9 Not-So-Obvious Career Truths

Lessons learned in the trenches of career coaching

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Here are nine things I've learned from having been career coach to 4,600 people.


Just pick something.
It's widely assumed that if you root around long enough, you'll come up with a career that makes you say, "Eureka, I have found it!" Rather, I've found that most people who are happy in their careers wouldn't have known that in advance. If they had waited on the sidelines for that Eureka! moment, they might as well have been waiting for Godot.

In most cases, you can't just hear about a career and expect to feel ecstatic any more than you can expect to have an orgasm just by listening to someone. So after a modest amount of career exploration, just pick the career that feels best and start down that path as though you were passionate about it. If you feel you made a bad choice, it's usually quickly apparent and you can then try another career path.

It's akin to this analogy: If I dropped you on top of a frigid mountain and you just sat there, you'd die. But if you quickly picked the path down that looked best, you'll have either picked a good path, quickly found it was a dangerous one and scrambled back up to choose another, or found a good side path you couldn't have seen from the top.

After you've chosen a career, key to being happy in it is to get high-quality training. Plus, as with a clothing outfit, you need to tailor and accessorize it to suit you. For example, if you decide to be a counselor, hone a style that's consistent with your personality: If you're a relaxed person who enjoys listening and facilitating, find training and supervisors who'll encourage that. If you prefer to more actively participate in sessions, build on that. If you like working as part of a team, join a group practice. If you hate commuting, see if you can work at home. Off-the-rack, a career will probably look just okay. To really be happy with it, you must tailor and accessorize it.

Cool careers are overrated. The emotional problems, drug addictions, and deaths of many celebrities only hint at the reality that "cool careers" often aren't cool enough to make people happy. Indeed, the competition for jobs in entertainment, environment, journalism, academia, fashion, etc., is so fierce that salaries are often poor and there are oodles of applicants for every good position. And if you beat the odds and get hired, you're often treated badly, for example, paid poorly as a temp, because the employer knows those oodles are still salivating in the wings for the opportunity to work for low wages or for free to fundraise on behalf of the snail darter. You're always worrying that if you screw up, you can easily be replaced.

Instead, you might want to consider less prestigious careers. Indeed, prestige can be the enemy of contentment, witness all the unhappy lawyers. Competition is less intense in less statusy careers, especially if under-the-radar, for example, optometry, neon-sign maker, program analyst for government, child-life specialist, manufacturer's rep for fine china, and forensic accountant.
Generally, career happiness comes not from a career's "coolness" but from your job having the basics met: a reasonable salary, job security, workload, boss, co-workers, ethics, learning opportunities, commute, and your having taken the time to become expert. One of my clients is a first-line manager at a local utility. While the job isn't sexy, it has all of the above characteristics and she's very happy.

Instead of a career change, consider a career tweak. Changing careers is much harder than some gurus would have you believe. You need the time and ability to retrain, can afford the lost income during training and usually in your first job(s) in the new career, and be able to convince an employer that it's worth hiring you, a newbie, over experienced candidates. And, ironically, many career changers don't end up happier in their new career-They bring their issues with them: poor reasoning skills, procrastination, annoying personality, etc.

It may be easier to try to tweak your current career: a job description changed to replace tasks you dislike with tasks you do, upgrade your skills, change bosses or employers.


A resume's greatest value may be as a tool for self-discovery. Employers give only modest weight to resumes, knowing it's difficult to tell how honest it is or even whether it was written by the candidate. But creating your resume is an excellent way to inventory your accomplishments, skills, and abilities. After creating it, you'll like be more confident, plus you'll have the basis for identifying a job target and for explaining-in networking, cover letters, and job interviews--why you'd be good.


Treat time as treasure. Most successful people realize that time is their most valuable possession. They carefully consider whether a chunk of time could more wisely be spent: how perfectionistic to be on a given task, what to say yes and no to, and what to delegate. They're wary of major time sucks such as excessive TV watching, sports and video-game playing, shopping, meal preparation, a long commute, and non-essential travel, such as trekking cross-country to their second cousin's third wedding.

Be publicly positive, privately negative. American culture values positivity, being upbeat. If you too often criticize, even if justifiably, your career may well suffer. The politically sensitive person sets aside non-central criticisms and then decides to bring up an important concern publicly or to leak it to a trusted person who might.

Beware of being politically incorrect. I'd like to believe that "the truth shall set you free" but I've too often seen politically incorrect candor causes the person to be set free from his job or at least censured. We claim to celebrate diversity but dare an idea veer from today's orthodoxy, severe punishment is often imposed. I have great respect for those who put themselves on the line for their beliefs but we live in times in which it is riskier to do so than I can ever recall.

Hire slow, fire fast. It's axiomatic that a manager's most important task is to hire wisely. That requires finding candidates primarily by referral from trusted colleagues and friends than from want ads. If a trusted person refers a candidate, s/he's more likely to be good than is an unknown applicant whose resume, cover letter, and even references may be legitimate or may reflect their having paid a hired gun and/or exaggerating their accomplishments. The choice of whom to hire should be based more on simulations of the job's difficult central tasks than on the too-often invalid resume, cover letter, interview, and reference check.

If possible, hire the person on a trial basis. Otherwise, there's risk of a wrongful termination suit. Often, you can tell in the first day or two, whether the person is likely to work out. If after a brief attempt at remediation, you still sense the probability of the person being a good employee is low, it's wise to cut your losses. It's easier to find a good employee than to try to turn a bad employee into a good one.

Steak, not sizzle. Some people put more effort into networking, wardrobe, and elevator pitch than to building expertise. That may succeed, especially in the short run, but often results in ultimate failure or at least a chronic case of the imposter syndrome. Most successful and contented people put more effort into their steak than their sizzle.

7 Lessons From Stupid Social Media Mistakes Workers Have Made

Talking smack about your boss: generally not a good idea

Drunk man slumped on bar asleep
Social media: do you really want your boss seeing you like this?

By Deanna Hartley, CareerBuilder writer

Celebrities aren't the only ones who get notorious press for posting inappropriate - and sometimes downright offensive - posts on social media against their better judgment. (Cough, Khloe Kardashian, cough. Maybe she was trying to #breaktheinternet, too.)

Take a look at these real-life workers who got in trouble for getting a little too click-happy before stopping to think about it.

1. Don't think posts about race are funny. Just the other week, someone tweeted this beauty using the Dave & Busters official Twitter account to promote its Taco Tuesday special: "'I hate tacos' said no Juan ever." To think that this came from a someone likely trained in the do's and don'ts of social media is baffling.

Even if you think it sounds funny in your head, say it out loud - preferably to many different people at work - before posting something your gut tells you could be risky. Better yet: NEVER post anything with racial undertones or that could in any way be racially offensive.

2. No nudity or gross behavior, please. When you think food, I'd venture to guess that the last thing you'd want associated with it is nudity and/or poor hygiene. Yet somehow that's the vibe a poor misguided (now former) cook at Chili's decided to put out there by posting Facebook pictures of himself cooking while shirtless. There was also the infamous Taco Bell employee who captured himself in this compromising act at work. And the Wendy's employee who was forever freeze-framed chugging down ice-cream directly from the machine.

Unless your name is Channing Tatum and you're posting from the set of the Magic Mike sequel, please keep your shirt on while at all times while at work.

3. Sharing can make you just as guilty. This was a bizarre case of an assistant principal at a high school with a 94 percent minority enrollment who retweeted a racially offensive tweet involving mixed race couples at a school prom.

Just because you share - instead of create - such posts yourself doesn't mean you won't be held liable. Your "share" or "retweet" or even "like" may not count as an endorsement per se, but it certainly affiliates you in some way with the message.

4. Remember that you represent your employer. In what was probably one of the most notorious social media faux pas of all time, former PR executive Justine Sacco posted what she thought was a joke on Twitter just before hopping on a plane to Africa. Little did she know that when she landed on the other end, a firestorm of controversy would be awaiting her. It later became known as the "tweet heard round the world."

Even if you post to social media during off hours and from a personal account - in this case Justine's Twitter profile identified her as an employee at her (now former) company - doesn't mean you can avoid accountability. Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand online, and that by default means that you represent or at least are affiliated with your employer, so act accordingly.

5. It's too late to backtrack once the damage is done. A (now former) CNN reporter decided it was a good idea to tweet her condolences and admiration for a notorious controversial figure upon his death. She later claimed that it was his supposed support for women's rights that she was really talking about, but guess what - the damage was already done.

It should be obvious to be very cautious about posting to social media about controversial issues, but it's tempting to assume that all your followers and friends will understand exactly what you mean. It's best to avoid posting about sensitive topics - especially if it doesn't have much context - as much as possible. If you really have to, first stop and think real hard about the impression people will walk away with.

6. Exercise caution when posting about your...err...recreational activities. We get it - it's tempting to showcase your every interesting move to friends and followers online. Instagramming all your food pictures is annoying one thing, but publicizing other, ahem, NSFW activities may not be as innocent.

Unless you're secretly auditioning to be on Celebrity Rehab, hopefully this just boils down to having common sense.

7. Don't talk smack about your employer online. A frustrating day or experience is not a good reason to broadcast online your grievances with your employer, like this woman did.

We all have bad days and experiences we'd rather forget. Granted there are ongoing developments in terms of what employers and employees are allowed to do in a legal context,
but remember - literally nothing good can come of venting about it online, so just don't.      

How to search for RN jobs

Registered nurses are people of action--and searching for a new RN job means taking the right actions to find the right opportunity for you.

Did you know 30,206 employers are searching for registered nursing resumes in our database every month? By posting your resume to CareerBuilder.com, employers can search and find you without you ever applying for a job.
Registered nurses have a great instinct for knowing just when to step into a situation, whether it’s providing care for patients, bringing a doctor up to speed or acting on a lucrative opportunity for a step up in your career.
But if you’ve been so busy in your current job or preparing to qualify as a registered nurse that you haven’t had time recently to search for a position, it can be unclear where to start or how to search for RN jobs. Read on to learn about best search practices for looking online, as well as the resources offered to give you a competitive edge for the best new opportunities and pay. A new position means new opportunities to help care for the world and also step up in your career.
High demand online for RNsAccording to data by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., in the summer of 2014, there were 1,060,000 job postings for registered nurses online, with a higher posting intensity for RNs than for all other occupations and companies in the region, indicating that companies may be trying harder to hire this position.
That trend is only expected to grow as an aging population will require more health care options, and a recovering economy means expanding health care teams and new facilities that will need to be staffed. So how can you make sure you’re visible to the right employers in this time of high demand for RNs?
Two steps to new opportunitiesYour first step is to share your desired job title (do you want to search for registered nurse positions? Or a more specific health care role? Suggestions will load as you begin to type, helping you to connect with the terms and titles employers use, ensuring that job seekers and employers are on the same page. Next, include the area you’re looking to work in and upload your resume. Also include how visible you’d like to be to employers.

Next, sign up or sign into your account. Your first and last name, email address and a password are the only fields required to create and access your account, which is home base to the best job-searching tools for RNs. With an account, you’ll be able to view recommended jobs, your resume and cover letters to keep your materials straight, your saved jobs, searches and alerts, as well as the HireInsider Report, a free report that helps you check out the competition. Two steps is all it takes before you’re accessing countless jobs that could be the right career move for you and connect you with a great employer.

Check out the competitionThe HireInsider report allows you to gauge your chances of getting the job and viewing stats on the competition, like the average level of education that applicants have, as well as years of experience and the volume of resumes that hiring managers are receiving. You can even see if you’re one of the first to apply! All of this information allows you to make informed choices and have a clear plan for you how see your career going.

If you don’t have a resume, you can build it free!Resume Hero helps you create a stellar resume that will stand out to employers, and takes the guesswork out of putting your resume together. Don’t let a resume be a roadblock to your next great opportunity in nursing. Instead, take advantage of resume services like Resume Hero or Resume Share, which can invite others to help improve your resume and give insight to your search.

Click here to begin searching for jobs now, as well as upload your resume or create a new one for free. A new position as a registered nurse or a related opportunity is just around the corner!

Liar, Liar! You Won't Get Hired

Employers reveal the lies they've discovered

By Debra Auerbach

People lie about a lot of things: age, weight ... number of Botox injections. Sometimes lies can be harmless (who needs to know that your natural hair color isn't really blond?); other times they can get you into big trouble.

When it comes to employment, bending the truth on your resume might seem worth it in today's competitive workforce, but it will likely get your resume sent to the reject pile. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 58 percent of hiring managers say they've caught a lie on a resume; 33 percent of these employers have seen an increase in resume embellishments post-recession.

While half of employers (51 percent) would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his or her resume, 40 percent say that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Seven percent of employers would even be willing to overlook a lie if they clicked with the candidate.

Most frequent fibs
So what fabrications are job seekers most likely to make on their resume, with the hopes that they'll go unnoticed? According to employers, the most common lies they catch relate to:
  • Embellished skills – 57 percent
  • Embellished responsibilities – 55 percent
  • Dates of employment – 42 percent
  • Job title – 34 percent
  • Academic degree – 33 percent
  • Companies worked for – 26 percent
  • Accolades/awards – 18 percent
Incidences by industry
Lies aren't confined to a certain occupation or job level – job seekers of all types commit lies to boost up their resume. Yet some fields have more offenders than others. The survey found that employers in the following industries catch resume lies more frequently than average: "Trust is very important in professional relationships, and by lying on your resume, you breach that trust from the very outset," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "If you want to enhance your resume, it's better to focus on playing up tangible examples from your actual experience. Your resume doesn't necessarily have to be the perfect fit for an organization, but it needs to be relevant and accurate."

The tallest tales ever told
It's one thing to spin your experience to make it more relevant to the position you're pursuing. It's another thing to claim you have more years of experience than is possible at your age. And that's actually happened: One employer surveyed says an applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.

Other unusual and outrageous lies employers recall include:
  • Applicant included job experience that was actually his father's. Both father and son had the same name (one was Sr., one was Jr.).
  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn't have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a high school basketball free throw champion. He admitted it was a lie in the interview.
  • Applicant claimed to have been an Olympic medalist.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse some years prior.
  • Applicant claimed to have worked for 20 years as the babysitter of known celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Madonna, etc.
  • Applicant listed three jobs over the past several years. Upon contacting the employers, the interviewer learned that the applicant had worked at one for two days, another for one day and not at all for the third.
  • Applicant applied to a position with a company that had just terminated him. He listed the company under previous employment and indicated on his resume that he had quit.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

How to Fix Your Boss

Who's really the problem? The boss or the employee?

"How to Fix Your Boss"--there is enough presumption in that title to choke a horse. "Fixing the boss" assumes that the boss is the problem. As a recovering Idiot Boss (iBoss), I confess that I have been the idiot husband, the idiot teacher, the idiot student, the idiot boss, and--yes--the idiot employee.

I've been an equal-opportunity aggravation to more people than I care to count. So I hesitate to throw stones at bosses until they are proven guilty. But in western civilization, bosses are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent--so stones tend to fly with every boss-sighting.

In a culture where we are socialized from early childhood to rebel against authority, it's hard to accept that rebellion is not necessarily the most effective response to not having our expectations met. That's the behavior we tend to most frequently associate with authority figures; they stand between us and the expectation we have for something they never promised us in the first place.

We Americans have rebellion in our DNA. The United States was born by kicking its mother country out. We grew up listening to our parents complain about their bosses. We were raised on songs like "Take this Job and Shove It" and "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad" (which, if you look it up on Wikipedia, is not the most pleasant story).

We go to movies like Nine-to-five, Office Space, or Horrible Bosses, and munch popcorn while we watch bosses "get what's coming to them," and laugh at their pain. We work all day in offices that we hate, then go home and watch reruns of The Office.

After listening to our parents kvetch about their bosses, we go to school and embark on a life-long journey of rebellion which begins with declaring war on our parents, our teachers, and our school administrators. When they won't allow us to stay in school any longer, we finally get jobs and spend the rest of our working lives taking our unresolved adolescent rebellion issues out on the most visible, available, and socially-acceptable target: The Boss.

Just when you thought it was safe to attack anyone and anything with institutional authority and thus invoke your hard-earned iconoclasm (natural hatred for authority), along comes Dr. Hoover saying, "Don't screw up your long-term options." What I mean by "long-term options" is this: the sooner you can stop assuming the boss is the problem, the sooner you might repurpose that anger and become a more nimble, agile, and fluid navigator of complex corporate waters.

Why would becoming a more nimble, agile, and fluid navigator of complex corporate waters be a good thing? Because while everybody else is bashing their bosses, you could be sailing to the head of the pack, top of the heap, star of the show, penthouse suite. You should want to hit the executive floor eventually, and be granted all of that executive authority--if, for no other reason, so you can be a good and gracious boss who bestows good things on the employee population.

You'll never become Glenda the Good Witch of the office by boss-bashing. And never forget that the one thing all the bad bosses you ever had have in common...is you. So ask yourself: Am I truly a victim of my boss's cluelessness, or am I a volunteer?

In any dysfunctional workplace relationship, there are at least four factors in play. (Okay, there are more likely a million, but we'll just deal with four.) We'll assume because you chose to read this article that your boss faces some issues vis-à-vis being an effective leader. That, as they say in Vegas, is a "safe bet." That means that some part of the problem is your boss.

But if you stop there, you're missing a big piece of the truth--and therefore, any possible solution to the real problem: How to fix the problem you are having with your boss. To some degree, you are part of this problem. Again, do your own math, but don't give yourself a hall pass and expect to come up with a real solution.

Then consider circumstances and systems. Your luck may have gone south for the winter, and/or the whole system you're operating in might be broken; both of which will make it look it look like your boss is just unbearable. But before you reach for your boss bat, try this formula:

Subtract the Dysfunctional Employee (you) from the Dysfunctional Boss Factor. From that number, subtract the sum of the Bum Luck Factor and the Busted System Factor. How bad does it look now?

I don't know what values you ascribed to the four primary factors, but the mathematical result should mitigate your anti-authority emotional coefficient to some degree. If everything is equally bad, you might be caught in the perfect storm where the poison pill is your only hope.

Doesn't that sound silly? Really? Before you approach every workplace relationship with the assumption that the boss needs to be fixed, which will poison your working environment, make it a mutual-sum game. If the total score is 100, how many numbers are in each of the four circles?

Chart: John Hoover      

Why You Need A Business Card In A Job Hunt

Ideas for creating a personal calling card

man's hand showing business...
One of the first things you lose when you lose a job is the relevancy of your business card, especially if you were lucky enough to have one. If you're tempted to hand out an old business card and write your new contact info on the back, stop. Ordering business cards is one of the least expensive investments you can make in yourself to present a professional demeanor when interviewing or networking. It provides an easy way for follow-up contact, and can provide a way to position yourself to prospective hiring managers.

Today, business cards are so easy to order with a fast turn-around time that there's no reason you shouldn't have one for your next interview or networking event. In fact, getting your own "personal" business card is one of the first things you should do the day after a layoff. In preparing for the new job hunt, you can easily arm yourself with a stack of calling cards for your very first outings at networking events. Here are four easy steps for ordering your new cards, and ideas for what to put on them.

businesspeople exchanging cards ...

Step 1: Get the cards

Every day there seem to be more and more choices for business card vendors. VistaPrint is one of the key innovators in the digital ordering space and is still one of the primary providers. Recently, they were offering 500 cards for $9.99, discounted from their rack rate of $20. But there are many new players in the field, from Moo.com, which offers different card shapes at a pricier $14.99 (per set of 50), to Gotprint.com.

If you're uncomfortable with digital ordering, march down to your local office supply store. If you need cards tomorrow, you may have to resort to printed cards off your computer, but only do this as a very last resort. Instead, try heading over to the printing center available at most Staples and Office Depot stores, and work with their printing manager. You'll find they can produce professional cards, sometimes in the same day, and usually no longer than 24 hours--frequently at rates that are competitive with the online vendors.

Step 2: Define your positioning
Don't skimp on your business cards. They are cheap enough in their basic pricing that it may be worthwhile to spend the extra few dollars for color, two-sided printing, or even for multiple sets. Business cards are part of making first and lasting impressions, so be sure that your card provides the right one.

Do invest in several sets, especially if you think you need different titles for different types of job interviews. Alternatively, give yourself a longer title that works across several different types of job searches.

In my case, I went with a two-line title on my card, which wasn't really a title at all, but rather a description of who I am in the business world. The top lines of my personal card appear as follows:
Rhona Bronson
Marketing Communications Executive
Digital Media Strategist

I made sure to include several key words in my job description, which reads a bit like a job title but also provides some information about how I view myself.
Step 3: Edit yourself
I do not recommend putting your home address on a card. It can serve to prejudice hiring managers who feel you live too far to commute, and provide personal information not needed to foster a business relationship.

Similarly, if you have a land line, don't put it on the card. Put your cell phone number on the card, and designate it as such by writing "cell" before the number. You never want prospective employers talking to your kids or spouse on a home line--and, if at all possible, you don't want to date yourself with a land line number. Additionally, using a cell phone allows you to easily check the incoming number before deciding to answer.

Finally, don't put cutesy graphics or religious symbols on your card. The card is about serious business-- helping people stay in touch. It may okay be to place a pithy motivational quote on the back as a conversation starter, but it is not the place for kitty pictures, smiling suns, or symbols of various affiliations.

Step 4: Use your cards liberally
Years ago, you saw "calling cards" used in old British movies when gentlemen and ladies came to call.
According to AmericanStationery.com, "Calling or visiting cards ... served a number of social purposes, such as a means of introduction, to further acquaintanceship, to express congratulations or condolences and to provide notices of arrival or departure."

Today, the term "calling card" has been usurped by the telephone industry to refer to paid phone plan cards. But the concept of the calling card is as relevant as ever, as people seek ways to maintain their connections and form new ones. Here are some modern ways to use a personal calling/business card while job-seeking:
  • Create an easy introduction. When you first meet someone at a networking event or any meeting, make it easier for them to remember your first name by giving them your card.
  • Provide positioning. With a given title under your name, you can quickly position yourself as a digital whiz, systems analyst, or any other descriptor you want associated with your talents.
  • Show relevancy. Today, a business card can provide your email, Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile URL, and other modern digital connections in addition to a standard phone number.
  • Create conversations. If you are willing to spring for a two-sided card, it can list projects you've handled as immediate examples of your work. Or if you have access to graphic services, it can provide pictures of projects that can also be conversation starters.
  • Show personality. If you're a graphics person, the card can show a design flair either through use of graphics, font design, or a unique size. My card was fairly plain, with blue lettering for my name (which matched my resume). Again, make sure that the graphics are professional and not "cute."
  • Add business panache. I attached my business card to requested samples of my work and to follow-up thank-you letters. It helped show that I knew how to make presentations both for myself and potentially on behalf of the future employer. It also potentially got me into managers' contact lists, rather than simply filed into a resume folder.
Long before you write your first resume, cover letter, or thank-you note, draft what you'll put on your personal business card. It can help you stay motivated, feel more professional, and put you in a better frame of mind for presenting yourself at networking events and parties--if not job interviews. And after you've perfected your resume, if your first business card doesn't match your desired profile, discard it. For just $9.99 to $25, you can have a whole new set printed up with a quick click of your mouse.    

5 Behaviors That Can Ruin Your Career

What not to do at work, from former GE CEO Jack Welch

Business people looking down at man lying on pavement, elevated view

By Jacquelyn Smith

If you seem to be on a downward spiral at work, Jack Welch, executive chairman of The Jack Welch Management Institution and former CEO of GE, says it may be time to take a "good look in the mirror" and figure out what you're doing wrong.

He says in a recent LinkedIn post that your behaviors could very well be to blame for your "stalled or faltering career."

He highlights 10 specific career-killing pitfalls - and says if you're guilty of exhibiting any, you should make it your mission to change them immediately.

Once you do, Welch says, "you're likely to see your career move from a stall to a soar."

Here are five of the behaviors you'll want to avoid:

1. Over-committing and under-delivering. All talk, no walk won't help you get ahead. Make promises you can keep.

2. Resisting change. Failing to embrace new ideas can seriously hurt your career. Be open-minded.

3. Always worrying about your next career move. You need to focus on the present. If you're always thinking, "What's next?" you'll seem distracted and not committed to your current tasks at hand.

4. Being a problem identifier versus a problem solver. Identifying problems sounds a lot like complaining if you don't do anything about them.

5. Being complacent. If you stop growing as a person and a professional, you'll stand still (or even take steps backward) in your career.

How to evaluate candidates' soft skills

By Mary Lorenz, CareerBuilder writer

Watch out, hard skills and technical know-how: You've got competition. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, the vast majority (77 percent) of employers consider soft skills just as important as hard skills when it comes to evaluating candidates for a job, and 16 percent even say they're more important.
What are soft skills? As my colleague pointed out recently, soft skills typically describe "communication, leadership, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, team skills, relationship management and a long list of other so-called intangible traits." Though they are hard to measure quantitatively, soft skills remain a sought after trait and recognized business differentiator among employers.
Perhaps the heavy focus on soft skills has to do with the fact that employers have been struggling to find candidates with the hard skills they need (particularly when it comes to technology skills and big data expertise). Many employers have even reported that they've started focusing on cultural fit and potential over skills, figuring they can train them on-the-job with the necessary hard skills.
According to the survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers nationwide, the top ten most popular soft skills companies say they look for when hiring include:
1.      Strong work ethic
2.      Dependability
3.      Positive attitude
4.      Self-motivation
5.      Team-oriented attitude
6.      Organization; ability to manage multiple priorities
7.      Ability to work well under pressure
8.      Effective communication skills
9.      Flexibility
10.   Confidence

Evaluating soft skills: The one type of interview question you must ask
Whether through pre-employment testing or during the interview process, using behavioral interview questions is one of the most effective ways to evaluate a candidate's soft skills. Behavioral interview questions are those that center around real-life experiences the candidate has had, as opposed to hypotheticals. For example, instead of asking, "What would you do if...?" ask "Tell me about a time when..." or "Give me an example of..."

There are two main reasons behavioral interview questions work: One, past behavior is a better predictor of future success on the job than potential behavior, according to workforce management expert Nancy Newell, because it helps predict future success on the job by looking into past behavior; two, when they hear questions shaped around potential behavior, candidates are more likely to say what they think you want to hear.
By asking for real-life examples, you'll get more insight into candidates' soft skills, such as how well they work under pressure, how they communicate and their work ethic. Some more examples of behavioral interview questions include:
  • Describe a time when you had a problem with a supervisor and what you did to resolve it.
  • Give me an example of how you handled a very tense situation at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had difficulty getting others to work together on a critical problem and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about the best leader you have worked with, why you felt this way, and what you learned from that person.
  • Describe a problem you faced that was almost overwhelming and how you got through it.

Keep in mind, of course, that these questions are not full-proof -- there is no "magic bullet" when it comes to hiring, says Newell -- however, behavioral interview questions are your best bet for finding employees with the soft skills your organization values most.

Interviewing While Pregnant

"Will a hiring manager look at me differently if I'm pregnant?"

Finding a Job on Craigslist Carefully

Jobseekers, proceed with caution

Classified ads on Craigslist website

Craigslist is a unique site with 700 local sites in 70 countries offering 80 million classified ads to the people in those locations. On Craigslist, you can find everything from jobs to places to live (for sale and rent) and many things to purchase.

Craigslist Has Advantages

Craigslist is different from traditional job boards in four important ways:
  1. Jobs posted on Craigslist are often not posted elsewhere.
  2. Posting jobs is free or inexpensive (compared with a traditional job board) for employers.
  3. Small and very small employers use Craigslist more often than large employers.
  4. Craigslist jobs are presented in chronological order based on posting date and time.
Keep those characteristics in mind as you hunt for your new job on Craigslist.

Do a Search of All "Jobs"

The most effective way to find a job on Craigslist is to search the entire "jobs" category so you don't miss a job that was posted in a subcategory (e.g. "admin / office" etc.) you wouldn't check. Simply click on the "jobs" title at the top of the Craigslist homepage for your location. Then, type your query at the top of the "jobs" category page.

When you get to the results of your first search, you can fine-tune by clicking on the "search titles only" or choosing another option with choices like "internship" or "part-time." Check the left column on the search results page for these and more options. Craigslist will show you search results in the usual reverse-chronological order with the newest at the top. If the results are limited, Craigslist will also search "nearby" locations to find you more opportunities.


Like most websites that accept postings from the public, some of the jobs you find on Craigslist are bogus, so keep your guard up. Be careful if:
  • No employer name is visible. Some legitimate employers do post "blind ads" with no indication of who they are to protect their intentions from competitors or even current employees. But be wary if the employer's name, address, and contact information is not given.
  • You need to pay them. The posting wants you to invest some money before "qualifying" for the job. Recruiters are paid by employers to find good candidates, and employees are paid by employers. So, no one should be collecting money from you.
  • They offer you a job without any screening or interviews. The employer is willing to hire you immediately, based only on your interest in the job, and wants you provide your Social Security Number and/or bank account number before even interviewing you for the job. That very important personal information is the last information provided, after you have interviewed for the job, are sure that the employer is real, and have been given a formal job offer.

Remember, if the job doesn't feel right to you or the people are a little scary, trust your instincts, and skip the opportunity!

Research Before You Apply

The Internet is your best defense. Don't be in such a hurry to apply for a job that you skip taking the time to be sure that the employer and the job are legitimate.

Who and where is that business? Look for postings that include the employer's name, address, and phone number. Then search on that information to be sure that the employer is "real." Is the address given for an office building or an empty lot or something else inappropriate?

Does that employer have a website that describes the business? If you only find job postings when you do the search, skip the opportunity. Legitimate businesses must do more than relentlessly hire people. They must generate revenue to pay those employees.

Apply Very Carefully

When you respond, use an email address specifically for your job search. Best is a a free email address from Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google--but, of course, not a "cute" address like HotMama@example.com or YankeesStink@example.com. Avoid using an address associated with your current employer (great way to lose your job or have a very uncomfortable talk with your boss).

Limit Personal Information Sharing

Don't share your home address or home phone number when you apply. Stick to your job search email address in your initial contact with the employer. Once you are sure that the job is legitimate, you can share more information, although I would protect my home address for as long as possible.

Meet Only in a Populated, Public Location

Even to meet someone who works out of their home, the first meeting or job interview should be in a populated public place, like a coffee shop or a public library. Don't meet someone in their apartment or house for your first meeting.

Bottom Line

Craigslist can be very helpful for finding a job. Many of the successful job seekers I speak with found their jobs on Craigslist. But be cautious with Craigslist--as you should be with any job posting, whether you find it online or on your local public library's bulletin board. The bad guys and gals are out there.    

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