Six Steps to a Higher Starting Salary

CareerBuilder.com

While money isn't everything, planning for salary discussions and negotiations should be an important part of your job search preparation. Following are six steps to help you secure a higher starting salary.

Step One: Know what you're worth.
The key to any successful negotiation is information, so do your homework to assess your competitive value. Do some research and find out the pay range for the type of job you are seeking. Once you know the going rate, take into consideration your skills, education, experience and any unique value you bring to the prospective employer to see where you would rank within that range.

Step Two: Delay talking about salary as long as possible.
Give a figure too soon and you risk either being disqualified because it's too high or judged underqualified because it's too low. Even if you do pass the screen, having given the employer your bottom line will limit your ability to negotiate a higher salary. If asked your salary requirements in a want ad or posting, say they are flexible or that you are earning -- or expect to earn -- "market value" or "competitive" compensation for someone in your field. If you are being asked your requirements as part of a phone screen, politely ask what the salary range is for the position. If they won't schedule an interview unless you give your salary requirements, tell them your requirements depend on a variety of factors including job content, health benefits, bonuses, commissions or profit sharing arrangements, training and advancement opportunities. Then give a very wide range.

Step Three: Don't lie about your current earnings.
Fearful of letting their current salaries limit their future income, some job candidates inflate their earnings. They do this at their own peril. Today, companies conduct more rigorous background checks -- some even ask to see W-2s! It's not uncommon for potential candidates to be eliminated for being less than straightforward about their salary history. Your best bet is to avoid divulging your salary until you've had a chance to prove why you are worth more.

Step Four: Never accept or negotiate an offer on the spot.
No matter how good it sounds (or how desperate you are), never commit or discuss an offer until you've had time to thoroughly consider it. When you receive the offer, thank the employer and restate your desire to work for the organization, then tell them you need time to think it over. Find out what the advancement opportunities are and how and when your performance and salary will be reviewed. Make sure to evaluate the entire compensation package including health and welfare benefits, vacation days, paid holidays, tuition reimbursement and company car, as well as other non-monetary elements.

Step Five: Don't be afraid to ask for more.
As long as you act respectfully, you have nothing to lose by asking what the company can do to bring you closer to your desired salary. In some cases the hiring manager has discretionary power to go 10 to 20 percent above the highest figure he or she mentions to get an exceptional candidate; besides, good managers always start low to give themselves negotiating room. If they are firm on salary, it's often possible to negotiate some other aspect of the offer such as benefits, vacation or other incentives. Studies show the majority of employers are flexible on at least some element of the compensation package.

Step Six: Know when to stop.
During negotiations, the typical response to your counter proposal will be either to accept some of your terms or to refuse to negotiate at all. If the employer has stopped responding to your counter proposals or making concessions, it's time to end the negotiations. Remember, you don't want to prolong a salary tug-of-war at the expense of losing the employer's goodwill -- or their offer. 

How to Answer the Strangest Interview Questions

Roll with the punches and you'll be fine

Cute Asian baby
Getty Images

It's not bad enough that the job application was 10 pages long, and you waited three weeks to hear back from the employer. Now, you need to prepare for crazy brainteaser interview questions, too? Not necessarily. Typically, employers focus on the run-of-the-mill questions you'd expect to be asked; the kinds of questions you can slam dunk. However, in case you ever do face an off-the-wall inquiry like one of the questions on Glassdoor.com's "Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014," how should you plan to reply?

It might help to consider why employers may include these brainteasers in the first place.

They want to know how easy is it to throw you off your game

It's possible the point of the inquiry is to test how you respond in an unexpected situation or stressful situation, which is very revealing. It actually makes a lot of sense for an employer to want to test your response to the unexpected, and an otherwise "crazy" interview question may be the best way they know how to do it without creating an actual trial situation. Your response: don't stress out; take things one step at a time.

So, when Xerox asked, "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" they were probably anticipating you'd be surprised by the question and hoped to see how you reacted. Your actual reply is not likely to be as important as your ability to take things in stride.

Determining if you a creative problem solver is a top priority

In theory, everyone wants to hire creative problem solvers, but it's not always easy to determine exactly how creative you are in a pinch. Some of the questions on Glassdoor's list likely fall in this category. Your response: think about how you can be resourceful, creative and detail oriented in an effort to solve the problem presented.

If asked a questions such as Bed, Bath & Beyond's inquiry, "If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?" take into account the type of job and try to come up with a response that fits. If the position involves style, design and color, answer by incorporating your interest in and passion for those topics as they relate to cereal.

Are you comfortable asking questions?

An employee who doesn't know how to ask questions at the right time will inevitably make bad choices. Perhaps the goal of some of these questions is to determine how likely you are to clarify the question or request additional information you will need to answer it. Don't invite the interviewer to make a negative snap judgement about you. Your response: at the very least, come up with a few details or items that you would need to know in order to tackle the question and ask some clarifying questions of your own.

When Factual asked a software engineer, "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?" the engineer could approach the question by asking some clarifying information about the type of data he or she would need to use to answer the question.

Are you a trouble-maker?

If you question the value of the inquiry itself by responding, "What does this have to do with the job?" you might as well get up and walk out of the interview. (Unless they are looking for a contrary or difficult candidate, which is unlikely.) You'd be surprised, but some people will show these unattractive traits in an interview when pressed. Your response: just roll with the punches and do the best you can.

If an employer asks, "If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?" don't reply, "Take the job and shove it" if you want the position!

Keep in mind a few key things if you need to reply to a brain teaser:
  • It's okay to stop and think before you answer, and even to ask for clarification if there are any details you don't understand.
  • The interviewer is trying to learn how you would act as an employee. Try to answer the question in a way that showcases the skills you have for the job. If the position is mathematical, use math skills, if demonstrating your creative side is more important, go that route.
  • Don't get rattled or give up or you won't get the job. Do the best you can and keep a smile on your face. If the point of the question was to see how you handle a challenge, the employer may overlook the fact that you couldn't come up with a best-case answer if you can smooth over your reply despite not knowing what to say.

How to discuss a termination during a job search

By Wendell Brenner, 

Being terminated can happen to any of us, unfortunately. It can occur at any time and even when it's not your fault. There could simply be a personality conflict between you and your supervisor. Your idea of what the job was going to be like might be different from what the employer had in mind. You could have simply made a mistake. It happens ... and you're not alone. Each year, workers are fired for cause or unjustly fired (known as wrongful termination), but regardless of the circumstances, you're left wondering: What should you do if you've been fired? Where do you go from here?


Getting fired
First and foremost, don't beat yourself up. And don't dwell on it. Instead, focus on what you are going to do next and how you are going to find another job. There are ways you can address this issue and put it in a neutral -- if not a positive -- light by focusing on your strengths and the direction you want to go. According to the encouraging words of Eckhart Tolle, "Whatever you fight, you strengthen; and what you resist, persists."



Legal matters
Before you actively begin your job search, consider where you legally stand. Was your firing legitimate or could it be considered wrongful termination? Are you eligible for unemployment benefits? If you were fired for misconduct you may not be eligible, but don't assume that is the case without investigating. Check with your state unemployment office, especially if you have a different opinion than your employer does about how you parted ways. In many cases, if there is a discrepancy between the two perspectives, the unemployment office will lean toward the unemployed job seeker rather than the employer when making a decision on unemployment compensation benefits. Also, many employment law firms offer a free initial 15 to 30 minute consultation to ensure that you know your rights and to guarantee that those rights are protected.



Résumés and cover letters
Your job-search communication and your approach must be positive. There is no need to mention that you were fired in your résumé or cover letters unless the application asks specifically. If it does ask, acknowledge the termination aspect in your cover letter and make sure it addresses the proactive steps you are taking as a result. Be brief; save the full explanation for a phone screening or in-person interview.



Applications
From the first application to your final interview, be honest but avoid being negative. The truth is bound to come up in one way or another so practice phrases such as "job ended," "dismissed" or "terminated." If the application specifically asks if you were fired, you need to answer yes. Lying on a job application may cause you to lose the opportunity and it may be considered grounds for dismissal at any time in the future, which could potentially cost you future unemployment benefits.



Interviewing
This is where the topic of being let go and how to address it usually matters most. You will most likely be asked the question, "Why did you leave your last job?" Keep it short, keep it honest, and keep it moving. Explain why if it was a company circumstance beyond your control (downsizing, merger, etc.). If it was as a result of something within your power or responsibility, tell the interviewer you learned a lesson and explain how you benefited from the experience. Take the negative and turn it into a positive. It's not easy, but honesty is the best policy throughout the job-search process. If it wasn't under your control (e.g., mass layoffs, company went out of business), mention it without sounding negative toward your former employer.

25 Strangest Interview Questions

These real-world questions prove anything can happen

Macys Parade 2009
musicwala/Flickr


"If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?" 

How are you supposed to reply to such an off-the-wall interview question? Do you even want this job? Someone applying for a position with the Zappos Family as a customer loyalty team member was faced with such a quandary; the question is number one on Glassdoor.com's list of "Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014."

Glassdoor.com's team of data scientists compiled this list, which is not in any particular order, based on questions shared during the past 12 months as part of the Interview Reviews feature on Glassdoor. This feature, which is free to use, offers insights into the interview process including the interview format, how the interview was achieved, the average interview length and overall ratings regarding the interview experience. Glassdoor has collected nearly 1 million interview questions and reviews from around the world. To develop the list, they take into account community feedback, such as questions tagged as "brainteasers" and compile questions job candidates shared on their site over the past year.

Glassdoor's Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014:

1. "If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?" – The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview

2. "How lucky are you and why?" – Airbnb, Content Manager interview

3. "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" – Apple, Specialist interview

4. "If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?" – Red Frog Events, Event Coordinator interview

5. "Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" – Dell, Account Manager interview

6. "If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?" – Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview

7. "If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?" – Bed Bath & Beyond, Sales Associate interview

8. "Do you believe in Bigfoot?" – Norwegian Cruise Line, Casino Marketing Coordinator interview

9. "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" – Xerox, Client Manager interview

10. "What is your least favorite thing about humanity?" – ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview

11. "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?" – Factual, Software Engineer interview

12. "How honest are you?" – Allied Telesis, Executive Assistant interview

13. "How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?" – Goldman Sachs, Programmer Analyst interview

14. "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami 'cootie catcher' with just words?" – LivingSocial, Consumer Advocate interview

15. "If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?" – McKinsey & Company, Associate interview

16. "You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?" – Urban Outfitters Sales Associate interview

17. "How does the internet work?" – Akamai, Director interview

18. "If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?" – SinglePlatform, Inside Sales Consultant interview

19. "What's the color of money?" – American Heart Association, Project Manager interview

20. "What was the last gift you gave someone?" – Gallup, Data Analyst interview

21. "What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?" – Applebee's, Bartender/Neighborhood Expert Server interview

22. "How many snow shovels sold in the U.S. last year?" – TASER, Leadership Development Program interview

23. "It's Thursday; we're staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?" – ThoughtWorks, Junior Consultant interview

24. "Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt." – Active Network, Client Applications Specialist interview

25. "Have you ever been on a boat?" – Applied Systems, Graphic Designer interview

Before you freak out at the thought of answering one of these oddball questions, keep in mind that most employers will stick to the more traditional, "Why should we hire you" and "What is your biggest weakness" type of interview question. Be prepared to explain why you are a good fit for the job.

Stay tuned for specific tips later this week just in case you face one of these eclectic inquiries at your next interview.

What are some of the strangest questions you've been asked on an interview? Comment below.

What's New in What Color is Your Parachute?

Is the definitive book on job search still relevant in 2014?


Last week I wrote about several of the great email newsletters that offer job search and career advice. While researching, it struck me that so much information on job search and careers is immediately available. This abundance is a sharp contrast to the pre-digital age when there was only one definitive book on job search, Richard Nelson Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Guide for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. For decades Parachute had the monopoly on job search reference books. It wasn't a book about job search; it was THE BOOK about job search. Often the first piece of advice given to new college graduates was to buy WCIYP.

Easy to read, harder to practice
While the book is easy to read, it isn't easy to put into practice. It doesn't come in the form of ephemeral feel good tips or breezy listicles. It requires introspection, self-inventory and a lot of hard work. But people get results. By asking difficult questions, the book demands that readers take a deep look at themselves, discover what they want, what they are really good at and how to turn that into a career.

One of my big questions is how does Parachute compete in a multi-platform, on demand world? With so many websites, twitter feeds, apps and newsletters constantly dispensing weekly, daily and hourly career advice and job search tips, can one book remain definitive and relevant?

Parachute has been around since 1970 because it's damn good. As Mr. Bolles puts it, the book provides "a practical bridge between what [students] learn and the real world awaiting them out there." The enduring truths and practical knowledge provided within its pages resonate for anyone who needs advice on job search, resumes, starting a business, networking and more. This is the blocking and tackling that doesn't get taught in schools.

So what's new for 2014? It's incredible to think that this book has been updated every year since 1975. It's the same book I read all those years ago, but it is entirely different. The fundamentals are still embedded from beginning to end, but it also reflects the realities, opportunities and challenges of today's job market. It's not just a fresh coat of paint; the changes are evident throughout the book.

Online reputation management
A big point Bolles makes is "Google is Your New Resume." Our careers were once represented by a single piece of paper. Today we can no longer control what employers discover about our professional and personal lives. With a few keystrokes any hiring manager of HR professional can dig up a lot more information than ever before. Parachute gives great advice on how to manage and edit our online reputations.

This edition takes a deep dive into social and digital media and how to make all platforms and services part of your arsenal. Covering everything from LinkedIn to online universities, the book provides practical knowledge for even those most unfamiliar with social networking and the powerful online tools that can jumpstart your job search.


The Flower Exercise has long been a signature part of WCIYP. This year, the exercise has been improved and updated to help users more accurately take an intense inventory of themselves. This is one of the key pieces of Bolles' approach and successful self-assessment is critical to discovering the optimum career path. The Flower Exercise is also available as a great iPad/Nook app.

If you need a more constant stream of insights, Richard Bolles is very active on Facebook and you can also follow him on Twitter and find him on LinkedIn.

So in response to my earlier question, "Is Parachute still relevant today?" The simple answer is...YES. I purchased the 2014 edition to skim and compare it to my ragged 20th century copy. What surprised me was how quickly this perusal became complete immersion. I am already a few chapters in and ready to do the hard work once again. Job search and career change require a battery of tools, What Color is Your Parachute? is still one of the finest out there.    

The Long And Short Of Long-Term Unemployment [Infographic]

One in four have not had enough to eat


These are the people who have been out of work for 26 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and whose benefits have been subject to an unending game of political football. (The government does not count the over 700,000 "discouraged" workers who've stopped look for work.) Although 44 percent of the long-term jobless said they look for work every day, 30 percent of them haven't been on a job interview in a year, according to a new survey by Careerbuilder. While the economy slowly recovers, making back only a small fraction of the jobs it would if growth were healthy, these Americans are shut out from many opportunities simply because they have not been employed recently. Employers worry that they are damaged goods because no one else has hired them or because their skills have eroded.

Learn more about how the tremendous loss of income has affected the long-term unemployed in the infographic below.

Common Job Application Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Build a solid application from resume to cover letter

Stressed Businessman with Head in Hands Looking PC
Getty Images


By Michelle Filippini

In today's tight job market, many candidates focus their attention on acing the interview, and perhaps rightly so. While it's true the interview is often the do-or-die moment when employers decide whether they think you're a good fit for the position, you first have to land that interview. Don't derail the process before it begins. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when applying for jobs so that you can advance to that next crucial step in the process -- making it to the hot seat.

Don't mess up the application
Most employers have their own unique application form that candidates must fill out and submit along with their résumé and cover letter. Here are some simple rules to follow when tackling these preliminary questions:      
  • Apply only if you meet the minimum qualifications. You're not going to possess every skill listed in a job announcement -- and employers don't expect that -- but don't waste everyone's time if, for example, you're a recent college graduate applying for a position that requires four years of professional experience, or someone with a GED applying for a job that requires a college degree.
  • Prepare in advance of filling out the application. Job applications typically require information involving one's work history and references, which may require some archival digging and research on your part. Having that information on hand before you begin filling out the application will help the process go more smoothly -- and quickly.
  • Follow the directions. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you could be eliminated at the preliminary screening phase simply by not following formatting requirements or signing the application if it requires a signature.
  • Re-read your application for spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes. Some find that reading it out loud is also helpful, as the ear can often make the best editor. Don't rely solely on spell check.
  • Don't substitute your résumé for the requested job application form. Yes, applications can be time-consuming and tedious to fill out. That's because they generally ask for information not found on résumés -- detailed information specific to the position and company you're applying to.

Cover letter faux pas
Even if it's not requested, include a cover letter with your job application. Failing to include this would be a missed opportunity on your part. Here are some other dos and don'ts:

  • Don't address your cover letter "Dear Sir/Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern." Doing so indicates a lack of effort on your part to find out the name of the person you're contacting (much less his or her gender) and is likely to earn your application a place in the circular file. If in the unlikely event the name or gender of the contact person is impossible to locate, then a "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear [name of department] Director" may suffice in lieu of a real name.
  • Don't be a comedian. Your friends may appreciate your puns, wit and thinly veiled sarcasm, but the person reading your letter wants to know why you've applied for the job. Leave the stand-up for your Facebook posts.
  • Do talk about what you can bring to the company, not just how excited you are for the opportunity. How will you be able to make your new boss's life easier, for instance? Make your cover letter work for you by explicating your specific skills, experience, and accomplishments.

Do include your phone number, along with all other pertinent contact information, in your cover letter. Even if this information already appears on your résumé, you'll want to also include it in your cover letter in case the two get separated.

Résumé misfires
Finally, the résumé -- so important and yet so often the victim of its creator's desire to have it stand out in the stack. According to a CareerBuilder survey, employers cited the following as the most common résumé mistakes that could result in a candidate's automatic dismissal in the application process.
  • Typos in résumé. Correct punctuation and grammar are also important.
  • Generic résumés that aren't tailored for the position. Résumés should be personalized for the specific job that is being applied for -- you'll want to highlight those skills you have that match the position description and downplay those that don't.
  • Résumés lacking a listing of skills. Employers will want to easily see what it is that you've been doing at your previous jobs.
  • Exact wording from the job posting used in résumé. Yes, you want to personalize your résumé for the job advertised, but don't just copy and paste the job description verbatim or use all of the ad's keywords.
  • Wrong email address listed on résumé. Nothing will frustrate a potential employer more than having an email returned undeliverable due to "address unknown." And, not all employers want (or have the time) to pick up the phone to call you.
  • Exact dates of employment not included on résumé. Not including the actual dates you were employed at a specific company could be a red flag and a cause for suspicion on the employer's part. If your résumé has gaps in employment, it's likely that you'll have the opportunity to address this at the appropriate time.
  • Decorative paper used for résumé. Keep the design simple and the paper white. A résumé shouldn't be viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate how well you excel in "thinking outside of the box."
  • Photo included with résumé. It doesn't matter if it's the best, most professional-looking picture you've ever taken or the most adorable picture of your puppy. Just don't do it.

How to turn that internship into a full-time job

By

Internship to full time job
You landed an internship, and that means the job search is finally over. Well, for a few months, anyway. After your internship ends, you’ll be right back in the thick of it, submitting applications and setting up endless rounds of interviews. Unless you get offered a full-time position at the company you’re interning with, that is. While this is not always an option, many companies prefer to promote from within, and you’ve already got your foot in the door.
If you’re hoping to make the leap from intern to employee, here are several things to keep in mind:
Dress the part
Maybe you could get away with T-shirts at your summer job at school, but this is the real world. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to show that you’re taking the internship seriously. Early on, if you’re unsure of the office’s dress code, aim to overdress. Then, as you become more comfortable with the expectations around the office, do your best to fit in with the office style. Stand out through your work, not through your wardrobe.
Act the part
An internship can be viewed as a long job interview. You want to continually be putting your best foot forward, but this doesn’t mean you must be absolutely serious for the entirety of your internship. Your ability to mesh with the corporate culture and your immediate co-workers can be a factor in whether you’ll get that full-time position. Your goal is to work there full time, so be someone with whom your co-workers like spending time.
Ask questions
There is a crucial difference between asking a lot of questions and asking the right questions. Asking a lot of questions might come off as fake interest or simply annoying, whereas asking the right questions shows that you have genuine interest in how things are done and want to be a productive member of the team. If there’s something you want to know that could help you perform better, don’t hesitate to speak up.
Know where you stand
Open communication is essential for any business relationship and is an important step in gaining full-time employment. Ask for feedback from your colleagues and boss on how you’re performing and where you could be improving. Be forthright in asking about the potential for transferring to full-time status. This not only lets you know where you stand, but it also lets your employer know that you’re looking for a job and are serious about staying.
Recover quickly
You are going to make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process, which is ultimately what internships are all about. What really makes interns stand out is how they recover from an error. When you make a mistake, bounce back quickly. Apologize, ask questions to be sure you fully understand what you should have done differently, and then be sure not to make the same mistake again. Employers like to see that you’re willing to roll with the punches and learn from your mistakes. 

Six Killer Newsletters To Power Your Job Search

Smart career advice delivered to your inbox daily


For decades the go-to job search guide was Richard N. Bolles' What Color is Your Parachute. Every job seeker and recent college grad had a copy. It's packed full of information on networking, discovering what you're good at, what you love to do and how to find your dream job. First published in 1970 and updated annually since 1975, Bolles' book was often the only job search reference guide necessary.

Then, the internet happened. 

While Parachute is still the definitive (and best-selling) guide to job hunting and career change, they haven't taken full advantage of technology and jumped headlong into digital leadership on the job search front. Yes, you can buy the 2014 edition digitally and there is an iPad app for the What Color is Your Parachute? Job-Hunters Workbook, but there is a lot of fresh competition.

This digital void has allowed countless sites, apps and career experts to jump into the job search advice arena. There is so much great stuff available out there. Rather than providing a comprehensive guide, let's focus on the daily and weekly newsletters doling out strategy and tactics on the career front.

Here are six of my favorites:

daily muse logo
You can't beat this daily newsletter from The Muse for smart news-you-can-use. Company profiles, career advice, job search tips and more in pithy, bite-sized chunks. Plus, they have a good job board as well as a growing site loaded with smart advice and great tools.

Killer Feature – The Muse offers Muse University, 7-day classes delivered straight to your inbox. Each day features a quick lesson and assignment. These are smart, fun and FREE. I've taken the Networking, Management and Work Life Hacks classes and highly recommend them.
brazen careerist logo
This is a bold newsletter that dares you to push harder and reach higher in your career. Life hacks, personal branding, job opportunities and opinionated career advice are just a few of the topics they cover with a gutsy style.

Killer Feature – Virtual Networking and Online Career Fairs. Imagine talking to a dozen or more recruiters in an hour from the comfort of your own home. I attended a Brazen Online Career event and met virtually with several recruiters from top companies that led to real life connections and follow-up conversations.
fast company logo
With six daily newsletters, Fast Company doesn't deal directly with job search, but they focus on career and personal development every single day. Leadership, creativity, self-improvement, expert advice and book excerpts are just a few of the topics covered.

Killer Feature – Fast Company Leadership Daily is packed with intelligent advice on that can supercharge your current job performance or make you better prepared for your dream job.

Careerealism logo
The folks at Careerealism want to be your career wingman with "daily career tips, cutting-edge tools & expert advice." This is one of the biggest (and best) newsletters out there.

Killer Feature – Everything. This is a deep site with tools and resources for every job seeker.

Cynopsis logo
For the cable and broadcast set, Cynopsis is a daily must-read with a daily job board. Plus, they've got specialized editions for what's happening in Digital, Kids and Sports. Don't let the decidedly lo-fi design fool you, Cynopsis is informative and comprehensive.

Killer Feature – Classified Advantage is a weekly Cynopsis email with career advice and excellent mid and senior level broadcast, cable and agency job listings.
mashable logo
Jobs and career are only a piece of what Mashable does. The daily newsletter is your front page to the internet. They cover everything you need to know about what's happening in entertainment, social media and online. If it's viral, they probably know before you do. However, before you ask what this has to do with job search, they do excellent pieces on career advice and how to get hired.

Killer Feature – Mashable's Job Board is loaded with marketing, digital and social jobs.

These are just a few of the many great resources out there. What are you waiting for? Make sure to sign up for a few newsletters. Remember, you can always unsubscribe. Please list some of YOUR favorites in comments.

And if you don't already have What Color is Your Parachute? it might no longer be the only guide to job search, but it is well worth the investment as a critical tool in your job search strategy.

4 Creative Job-Hunting Organizational Tips

Stay on top of your game by streamlining your search


Woman writing on wall covered with adhesive notes
Getty Images


By Marian Schembari

GenY's social media fluency and drive to learn and adapt sets us apart from our older co-workers. We're the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, and we're on track to become the most educated generation in American history.

So why are you still hunting for a job the way your parents did? When will you learn that mass emailing resumes to every job opening under the sun is not the way to get hired?

Maybe you're just plain lazy - no one likes writing hundreds of customized cover letters. Or perhaps you lack self-confidence - why spend time working hard on an application when no one will even read it? 

Whatever the reason, it's time to put your tech-savvy skills to use and organize your job hunt.

You need to tackle your search for a job with the same enthusiasm and organization as you would a full-time job - because when you're out of work, job hunting is your full-time job.

Stop wasting time with canned emails and generic cover letters. Instead, streamline your job search with these four practical systems:

1. Create a "spreadsheet of opportunities"


Head to Google Drive or Excel to organize every job you've ever wanted, heard of or applied for. Be sure to include even those companies where you've only dreamed of working. I organized mine by Company, Position, Contacts, Job Application Link, Date of Application, Notes and Status.

Update your spreadsheet daily. It will help you keep track of when to follow up, where you might need to make a new contact and what homework you need to do to prepare for the next interview stages.

This also comes in handy if you're on unemployment. Having all this information in one place is a great reference guide when you need to prove you're actively looking for work.

2. Save answers to application questions


Job applications are significantly more complicated than they were just a few years ago.

Many applications now ask specific questions about a project you're most proud of or require a list of your most useful skills. Instead of just typing this directly into an online form, store those answers (proofread and spell-checked, of course) in a Job Hunt folder in Evernote.

For your next pesky phone screening, keep these questions open during the call so you can quickly reference your best answers. The more you do this, the more comfortable you'll get answering these questions. (I've memorized most of mine by now, which is a bonus since I began to sound really articulate during those calls.)

Evernote also has great a great tagging system, so it's easy for find responses pertaining to skills or project results when answering new questions on the fly.

3. Save your cover letter templates


Though you should submit a customized cover letter for every job, it's OK to start from a template. Each template should include your favorite accomplishments relevant to the role you want. This makes applying for jobs the right way easy as pie.

Save your cover letter templates and a PDF of your resume to Dropbox so you can access them from anywhere on any device. So if you meet a lead for coffee and the conversation goes well, you can send your resume right there.

While my title has pretty consistently been "Social Media Manager," that can mean different things to different people. Instead of limiting myself to roles with the same title, I applied to content strategy and community management jobs as well as more traditional marketing positions. When I sat down to write a cover letter for a position, it was helpful to have a few different templates to start from.

4. Become best friends with your calendar


Randomly applying for jobs will not get you hired. My biggest successes have always come from meeting people in person.

Whether it's at a formal networking event or meeting a friend of a friend at Starbucks, talking to humans always trumps applying online. Regularly talk to people who love their jobs. Buy them coffee in exchange for picking their brains about work, projects and valuable skills.

This means you need to invest time in organizing your calendar. And don't forget to pencil in valuable Parks and Recreation time so you don't go crazy - there is such a thing as too much networking.

Set a schedule for what you will do each day: Who you'll reach out to, what jobs you'll apply for and what action steps you can take. With an organized calendar, your job hunt will feel purposeful and productive instead of listless and hopeless.

The result of this obsessive job search? I landed an unbelieveable role at a successful startup in less than four weeks. *Brushes shoulders off.*

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