times in my life where I influenced the outcome and either grew myself and/or bettered the existence of either myself or others around me.
So what does this have to do with a job interview? If you read other books on job interviews, you'll notice they feed you lists of interview questions and answers to memorize. An interview is not an interrogation, however it's a conversation. To make it that way you need to come armed with a multitude of small stories about both your business and personal lives.
When you go into an interview, you need to leave your nerves at the door. The best way to prepare is to be yourself. The best way to be yourself is to tell your own story (or stories). This is especially great for the competency-based interview being used more today.
In a traditional interview, the interviewer will ask you questions focused on whether you have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. A competency-based interview goes further by asking you additional questions about your character and personal attributes that can better determine whether you fit their corporate culture. These are called "behavioral competencies." A competency-based interviewer will spend about half the interview on your job skills, and about half on your behavioral competencies. He or she will be looking for evidence of how you have acted in real situations in the past. An employer wants to find out:
  • Are you an asset or liability? In other words, will you make money or save money for the company?

  • Are you a team player? Will you fit into the corporate hierarchy or be like sand in the gears? Can you take and give (if appropriate) orders?

  • Will you fit into the company culture? They don't want prima donnas.

The best way to show these traits is to take the initiative and have several personal stories that you can tell, taking maybe 30 to 90 seconds each. You may want to start by developing your stories around these seven areas:
1. Times where you either made money or saved money for your current or previous company.
2. A crisis in your life or job and how you responded or recovered from it.
3. A time where you functioned as part of a team and what your contribution was.
4. A time in your career or job where you had to overcome stress.
5. A time in your job where you provided successful leadership or a sense of direction.
6. A failure that occurred in your job and how you overcame it.
7. Any seminal events that happened during your career to cause you to change direction and how that worked out for you. I want to emphasize that an interview should not be an interrogation. It should be a conversation between two equals. When you accomplish this you come away a step closer to your goal of landing the job you really want, because... It's the conversation that wins an interview, and it's the conversation that wins the job. To have a conversation, have your stories ready. 

What it’s like to be a temporary worker

Man in home office using computer and smiling
Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a three-part series about temporary work. We’ll be exploring its benefits, how it can factor into your long-term career goals, and what it’s like to be a temporary worker.
Temporary workers, also called independent contractors or free agents, are self-employed and are hired by businesses or people to provide an end-result of work. From flexible schedules to control over projects and clients, being a temporary worker offers a number of perks that permanent employees can’t always enjoy.
“Transitioning to an independent contractor is a good choice for those who have a valuable skill or expertise along with a reputation for excellence,” says Jill Notte, a temporary worker and marketing consultant who has worked with Choice Logistics, a company that specializes in mission-critical service parts logistics. “It provides flexibility and a foundation to build a larger business in the future when the demands of family lessen and the work week can be lengthened.”
So what are some of the career benefits of being a temporary worker and what does it take to be successful in this self-employed role? Six temporary workers weigh in on the perks, offer advice and describe the qualities needed for this position.

Career perks
A flexible schedule is one of the main attractions of being a temporary worker. However, that’s not all this position offers. “I can work from anywhere, from a fast food shop in Tokyo to a coffee shop in Sioux City, Iowa,” says John Paul Engel, a temporary worker and founder of Knowledge Capital Consulting. “[I’m] largely independent because the client mainly just cares the work is done.” He adds, “Multiple streams of income means it’s unlikely I would lose them all at once.”
Deborah Scanlan, a temporary worker and style consultant for J. Hilburn, a luxury men’s clothing company, agrees. “Perks are that you can work a flexible schedule, work from home and in my case, be in control of how much money I make. [I’m] commission-based and have access to great training opportunities for my professional development.”

Tips to succeed
Since temporary workers are largely responsible for their own careers, they’re the ones who have to make tough business decisions and ensure they’re receiving a paycheck. What does it take to be both a successful boss and employee?
“Treat your contracting business exactly like an office gig,” says Susan Miller, a temporary worker and founder of Ewing Miller Communications. “That means showing up at 8 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m. Invest in tools and technology to do your job properly. Before beginning a solo practice, make sure that you’ve set aside funds for the professional tools you’ll need, whether that’s a media database subscription, faster Internet connection or professional association fees. Promote and connect. Offer to speak at service clubs, leadership venues and in college classrooms. The college approach can lead to connections with affordable and intelligent emerging talent as your business grows.”
Dorin Rosenshine, a temporary worker who has worked with Jay Suites, a full-service business center that provides fully-furnished office space to clients, says, “It’s difficult to build your reputation, get exposed and win new clients — so word of mouth is key. I’ve grown my workload and client base pretty much exclusively through referrals. Focus on medium-size businesses that don’t have the time to manage whatever work is your specialty, are sufficiently large that they can afford to spend on someone to do it for them and lack the clout of large firms. These middle-of-the-road companies often find great value in the one-on-one interaction and high accessibility that are the hallmarks of independent contractors. Develop relationships with them, keep them happy, and they’ll want to help keep you in business by referring to you other similar-sized businesses they know.”

Traits of top independent contractors
Although there are plenty of reasons to be interested in this career choice, the demands of being self-employed may not be for everybody. Katie Heaney, a temporary worker for Vector Marketing and Cutco Closing Gifts, says, “Some of the keys to being a successful contractor are exceptional time management — I am my own boss and don’t have a ‘clock-in, clock-out’ system; goal-setting — there is not a manager or boss telling me what my benchmarks are, so I make goals quarterly and track them week to week; and relationships with current and past clients and referrals are key.”
Personality is just as important as the work you’re offering as a temporary worker. “Consider this move only if you’re a free-spirited introvert with a high degree of self-discipline, because it’s easy to get distracted when no one is directly watching you, and much of the time, you’ll likely find yourself strictly on your own, typing away on your laptop in a silent room,” Rosenshine  says.
“Being an independent contractor is not for everyone,” Scanlan says. “Successful ICs are entrepreneurial, multitaskers and self-motivated. You have to be disciplined to time-block your calendar and not get distracted by things you could be doing in your home — household chores, social media, etc.”

Why Don’t Employers Call You Back?

employersdontgetbackOf all the complaints we hear from job seekers, one of the most popular is, “Employers never call me back.” They say that not receiving any communication makes them think their application materials weren’t received, and it’s frustrating. After an interview, they expect to hear something, even if it’s bad news. They just want to know, one way or the other, if they might be in the running for the position.

It’s a valid frustration and one that we’re all familiar with. It’s understandable that employers are swamped with applications, especially because they’re getting up to 75 resumes for a single position. Job seekers get that they can’t always respond to every single applicant…but to never so much as e-mail or call someone back after an interview?

Our sister blog, The Hiring Site, decided to help us out with this question by asking their audience of employers to give us the low-down on why this might happen. Last week, we got an answer that was worthy of telling you, as it was filled with sound advice.

HRPro gave this response:
“Job searchers, please understand that hiring managers and HR professionals are receiving 10times the amount of resumes than they would have a year or two ago. Their time is spread thin and it is difficult to respond to each resume or application. Don’t expect to hear from every company that you’ve applied. The position may have filled and the manager has moved on.
If you interview for a job, though, a good hiring manager will always follow up. Additionally, be mindful of several things.
  1. First, don’t apply for a job for which you clearly are not qualified.
  2. Second, prepare for your interview. If you know nothing about the company you are interviewing with, it’s an immediate red flag to the hiring manager.
  3. Finally, if a hiring manager indicates that she will contact you in two weeks and you have not heard from her, you should follow up with her. It may be that the process is taking longer than she expected. Remember, two years ago, job seekers were particular about the jobs they would accept. Today, managers are trying to find the “perfect” candidate rather than settling on a candidate.”
So there you have it. What do you think, job seekers?

Source: careerbuilder

Stay on Contacts' Radar Screens: 4 Vital Post-Interview Moves

By Selena Dehne, 

Imagine spending three months training for a race, launching your body to a strong start and sprinting past the competition on your way to a victory. After so much preparation and effort, you wouldn't give up and walk through the finish line, would you?

This scenario represents how many job seekers misstep in the interview process. They begin doing everything right, like researching the company and preparing questions in advance. They make a great first impression and dazzle recruiters and hiring managers with their knowledge and ideas. But too often they fail to finish strong, because they underestimate the importance of following up after their interviews.

"Potential employers will be influenced and continually impressed not only by what you did, but what you continue to do, which is why it's imperative to take action immediately after an interview is over to stay on contacts' radar screens. It's your job to sustain their enthusiasm for you over time," says Molly Fletcher, author of "Your Dream Job Game Plan."

Below are four post-interview steps she believes are vital for scoring an interview victory:
1. Write notes immediately after the interview Reflect on your observations, impressions and conversations throughout the interview. Jot down any information that may be valuable for when you write a thank-you note to your interviewer, move on to the next interview round or start the job.
Key pieces of information include recent projects, professional organizations, industry events, upcoming conferences and companywide meetings. You'll want to remember personal things about the interviewer, too, such as any pet peeves or hobbies she might have mentioned.

2. Send an e-mail to say "thank you" as soon as you can
Be professional throughout your e-mail and mention some specific points from the interview that you noted to demonstrate that you were interested and listening. Answer any questions or issues that may have been left unresolved.

3. Follow up with a handwritten thank-you note, too Within 24 hours of the interview, snail-mail a personal thank-you note. This extra, personal touch is something many other job seekers are unlikely to do and gives you another opportunity to stay in the minds of interviewers through very little effort.

4. Follow up with any referrals you were givenDuring the interview, you may be encouraged to reach out to other people or organizations who the interviewer believes might interest you. If so, contact them in a timely manner to demonstrate that you are fearless, passionate and serious about moving your career forward.
"This follow-up process will not only help you track your action steps, but will also efficiently and effectively develop your relationships with people who can connect you to great job opportunities," Fletcher says.

The math you need to do in your job search

math you need to do in your job searchIt’s hard to deny that one of the main reasons for getting a job is to get the paycheck that comes with it. However, it’s not unusual for job-seekers to leave the salary details to the end of their search, usually finding out what they could be potentially earning only when a job offer is made.

Besides working on your cover letter and customizing your résumé, there’s another step you should include in your job search — researching your own budget needs and what salary range will meet those needs. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some steps to figure out the math you need to do in your job search.

Figure out your budget
Taking inventory of your own or your household’s bills and expenses will give you a good idea of how much money is going out of your budget every month, an important first step in figuring out how much money you want coming in.
First, list out bills that regularly occur, like your monthly utilities, membership fees or subscriptions. Also rank how important each of these bills are. Some, like credit cards and utilities, need to be a priority, while others, like cable or gym memberships, may be more easily cut.

  • Utilities (water, sewer, gas, electric)
  • Mortgage or rent, and homeowners or renters insurance
  • Transportation costs (public transportation or car costs, like gas, insurance, car payments, parking)
  • Groceries and food
  • Credit card bills
  • Cable, phone, internet
  • Education costs for family or self, including student loans
  • Clothes and dry cleaning
  • Gym memberships, sports fees or exercise costs
  • Magazine, newspaper and website subscriptions
Also take into account any medical bills you might regularly pay. Do you already have insurance? Or are you looking for a job that offers insurance coverage? Make a note of what benefits you’re looking for in a job, and also rank by priority.

You may also have financial goals, like putting away money for retirement, saving for a college fund or buying a new house. These larger goals are easier to tackle with the help of someone with professional financial experience. You can meet with a financial planner at your bank or ask a friend to refer somebody for help planning out these larger goals.

Also note that if you’re looking at jobs that would require you to relocate, there will be additional one-time costs, like finding a new home, traveling there and possibly hiring movers. There are also tips for the best ways to negotiate a salary for an out-of-state job.

Research jobs by salary range
Once you’ve figured out how much money you’re roughly spending every month, you can figure out what your goal salary range is. Start by researching the median pay of roles you’re interested in applying for. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers pay information on a large number of roles in their Occupational Outlook Handbook. This will help you determine if the jobs you’re looking at will meet your budget needs, or if you’re better off searching for a different role or function.
After you’ve found a role that could meet your budget needs, research how that median pay will be affected by outside factors, like the level of experience you have related to that job, the size and success of the company, the industry the job is in and how that industry is performing in the job market. Understanding all of these factors will give you a good idea of how your own salary offer will be determined.

Negotiate the salary offer
After all your hard work in your job search and research, you’ve aced the interview and have been offered a job, as well as a salary. Don’t skip the salary negotiations, though. This is the last step in ensuring that your budget needs are met, as well as how figuring out how much extra you’ll be taking home.
Remember that the salary figure you’re offered won’t really be reflected by the number you see on your paycheck. Take into account that your take-home pay will actually be less, due to taxes and other deductions like contributions to your 401(k) or flexible spending account for health-related purchases and bills.
Taking that into account, have three figures in your head when you enter salary negotiations. The first number will be 15 percent higher than your budget needs, the next will be 10 percent, then five percent. This is a good way to put a number on what an ideal salary win would be, but also to determine where to draw the line in negotiations.
After agreements have been made and contracts have been signed, you can celebrate your new job and have the confidence of knowing you’ve made a smart financial decision.

Job hunting after 50: A personal inventory

Job hunting after 50 - inventory
By Tony Lewis, Senior Recruiting Specialist, Insperity

Are you a professional over the age of 50 who is trapped in a job that doesn’t meet financial needs or is out of sync with your personality, character or mind? It’s not that you are unappreciated or taken for granted. You still have dreams, and your current employment situation is just no longer fulfilling. You are a clever person with substantial skills, and nothing has stopped you from exploring new paths in the past. So don’t let anything stop you from refocusing yourself now.

I am an example of someone who, five years ago, found himself wanting to change careers. I entered the workforce as a teacher and spent the next nine years learning and growing in this profession. But after my wife and I began our family, I decided that I needed to be in a profession that allowed me to earn more money. So I took the leap and went into sales. I found that many of my skills as a successful teacher were easily adaptable to a sales career, thus making my transition easier than I imagined.

However, after almost 22 years in sales, I found it to not be as fulfilling as it once was, and I again found myself searching for a new career path. My efforts to remake myself led me to the career that I have now — one that I not only enjoy but makes a difference in the world as well.

I’d like to share the steps I took to find a new career after 50 for those of you considering a similar change. My suggestions are separated into four parts, all of which will be shared in the coming weeks. Here’s part one.

Know yourself: A personal inventory
Take some time to do a self-assessment. If you haven’t picked a career path yet, look at your personality, character, spiritual needs and values, skills, achievements and hobbies, and think about how all of those pluses can best be applied in a new profession. What do you really want to do with your life? How can you do that and still fulfill your responsibilities to your family and anyone else who depends on you?
Determine what you’re missing. Once you’ve completed your self-assessment, ask yourself, what are you missing that will help you to be more marketable in your new career? Have you talked with anyone in your network who works in that field to get some pointers? Will you need to acquire a new certification or complete any coursework to learn new technology or gain a new skill? Have you considered joining professional organizations associated with your chosen career? Have you extended your social and professional network — especially in the areas that you are targeting? Determine the “missing pieces” you’ll need to acquire to be considered for your new role, researching any associated costs, and then go after them.
Talk to your family. Once those first two steps are complete, you should know yourself fairly well and have a good idea of what you need in the way of “filling in the blanks” or supplying the “missing pieces.”  Now it’s time to talk seriously with your family — the people who are most dependent upon you, your well-being and your income — and let them know what you are thinking. Be ready with a plan about how you will pull this off and not jeopardize the family’s well-being, whether it’s taking classes at a community college in the evening while you continue to work or picking up part-time work on the weekends or evenings to gain experience. Also explain the cost and time associated with the change so that they are aware of the challenges and sacrifices necessary. When you have their blessing, you are ready to begin the next steps.

5 Ways a Big Paycheck Can Backfire

By Rachel Zupek,

Amanda* was unhappy with the amount of money she was making at her job, so she went after a position with a competitor and negotiated a higher salary. When she told her current employer about the higher salary offer, it countered with a considerable increase in her current salary to keep her on board. Hoping this is what would happen all along, Amanda accepted the new salary and stayed with her employer. 

One year later, the company made a round of layoffs because of changing market conditions and Amanda was one of the first to go. Not because she was a bad employee -- because she was overpaid compared to her contributions.

In today's society, workers associate earning a high salary as one of the most important aspects of their jobs. They assume making a lot of money equals happiness, satisfaction, less stress and job security. Unfortunately, this is not always the case; Amanda's story is just one of many examples of how having a higher paycheck can backfire

"Our sense of value and self-worth is often tied to how much money we make," says Michael Zwell, human capital expert and author of "Six-Figure Salary Negotiation." "There is an illusion that we live with and believe that a bigger paycheck makes us happier and more valuable."

In fact, research shows otherwise. Studies have shown most people feel happier in a five-figure job where they are earning more than the majority of other people in the company than they do in a six-figure job where they are making significantly less than others, says Stan Smith, founder and CEO of Smith Economics Group Ltd., in Zwell's book. Ultimately, he says, people can't rely on short-lived salaries, promotions and raises to keep them happy but rather the contributions they make in the long run.

Smaller paychecks reap large rewards
In some situations, having a smaller paycheck than you'd like can actually be a bonus. If you are in a job where there's a steep learning curve, for example, getting a smaller paycheck will buy you time to develop the skills and experience to earn more in long run, Zwell says.
 Additionally, less money can buy you more flexibility on the job, Zwell says.
"Compensation is based on an exchange of value for value. Depending on your life circumstances, you may want to contribute less and put in more time on another key area of your life," he says.
If you've always thought a bigger salary was your dream, take a look at how making more money can actually work against you. You might start to appreciate what you currently earn. 

Potential backfire No. 1: You're one of the first ones to be laid off
When the economy is weak and companies need to cut back on costs, one of the first places they look is the highest-salaried employees, as exemplified in Amanda's story.  This is not to say that just because you earn more than others you're a target for layoffs. Nevertheless, if you're earning more than you should be for your market or contributions, chances are that your job could be under scrutiny.

Potential backfire No. 2: The more money you make, the more money you lose
Let's say you earn $85,000 annually and you received a raise that brought you up to $90,000. Sounds exciting at first -- until you the do the math and realize your new check is only a couple hundred dollars more than your old one.
One of the negatives to earning a high salary is that your marginal tax rate is higher than other people's. While you might be earning more than your co-worker, he or she might be taking home a similar -- or higher -- amount per check because they aren't taxed as much.

Potential backfire No. 3: You might be priced out of the market
Zwell uses the example of, Joseph, an accountant for one of today's biggest accounting firms. After three years, he got a huge promotion and was making $10,000 more than any of his peers. He was in a dead-end job however, doing accounting work that became routine.
When he looked for another job, he found that all the jobs he was qualified for paid much less than he was making. He didn't want to take a pay cut and even if he was willing to, companies would rather hire someone for whom the move was an increase in pay, not a decrease. In other words, nobody would hire him because he was currently making too much money for his experience -- thus, his high salary backfired.

Potential backfire No. 4: You could inadvertently trap yourself under a glass ceiling
Knowing where you are in a salary range reveals a lot about your career path, Zwell says. A young man is recently hired by a bank, for example, at the highest salary grade for a non-manager. He is already at the top of a salary range for his title, therefore less likely to earn any more money without changing positions or companies.

Potential backfire No.5: Earning more money does not mean more happiness.
Sure, you might earn $200,000 annually -- but what does it matter if you're not doing something you enjoy? Many workers find themselves saying, "If only I earned $XX, then I would be happy." Then the day comes when you are earning that amount and -- surprise, surprise -- it's still not enough. Ultimately, the only time you'll really be happy is when you don't care about salary at all.

Tips for looking good on paper and in person

By Rachel Zupek Farrell,

When Lynn Hazan, president of recruitment firm Lynn Hazan & Associates, found a candidate who had excellent experience on paper, she wanted to learn more about him. As it turned out, he was difficult to work with in person: He missed a scheduled talk with her, sounded annoyed with the staff on the phone and was unresponsive with follow-up materials. Ultimately he was not a good fit for the client.
This situation isn't uncommon. With all of the advice available about résumé and cover letter do's and don'ts, almost anyone can look like the perfect candidate. But just because a job candidate looks good on paper doesn't mean he will be a good fit for the company.

"While education, past work experience, qualifications and skill set will always be a major influence in hiring, there are many other factors that are used to determine if the candidate will be a good fit for the organization," says Samantha Lambert of Blue Fountain Media, a media design company in New York.
"I can immediately tell if a candidate spent time researching us and personalizing his job application as well as if he pumped out his résumé to any job that looked somewhat appealing. You can tell a lot from email correspondence with a candidate, but nothing is as substantial as meeting him in person to gauge his compatibility with the company culture."

Eszter Szikora, marketing communications manager at an information technology recruiting firm in Sunnyvale, Calif., remembers when his company was seeking to hire a senior recruiter.

"The candidate had excellent references and a pitch-perfect résumé with plenty of experience -- all the qualifications we required. On paper, she was the dream candidate to fill this job. However, when our team started to interview her in person, we quickly realized that she did not fit into our energetic, fun, multicultural environment," Szikora says. 

"We ended up hiring someone who was not the picture-perfect candidate on paper. She did not have that much industry experience but she had the drive and the personality to succeed. Sometimes it is better to hire someone who really wants the job and has the right attitude than someone who has all the skills you need but simply does not fit the environment."
Ideally, the perfect candidate looks good on paper and in person. To achieve that goal, here are some tips from Lambert and Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University in Boston.

On paper:
1. Make sure your name and contact information are up top and clear so the hiring manager can contact you, Lambert says.
2. Always include a customized cover letter. "Don't expect the hiring manager to review your résumé and think about how your experience relates to what they need," Sarikas says. "Demonstrate the value you add by preparing a customized cover letter that clearly identifies how you can address their business needs. It is about them, not you. Use key words from the job description. Make them want to talk to you."
3. Don't be afraid to write something catchy in the subject line that will make you stand out among the competition and intrigue your reader, Lambert says.
4. Take the paper to the next level. "Use your networking skills to build a network within your target companies. Then, when a position becomes available, ask your contact to share your résumé and cover letter with the hiring manager. Increase your chances of being seen by leveraging your network," Sarikas says.
5. Remember: "The goal of your résumé and cover letter is not to get you the job, but to get you an interview. Make the hiring manager want to talk to you," Sarikas says. 

In person:
6. Lambert suggests that you arrive early to explore the office, use the bathroom and get a glimpse of what the average day at the company looks like.
7. "Bring a notepad so you have the questions you want to ask as well as an opportunity to take notes," Sarikas says. "Bring extra copies of your résumé just in case it is needed. Be prepared with a list of references just in case you are asked."
8. "Do your research on the company and especially on the person that will be interviewing you," Lambert says.
9. "Dress professionally and conservatively; your best suit, polished shoes, impeccable grooming, etc. Make the best possible first impression," Sarikas says.
10. "Prepare at least five talking points as to why you would be the best fit for the position," Lambert says.
11. "Be yourself. Let them see the person behind the résumé. Your personal brand should be consistent across your cover letter, résumé and interview. Answer questions honestly and thoughtfully. Give them strong examples. Show how you can add value to the company and help solve their business problems," Sarikas says.
12. "Do not ask about compensation and incentives unless an offer has been extended," Lambert says.
13. Focus on what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you, Sarikas says.
14. Always thank the interviewer for his time and demonstrate your sincere interest. Be sure to follow up within 24 hours with a handwritten thank-you note. Customize the note by referring to something you learned or discussed and again confirm your interest, Sarikas recommends.

Layoff Worries? 5 Conversations You Should Have

By Joseph Grenny,

As the economy continues to take a downturn, more and more American jobs are at risk. In fact, the unemployment rate hit a 14-year high this October with 1.2 million jobs lost in 2008 alone. But with all the cutbacks, what's the likelihood that you will face a layoff in the coming months? A new study shows that the majority of people fear the worst.
An online poll conducted by VitalSmarts, a Utah-based corporate training company, reveals that three out of four people believe their organization is likely to issue layoffs in the next 12 months. Incidentally, one in three people believe their job is at risk today. 

So with the pending threat, what are you doing to either ensure your job is not the next casualty, or reduce the consequences if it is? 

As it turns out, people are doing very little to secure their jobs in this weak economy. For example, one of the easiest steps to take is to solicit information from your boss about layoff potential; yet according to the survey, more than one-fourth of respondents fail to take even this simple step.

For those who really want to secure their careers, or at least prepare appropriately for what may come, five simple and straightforward conversations can substantially increase confidence and serenity in these uncertain times. 

1.     Ask long-timers about past practices -- How have layoffs been handled in the past? Is advance notice given? Are cutbacks across the board or targeted? How are the decisions made?

2.     Clarify compensation surprises with HR -- Will the company be paying normal bonuses or annual raises this year?

3.     Assess your general risk levels -- How likely is a layoff in your division? Department? Team? Job? If there are open forums with executives or other higher-ups, these are great places to ask these questions.

4.     Assess your specific risk level -- Find out where you stand with your supervisor. What skills, job changes, projects or other actions would make you less dispensable?

5.     Have a conversation with yourself -- What should you be doing now to prepare yourself to survive a layoff?
Knowing the right conversations is one thing, but actually holding them is another. Here are a few tips on how to hold these conversations effectively:

Motivate yourself to speak up by reversing your thinking Most of us decide whether to speak up by considering the risks of doing so. Those who are best at crucial conversations don't think first about the risks of speaking up. They think first about the risks of not speaking up. If you're worried about your job and stay paralyzed in silence rather than speak up about crucial issues, you surrender your ability to control your own destiny. Motivate yourself to speak up by thinking first about the risks of not holding these crucial conversations rather than the discomfort of holding them.

Change your emotions to elicit greater opennessThe primary reason we do poorly in crucial conversations is that we are irritated, angry or disgusted with the other person. When you think your job is in jeopardy you are particularly at risk of coming into a crucial conversation with hostile or defensive emotions. If you approach your boss, HR leaders or others to ask about job security concerns, you need to be sure you don't come across as accusatory or insulting. Assume they are "reasonable, rational, decent people" who also have concerns and challenges. If you approach them respectfully, they're much more likely to sympathize with your questions and be more liberal with information you need.

Make others feel safeThe unskilled believe that certain topics are destined to make others defensive. The skilled realize people don't become defensive until they feel unsafe. Try starting your next high-stakes conversation by assuring the other person of your positive intentions and your respect for him or her. When others feel respected and trust your motives for speaking to them, they let their guard down and share more openly.
Start sensitive conversations by saying something like, "I know no one can predict the future perfectly, and yet, like you, I have to do my best. Could I talk openly with you for a few minutes about some questions that will help me understand what the next year might hold in our company? I don't want to put you in a position to make inappropriate commitments, but I want to understand as much as I can about what's likely to occur. Would that be OK?"

One of the best ways to help people feel safe disclosing sensitive concerns is by priming the conversation. You do this by saying the tough thing for them and allowing them to confirm, disconfirm or modify what you say. For example, if you're asking your boss for feedback about her real view of your performance and she seems reluctant to open up, you might say, "I know some of my peers have been here a lot longer than I have and have worked for you on a number of teams. If I were you I would probably feel a great sense of loyalty to them. If tough downsizing decisions had to be made, I'd expect you to put some of them higher on the list than some of us newcomers. Is that a reasonable expectation for me to have?" When something might be tough to say, say it for others as a way of demonstrating that it's safe to acknowledge.

Come ready with questions These conversations are tough enough to hold even once. Don't make the mistake of coming unprepared, then walking out and realizing you failed to ask the most important question. There's nothing wrong with bringing a list of the four or five questions you have and referring to them to ensure you've gathered all the information you want. Do not take notes during the conversation, however. If you do, the other person may feel a need to be on his or her guard for a future legal battle, and you will have cut off your source of information. If you want to confirm something in writing, do it later, perhaps by e-mail, and ask the other person to respond with corrections to your understanding. Do this only if the other person agrees to be "on the record" with his or her comments.
The best way to predict your future is to create it. Those who step up to these five crucial conversations skillfully put themselves in a much better position to create -- and control -- their own destiny. 

How and why to sweat the small stuff

10 small job-search steps that shouldn't be overlooked

Sweating the small stuff can be the difference between landing a job and remaining on the sidelines. But many people fail to realize that the seemingly little things you do -- or don't do -- can make a big impression on potential employers.Here are 10 small steps you shouldn't overlook.

1. Cross your t's. You wouldn't think it's a huge deal to misplace an apostrophe or confuse "effect" with "affect." After all, everyone makes these types of mistakes. The truth is that a single résumé typo can knock you out of contention. Regardless of the job you want, demonstrating attention to detail is critical. Proofread diligently, run spell-check and ask the biggest grammar geek you know to review your work. 

2. Stick to the facts. Most people wouldn't dream of putting a boldfaced lie in their application materials, but a pinch of résumé padding can't hurt, right? Wrong. The tiniest of half-truths can prove costly if it's discovered during a background and reference check, which more employers are doing. Don't give a hiring manager any reason to question your integrity. 

3. Avoid ambiguity. Review your résumé and cover letter to make sure you're presenting the clearest picture possible. Fuzzy phrases such as "participated in" are red flags. That's because plenty of job hunters use vague wording to obscure a lack of in-depth knowledge or experience in a particular area. When describing your work history and expertise, be as specific as possible. 

4. Recognize when the job interview really starts. The evaluation process begins the second you set foot on company grounds. Be friendly and courteous to everyone you encounter; you never know who has the boss's ear. For example, six out of 10 executives we polled said they consider their assistant's opinion important when evaluating potential new hires. Help your cause by displaying excellent etiquette and making small talk, as appropriate.

5. Keep it real. While you should prepare for a job interview, you don't want to come across as an overly rehearsed robot. Employers are looking for insights into the real you, not a series of canned answers brimming with clichéd buzzwords. What does "I optimize value-added solutions" mean anyway?
Highlight your technical abilities and contributions to the bottom line, but also share anecdotes emphasizing your ability to work well with others. Cultural fit is a key consideration for employers.

6. Go with the flow. Take your conversational cues from the interviewer. Some hiring managers are all business, while others enjoy a little chitchat. Be adaptable and follow his lead. 

7. Watch more than your words. It's not just what you say in an interview but also how you say it. Showcase your confidence and engagement by smiling, maintaining eye contact, projecting your voice and having good posture. Nervously tapping your foot, rocking in your seat, slouching, talking too fast and checking your watch can signal discomfort, disinterest or both. 

8. Name names. If a hiring manager takes you on a tour of the office and introduces you to would-be colleagues, greet each individual with enthusiasm. It's a great way to quickly establish rapport. Saying, "It's so nice to meet you, Martin!" makes a far better impression than, "Hey there." Plus, stating the person's name helps you commit it to memory.

9. Put pen to paper. Manners still matter. Send a thank-you note to the hiring manager within a day or two of your interview. An email will suffice, but there's nothing quite as classy as a handwritten card. Express your appreciation for the opportunity, reassert your interest in the job and recap your top selling points. Write a thank-you note to each person you met with at length. 

10. Help your references help you. Lining up the right professional references is only half the battle. Touch base periodically to keep your allies apprised of the jobs for which you're applying. If you know a particular employer is likely to make contact, give your references a heads up so they can prepare. Offer an updated copy of your résumé and mention the skills and attributes the job requires. The more notice and information you give your references, the more help they'll be.

What Does Your Handshake Say About You?

10 Worst Grips

By Rachel Zupek, 

Have you ever shaken someone’s hand and in the same instant, felt every bone in your fingers and palm shatter? Or, even worse, felt like you were shaking the fin on a dead fish?

Handshakes have been around since the birth of civilization. In fact, they were originally a way to prove you had no weapons in your hand when meeting someone new (given today’s state of affairs, that might not be a bad idea). Nowadays, we use handshakes in meetings, greetings, offering congratulations, closing a business deal or sometimes just to say, “How’s it goin’?”

No matter the basis of your handshake, it should become part of your repertoire. Handshakes are a sign of trust and help build strong relationships. Imagine meeting a well-groomed, well-dressed expert for the first time – but when you shake his/her hand, you feel like you’re grabbing an infant’s finger.

Prospective employers said they’re more likely to overlook visible body piercings and tattoos than an ineffective handshake, according to a 2001 survey of human resources professionals. Plus, when you shake hands with people upon meeting, they’re two times more likely to remember you than if you didn’t shake hands, according to a study by the Incomm Center for Trade Show Research.

The time has come to find out if your grip is powerful, pathetic or just plain bad. Pamela J. Holland and Marjorie Brody, workplace/career experts and co-authors of “Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?” say it’s time to practice.

10 nightmarish handshakes to avoid

To evade making a bad first impression, losing a business deal or simply embarrassing yourself, take heed of Holland and Brody’s 10 terrible grips to avoid:

  1. The “macho cowboy”… is the almost bone-crunching clasp many businessmen use to shake hands. What are they trying to prove, anyway? There’s no need to demonstrate your physical strength when shaking another person’s hand.

  2. The wimp… is usually delivered by men who are afraid to “hurt the little lady” when shaking women’s hands. Modern female professionals expect their male counterparts to convey the same respect they’d show their male colleagues.

  3. The “dead fish”… conveys no power. While there’s no need to revert to the macho cowboy death grip, a firm clasp is more powerful than one that barely grabs the hand.

  4. The “four finger”… is when the person’s hand never meets your palm, and instead clasps all four fingers, crushing them together.

  5. The cold and clammy… feels like you’re shaking hands with a snake. Warm up your hand first before grabbing someone else’s.

  6. The sweaty palm… is pretty self-explanatory, and pretty gross. Talcum powder to the rescue.

  7. The “I’ve got you covered” grip… happens when the other person covers your hand with his or her left hand as if your shake is secretive.

  8. The “I won’t let go”… seems to go on for eternity because the other person won’t drop his or her hand. After two or three pumps, it’s time to let go. “It’s a lot like a kiss – you know when it’s over,” Brody says.

  9. The “southpaw”… happens when the person uses the left hand to shake because the right hand has food or a drink. Always carry your drink and plate with your left hand to keep your right one free for meet and greets.

  10. The “ringed torture”… occurs when the person’s rings hurt your hand. Try to limit the number of rings you wear on the right hand to only one or two and be mindful of any that have large stones.

Three steps to a proper handshake
Some other things to keep in mind:

  • As you’re approaching someone, extend your right arm when you’re about three feet away. Slightly angle your arm across your chest, with your thumb pointing up.

  • Lock hands, thumb joint to thumb joint. Then, firmly clasp the other person’s hand – without any bone crushing or macho posturing.

  • Pump the other person’s hand two to three times and let go.

Six tips to an effective meet ‘n greet

  1. Stand up

  2. Step or lean forward

  3. Make eye contact

  4. Have a pleasant or animated face

  5. Shake hands

  6. Greet the other person and repeat his or her name

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