Work wear decoded How to dress for any professional situation

what to wear
By Robert Half International

“What to wear?” It’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself a million times — and one that takes on heightened significance when dressing for a professional setting.
Robert Half recently asked senior managers if clothing choices affect a worker’s chances of earning a promotion. Eighty percent of executives said yes. But that hasn’t stopped professionals from making fashion mistakes. Respondents also provided hilarious examples of office outfits that missed the mark. Among the wackiest gear employers have seen: pajamas, studs and motorcycle gear, a bathing suit, and even a dinosaur costume. And, no, none of these odd outfits was worn in observance of Halloween.
While it may be tempting to dress down in today’s workplace, clothing that’s too casual or revealing can keep you from getting hired or receiving a raise or promotion. Even “tamer” fashion faux pas, such as wearing torn jeans, low-cut shirts or flip-flops, can cost you points with the boss.

Here’s how to structure your professional wardrobe for a variety of situations:

1. How to dress for a job interview
With only one chance to make a good first impression, best stick to classic business attire when meeting a potential employer. For a corporate position at, say, a financial institution, a clean, well-fitting suit is the safest choice. If you’re applying for a job with a less-traditional company, such as a startup, you may be able to lose the tie and go for a collared shirt and khaki pants or a skirt instead.
Keep in mind that it’s difficult to overdress for an interview. As long as you don’t show up in a tux, you’re pretty much OK. On the other hand, appearing overly casual can lead a hiring manager to believe you don’t take the opportunity seriously, which could cost you the job. So, when in doubt, err on the conservative side.

2. How to dress for your first day of work
Dressing for a new job can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the company’s policies around workplace wear. As such, it’s always a good idea to ask about the dress code ahead of time.
If your new employer doesn’t have any formal fashion guidelines in place, picture what the hiring manager wore at your interview and try and emulate his style. Or choose an outfit similar to the one you wore to the meeting. In general, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed; you can always adjust your style on Day Two.

3. How to dress for casual Friday
When it comes to work-appropriate wear, the term casual can be misleading. No matter what day of the week your team has decided to collectively dress down, don’t make it an excuse to be lazy.
Always keep in mind what your clothes say about you. Sweats, for instance, should be reserved for the gym or for lounging at home; ditto for too-tight yoga pants and T-shirts you’d normally wear to bed. While jeans in place of slacks or dress pants may fit the parameters of your office’s casual code, they should still appear professional in both fit and style.

4. How to dress for changes in the weather
As temperatures rise, hemlines tend to get shorter. However, there are very few office jobs where showing a lot of skin — no matter the season — is a good professional move.
During the summer, opt for lightweight slacks and dresses or skirts that hit within an inch-and-a-half of the knee. If the heat is unbearable, consider opening a window, asking your office manager to turn on the A/C or pointing a desk fan at yourself.
When the weather cools, similar rules apply. Keep your style professional and conservative, and don’t let the need to bundle up become an excuse for dressing too casually. Layers you can shed once you get to the office are a great option. If you must wear boots to wade through sleet and slow, be sure to bring office-worthy shoes to change into (or keep a pair at your desk).

5. How to dress when you want to stand out
If blending into the crowd isn’t your style outside the office, you may be tempted to differentiate yourself in a similar way at work. Rules around slogan-bearing shirts, visible tattoos and piercings differ from company to company, so make sure you’re up-to-speed on the finer points of your employer’s dress policy. No matter the guidelines, don’t go overboard. You can often still get your point across with small touches, such as an interesting button or pin, cool earrings or wacky socks.
While these tips can help you make better decisions around your work attire, every office has its own set of rules when it comes to what is and isn’t kosher. When in doubt, go for more conservative clothing or ask your employer to clarify the dress code for you. Finally, before you head out the door in the morning, remember: If you need to ask yourself whether your outfit is work-appropriate, it probably isn’t.

4 Ways Google+ Can Help You Land a Job

Yes, it's time to master this social network.

Business Team Concept Stick Figures
Perhaps you are skeptical about how social media use can improve your chances to land a new job. After all, the traditional media never hesitate to showcase people who make mistakes using Facebook and Twitter, causing them to lose their employment. It's likely you've barely even heard of Google+; what can this network possibly offer job seekers?

In a nutshell: a lot. The caveat? You need to know a thing or two about Google+ to make the most it. To get started on the right foot and break out of your job search rut, keep in mind these four things all social media tools offer job seekers and the ways Google+ helps accomplish them:

1. The opportunity to demonstrate expertise.
If you and the people you work with are the only ones who know how great you are at your job, it will be difficult to land a new opportunity down the road. Luckily, Google+, offers a platform to demonstrate what you know for people who do not already know you.

Make the most of Google+ by posting updates that highlight your expertise. Are you a health insurance expert? Post links with news about how new regulations affect your industry and include your comments. Does your expertise include fashion or interior design? Create a stream of information and photos in your Google+ profile showing that you are up-to-date about what's fashionable and what is passe. Include pictures and commentary to illustrate what you know.

When you use Google+ to post public updates, Google indexes your expertise, and you have a chance for your posts to appear as search results for other people's queries about the topics you include in your updates.

2. The chance to expand your network.
Have you ever wanted to connect with someone, but you couldn't access an introduction? Perhaps you considered cold calling the contact, but didn't feel confident you could actually connect? Using Google+, you can contact people you don't already know on line and communicate directly with them with no barriers to entry.

It's as easy as finding the target person on Google+ (use the search bar at the top to discover if he or she is using the social network) and using his or her name in an update. To make sure you have the best chance to win someone's attention, either use a + or an @ symbol before his or her name.

For example, if you want John Smith to notice you, you can add him to your Google+ circles (the equivalent of your friends on Facebook) and follow what he posts. When you want to get his attention, comment on his posts or repost something he shared and use his name, "+JohnSmith" in your post. Doing so will trigger a notification for John that you mentioned him.

Depending on the nature of your online conversations, you can easily impress John or other contacts and grow your network of people who know, like and trust you – and who may be willing to refer you for a job opportunity or for an informational meeting.

3. Opportunities to learn information that could make you more marketable.
Google+ can offer a great source of information you'd otherwise never know. Google+ Communities is one go-to resource in this network. Find it via the dropdown menu on your Google+ page; there are communities for just about any topic you can imagine. Search for people who post content and links that interest you and get ready to learn new things. When you find a strong community of people, these communities can be of a goldmine of information at your fingertips.

When you make a point to follow up and review even a small percentage of the information available, you'll be better informed and able to respond intelligently to interview questions and in networking conversations.

4. Be found: reverse the job search process from "push" to "pull."
One of the most important things Google+ can help you accomplish is to improve the likelihood that someone will find you when they Google your name or your expertise. How amazing would it be if someone were to Google "XYZ expert," and your Google+ content came up as the top results? It can happen, if you use Google+ strategically and create content online to support your expertise for your keywords.

Another factor in being found: Google's "search plus your world." You may have noticed, when you Google information while signed into your Gmail or other Google account, results you see come from people you know more often than not. The reason for this is that Google realizes that you are connected to these content creators and assumes their information is relevant for you. Similarly, when you have a robust Google+ profile and encourage people to add you to their circles, when they search online, your content is more likely to come up.

Wouldn't it be great if you can capture the attention of recruiters or other influencers in your field because Google delivers your information in response to questions they pose in Google? This is a way to attract job opportunities to you, instead of you always having to apply for jobs,which you can't beat when you're on the prowl for a new gig.

How informational interviews can help your career


One of the most effective tools in your job search is the informational interview. These meetings provide you with an opportunity to build your network of professional contacts, learn more about career paths that interest you and, ultimately, enhance your employment prospects. 
Although they're not meant to elicit job offers, these discussions offer exposure to people who are in a hiring position or can recommend you to colleagues. As a result, it's critical to approach informational interviews the right way. 

Here are some tips to remember:
Reach out appropriately
Email or call the person you hope to interview with a concise explanation of who you are, why you're contacting him and what you hope to gain from the meeting. Be clear that you are seeking information only -- not a job -- and ask for 30 minutes of time at most.
Because it's often hard to get the attention of someone you've never met, a referral from a mutual friend can help in setting up an informational interview.
Come with clear goals
Unlike a job interview, where a hiring manager would lead the discussion, you are the one responsible for setting up this meeting and driving the conversation. So, make sure you know what you want to gain from the discussion. Are you considering a switch to a management track and interested in what steps a person working in that role took in her career? Do you want to transition to a new information technology specialty and garner inside tips for working in that area? 
If you start the meeting with no objective, your contact will be inclined to cut the discussion short, so be sure to have targeted questions ready. For instance, if you are seeking advice on becoming a consultant, you might ask how the person got his start consulting or about the biggest challenges he has faced as a project professional.
Do your homework
Make sure you are knowledgeable about your contact before you meet. You should have at least a general understanding of the person's professional history and background on her employer. This will allow you to ask relevant questions and solicit appropriate assistance. 
It's also likely you'll be asked about your own background and career interests, so be ready to talk about your goals and accomplishments.        
Remember to listen
Have a sincere interest in what your contact has to say. The person is likely to offer more advice -- and more in-depth advice -- if he or she knows you are invested in the conversation. Even if his suggestions aren't what you wanted or expected to hear, respect the guidance given to you. Taking notes can help demonstrate your interest and help refresh your memory of the conversation later.
Don't ask for a job
While your ultimate objective may be to find a new job, you should never ask for one at an informational interview. The goal of the meeting is to build your knowledge about a particular topic. The person may feel deceived if you don't follow through with the intent of the discussion. 
Even if you don't ask for work directly, you could be considered for an available opening or receive a referral to a manager who is hiring if you make the right impression.
Show your gratitude
If you have ever helped a colleague or sent someone a thoughtful gift only to receive no word of thanks, you know how discouraging it can be. The last thing you want to do is make a contact feel unappreciated, so be sure to send a thank-you note within a day or two of the meeting. 
Informational interviews are a useful career strategy. Just be sure to prepare carefully, listen and follow through to create a lasting, positive impression with those you meet.

How to navigate tricky situations with your boss

Concept of difficult choices in business
By Robert Half International
In an ideal world, you’d always know the right thing to say to your boss and the perfect time to say it. Unfortunately, things aren’t usually so clear-cut in the real world. Tricky situations with your manager are bound to pop up, and how you handle them counts.

Here are four potentially difficult scenarios you may find yourself in and strategies to help you decide if, when and how to speak up.

1. Your boss promised to look into the raise and promotion you asked for, but it’s been three weeks, and you still haven’t heard back.
Money and titles are delicate subjects. So for starters, choose your moment wisely. Instead of blindsiding your boss in the hall, schedule a quick meeting when things are relatively relaxed — not the week the whole team is scrambling to finish a big project. Let your boss know what you want to talk about when you schedule the meeting. Then, be prepared to quickly reiterate your case for a raise or promotion and politely ask for an update.
Whatever what your manager says, remain calm and professional. Don’t raise your voice or say something you’ll regret later.
If your request is rejected, turn the conversation to your future career path. Ask your boss where she sees you going in the company and what skills or accomplishments you need to take those next steps.
Just be careful not to push too hard. If your supervisor remains noncommittal, keep in mind that silence can sometimes be a polite way to say no.
2. You’re convinced your manager’s latest strategy is a bad one, but you don’t know if it’s wise to speak up. 
Is your supervisor generally open to feedback? Or does he often seem annoyed at being questioned? Use this as a litmus test to weigh the costs and benefits of speaking up.
Then, think about whether you’re picking the right battle. If top management has already signed off on the strategy, for instance, you might be wasting your breath and social capital on something that’s set in stone.
If you decide to speak up, do background research first and realize that your boss might have information you don’t. Approach your manager in private rather than contradicting her in a meeting.
Remember to keep the discussion positive. Focus on introducing new ideas and solutions, not telling your boss she’s wrong. For example: “I’m excited about the sales team reorganization. I wanted to share this case study on another company that has gone through similar changes so we can be aware of challenges that might arise.”
3. You need to make a complaint about your boss’s unprofessional behavior, but you don’t know who to tell or how to bring it up.
Before making a formal complaint, do a gut check. Is this a personality clash or something truly serious? If you’re the only one at the office who struggles with your manager, different working styles might be the real culprit.
More serious issues may warrant an official complaint, but tread carefully. Document the behavior and approach HR in a calm, professional way. Ask for help and advice rather than making demands, such as saying that your boss should be fired.
If your company is so small that it does not have an HR department, look for someone at your boss’s level or above who might be open to offering support if you approached the person privately.
4. You’re unhappy in your job and want to look for a new one, but you’re thinking about talking to your manager first.
There’s almost never an upside to telling your boss that you’ve been sprucing up your résumé. Even hinting that you might start exploring other job options usually backfires. It calls your loyalty into question and places you directly in your boss’s crosshairs. Why should he offer support if you already have one foot out the door?
Instead of walking down this risky path, give some thought as to why you’re unhappy in the first place. Is the company culture a bad fit? Are you looking for more challenging work? Identify the key things you need to stick around long term.
Then, set up a meeting to talk with your manager about your position with the company. Tell her about changes you feel would be beneficial — stressing how these changes would benefit the company — but skip any job-hunting talk altogether.
No matter what tricky situation you’re facing, your goal should be to get through it while keeping your relationship with your manager intact. After all, it’s the most important one for your career.

How to excel in every type of interview


Excitement and nerves go hand-in-hand with any job interview. But have you ever found yourself face-to-face with several hiring managers at once? Or in an interview room alongside six other job candidates? If you haven't yet, you might soon. And the less familiar the format, the more likely those butterflies in your stomach will take wing.

Here are four less common types of interviews you might encounter and a few tips for acing each one:

1. The panel interview
What it is: You're in a room with a group of decision makers from the company, and they're all asking you questions. 
Why it matters: The company wants to see how you handle a high-pressure situation and if you can quickly fit in with the company leaders and culture.
How to ace it: This kind of interview can feel especially intimidating, but there's an easy way to give yourself a leg up: Ask whom you'll be meeting with when the company schedules the interview.
Then research each person through professional social networks or the company website, so you can tailor your answers to whoever asks a question. The sales manager, for instance, probably has different priorities than human resources.
Once you're in the room, pay equal attention to the entire panel. Make eye contact with everyone as you talk, giving a little more focus to the individual who posed the question. Address each person by name and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's a good way to engage the whole panel and turn things into a conversation.
After the interview, send a thank-you note to every person. Make each one different because interviewers often compare notes -- literally.
2. The group interview
What it is: This interview style is a bit like "The Apprentice." A group of job candidates all try to impress a few people from the hiring company at the same time.
Why it matters: The employer is trying to save time, so you need to find a way to stand out and demonstrate that you know how to be a good team player.
How to ace it: Pretend that you're surrounded by new co-workers instead of the competition; then act accordingly. Don't interrupt other candidates, and roll with it if someone interrupts you.
Prepare multiple answers to common interview questions, so if you're the third person to answer the same question, you'll have something fresh and insightful to say.
You may be asked to complete small group projects during the interview. If that's the case, focus on showing off your collaboration skills instead of pushing the group to choose your ideas. Employers are looking for people who know how to collaborate.
3. The job-fair interview
What it is: These mini-interviews give you a short window -- five or 10 minutes -- to sit down with a potential employer at a job fair.
Why it matters: Think of it a bit like a movie preview: You're trying to give a compelling teaser of your skills, experience and personality that makes the recruiter want to learn more.
How to ace it: Many job seekers make the mistake of treating a mini-interview too casually, so you can stand out by dressing, acting and preparing just as you would for a longer one-on-one interview.
Show the recruiter you've taken the time to research the company. Many job fairs publish the list of participating companies ahead of the event, so take advantage of this information.
At the interview, quickly explain how your experience might contribute to the company and ask thoughtful questions. Think of it as an extended elevator pitch.
End the meeting by expressing how much you'd love the chance to come back for a longer interview. Then, pick up the person's card before you leave and follow up with a thank-you note.
4. The fourth, fifth or sixth interview
What it is: A tough job market means employers are taking their time in finding the perfect candidate, and many are stretching the selection process to five or six interviews.
Why it matters: The process can be draining, so you need to maintain your optimism, enthusiasm and professionalism for every meeting.
How to ace it: To keep up your motivation, develop a pre-interview routine that helps you stay calm, collected and optimistic. You might work out earlier in the day, write about why you want the job or take a few deep breaths before heading into the company lobby.
Worried you're being given the runaround? Ask the employer about the time frame for filling the position and what the next steps are. Most importantly, don't stop your other job-search activities. You never know how long the process might last or what the result will be.
Now, you should be ready for just about any in-person interview. Knowing what to expect will help to calm any butterflies still lurking around. 

How to find a great job when you’ve already got one

look for job when have one (2)You know you’re lucky that you have a great job already, but you still can’t resist looking elsewhere. Maybe you’d like a better paycheck, perhaps your current role isn’t enough of a challenge for you or possibly you’re just interested in doing something new.
No matter your reason, it’s essential that you plan carefully if you are interested in leaving a secure job. By exploring your reasons for making a switch, making informed decisions and organizing a confidential job search, you can make the transition from one great job to another.

Explore why you may want to switch
People consider leaving their jobs all the time, but it’s different to actively start the process. First things first: Explore why you want to switch jobs. “Plan,” says Mary Elizabeth Bradford, résumé writer and career director. “Do your soul searching, write down your driving motivators — the things you must have … to feel the move was justified, such as a minimum salary figure, staying in a geographical area or getting out of an industry. Create a clear target and a plan to get there. Match up your skills and strengths [that are] transferable into your job of choice.”
If this initial research period inspires you, take the next steps in transitioning your career. Quantify your career accomplishments and make a list of your business contacts and those who would vouch for you.

Take the job out for a test drive
If you’re looking for different responsibilities or are interested in changing industries, take a trial period before committing.
“Instead of giving your two-week notice and hoping it pans out, focus on trying out the new career,” says Ramon Santillan, chief interview consultant and founder of Persuasive Interview in Houston. “You can do this by volunteering, talking to people who have been in the field you want to be a part of or joining professional organizations. Aside from helping you decide if this is the path you want to take, meeting these people will help you get your foot in the door, since they will probably know about any openings at their current companies.
“Volunteering or doing small projects in the new field will also build your case with potential employers that you are serious about this career move and can be used as experience when trying to get a job. Someone who is willing to take the time to learn a new field will be seen as being serious enough about a career move. This can be particularly useful when explaining to the hiring manager why you want to change careers.”

Search carefully
Once you’ve decided to move forward with looking for a new job, be sure that you’re still protecting your old one. “Any time you are in a job search, there is some level of risk that you must incur,” Bradford says. “You can minimize the risk by sharing [that] your search is confidential with key decision makers, not listing [that] you are looking for a position on your LinkedIn profile or posting your résumé to job boards. Also, if you speak with recruiters, don’t just send your résumé to a recruiting firm but call them first and ask to speak with the person in charge of your industry [or] discipline. Share that your search is confidential before you send them your résumé. They should agree that they will not forward your information without first telling you.”

Treat past and future employers with consideration
If you’ve found a career you’re interested in pursuing and score an interview, remember to be diplomatic. “The interview portion should focus on why you got interested in the field, the steps you took to learn about the field, the people you met and the types of questions you asked them, the volunteer or work on the side you have done, and how your previous experience at your last job will make you successful at this new one,” Santillan says. “Also make sure to ask questions during the interview about how the hiring manager got into the field and what the biggest challenges they face are. By this step, you should have already made up your mind if you want to pursue that new career or job, but it never hurts to confirm.”
When meeting with both your past employer and your potential future employer, be respectful of both times in your career. When explaining why you want to make this switch, Bradford offers this answer: “Although I have enjoyed much challenge and success in my current role, my passion lies in [blank] and I decided that I would focus my sights on transitioning.”
As the economy continues to improve and more jobs become available, switching careers will become more common. However, it’s essential to think through your steps and remain respectful of employers in order to ensure a successful next step in your career.

Fired? How To Explain It In An Interview

How to answer the question with confidence.

Getty
It's the dreaded question for everyone who has experienced a termination: "Why were you fired?" You know to expect it, and many people allow their fear of this question to throw them off their games. Worrying about this inevitable question can keep you off kilter at an interview, but preparing to address it can give you confidence, allow you to avoid interview mistakes and focus on positive aspects of your candidacy.

Keep the following tips in mind if you've been fired and you'll be ready to ace the interview:

Be honest
If you were terminated for cause, do not try to pass off your situation as a layoff or other, less inflammatory situation. That said, you are not under any obligation to get into the nitty-gritty details of your past work history. Describe your situation truthfully, but in a way that is as favorable to you as possible.

Be brief
One of the biggest mistakes many people make in an interview is that they expand their responses to this type of negative question instead of cutting to the chase and moving on. Plan to frame your answer in as few words as possible. There is no need to offer a five-minute monologue. Practice addressing this issue in no more than three to five sentences so you can quickly move on to the positive points you want to make regarding your skills and qualifications.

Do not badmouthyour previous employer
When planning your short reply, eliminate any negative reference to your previous employer. One thing that will concern your interviewer, possibly even more than why you were fired, is if you are quick to dish dirt about your previous boss. If you lapse into a negative monologue about your past situation, you can kiss this job goodbye; no one wants to hire someone they fear may be quick to badmouth and gossip about them in the future.

Keep in mind: it does not matter how justified you would be in telling the tale about how wronged you were in your past job. The difficult truth is that you'll need to bite the bullet and take the hit from being fired. You can share the whole, terrible truth with your closest family members, friends and confidants, but keep in mind, anything negative you say about an employer to anyone can come back to hurt you later.

Do not blame anyone else
Once you wrap your head about the fact that you cannot badmouth your previous employer, keep in mind that includes blaming anyone else for your situation. In your short explanation, it's best to take responsibility, even if you skirt the specific details of what happened.

Do not sound bitter
No one wants to hire a bitter employee – or an employee who is quick to sound bitter. Again: it does not matter that you were right and your past employer was wrong. At this point, your job is to minimize the impact and value of being fired. Using language that makes you look like a sore loser will only emphasize the "loser" part of that phrase and will not help you land this new job.

Describe what you learned
Hopefully, you can use part of your description to indicate that you learned something and know how to approach situations different in the future. Be as positive as you can be and you can help turn the question of being fired to an opportunity to showcase one of your assets: you know how to learn from mistakes.

Focus on what you offer
Be quick to segue your reply into a discussion of what you offer as it relates to what the organization needs. If you have the skills needed to solve this company's problems, focus quickly and elaborate on those points in order to keep the interview moving. Explain how you are a valuable employee.

An example of what someone may say in reply to "Why were you fired?"
"I misunderstood my previous employer's goals when I accepted that job. As it turned out, they were moving in a direction that wasn't a good match for my skills and accomplishments, so staying on wasn't a good option for either of us. Luckily, I've learned a lot from this situation, and I'm extremely careful when I apply for positions to be sure they are great matches. For example, before I applied for this job, I met several past and current employees and did a lot of research online. I know you are seeking someone with a background in X, Y and Z, and my work history and accomplishments are well matched to your needs. I'm excited to have this chance to talk to you about how I can help address your issues, such as A, B and C."

3 reasons why every job seeker needs a portfolio

Nicki Krawczyk,

Job interviews used to be about showing up, answering questions and being polite and professional. Now, with how competitive it is to get a job, successful candidates need to also focus on proving their usefulness to the company and their uniqueness as professionals.
How?
Portfolios -- visual representation of previous work -- have been go-to job search tools for copywriters, graphic designers and artists for years. But the benefits of a portfolio can be reaped by any serious job applicant, regardless of the industry. While they shouldn't replace résumés, portfolios can help bring your experience to life.
Here are some benefits:
1. People like pictures. It's simple but true: Instagram and Pinterest wouldn't be successful if it weren't. You can draw people in by showing an interesting visual representation of your previous work experience and volunteer activities.
Did you volunteer for Habitat for Humanity? Use a picture of you helping to build a house. Did you do work on a social media campaign? Use a picture of some of your tweets and posts. Did you work the front desk for a pharmaceutical firm? Use some of the firm's pictures of people its drugs have helped (Always give photo credit and be sure that the photo is available for public use.)
The purpose of the photo is to catch someone's eye and draw him in to learn more. The more interesting the picture, the better -- just be sure it's relevant.
2. People like stories. Once you've drawn someone in with a picture, use a paragraph to tell a story about what you did at a company or in a volunteer position. Make sure you focus on how you benefited the company and made a difference. Use this story to answer the questions, "How did I help this company/organization meet its mission?" and "What did I do differently or better than others have done?" Keep it to just a few sentences, but keep it interesting. Remember, you've always got your résumé to fall back on for bullet-point details.
3. Portfolios let you feature your strengths. When you put together a portfolio, you're guiding a hiring manager through the story you want to tell. Instead of having to give all of your job duties equal weight (like on a résumé), you can feature the elements of your background that make you most interesting and most useful to the company with which you're interviewing.
The interviewer is in the position to decide whether you get the job, but it's up to you to guide the discussion toward the things about you that make you the best candidate.
So, how do you build a portfolio? You'll want both an online and a print one. Sending a link to an online portfolio with an application or cover letter lets you show off your skills before an interviewer meets you. A print portfolio lets you show off your skills in person.
For your print portfolio, you can go to an art store and simply pick up a presentation case with clear archival pages (kind of like old photo book pages) in which to put samples. In a pinch, you could even use a good-looking binder.
For your online portfolio, sites such as wix.com, imcreator.com, virb.com and squarespace.com let you create your own site with a gallery/portfolio section and a place for a bio about yourself. Some offer free services, while others cost a small fee.
Portfolios are an effective way to help you direct the conversation about yourself as a job candidate. But, right now, not that many people outside of the creative industries are doing it, which means that creating your portfolio is just another opportunity to stand out and prove what an insightful, strategic and unique professional you are.

16 ways to remain motivated during your job search

Make things happen
Motivation is the foundation of a successful job search. Our level of motivation has a remarkable impact on how we carry out each and every action within the job search.
One way to increase your level of motivation is to write down your job-search goals. Research has shown that writing down goals makes them more achievable. Tracking your goals as you work to attain them leads to feelings of self-respect, strength and confidence. Few people are able to continue a pattern of achievement and success without the added encouragement provided by others recognizing those achievements. That is why a support network of family, friends, career counselors, etc. is essential to maintaining momentum in the job-search process.
However, continued defeat and frustration can result in feelings of inadequacy and a withdrawal from competitive situations, which may harm a person’s chances of successfully meeting her employment goals. Now we can understand why the job-search process can challenge even the most motivated job seeker. Rejection from employers or the inability to find work can have a serious effect on a job seeker’s likelihood of remaining interested and motivated.
In order to gain clarity on how to increase motivation throughout the job search, I asked friends, family and acquaintances who have experienced unemployment about the techniques they used to remain motivated throughout the search. Below, I have included a list of practices they found to be helpful:
  1. Set reachable goals for yourself. This will help motivate you and help you track small ongoing successes throughout your search. Celebrate achieved successes, for they contribute to the overall goal.
  2. Give yourself a work schedule. Treat your job search as though it’s an actual job.
  3. Avoid “glass-is-half-empty” people. Minimize your exposure to them as much as possible. Instead, hang out with people who make you feel good about yourself. Seek out friends and family who respect you, who like you for who you are and who are positive and optimistic.
  4. Energize yourself through hobbies or sports. These can be activities you already love or something new and exciting.
  5. Try new job-search techniques. Go for an informational interview or refresh your résumé. A different approach may breathe new life into your search.
  6. Rely on friends for help. Ask a friend to be your “negativity cop.” He will let you know when you’re projecting negativity. Also, try socializing with employed friends. It’s a reminder that jobs do exist. Plus, these people are the most likely to know about available positions and upcoming openings.
  7. Expand your network every day. The growth of your professional network is a better way to measure progress than how many interviews you have each week.
  8. Find someone to report your progress to. This can be a friend or mentor. If you have a mentor, get a second one. You can have as many as you want or need. Mentors offer perspective, advice and encouragement. They are also someone you can report your progress to. You’ll be more likely to keep on task if you are accountable to someone.
  9. Get some exercise and eat well. Exercise produces endorphins and can help eliminate frustrations. Prepare meals from scratch. It’s not only better for you, but it’s much cheaper too.
  10. Set a challenging goal. Whether it’s to run a marathon or clean out a room in your home, a challenge successfully met boosts your mood. You will project more confidence as a result.
  11. Learn something new. It can be related to your work or something for fun. Learning new things expands your brain and brightens your outlook.
  12. Read biographies of successful people. It can help you realize that every successful person encountered failures and obstacles along the way.
  13. Join a job-search group. It’s a reason to get out of the house and a venue to vent (positively). You may even get some great feedback on your presentation, résumé, cover letter, etc.
  14. Help others. Volunteering is always an amazing contributing effort. You might make some great new contacts along the way.
  15. Take a break. Designate one day a week when you won’t think about your job search. Clear your head. Re-energize.
  16. Find a space to work. Designate an area of your home as your office space. This is where you’ll conduct your job search.

Advice For The New Boss

What every new manager should say and do the first day on the job.

woman speaks to group at conference table
Countless articles, books, and videos exist on how to be a good manager and leader. Here I will try a more concrete approach. This is the talk I'd give my employees if I were a new manager or leader.

"I want to do everything I can to be a manager you'll respect and who facilitates your being your best selves. Perhaps you'll find it useful for me to briefly tell you my philosophy of management.

I believe in treating each of you, not equally, but fairly. You're all individuals and so you all have different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Some of you do better with lots of freedom, others with close supervision and accountability. Some prefer very specific instructions while others would consider that micromanagement. I'll try to flex to meet each of your needs---I want to create an environment that enables each of you to, as I said, be your best self.
To that end, I encourage you to let me know your strengths and weaknesses and how we might tweak your job so you can be your best self. I can't necessarily expect you to do that if I don't.

So let me tell you a few of my strengths and weaknesses. Strengths: I'm good at coming up with ideas and practical plans for implementing them, and addressing problems. I work hard--You'll see me here early and late and not taking lots of breaks. I try to have a sense of perspective--recognizing how important something is in the larger scheme of things. Weaknesses: I tend to be intense. I don't expect you to be as driven as I am. Just don't be intimidated my intensity. I'm harmless---unless you're lazy, hurtful, or dishonest. Another weakness is that I tend to interrupt. I know it's rude but I can't seem to make myself stop. I apologize in advance. It's nothing personal.

Most managers say they have an open-door policy and welcome questions, concerns, and suggestions, but not all managers really do. I really do. If there's bad news, I'd rather hear it early so there's time to address it. Sure, if it's a problem that will likely be solved without me, great, but if I need to know, please tell me. I'll respect you for that.

And yes, I appreciate self-starters---people who can get the job done without a lot of assistance--but I'd rather you ask for help than for you not to get the job done on time or to get it done but poorly. Talk to me.

To kick things off, I'm going to meet individually with each of you to hear your ideas, concerns, and advice for me in my new role.

Some of you may wonder how important our work is. After all, we're just a small cog in a very large wheel here at Amalgamated Distribution Inc. But when you stop to think about it, we ten people are responsible for ensuring that countless products get to stores so people can get the things they need for themselves and their families. Think of how you feel when you go to a store and the item you expect to be there isn't there. Our job is to make people happy and not disappointed. That's important and ethical work. We can go home to our families every night and feel proud of what we do.

And on that note, let me say that I'm pleased to be your manager, that I realize that a manager can make a big difference--positive or negative--in the lives of employees, that I take my responsibility to you as well as to the company seriously, and will do everything I can to earn your respect, to make this one of the company's most respected work groups, and to make this a place you'll look forward to coming to every morning. Onward and upward.

Dear reader, whether you're a new manager or a veteran, does this talk suggest any principles of leadership or even of living that you'd like to adopt?

READ OUR SLIDESHOW, "BEST AND WORST TV BOSSES"

Helping hiring managers avoid reference-check roadblocks

job seeker guideHave you ever known somebody who got the latest high-tech smartphone, only to use it for texting? “But it can be used for so much more!” you think to yourself.
You can also use your CareerBuilder profile for so much more than posting your résumé. While it’s an important first step in your job search, CareerBuilder has created a number of resources that can add to your job search experience and help you connect to jobs you find meaningful, as well as give you the tools to help you get the job. Check out these different job-seeker guides to get the most out of your CareerBuilder profile, as well as find answers to the most frequently asked questions about our site and your profile.

Creating a profileJust like putting together your résumé, creating a profile can be an important but daunting step in your job search. In this guide, we go through how to put together your profile, add job-seeker materials and see how well your résumé is doing. From creating a profile to applying for jobs, this guide covers the basics. A great tool for new users or those who haven’t job searched in a while.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to:
  • Create a profile
  • Upload your résumé
  • Track your résumé performance
  • Understand new search options
  • Quick apply to more jobs
Improving your job search
This guide will help you navigate our site and ensure you get the most out of being a CareerBuilder.com user. In your job search, the more information you have — the better. Learn about advanced search tools to narrow in on jobs that area relevant to you, find out how to customize your alerts and recommendations, check out résumé improvement tools and explore our job-seeker resources. You’ll find tools and resources that can transform your job search and connect you to the jobs you actually want. Great for anybody who has a CareerBuilder profile and wants to take full advantage of the tools and resources available.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to:
  • Get the most out of job recommendations and alerts
  • Check out the competition for jobs you’re interested in
  • Use tools like “Advanced Search” and “Company Search”
  • Manage your preferences
  • Utilize résumé tools like “Résumé Writing” and “Résumé Upgrade”
  • Access advice and resources that can aid your job search
For more tips on your job hunt, download “Jobology: 153 Ways to Improve Your Job Search” at cb.com/jobology.
FAQs
Everybody’s got questions — we just rounded up the most frequently asked. Ever wonder how to change how often you receive emails or what kind show up in your inbox? Are you interested in finding jobs more specific to where you live?  Want to check out your application history? Do you want to stop searching and instead get jobs that you’ll like automatically emailed to you?
We’ve got the answers here, and want you to have the best user experience so you can concentrate on finding the right job for you.

5 ways to better position yourself for a pay raise

Position for a raise
By David Bakke, Money Crashers writer
In 2013, the average worker can expect a raise of 3 percent, according to human resources and consulting group Aon Hewitt. Top performers may be able to snag an additional 1 percent. Although this may seem like small potatoes, many businesses are struggling to give their employees that much. Every bit counts in a down economy, and there are ways you can position yourself for that higher-than-average pay raise at work. If you’re curious about how to get started, read on.
1. Show up early every day
Don’t just show up on time; show up early. Especially if you live in a city with traffic issues, always give yourself more than enough cushion to arrive on time. On the days you arrive early, get settled in and get your secondary tasks out of the way before it’s time to get down to business.
2. Never complain
We all have negative opinions about some things, just keep yours to yourself. Neither your boss nor your co-workers want to hear about your problems. They want to hear only about your solutions. Present any constructive and proactive ideas to your boss in a professional manner, and you just might find yourself in an improved working environment and in a better position for a pay raise.
3. Create your own set of goals
Bosses love it when staff members come up with their own set of goals. It shows initiative, a desire to get ahead and the ability to think creatively. Write out your goals and ask your supervisor for a convenient time to discuss them. Maintain written documentation of all your accomplishments and use this information during your next review.
4. Consult with your supervisor
Don’t wait until your next performance review to find out how others think you can improve. Ask your supervisor what you need to do in order to improve your performance today. This gesture shows initiative, a willingness to learn and eagerness to succeed — all of which sure to impress any boss.
5. Always volunteer
If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, volunteer for additional projects. Sometimes, other departments simply need more bodies rather than any particular expertise, so don’t be shy about exploring new terrain at the workplace. Keep an eye out for any upcoming projects and always put your name in the hat.
Final thoughts
Of course, the last thing you want is to be perceived as a suck-up to your boss. Keep all your discussions with your boss professional and above-board and never gloat if you get any coveted opportunities. Let your actions speak for you. By positioning yourself for the highest possible pay raise, you can lessen the burden of your month-to-month finances and make it easier to attack long-term concerns, such as saving for retirement and college for the kids.

How Much Fun Is Your Workplace?

Lightness and levity at work matter; here's why.

I read a fascinating book, The Levity Effect, by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. It's about how "levity" can transform the workplace. They make a powerful case for why levity is an extremely effective tool for helping people to work better.
Now, you might be thinking, as I did, "Levity would sure be tough for me, I'm not particularly funny, and I'm not particularly outgoing."
But what the authors mean by "levity" is really a sense of "lightness."
Ah, I thought, I'm trying! The Ninth of my Twelve Commandments is "Lighten up."
Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Looking at it, I realized that most of my workplaces included these elements, which I'm sure contributed to the positive experience I had everywhere (except for the summer I worked as a waitress at Dos Hombres Mexican restaurant; zoikes, I did not like that job).
For example, as a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, I'd assumed that the atmosphere around the Supreme Court would be serious, thoughtful, and grand. And it was. But in her chambers, Justice O'Connor incorporated certain goofy aspects that made it a lot of fun, too. Each Halloween, she required her clerks to decorate elaborate pumpkins, and birthday celebrations were always a big deal, and she took the clerks on a yearly outing (we went fishing). And that sort of thing really made a difference.
How does your workplace measure up? Check out the 11 characteristics that Gostick and Christopher cites in their quiz/checklist:
  • New employees are made to feel welcome
  • Meetings are positive and light
  • We have fun activities at least once a month
  • It's common to hear people laughing around here
  • I can be myself at work
  • We have a lot of celebrations for special events
  • When brainstorming, we like to have fun
  • My boss is usually optimistic and smiling
  • Customers would call us fun to do business with
  • I have a friend at work who makes me laugh
  • We have a good time together
It occurs to me that this is a good list for home, too; I just need to substitute a few words. I've been working hard to be a more light-hearted parent and spouse, and these are helpful points to keep in mind.

Have you found that an atmosphere of levity and good humor makes a difference to your workplace or home? Have you found any good strategies to keep things fun and light?

Signs You're In A Dead-End Job

How to deal with your dead-end job: Worker sleeps at his laptop.Dead end. It conjures up a dark, dismal alley you can't pass through. It's not a good image if you're trying to get somewhere, most especially getting somewhere in your career. What is a dead-end job, and how can you know if you're in a career-killing situation? Consider the following check list. If any of these apply to you, you are probably in a dead-end job, and you may want to take some steps to change it:

1. There's no opportunity to earn a promotion.
Promotions require a distinct set of circumstances, and it's important to realize early on whether or not opportunities are likely to arise. What should you look for and what questions should you answer before taking the job if promotion is your goal?

Is there mobility in your organization? If the people in the positions you'd likely move into have been there for more than five years and you get the sense that they like their jobs and are well respected in the organization, don't count on reaching the next rung in your organization's career ladder anytime soon.

Is the organization growing? In strong, vibrant companies, even if some people stall or purposely stay in positions for years, or even decades, there may still be opportunities for advancement if the organization expands. For example, opening a new office or branch could result in new promotion opportunities. Do some sleuthing to determine if there is any potential for organizational growth.

Keep up-to-date with local news if you work for a local organization, or with corporate information if you are in a large company. Assess the likelihood of new jobs opening up. If you don't see strong potential for opportunities, you may need to come to terms with the fact that you're in a dead-end job. 2. Does the company promote from within? If you sit by and watch candidate after candidate from inside your company apply for promotions, only to be usurped by external people, it's possible your company has a written or unwritten culture that does not support internal promotions. If that's the case, and you're working there, you can hope you'll be the exception to the rule, or you can realize it's unlikely for you to win a promotion in your current company.

3. No one's had a raise in years.
In some definitions, a dead-end job isn't so dead as long as raises come regularly. Perhaps getting a promotion is unlikely based on current staffing, but your company is doing well enough to provide regular raises or cost-of-living increases. It's up to you to decide if a raise saves your job from dead-end status.

When is the last time you earned a raise? Does the money, or the benefits that accompany it, keep you satisfied about your job and the organization where you work? It's up to you to assess how these specific issues play into whether or not you are in a dead-end job.

4. You don't even want a promotion.
Another consideration: you could be in a de facto dead-end job if you wouldn't apply for a promotion at your current company if it were the last job on earth. Maybe your organization has no stability and plenty of opportunities for promotion because there is a revolving door of people in leadership positions. If you've watched people take jobs only to be treated poorly and then chewed up and spit out before they leave at the first chance they get, you're probably not lining up to take your turn at a promotion.

While we all think that we can do it better than the last guy, if you're realistic about what a promotion means and have no plans to apply for one, you are essentially in a dead-end job.

5. You don't have what it takes to get the next job.
If you do not meet the mandatory requirements for promotion in your organization, and promotion is your goal, you're facing a dead-end job scenario. Even if you are a valuable employee, if your organization requires a specific degree or certification and you don't have it, assume you're in a dead-end job unless you take steps to rectify the situation.

Read more, Signs You're In A Dead-End Job

Memorable ways to impress employers — or scare them off

Shout!On the latest season of the “The Bachelorette,” 25 suitors competed for the love of bachelorette Desiree. To grab her attention the first night, many men resorted to memorable antics. Some tactics worked to woo her — getting down on one knee and “fake” proposing, dressing up as a knight in shining armor. Other efforts proved less appealing, such as a request to head straight to the “fantasy suite,” which quickly led to Desiree giving said suitor the boot.
The hiring process can at times mirror a reality dating competition, with multiple candidates all vying for the same coveted role. And while most candidates use tried and true ways to get an employer’s attention, such as a catchy cover letter and killer résumé, others choose less-traditional methods, as proven by the latest CareerBuilder survey.
CareerBuilder asked 2,076 hiring managers and human resource professionals nationwide to share the most memorable methods candidates have used to stand out from the crowd, and whether their creativity got them hired.
Techniques that wowed
Some techniques used by job seekers were so unforgettable that they worked to impress employers. These included:
  1. Candidate contracted a billboard outside of employer’s office.
  2. Candidate gave a résumé on a chocolate bar.
  3. Candidate showed up in a suit with a red T-shirt underneath a white shirt. The red T-shirt had a message: “Hire me, I work hard.”
  4. Candidate asked to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills.
  5. Candidate crafted the cover letter like an invitation to hire her rather than a request (similar to a wedding invitation).
  6. Candidate climbed on a roof the employer was repairing and asked for a job.
  7. Candidate performed a musical number on the guitar about why he was the best candidate.
  8. Candidate volunteered to help out with making copies when he saw interviewer’s assistant was getting frazzled.
  9. Candidate repaired a piece of company’s equipment during the first interview.
  10. Candidate sent a message in a bottle.
Techniques that failed to impress
Sometimes job seekers took their excitement too far and ended up scaring off prospective employers. Such failed tactics included:
  1. Candidate back-flipped into the room.
  2. Candidate brought items from interviewer’s online shopping wish list.
  3. Candidate sent a fruit basket to interviewer’s home address, which the interviewer had not given her.
  4. Candidate did a tarot reading for the interviewer.
  5. Candidate dressed as a clown.
  6. Candidate sent interviewer some beef stew with a note saying “Eat hearty and hire me :) .”
  7. Candidate placed a timer on interviewer’s desk, started it, and told interviewer he would explain in three minutes why he was the perfect candidate.
  8. Candidate sent interviewer a lotto ticket.
  9. Candidate wore a florescent suit.
  10. Candidate sent in a shoe to “get their foot in the door.”
If you’re unsure whether your idea to stand out comes across as creative or crosses the line, take the advice of Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Employers typically aren’t looking for the most outrageous candidate, they’re looking for the best fit,” Haefner says. “Thinking outside the box is great, but the stunts that work best are the ones that showcase your relevant skills and abilities. The focus of the interview should be why you would be a great addition to the team, and not what you’re willing to do to get noticed.”

Crazy Answers To Interview Questions (That Got People Jobs)

answers to interview questions
"Always act enthusiastic during the interview." "Never badmouth a previous employer." These are the standard tips that career coaches give, but many people violate all kinds of common-sense rules in answering interview questions -- and get hired anyway. A recent thread on Quora, the question-and-answer website popular with Silicon Valley execs, provides plenty of examples. The question that kicked off the thread was, "What is the craziest thing you've said at a job interview -- and got the job anyway?" It prompted a long list of funny anecdotes -- all of which suggests that sometimes acting off-the-wall pays off.

Say You Don't Want The Job
Gil Yehuda, a Yahoo employee, said that during a job interview he once asked the chief technology officer for the most important responsibility of the five duties listed in the job description. The answer he gave was contradicted by several other execs he spoke to. So when the recruiter later offered him the job, he turned her down, saying, "I can't take a job if the company doesn't know what they are looking for. You need to figure out what you want before you make an offer." She pushed him to take the job and explained to him why his reluctance was enticing. "I was the first candidate to realize they did not have a consensus view of what they were trying to hire," Yehuda wrote. He got the job.

Only Answer Some Of The Questions
Andy Johns, a product manager, was interviewing for a job at Facebook, the company notorious for asking brain-teasing interview questions. The entire day had gone smoothly, and then it was his last interview. An exec walked into the room, and without introducing himself or even saying hello, just sat down and said, quite seriously, "I have five questions for you." Johns, in an attempt to "lighten the mood," quipped, "I have three correct answers for you." The exec didn't laugh and continued on with his questions, and Johns said that he only answered three of them correctly. He still got the job.

Talk About How Much You Hated Your Last Job
Dan Halliday, an HR manager, says he told "the complete truth" about why he was fired from Kohl's. "I explained how I had given up because of the environment of zombies ... how I was going to file a lawsuit over my pay; how I have zero ambition to ever be promoted into leadership again, and how all I wanted to do was make a ton of money and enjoy my life with as little workplace politics as possible." Not only did he get hired -- but he is still at the company "and loving the decision." Explain You're Pregnant And Have 

No Idea if You'll Want To Return To Work
Kati Sipp, a union organizer, says that she not only told a prospective employer that she was six months pregnant, but when he asked her during a job interview if she'd return to work after having the baby, she admitted that she wasn't sure how she'd feel after giving birth. "I just decided, what the hell, I'm not going to want to work for anyone who would discriminate against a pregnant woman anyway," she wrote. She not only got hired, but she was able to bring her daughter to work with her twice a week until she was a toddler.

Admit You're Clueless
Joan Heller was being considered for a "high level job" developing new kinds of assessments for the state of California's K-12 students. Her potential boss asked her during the job interview how she'd approach the task. After hesitating for a moment, she responded, "I have no idea." "You're perfect!" she exclaimed.

Survey: The Most Outrageous Things Job Hunters Did In Interviews

Job candidates waiting for an interviewGiven how competitive the job market is, it's vital to make a strong impression during the interview. But as some intrepid job seekers have found out, there's a right way and a wrong way to make yourself stand out.

CareerBuilder recently asked more than 2,000 hiring managers to share the most memorable ways that job candidates made their mark. The takeaway? Bold does not always mean better. These were the most outrageous things the hiring managers said they saw:
  • The candidate back-flipped into the room.
  • The candidate interviewed in a clown suit.
  • The candidate delivered a container of beef stew, with a note that read, "Eat hearty and hire me."
  • The candidate sent a potential employer his shoe, hoping to "get a foot in the door."
  • The candidate read an interviewer's tarot cards.
  • The candidate found an interviewer's online shopping wish list and bought items from it.

"Employers typically aren't looking for the most outrageous candidate; they're looking for the best fit," Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, said in the release."The focus of the interview should be why you would be a great addition to the team, and not what you're willing to do to get noticed."
 
So what does work? Hiring managers reported these were some of the best tactics:
  • The candidate rented a billboard outside his future office.
  • The candidate requested that his interview be conducted in Spanish.
  • The candidate played a song on his guitar about why he was best for the job.
  • The candidate created a wedding-style invitation in place of a cover letter that welcomed the employer to hire her.
  • The candidate offered to help the interviewer's assistant make copies.
  • The candidate fixed a piece of office equipment while on his first interview.
  • The candidate put his resume on a bar of chocolate.

"Thinking outside the box is great," Haefner said. "But the stunts that work best are the ones that showcase your relevant skills and abilities."

Why Employers Don't Send Rejection Letters Anymore

job interview attitudeBy Natasha Rhodes
One of the most frustrating things in life is putting time and effort into applying for a job, acing the interview and then never hearing back from the company.

Being rejected is one of the biggest annoyances experienced by job seekers. But it's not just being turned down that infuriates people. It's having an interview and then not being turned down, or so much as contacted by the company ever again.

We interviewed company leaders and hiring managers to find out why companies no longer send rejection letters – and why those who do, still do.

1. Sheer volume. It's a buyer's market out there in today's economy. Record numbers of applicants are applying for fewer jobs, with companies receiving on average 250 résumés for every job opening, according to a recent article by Dr. John Sullivan on the recruitment community website ERE.net.
"The reason we can't always respond to job seekers is simply a matter of volume," says Joel Gross, CEO and founder of Coalition Technologies. "Considering the sheer number of responses we get to a single job listing, it's impossible for us to even open all of the emails, let alone respond to each one personally."

2. Fear of being sued. The decrease in employer response to job applicants may be a natural consequence of the faceless online applicant tracking system, but also the result of a greater fear. "With today's recession bringing more employment lawsuits, your company's applicant rejection letters could be very costly if written in a way that could spark legal action," warns George Lenard, the originator of George's Employment Blawg.

3. They put office staff in the firing line. Sending a job rejection email with a name or number included may have unintended consequences. "Mounting layoffs are creating a glut of qualified job hunters who are desperate for work," says a source at theHRSpecialist.com. "As their frustration grows, more applicants are reading deeper into their rejection letters – sometimes spotting job promises you never intended."

The last thing your office staff wants is to spend time on the phone with rejected job-seekers who have called with the hopes of talking their way back into the job, or worse – questioning whether you made the right hiring decision.

4. They're keeping their options open. Companies may also linger to reject you in case another candidate falls through. Sometimes the No. 1 candidate doesn't work out, so the No. 2 candidate is then called and offered the position. "The company doesn't want to completely shut that door," says Katie Fuller, a recent graduate from UVa McIntire School of Commerce. "If they never come across a good candidate, they can't extend any sort of offer if they've rejected you."

Reasons to Send Rejection Emails

There are many good arguments for notifying candidates that their application has been unsuccessful. Sending job rejection letters can actually build brand goodwill by giving applicants closure. "When you apply for a job, it often feels like your résumé goes into the same black hole that sucks up your socks in the dryer," says Ellis Blevins, the director of Amadeus Talent, a technical recruiting division of Amadeus Consulting. "We find that a personal approach alleviates a lot of the stress and frustration that happens when applying for jobs."

"The hiring process is an important part of building a company," agrees Jessica Nobrega, director of talent at Grammarly. "Clear communication across all departments and channels is a key piece to ensuring that the company's culture is one of integrity and respect for others."

Whatever you do, avoid this move, posted by a frustrated reviewer with the user name "Pixilated" on the website About.com: "The most memorable [rejection letter] came via email, with the subject line: REJECTED. Wow."

What to Do If You Don't Hear Back

So what's a job seeker to do? The best way forward is to ask at the end of your interview about the next step in the hiring process. "Asking about the timelines gives you the opportunity to follow up," advises a hiring manager at the career coaching website Expectingchange.com. "If the employer says, 'We expect to let people know by the end of this week,' you can then say, 'If I haven't heard back from you by the beginning of next week, is it OK if I call?'"

Asking for the green light to check allows you to take positive action to follow up on your interview, rather than being left in the dark.

When Being Gracious Pays Off

It takes a rare person to respond to rejection with positivity, but writing a gracious thank-you note if you actually do receive a rejection letter will make you stand head and shoulders above other candidates. "If you can muster the professionalism and grace to thank the people who interviewed you, you could transform yourself from a reject into a pearl," says Julie Bauke, president of Congruity Career Consulting. Every time Bauke gets a thank-you letter in response to a rejection, she finds herself wondering: "Did I make the right decision?"

Bad Mood? How To Snap Out Of It Fast

If you let it, life can certainly get you down sometimes. Maybe your boss is on a war rampage or there's bad news coming out about your company that may cause layoffs. Perhaps you're in a permanently bad mood and you can't snap out of it. Unless you are clinically depressed and need to seek medical help, you may want to try some of these tips to see if they may help you feel happier at work.

1. Identify the cause of your bad mood and make a plan.
If you have a horrible boss or a miserable co-worker, it may be pretty easy to nail down the crux of your problem. When something in your life is causing you stress, there are only two ways to deal with it: eliminate the stress or change how you react to it. Don't ignore either option. If your boss is a bully or you have co-workers you wouldn't recommend to your worst enemy, it's a good idea to start planning an exit strategy. At the same time, keep in mind, you can decide not to let them irritate you. The jury may be out on if it is harder to find a new job or to adjust your reactions, but neither will happen until you get started. Make a plan to change things and write down the steps to get there.

2. Get some sleep.
If you're sleep deprived or generally don't get enough rest, it's easy to become irritable and moody at the least provocation. If you realize you haven't had a good night's rest in weeks, start to think about how you can do better. Avoid caffeine. Learn ways to relax before you go to bed and make sure to give yourself some down time between work and rest. Don't read or watch anything that will make you aggravated when it's bedtime. You may find getting some extra zzz's will help your mood.

3. Exercise.
Even if you're not a gym rat, moving around more can help put you in a better mood. Take frequent walks during the day, even if it's just up the stairs or around the office. Try to carve out some time outside of work to do something fun and active.

4. Meditate.
Some people swear by this technique that helps quiet the mind. Read up on different options and try adding a little mediation into your daily routine. You may find it helps you manage difficult times.

5. Create a bad mood busting playlist.
Music can certainly soothe even the most savage beast. Create a playlist of your favorite mood-enhancing songs and keep it handy for when you see a stressful period down the pike.

6. Figure out what makes you laugh.
Is there a movie or TV show that always makes you laugh? A friend who keeps you in stitches whenever you get on the phone? Take some time to do something relaxing, even if it is turning on your favorite sit com or calling an old pal who has a future in stand-up comedy.

7. Count your blessings.
Literally make a list of things you are grateful about. Hopefully, if you really think about it, you can think of many things to appreciate. If you try to focus on the good instead of honing in on what makes you miserable, it can shift your mood a little bit.

8. Volunteer
What causes do you care about? The quickest way to improve your mood is to use your skills and energies to help someone else. Whether you become active in a cause and volunteer on a regular basis with a formal organization, or perhaps do something special for someone who needs it occasionally, stepping outside of your normal routine to help another person can really help you feel better about yourself.

Don't underestimate the potential you have to change how you feel. Like most things, nothing changes until you decide to influence the change, so make a point to take some steps to get in a better mood before another day goes by.

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