8 Terrible Questions To Ask In An Interview

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.

10 tips for immigrants on their first U.S. job hunts

Job tips for immigrants
By Upwardly Global

If you’re an immigrant to the U.S., finding a job is probably on the top of your priority list. How to do so, however, might remain a mystery. The process may be very different than what you would have done at home. Here are 10 things you need to know for your professional job search in the U.S.

1. You don’t have to go back to school in the U.S.
Your foreign degree is not only valid here, it can be just as valuable. To show this to employers, you may want to get your credentials evaluated by an organization such as World Education Services. While there are some instances where continuing your education might be worthwhile, it’s not always necessary, and a credential evaluation could be just what you need.

2. Don’t put personal demographic information on your résumé.
Marital status, ethnicity, age, religion and photographs should all be left off of your résumé in the U.S. as employers are not legally allowed to consider this information in the hiring process.

3. Be specific.
Whether it’s in a résumé bullet point or in an interview response, give examples structured around Problem, Action, Result. What was the problem, how did you act, and what was the result?

4. Be quantitative and results-oriented.
Showcase your achievements in terms of numbers, e.g. increased revenue by 40 percent, decreased employee turnover by 10 percent, or came in under budget on 98 percent of projects. American culture treasures numeric valuations of achievements, so if you want yours to shine, back them up with some figures.

5. Arrive on time.
While in some cultures it is perfectly acceptable to arrive at a meeting 10 minutes late, Americans do not take kindly to it. If you have an interview, be at least 5 minutes early. You might want to arrive 30 minutes before and relax at a nearby coffee shop before going in –– you don’t want to arrive at the office any more than 10 minutes ahead of time (there is such a thing as being too early, as well).

6. Be aware of your body language.
Smile, make eye contact and have a firm handshake to exude confidence. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about how you say it. In American culture, you approach an interviewer as a peer, which may be quite different than the way you would approach them in your home country.

7. Network, network, network.
Meeting new people is essential to your search, as they can tell you more about the employment landscape here and about opportunities that are not yet publicly advertised. Find networking events or meet-up groups to expand your circle, and make sure to follow up and stay in touch with a personalized message on LinkedIn.

8. Ask people for informational interviews.
Like networking, it’s a great way to learn more about your industry from an insider’s perspective and make key contacts. An informational interview is not a job interview; it’s a casual meeting to learn more about how the job search works for your specific profession.

9. Be positive.
A positive attitude is an important part of U.S. professional culture.  Americans are the “can do” people and negativity doesn’t sell here.  Instead of focusing on frustrations with your job search, think about your strengths and share your excitement about new experiences and opportunities when talking about your search during networking or informational interviews.

10. Your international experience is an asset.
Promote your cultural savvy on your résumé and highlight any language skills. Remember: Your foreign degree and experience is an advantage. You will bring a unique perspective to a company, and employers are looking for that.

3 steps to juggle multiple interviews


We often hear of job seekers struggling to land interviews. However, what if you're one of the lucky ones to be offered multiple job interviews with different companies?
Though you are in a good position, you may slip up since there is so much on your plate. For instance, you could mix up company values. You might forget important documents. You could even accidentally name drop an executive at one of the other companies with which you're interviewing. These errors don't represent you as the impressive candidate you are -- and they certainly don't help your chances.
However, juggling multiple interviews shouldn't be seen as added stress. They should be used as an opportunity to steer your interviewing experiences in the right direction. Check out these tips to make it happen.
1. Create a plan
Mapping out how you're going to succeed in your interviews is important. Establishing a tentative "interview plan" can help you avoid any mix-ups. Creating a simple spreadsheet or completing a worksheet that lists dates, times, interviewer background and basic company information can keep your interviewing experiences in check and separate from one another.
Talking points for each interview can also be written in your plan. For instance, if a company had a recent merger, you can plan to discuss this with the interviewer. Or, if you are also interviewing with a rival company that sees this merger as a threat, you can offer them an alternative perspective. Without the necessary research and planning, you could make a mistake and damage your interviews. Creating a plan helps you avoid this.
2. Stay organized
Staying organized is probably the most difficult part about multiple interviews. Company X may want a portfolio. Company Q may request that you submit your résumé online in a certain format. Company Z may require recommendations and endorsements.
Failing to stay organized and jumbling up important details can harm your chances. Instead, prepare for each interview separately. For example, you can create a customized portfolio for Company X. You can then draft a résumé for Company Q that is catered to their needs. Later, you can pull references for Company Z who can highlight why certain experiences make you the right fit. Each of these is different and customized for the particular interview.
Though the easy solution may be to create one-size-fits-all content, it's not the route to go. Each interview should be seen as a distinct and individual event. Staying organized can help you get there.
3. Be completely present
Having more than one interview in a small span can hinder your concentration. When this happens, you have an increased chance of stumbling through the interview as though you weren't prepared. Instead, focus on being completely present – physically and mentally – during each event.
For example, don't worry about Company Q when you're sitting with members of Company X. Company X needs to have your focus. They need to know your expertise. They need to understand your value. Being elsewhere mentally will show in your interview performance. The days before your interview with Company X should be used only for Company X, so you're in the zone as soon as you walk into the room. Once the interview is over, you can then focus on your other opportunities.
If you're one of the fortunate job seekers who have multiple interviews lined up, count yourself lucky. However, luck can only go so far. Create a plan, stay organized and be present in each interview. The outcome of each will be more positive when you do so.

9 Things You Should Never Say In A Job Interview

interview mistakesInterviews are probably the most challenging part of the job search process. You need to be ready for anything, including weird interview questions.You don't want to blurt out something inappropriate and send all of your hard work down the toilet. Avoid these inappropriate comments during your interview:

1. I'm really nervous. There's nothing wrong with feeling nervous. It's natural to be a little uneasy at an important interview. Don't tell the interviewer if you have butterflies in your stomach, though. Your job in the interview is to portray a confident and professional demeanor. You won't win any points by admitting your nerves or blaming them for any failures in your performance.

2. I don't really know much about the job; I thought you'd tell me all about it. This is a big job seeker mistake, and it can cost you the opportunity. Employers spend a lot of time interviewing, and they expect candidates to have researched the jobs enough to be able to explain why they want the positions. Otherwise, you could be wasting everyone's time by interviewing for a job you may not even really want. Asking questions is important, but don't ask anything you should know from the job description or from reading about the company online.

3. My last boss/colleague/client was a real jerk. It's possible (even likely) that your interviewer could prod you into telling tales about your previous or current supervisor or work environment. Resist the urge to badmouth anyone, even if you have a bad boss. It is unprofessional and the employer will worry what you may say to someone about him or her down the road. Instead, think about ways to describe past work environments in terms of what you learned or accomplishments you're proud to discuss.

4. My biggest weakness is (something directly related to the job). "What's your weakness?" is one of the most dreaded interview questions. There's no perfect reply, but there is a reply you should never say: Never admit to a weakness that will affect your ability to get the job done. If the job description requires a lot of creativity, and you say your creativity has waned lately, assume that you've taken yourself out of the running. Choose a weakness not related to the position and explain how you're working to improve it.

5. @#$%! Granted, profanity seems to be much more accepted in many workplaces today. However, an interview is not the time to demonstrate that you can talk like a pirate.

6. Just a minute; I really need to get this call. It's amazing how many hiring managers and recruiters report that interviewees answer their phones and respond to text messages during in-person interviews. Turn off your phone during interviews and you will not be tempted to reach to answer it.

7. How much vacation time would I get? Never, ever ask questions in an interview that may make it appear that you'll be overly focused on anything other than work.

8. Can I work from home? Even if you're pretty sure the company has a lenient work-from-home policy, the interview isn't the best time to ask about it.

9. Family is the most important thing to me. This is true for many people. However, you do not need to explain how devoted you are to your family during your job interview. It is unlikely to win favor, even in organizations with a well-known family-friendly environment. You want your potential employer to envision you being totally devoted to his or her needs.

When in doubt, pause before you say what's on your mind. If you wonder if it's Ok to ask, assume it's better to avoid the topic altogether.

One Easy Thing You Could Do To Help Your Job Prospects

job prospects

By Brian Clapp

If you've just graduated or are wrapping up an internship and find yourself in job-seeker mode, you've probably been inundated with the career cliche: "It's not what you know, but who you know."

Those are nine very scary words for anyone without many professional contacts. (And who are we kidding? Lots of us lack professional contacts when we're new to the workforce.) That cliche can also turn into an excuse: "I don't know anyone, so how in the world am I going to break into my field? I might as well just give up, move home and plant flowers with Mom."

Don't worry; we've all been there. And digging in the dirt with Mom should scare you way more than creating a network. Put down the Garden Weasel, take a deep breath, and start building your network from the bottom up with a simple technique anyone can replicate.

What's this technique?
We all know it's important to make the right impression by working hard, listening to advice and learning from your mistakes. But you want to be truly memorable, right? For that, you need a follow-up plan.

Try this: Each time you meet someone through an internship, volunteer work, networking events, conferences and career fairs, go low-tech to correspond with them.

What do I mean by low-tech?


Write hand-written cards.

Whoa! Crazy talk!

Every guy reading this just thought, "Sounds kind of... girly. Should I put unicorn stickers on the note, too?"

Get over yourself. Everyone sends emails; it's an easy way to communicate and shows no real effort. Be different... and if you must, buy manly cards.

In today's office environment, the average person gets about 50 to 100 emails per day. Per day! Now imagine how your meager "thank you for your time" email is treated amid a sea of meeting requests and inter-office banter.

Writing a handwritten note is a welcome change among all the computer-generated fluff -- a warm heartbeat in a sea of cold Arial font. It's real. Just make sure you have a human spell-checker who's as good as Microsoft's.


Okay, I bought cards. Now what?

Keep a record of all the people you make contact with and specific things they helped you learn. Within a week after your internship (or conference visit, or networking event) is complete, get to work writing and sending out your cards.

The biggest takeaway: Keep it simple and make it specific.

Let's say you shadowed a sales manager for a local pro sports team and they allowed you to listen in on a sales call. Here's an appropriate card to send:

"Just wanted to say thank you for allowing me to shadow you during my recent internship at (insert company name). Being able to listen in on your sales call and hear how smoothly you were able to close a deal gave me great insight into what it takes to work in sales. I graduate in the spring and really look forward to talking to you again in the near future."


In one simple card, you've:
  • shown you appreciated the opportunity and their time.
  • proven you paid attention.
  • shown respect for their advice.
  • told them when you are available for a full-time job.

This technique can be applied to any industry: sales, business, broadcasting, advertising, you name it.

In my career, I've interviewed hundreds of potential employees and received just three hand-written cards. Three. Two of those people got hired, and the other was a Seattle SuperSonics cheerleader who dotted her i's with hearts but wasn't qualified.

Those three people were disruptive to my normal routine -- in a good way. They stood out. You can stand out, too, and build a network of contacts and supporters from the bottom up with just the power of your pen.

Things NOT To Do During Your Job Search

discouraged looking woman sitting at a laptopBy David Bakke

Although the economy has shown some recent signs of recovery, the current unemployment rate is still stubbornly high.

Since there are plenty of obstacles standing in your way to a new job, it's imperative to hone your approach. See if you're making any of these job-hunting mistakes, and fix them before it's too late:

1. Not proofreading your resume.The quality of your resume is what forms most potential employers' first impression of you and opens the door to job interviews, so it's important to make sure it's perfect. Whether you create one on your own or have it professionally prepared is up to you; just be sure it is 100 percent error-free.

In addition to making the paper version of your resume perfect, make sure that the one you send via email arrives without any messed-up formatting or funny breaks. To create a version of your resume that can be embedded in the body of an email, remove all current formatting by opening your resume and saving it as a plain text (.txt) file -- and remember to click on the box that says "insert line breaks." Then, reopen it with the Notepad program. Be sure that all of the text is flush with the left-hand side of the document, and ensure that you have used only clear, easy-to-read fonts. Save that version and you're done. Email it to yourself to review what it looks like when it arrives.

2. Becoming discouraged. Searching for a job can be difficult and lonely. You may interview with dozens of companies, never to hear from them again, and you may experience many unreturned phone calls as well. In the midst of all this adversity, it's important to maintain a positive attitude and an upbeat outlook. Becoming discouraged only works against you.

If you're unemployed, you probably have some free time on your hands. Spend a portion of it to keep your attitude and outlook healthy. Stay in shape, stay connected to friends, join networking groups and learn new skills to add to your resume. These types of activities can keep you motivated and reduce the amount of time you have to become discouraged.

3. Telling the whole world you're looking for work. This is especially true if you're employed. If your boss finds out that you're thinking about leaving, he could speed up the process by giving you the boot. The last thing you want is to lose your current position before you've found a new one. Keep your job search to yourself.

4. Using a singular strategy. If you want to find a job quickly, search for leads in every way possible. For instance, 36 million people used social media to find a job in 2011. If you've been ignoring that avenue, start checking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn regularly for job announcements. Checking job boards is also a good idea, but if you're intent on working for a particular company, consider showing up in person. You may not land a job interview, but you'll at least get your face in front of someone, which could lead to an opportunity down the road.

5. Underestimating the power of networking. While some job events and career fairs may seem like a waste of time, you never know where your next key contact will come from. Embrace networking as a major piece of your job-hunting strategy. Join or become more active in professional groups. You may also want to volunteer for functions with your professional networking group. This is a great way to stay involved and get noticed by the movers and shakers in your field.
6. Forgetting to keep all points of contact professional. Whether it's the voice-mail greeting on your cellphone or the appearance of your social media pages, make sure everything looks and sounds immaculately professional. If employers are interested in you, be assured that they will investigate you, and that includes visiting your online profiles. If you have anything that you wouldn't feel comfortable with an employer -- or your mother -- seeing online, either remove it or be sure that your privacy settings on Facebook prohibit an employer from seeing it. That way, you present yourself in the best light possible.

Final thoughts: Remember, many of your job-search expenses are tax-deductible: resume preparation fees, paper supplies and postage, the cost of gas needed to drive to interviews, and more. Consult the IRS website for a complete list of details and restrictions, and hold onto your receipts. Finding work may be your top priority right now, but you'll thank yourself for reducing your tax burden once you're employed.

Easy Solutions To Work Stress

How To Minimize Stress At WorkBy Susan Ricker

Between commutes, budgets, client demands and deadlines, it's no wonder work can be a huge source of stress. More than three quarters of workers are feeling the pressure, too: An overwhelming 77 percent of workers say they are sometimes or always burned out in their jobs, according to a CareerBuilder survey. How can you tell what's worth stressing over and what's not such a big deal? Here are some common areas of stress, as well as tips to help deal with those sore spots while still performing well at work. Financial worries. Often one of -- if not the biggest -- concern for businesses, workers and families, financial worries can be a major source of stress. And with slow economic recovery, many businesses and families alike are having to do more with less. However, don't let money concerns settle like a dark cloud over your life.

The key to battling stress. If you're concerned that your business is struggling or that your team doesn't have the funds, go over budgets to find areas you can cut back on. Also ask if there are ways to improve productivity, like investing in training sessions or new technology.

Take the time to organize your budget. See what you have to earn in order to make ends meet, as well as what your paycheck would need to be if you're looking to start saving more or pay off large bills. Look for hidden cost-savers that your company might offer, such as corporate discounts for your cell phone provider or reimbursement for a gym membership. You can also meet with a representative at your bank to help form a financial plan that will ease your concerns. You might find that your best path to making ends meet is to look for a new job with better salary.

Manage your time. Workers are expected to do a lot with a little amount of time: commuting, handling deadlines, getting over-scheduled with too many responsibilities and also bringing work home or checking in through phone and email. If you never feel like you have enough time, it's likely because you don't have enough time to yourself, free of distractions or work demands.

First, organize what responsibilities you have at work, as well as outside of work. Also include what priorities you'd like to make time for, be it projects at work, spending more time with family, getting to the gym regularly or simply being able to leave work at work.

Next, organize your schedule to play to your strengths. Do you have more energy when you first come into work or later in the day? Schedule your biggest tasks around when you have the most time and energy to commit to them. If you tend to slow down in the afternoons or later in your shift, this is a better time to tackle smaller tasks like answering emails or regular, day-to-day business.

Doing too much? If your list of responsibilities reveals you've taken on more than your job originally entailed, it may be time to meet with your manager. Clearly outline what your responsibilities are, as well as what you've taken on or regularly help with. If you're happy with the workload, this may be the time to ask for a promotion. If you'd like to cut back, ask to have your role more clearly defined or to have unrelated projects delegated to other team members. Also address availability when you're off the clock: do you need to regularly check in? Your boss may agree that you don't, or you can work out a compromise that complements both schedules.

Look for the sources Sometimes small amounts of stress from different areas of work or life can add up to an overwhelming feeling that spoils any feelings of productivity or happiness at work. If this is the case, start a running list of what triggers stress or worry throughout the day. By identifying the sources, you can start looking for solutions. Check out these tips for managing workplace stress:
  • Keep an updated calendar and to-do list to manage responsibilities and avoid missed deadlines or appointments.
  • Sidestep fatigue by taking breaks from your desk or workplace, even for a few moments, to allow yourself to mentally reset.
  • Exercise regularly, get enough sleep and eat foods that keep your body satisfied and full of energy.
  • Have hobbies and interests outside of work to keep you from fixating on job-related concerns.
No matter your source of stress, it's important to address the issue and find ways to ease the burden. Employers understand workers can feel burned out, and it's in everybody's best interest to keep employees happy and healthy. If you're worried you have too much to deal with, reach out to your manager, a co-worker, doctor, therapist, family member or friend. Remember, everyone has a tough day or an overwhelming project from time to time, but you shouldn't feel stressed out on a daily basis.

10 Great Things I Learned From Getting Fired

Sallie KrawcheckBy Sallie Krawcheck

There are some things worth being fired over. Sometimes your personal values don't mesh with the company's (regardless of what the company's "Values Statement" says).

Back in 2008, at Smith Barney, we had sold supposedly low-risk investments to our clients. But instead of their value declining modestly during the downturn, they went to very close to $0. I never found any evidence of wrongdoing; but I did recognize that we had nonetheless breached our clients' trust, regardless of what the small print said. I proposed that we share part of the losses with them – both because it was the "right thing" to do, but also very much because sharing the impact of the hit would, I thought, be the "right business thing" to do. There were others who disagreed; after much back-and-forth (and many "no's"), my team's argument won the day, but it was clear I wasn't long for the company.

Squeeze every bit of personal development out of the experience. OK, this one can be hard. But in the first few weeks out of the company, I made it a practice to ask anyone and everyone what I could have done better or how I could have managed the situation more effectively. This was hardly pleasant, but surprised people into an invaluable honest discussion.

But don't listen to your "frenemies." Know who to listen to. I remember a very senior, very connected, very savvy woman who very kindly told me that my career was over, that having a falling out with a large company was a career-ending event, regardless of the reasons. She authoritatively told me that a man might be able to have a next career chapter, but a woman couldn't. I chose to completely ignore her.
Cut the cord with the old workplace more quickly than you may want to. Here is where I made a real mistake. I continued to speak regularly to my former colleagues; my reasoning was that I wanted to be helpful to them and continue to coach them. The truth is, it was a sad drag for them and for me. I should have closed that door faster.

It's important to have connections outside of your company. This is pretty self-explanatory. But it's easy to tell yourself that you'll form these connections later, since few people plan to be fired and the return on this investment can be hard to see, when there are always more urgent matters.

If you're able to, don't make any big decisions right away. I had a friend tell me shortly after I left: "When something like this happens, you think you're thinking straight, but you're not. You won't think straight for at least three months." If you have the luxury of avoiding any major career decisions that long, the perspective you gain after decompressing can be valuable.

Nobody cares as much about it nearly as much as you do. I promise.

... But candor helps with future employers.Evading the question wasn't a particularly good idea in 1985, when your awkward silence may have been a giveaway. In this age of social media, it's an even worse idea. Own it.

Good results help even more. Let's face it: it's one thing to be swept out of a company because a new manager wants to put his own team in place and another because you didn't deliver business results. In finding that next job, be fact-based and specific on the business results you and your team achieved in the prior one.

If you don't get fired at least once, you're not trying hard enough. This isn't quite true yet, but it is becoming truer. As the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you're not making some notable mistakes along the way, you're certainly not taking enough business and career chances.

You can't beat someone who won't give up. Yes, I read this on a bumper sticker, but it's still true.

Why You Should Stop Looking For A Full-Time Job

By Melanie Fischer

Have you been looking for a full-time job but only been able to find part-time positions? Earning money through part-time work is better than not earning money at all, but it's not always optimal.

Maybe you've been thinking about trying to get two or more part-time jobs to earn the same amount of money you'd earn with one full-time gig. But beware: This can be more difficult than you might think.

Here are some pros and cons that you need to think about when it comes to part-time work:

Pro: Part-time job hours can be flexible.
It may be that you're only able to work during morning hours or on weekends. In this type of situation, you may be able to find one part-time job to fill your morning hours and another part-time job on Saturdays or Sundays. Most full-time positions don't offer this type of flexibility, so working one or more part-time jobs may provide you with the work-life balance you need and want.

Con: Extra commuting.
One aspect of a 40-hour-a-week job is that you normally go to your job at a specific time of day, stay there for eight hours and then go home at the end of your shift. With two or more part-time jobs, it's likely you'll spend a considerable amount of time commuting from one to the other (unless you work from home). The time it takes to get to and from numerous part-time jobs can significantly extend your workday.
Pro: If something happens to one job, you still have the other.
You may have greater job security if you have two or more part-time jobs instead of one that's full-time. If you work several part-time positions and you lose one of them, you will still retain a portion of your income while you look for a replacement for the other.

Con: Switching gears.
Besides the extra time it takes to get from one part-time job to another each day, working more than one part-time job in different industries can be hard on your body and brain. It can also be difficult to concentrate on one job while thinking about the other.

Pro: Gaining broad professional experience.
Don't be discouraged if you're working one or more part-time jobs to make ends meet while searching for a full-time position. You can absolutely succeed professionally by working this way. One benefit of working several part-time jobs is that they will expand your professional skill set. Additionally, you may be able to use multiple part-time jobs as leverage against each other if any of the employers eventually offers you a full-time position.

Is Your Boss Trying To Force You Out? 8 Signs

unhappy woman leaning against mirrored wall of office buildingBy Debra Auerbach

In a perfect world, you and your boss would have similar personalities, agree on everything and get along 100 percent of the time. In the real world, you're not always going to click with your manager. While not being BFFs with your boss doesn't always cause problems, there are some warning signs that your rocky relationship may be putting your job in jeopardy.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,000 employers, 27 percent of bosses have a current direct report that they would like to see leave their company. These bosses deal with disfavored employees in different ways. While many issue a formal warning (42 percent), most send subtle signals, if any at all.

Here are eight indirect ways managers say that they handle employees that they wish would leave:
  1. Point out shortcomings in employee's performance more often: 27 percent.
  2. Reduce responsibilities: 21 percent.
  3. Hire someone else to eventually replace the employee: 12 percent.
  4. Move the employee to another work area: 8 percent.
  5. Keep employee out of the loop regarding new company developments: 8 percent.
  6. Communicate primarily via email instead of in person or over the phone: 7 percent.
  7. Don't invite the employee to certain meetings or involve him in certain projects: 6 percent.
  8. Don't invite the employee to social gatherings with co-workers: 3 percent.

While 32 percent of managers say they would do none of the above, if you were in such a situation, you'd hope that your manager would be upfront with you about any issues standing in the way of your professional success.

"It's important that managers be as direct as possible when dealing with employees that, for whatever reason, aren't a good fit for their teams," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. "Fortunately, a plurality of managers in our survey were open to confronting the situation through a formal discussion or warning; however, some will do nothing at all, or even resort to passive aggressive behaviors that can only prolong a negative working arrangement. It's important that workers be aware of such warning signs, and if necessary, take steps to improve their situations."

It's not too late to turn things around. Whether or not your manager is direct with you about her discontent, chances are that you'll know if you're not one of her favorites. While being in such a situation can be stressful, don't look for a new job just yet. Here are some tips from Haefner on how to mend a broken relationship with your boss:

Recommit yourself to performance. Identify areas you can improve immediately and display your commitment to the company's objectives. Sixty-three percent of managers say the best thing a worker can do after a falling out with the boss is to simply improve the quality of work. In most cases, the negative attitudes will be history.

Don't hold a grudge or gossip. Fifty-nine percent of managers say one's ability to "move forward and not hold a grudge" is important to repairing working relationships. This is a two-way street, of course, but workers who are able to display professionalism in spite of personal differences will be in a better position to navigate office politics. Similarly, 38 percent of managers say simply not discussing the falling out with other colleagues is a smart way to repair a relationship.

Rewrite the terms. If you sense your manager is pushing you away, take preemptive action by presenting ideas that may improve the working relationship. Forty percent of managers cite this as a good way to move past the problem. Workers have the right to clear expectations of their roles and responsibilities. A conversation that redefines or clarifies those expectations is sometimes necessary.





Recruiter: Why Most Job Seekers Get Overlooked

Abby KohutBy Abby Kohut

Job seekers around the country are all struggling with the same issues. A big one? They're "unfindable" by recruiters.

While you may think it's a recruiter's job to find you, it's actually YOUR job to try to be found. The more you help the recruiters, the faster they will find you online and the faster they will stop searching for your competitors.

Let's start with keywords
Do you know why we call them keywords? It's because they are THE key to your job search success, but not in the way that you think they are.

I'm proud of the job seekers that I meet with who have figured out all the appropriate keywords from their industry and profession. They have scoured the online ads and used Wordle.net to identify the words that are most commonly used. They have reviewed their old job descriptions and have poured through industry trades.
But ... here is the key to the keywords ... you have to include them multiple times on your resume Yes, I know that you have heard that you shouldn't repeat sentences on your resume, and I would agree that you shouldn't. But if you have your keywords mentioned one time on your resume, and someone else has them two times, guess who rises to the top of the list when a recruiter types them in?

As ridiculous as this all seems, it's unfortunately a game of hide and seek these days. As recruiters, most of us get thousands of resumes and the only way for us to sort through them is by using a large database called an Applicant Tracking System. We don't have time to look at each and every resume, so we use a keyword search to help us narrow down the applicants.

Will repeating the words twice get to you to the top of the pile?
The answer frequently is, it depends. What it depends on is how many times your competition has mentioned the word. In the past, there would be no way for you to know that answer, but with LinkedIn, you can scope out your competition like any recruiter would.

And since we're talking about LinkedIn, you may have been told to post job titles on your profile and just an itty bitty description of your jobs to entice recruiters to contact you. While that seems like an interesting approach, it doesn't work if a recruiter can't find you in the first place because you don't have enough keywords on your profile. Keywords are key on your resume and they are key on your social media profiles as well.
Use abbreviations and full titles too
Most applicant tracking systems aren't smart enough to know that CTO is the same thing as a Chief Technology Officer. So, if you want to be sure you're going to be found, you may want to have both listed on your resume like this: Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Be careful of abbreviations like Admin. Asst. because you won't get credit for being an Administrative Assistant.

What about 'white' keywords?
Some people say they've heard that they need to add keywords on the bottom of their resume in a white font so that the resume gets picked up in more keyword searches. While that may have been an interesting way to play the game in the past, these days, applicant tracking systems only read in one color – black. So, your white words appear on the bottom of your resume as clear as day. If those words were important enough to add to your resume in white, why not find a way to add them into your actual resume?

The bottom line: the key to your job search is to pretend that you are a recruiter trying to find you. What job boards would you use and what keywords would you plug in? Once you are sure you have your keywords identified, spell them correctly and cleverly weave them into different sections of your resume.

And that, my friends, is your key to recruiter magnetism.




9 Ways To Be Happier At Work

Since you spend so much time at work, it's a real drag if you're miserable the whole time you're on the clock. Do you need to love your job? It would be great if everyone could get paid to do what they love, but until you can achieve that elusive goal, what can you do to make the 9-to-5 more pleasant? What can you do to be happier at work?

Finish the drudgery first. Whatever you dread every day, get it done as soon as you can so that you don't need to worry about it the rest of the day. In general, try to organize and plan your time to suit your own needs. It's not always possible, but sometimes, handling the little things that you hate can make the day a little easier to get through.

Stop complaining about what you can't change. It's easy to get caught in a rut and to complain ad nauseam about a colleague who's not pulling her weight or a boss who should have been let go in the last downsizing. However, complaining about things you can't change only contributes to your misery. Don't give in to the temptation to drone on and on about the negatives; instead, focus on what you can change, and spend your energies there.

Make friends at work. There's no question that everything is better when you have a friend in your corner. You don't need to be "besties" with everyone at the office, but having one or two colleagues who are always happy to go to lunch or catch a quick coffee can make all the difference.
 
Give compliments. Look for opportunities to tell other people what they're doing well; it will make their day, and will give you a boost, too. Plus, you never know: If you begin to pass around kudos in the office, it can affect everyone's mood and perhaps improve the overall office culture. Don't fall victim to the myth that you can only help improve things if you're a supervisor or have authority; take initiative and you could really make a difference for your colleagues.

Keep track of good things. Every time something happens at work that makes you happy, make a note. Maybe it sounds a little corny, but if you can remember the good times, it could help make the challenges easier to overcome.

Take breaks. There's nothing worse than sitting at your desk, staring at the computer all day long. It's bound to make you feel draggy and depressed. Get up and move around. Stretch, take a walk, go find a window and check the weather. Daydream a little. Mental and physical breaks can make a difference in your day and make you feel better, no matter what else is going on. Give yourself the opportunity for a new perspective and you may see a difference in your day. 

Reward yourself. If no one else is paying making a point to recognize and reward your efforts, create your own system of rewards and treats. After you finish a particularly onerous task well, do something special for yourself.

Find something redeeming about your job. Even if you really don't like your job, or the people you work with, try to find some redeeming features about how you spend your time. Think about how you can be even better at what you do.

Make plans. Think about what's next. Especially if work doesn't make you happy, begin to plan how you're going to transition to something new. Review job descriptions and decide what you're most qualified to do. (Don't conduct your job search at work, though!) Start to plan how to add the skills and experiences you don't have on your resume. Update your resume. Plan how to expand your network and consider if it may be time to change careers. The more plans you make, the easier it will be to influence a change in your work life.



Secrets to Successful Job Posts in LinkedIn Groups

Promoting terrific job opportunities is serious business. And nothing is more serious about business than LinkedIn, the professional networking site.

LinkedIn
With over 200 million members—in 200 countries—LinkedIn has truly become a global phenomenon. More than 2.6 million businesses now have LinkedIn Company pages, making it a valuable resource for employers, employees and job seekers.
LinkedIn Groups can play a significant role in your recruiting strategy as millions of potential employees add their profiles each year.

LinkedIn: A Matter of Trust

The biggest reason for LinkedIn’s popularity is trust; users look to if for accuracy and veracity. In a recent survey of LinkedIn users, 47 percent say they rely on the site for real word of mouth info on brand experiences; 87 percent trust LinkedIn when making critical business decisions.
This reputation for truthfulness makes LinkedIn a natural for recruiters and candidates—both active and passive—to turn to when looking for quality job posts and genuine career advancement.
LinkedIn Types and Relationships
Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Network with Professionals in LinkedIn Groups

One of the most popular LinkedIn features is LinkedIn Groups. Groups are where professionals with similar interests, or in the same industry, can share content, place job posts, establish business contacts, and shape reputations as industry experts.
LinkedIn Groups are ideal for employers to network and recruit exceptional talent. Fostering LinkedIn contacts is an effective way to refer potential employees and establish contact for difficult-to-fill positions.
It is just like face-to-face networking, but considerably easier and with a significantly larger reach.

Several Ways to add Job Posts to LinkedIn Groups

As a member of a group, you have three options:
  • Use the LinkedIn Commercial Job Posting Service for job posts.
  • Search for an existing job post and share it with the group.
  • Add a job post to the Jobs Discussion tab.
Even though LinkedIn gives a company different ways to promote job posts, the most effective is the commercial job posting service. Remember, for this method, there are fees involved.  The cost for a job post depends on the geographical location. To find out how much it will be for a single job post, go to the Post a Job page. Then enter the location of the job at the bottom of the page.
Employers can also buy a 30-day listing for a job post, or purchase a discounted 5- or 10-pack of job credits.

The Job Discussions Tab

Group members can share and discuss job posts from outside the LinkedIn job post service in the Jobs Discussions tab of the group. A job post on the job discussions tab is easy; simply copy and paste the short-URL into a post in LinkedIn Groups.  Job seekers can follow the link back to the original job post to apply.
The job post link will refer interested candidates to the company website or other location, such as posts through Ovation Technologies. Ovation helps you broadcast posts to a wide range of social networks (including LinkedIn), as well as job boards, social media and more.
Although there is no charge for posting on a group’s discussion tab, timing is limited. The page automatically removes the job post after 14 days.

Best Practices for Job Posts in LinkedIn Groups

  • If you can, put a LinkedIn share button on every job post. This way, all interested parties—even those who not right for the position, but know someone who is—can pass it on to others in their network.
  • When using the discussions tab for job posts, it is essential to avoid appearing to spam the group. Group managers and administrators monitor all posts and have the ability to move, cancel or reassign job posts they consider spam. Too many unrelated job posts and you risk being dropped from the group.
  • LinkedIn Group members with good reputations, those regularly engaging in the group, will have the most successful job posts. Your best bet for participation is to start by asking and answering relevant questions, post related content and participate in discussions. Your standing in a LinkedIn Group is crucial, and can be vital to having a job post looked on favorably. A good group member will gain exposure to a larger audience of qualified professionals.
Yes, a good reputation on LinkedIn Groups means work. However, a long-term recruitment strategy for your business is certainly worth the effort, especially when you find your next superstar employee!

Should You 'Lead Up'?

Man in suit opening his shirt to reveal superhero uniformIt's not just you. Even your boss is probably asked to do more with less. So she or he may not have time to help you when you need it. And make too many requests and you could be written off as high-maintenance. Writer and marketing genius, Seth Godin, proposes a solution: Lead up. He claims employees have more power to act and get things done than they might believe.

I believe Godin is on the right track. Companies have been downsized. Many managers simply have too much to do to give the kind of coaching and assistance that people got in the past, so if you wait for that, you may be waiting a long time. But, in many workplaces, especially in large organizations, there is a big risk to taking unilateral action. Alas, some bosses demand you get three signatures to blow your nose. So, depending on your boss and the organizational culture, you do risk getting in trouble, even fired, by making major decisions on your own. The notion that it's better to ask forgiveness than permission is only sometimes true.

A safer approach to leading up
My version lowers that risk while still affording you more control than the typical employee assumes is possible. It's a two-step:
  • Start thinking like the boss: Coming up with the ideas you'd adopt if you were in charge.
  • Then, for each, instead of acting unilaterally as Godin suggests, make it easy for your boss to say yes.
Example: Come up with a project you'd love to lead, ideally one that won't require more resources. That can be a great investment of your time: You get to work on something you care a lot about while gaining leadership and other skills. Besides, that's the sort of effort that could get you promoted or look so good on a resume that it could help you get a higher position elsewhere.

Just write your boss a concise email that explains your proposed project's benefits and that it will cost little or nothing in money or your boss's time. Conclude by asking permission in a way that requires just a one-word answer: "Is that OK?" You reduce your risk further by ensuring that your boss and other key stakeholders get due credit for any success, but you take responsibility for any failure.

You're annoyed at some cumbersome process that you or your co-workers must endure. Outline a streamlined version and ask if you might try it for a month, with no time required from the boss. Explain that, in a month, you'll report back on how well it's working.


You'd love to get that week-long training in Hawaii. In an email to your boss, make the case briefly and crisply, ending with "I have checked with Jane Jones in HR whom I've copied on this email. She said that if you approve, just click Reply to All, write 'OK' and it will be taken care of." That way, all you need to get your one-week Hawaii vacation -- oops, I mean training -- are three keystrokes.

Even my less risky version 2.0 of leading up could get you in trouble. With your particular boss, as they say, your experience may vary. But I believe Version 2.0 puts most employees' odds well in their favor. And hey, if your boss or workplace culture does require your getting approval to buy a box of paper clips, the ultimate example of leading up is to look for employment where they'd love you to lead up.







Pulling The 'Parent Card' At Work

woman holding baby while on cell phone and looking at laptopIn any given organization, some people are slackers. Others, perhaps, work hard, but don't care about working visibly hard. Some people are more efficient than others. Some absorb interesting ideas about work, such as that it's unprofessional to be seen walking out of the office in the middle of the day with a gym bag. These people then project these opinions onto those who do this. Some people who walk out of the office with a gym bag aren't working hard. Some are.

The point is, none of this rises to the level of grand cultural debate until you phrase it like this: what about parents who walk out of the office at 5 pm? Then we get the Parent Card, and all of a sudden, we have a serious matter on our hands. Over at the "Dear Prudence" column recently, a 20-something attorney complained about an epidemic of parent-card pulling in her office. People with kids left promptly at 4:30 or 5, "leaving me to stay late (up to several hours) to finish up work that needs to be done. It's frustrating -- just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I don't have a life outside of work."

It's very true that this would be frustrating. It's also true that anyone with a job can, and should, have a life outside of work. As Prudence points out, if people's behavior is genuinely creating an unfair workload, our attorney should speak with her supervisor and clarify how duties are divided.

Stop Work AT 5 P.M.
But here's the thing: I stop work most nights around 5. If I were working in an office, I guess I'd be visibly playing my Parent Card to do so. I hang out with my kids for three hours. I have dinner. I have a beer. But then I fire up the computer around 8 or so and put in another hour. Or two. Sometimes three. I find it hard to believe that in a law firm -- probably a law firm where people have to hit a certain number of billable hours -- none of our parent lawyers are doing the same. Such split shifts (e.g. 8-5, then 8-10) are a great way to work a high volume of hours, yet still get a life. You don't get to watch much TV, which is what some people who work from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. do from 8 to 10 p.m., but that's the way it goes.

Split-Shift Parenting
I'd say that most working parents who log more than 45 hours a week -- and who have some control over their time, and who value being part of their kids' lives -- employ such a strategy. That's certainly what I've seen from time logs over the years. But you don't have to be a parent to split your shifts!

Indeed, I'd recommend that if our young lawyer wants a life outside of work, she should try such a strategy as well. She can announce that she's leaving the office too at 5 p.m., 2 to 3 days per week, "but we'll all check back in at 8:30, right?" If the parents refuse, well, then you know. But if they say "Yep, like we've been checking in every night" -- or perhaps even "hey, why don't we check in at 7 a.m., when some of us are here working, but you don't notice because you get here at 8:30?" -- then you know that this is just a matter of time shifting, and not a campaign by those greedy, self-serving parents of the world to use their offspring as an excuse to be lazy.

Do you work after your kids go to bed?




How To Survive The Interview From Hell

frowning man gesturing with upturned palmsBy Larry Buhl

Is it not enough to have a resume bursting with accomplishments, an action plan for how you can benefit the company and a winning interview style to land the job? Now, you're also expected to answer brain teaser questions? Seriously?

Seriously. "This trend toward asking off-the-wall questions started in high tech a few years ago and has now emerged in interviews for jobs in a variety of fields," says John O'Connor, president of North Carolina-based CareerPro Inc., a professional career-coaching and branding company.

These questions are often brain teasers and can be anything from a complex, multilayered math and logic problem to a wacky question with no real answer. Some examples include:
  • How many rocks are on the face of the moon?
  • How many jellybeans can fit into a gallon jar?
  • Why are manhole covers round instead of square?
  • How many pounds of breakfast cereal are sold in the U.S. every year?
  • What are the decimal equivalents of 5/16 and 7/16?

It may seem like some sort of interviewee hazing, but there's often a method to the madness. In many cases, you won't be expected to come up with the right answer. In fact, the interviewer might not even know the answer. "They're more interested in your thought process and your ability to present ideas, debate and think creatively," O'Connor says. "They want to see candidates who can walk them through their way of thinking. And they're looking for candidates who will be thrown a curveball and not freak out."

So don't freak out. Below are ways to prepare for the brain teaser:

Bring tools. Show up to the interview with pens, paper, markers, calculator, stopwatch and ruler to work out a possible brain teaser. It's unlikely that you'll be asked, point blank, how many times heavier an elephant is than a mouse and be expected to answer it on the spot. You'll have time. And depending on the job and the field, what you do on your scratch paper is more important than the conclusion you reach.

Don't be shocked or offended. A question might surprise you or seem silly given the job for which you're interviewing. Don't let it throw you. Again, the answer is usually not the destination. Sometimes the wackiest question deserves an equally wacky process to reach a conclusion. But do take the questions seriously. Don't assume that it's being asked to tick you off or make you the butt of a human-resources joke.

Question the question. Show your ability to think through a problem by asking a clarifying question regarding the brain teaser, suggests Paul Bailo, a New York-based recruiter and author of "The Official Phone Interview Handbook."

"Asking a follow-up question will give your mind a break and buy you time to help you fully understand what is being asked so you don't solve the wrong problem," Bailo says.

Speak out your logic. Listen to what you are thinking, Bailo adds. "Sounding out" the process of reaching an answer can help you think through the process in a different way. "Leveraging the logical speaking method will allow for a quicker answer and faster mental processing," he says. "Think of it as reading a book out loud, only the book you are reading out loud is your mind thinking through a problem."

See what you are thinking. Just like sounding out a problem can give your brain a productive whack, drawing it out can help you edit and improve your approach.

Practice. You can't prepare for the exact question unless you're sure you know what they'll ask. But you can exercise your mind by reading philosophy books, playing mental games, doing crossword puzzles and thinking about big problems, O'Connor says. "How would you solve the world energy crisis? What would the world do without drinking water? Think of these exercises as a workout for your mind."



What to Wear To An Interview: 3 Basic Tips for Creating a Professional Outfit

what-to-wear-to-an-interviewAn interview can be a stress inducing event. Not only do you have to remember to act polite and professional and answer interview questions concisely and with ease, but you have to look the part as well - pulling off that perfect balance of professionalism and style.
Coordinating the perfect outfit can be a bit of a hassle, but there are some basic do's and dont's that will help make picking out suitable attire a much smoother process. And if ever in doubt about a certain wardrobe piece, drop it. It's better to lean towards conservative and slightly boring, than to strive for high fashion.

1. When in Doubt, Go Dark
Dark colors are always acceptable - they look professional and don't come off as too flashy. Wearing a bright red top with a matching skirt is never a good idea, even if you know the company is laid back and has a casual dress code. You're not currently an employee and first impressions always count, so keep it simple, subdued and conservative.

2. Overdress Before You Underdress
No one wants to show up to an interview with three other people looking like a slacker. It is always better to be overdressed for an occasion, be it a wedding or a job interview, rather than underdressed. This also encompasses nixing casual clothing like t-shirts, jeans and sneakers for dress pants, slacks, tailored shirts and dress shoes.

3. Keep the Accessories to a Minimum
You can flaunt your own personal style after you snag the job, but before then it's best to keep your look "clean" with minimal jewelry and accessories. Yeah, that silk lavender polka dot head scarf looks amazing with your navy blue pencil skirt, but a job interview isn't the place to prove your catwalk-worthy fashion skills. A simple gold or silver chain will suffice for women, and men can dress it up with a simple pocket scarf or nice tie.




Tricks To Getting A Great Referral

two men shake hands as woman looks onBy Robert Half International

Job seekers know the power of networking in their search for employment. But it's not just who you know; it's also who your contacts know. An effective way to make the most of your connections is by asking for referrals.

A referral is just one piece of the hiring puzzle, but it can support a well-crafted resume and help your application rise to the top of the stack. It's a recommendation made to a hiring manager, on your behalf, by someone who knows you both.

What can a referral do for you? You may have one of several goals in mind when asking a contact to refer you: Perhaps you're hoping to set up an informational interview. Or maybe you've applied for an open position and hope to cement your candidacy with a personal endorsement.

A thoughtful recommendation gives context to your résumé and adds a stamp of approval from someone the hiring manager knows and trusts. It's a personal introduction that connects you with the company on a level that's deeper than the rest of the application process allows. A referral says, "This is someone to pay attention to."

What's in a referral? A strong referral has all the hallmarks of an effective cover letter -- it's persuasive, engaging and relevant. The advocate introduces you and explains how she knows you. Then, the person highlights the characteristics, values, experiences or skills that led her to endorse you. In closing, it might include a personal note or comment that reinforces the connection between your contact and the hiring manager.

A referral does not have to be formal. It can take many forms, from an email or social media message to a quick phone call or hallway conversation.


How to use a referral: Tap into your network to find potential advocates -- and to help them help you. Here's how to ensure a strong referral:
  • Ask the right person. Review your closest contacts -- friends, business associates, former managers or colleagues, coaches or mentors. Also make a list of companies you're targeting and positions for which you're applying. Then, determine where the two intersect. Reach out to prospective advocates who have ties to those companies, requesting that they speak on your behalf. Don't send a mass email, which will seem too impersonal. Many companies have incentive programs that encourage employees to refer qualified candidates for open positions. But your advocate doesn't have to work for the company you're pursuing. Your contact and the manager may be connected socially or through a professional or charitable group, for example.
  • Provide enough info. Arm your advocate with enough information to make a solid recommendation. Share your resume and also be clear about how your skills and experience align with the requirements of the open position. Don't assume that your friend or colleague knows why you're right for the job. The more thorough you are, the better able the person will be to make a case for your candidacy.
  • Follow up. Once your contact makes a referral, the ball's in your court. Follow up quickly so you don't lose momentum. If your advocate copies you and the hiring manager on an email, reply by acknowledging the introduction, attaching your resume and requesting a meeting. If your advocate sends a written letter or recommends you in person, wait a day or two and then reach out to the employer, mentioning your contact by name and asking to connect.
  • Rise to the occasion. When a contact makes an introduction on your behalf or endorses your capabilities, the person is putting a little of his own reputation on the line. And if you don't shine brightly, it'll reflect badly on him. You owe it to your advocate to put your best into anything that follows from the referral. That means, for example, responding quickly to any inquiries from the hiring manager or thoroughly preparing for a resulting interview.

Don't forget the last step. Be sure to thank anyone who provides you with a referral. Send a handwritten note or a small gift card or take your contact out for coffee. And if someone you've asked for a referral politely declines, don't press. Not everyone feels comfortable providing a referral -- and it's not necessarily a reflection on you.



Source:careerbuilder

Using Facebook At Work: 7 Tips

By Aaron Guerrero

You may be a social media junkie, hopping from one site to another. But if your employer suspects you check your friend's Facebook wall more than your work emails, he may be entitled to make you hand over your passwords.

Lawmakers across the country have begun weighing social media privacy laws that bar employers from hiring or firing employees for not surrendering an account username or password. Social media privacy laws have been introduced or are pending in 35 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, an organization that tracks legislation at the state level. Since the beginning of this year, five states -– including Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Washington –- have enacted legislation that prohibits employers from accessing social media passwords of employees.

But even as attempts to shield employees from intrusive employers grow, some laws feature exceptions that allow companies to snoop. The recently passed Utah law permits employers to request passwords for social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter when a device is supplied or paid for in whole or in part by the company. An employer can also gain access to company-sponsored accounts managed by employees.

If your state has yet to address the issue, you could fall under an employer policy that grants wide authority in acquiring social media information. About 24 percent of businesses monitor social media information, according to a 2012 survey of 1,105 employees by the Chicago-based talent management software company SilkRoad. A 2011 survey by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics revealed that 42 percent of companies punish employees for behavior on social media websites, up from 24 percent in 2009. The survey received responses from 485 public and private companies as well as nonprofits.

If you're worried your tweets or Facebook posts may jeopardize your job, follow these steps:

1. Learn your company's policies. If your state lacks a social media privacy law, your employer may have one. The policy may not ban usage all together, but it may lay out explicit guidelines. Learn what you can and can't do, says Tyson Snow, an employment attorney at Pia Anderson Dorius Reynard & Moss, LLC in Salt Lake City. "With that knowledge you can tailor your actions accordingly," he says.

2. Learn the state law. If you work in a state that does have a social media privacy law, or is on the cusp of passing one, read up on it. You don't necessarily have to read the bland text of the law, but newspaper articles, magazines or online blogs, can help you understand what your state allows under the law, Snow says.

3. Go private on your profile. An inquisitive boss may be inclined to look up what you've been doing on Facebook or Twitter during office hours. Without privacy settings, he or she won't have to go through a potential legal fuss to wrangle your username and password. Snow recommends setting your privacy settings "to ensure that someone who is not your friend or follower or isn't a general member of the public doesn't have access to your content."
 
4. Pay attention to company culture. Working for a tech savvy company like Google or Microsoft, you may have free license to browse your social media pages during a shift, says Terri Thompson, an etiquette coach in Kentucky. If a policy is unclear, examining the actions of colleagues is one way to determine when visiting Facebook or Twitter is permissible. But Thompson says to lay the burden for spelling out the policy on the employer. "It needs to be communicated, maybe even as early as the interview process," she says.

5. Be mindful when using company gear. It's a great deal: Your company provides and picks up the tab for your laptop and iPhone. But if personal exchanges between co-workers or friends and family are edgy, if not outright inappropriate, then isolate your use to a personal device. "If you're an employee, and you don't want your employer to have access to any of your information, then don't access social media sites off your employer-provided computer or employer-provided cellphone," Snow says.

6. Self-monitor your time. The company you work for may have a lax policy, leaving you to either keep your roaming habits in check or letting them run amok. Thompson recommends brief exchanges and limiting usage to breaks and your lunch hour. "What can't and doesn't need to happen is being constantly on it," she says.

7. Gracefully guide the company account(s). Wanting to make a splash across several social media platforms, your company may want you to take the reins of its newly created accounts. Thompson recommends not revealing internal deliberations and straying away from posting anything text or images that can be construed as negative. "Be very, very careful that you're only ... putting the company in the most positive light possible," she says.





10 Things That Will Get You Hired

By Kate Lorenz,

Do you want to extend your time looking for a job? Of course not. Candidates are always on the lookout for the most efficient, effective way to find new work. The following tips -- when heeded during the job search and interview processes -- can make job hunting go by faster: 

1. Customize your résumé and cover letter.
It might seem faster to blast off generic materials to dozens of employers, but this will cost you time in the long run. Tailor your résumé and cover letter to each open position to clearly demonstrate how your experience fills the employers' requirements. For example, if you're applying for a public relations role, give your PR experience a prime spot on your résumé.

2. Diversify your search.
If you've been responding to newspaper ads with no response, also post your résumé online, search some job Web sites, talk to your friends and attend an industry trade show. The more ways you search, the more likely you are to connect with the right employers.

3. Don't go solo.
Your friends, family and former co-workers each have a network of their own -- and a friend-of-a-friend might hold the perfect lead. Don't be shy: Reach out to your network and let your contacts know you're on the job market.

4. Find a company where you fit in.
Browse potential employers' Web sites and ask your friends about what it's like to work at their companies. Employers are looking for candidates who would be a good fit and thrive within the company culture.

5. Don't get discouraged.
Experts estimate the average job search to last anywhere between three and 10 months -- and that means a lot of rejection. Keep at it: Your dream job is out there.

6. Always be prepared.
You can never be too prepared for your first meeting with a potential employer. Before your interview, always browse the company's Web site. Find out as much as you can about the company's products, leadership, mission and culture, and prepare answers to common interview questions.

7. Be on time.
Whether it's an informational interview, an open house or a formal interview, always arrive about 10 minutes early. Allow plenty of time for traffic and poor weather.

8. Dress and act the part.
In a business setting, always dress in professional clothing in the best quality you can afford. Take the industry and employer into consideration, but a business suit is almost always appropriate for interviews.

9. Listen more than you talk.
Even if you're nervous at an interview, try not to ramble. By keeping your mouth shut, you can learn valuable information about the company and avoid saying something that you'll wish you hadn't.

10. Ask good questions.  
At the end of an interview, the employer will inevitably ask if you have any questions. Have a list of questions prepared that showcase your company research and interest in the position.





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