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6 Myths About Job-Hunting in a Recession
by Cherie Berkley, PayScale.com

Just when you thought the job market couldn't get worse, there is more news about company pink slips, hiring freezes, and benefit slashes. If you are one of the thousands tasked to find a job in these dire economic times, all is not lost. Hopefully, you can move more quickly from the unemployment line to a job offer once you get past these six common myths about job-hunting during a recession.

∴ Myth 1: No one is hiring.
Layoffs are coming in every direction, but some employers -- even those laying off workers -- are still hiring. Companies often eliminate full-time employees with budget-busting benefits only to replace them with contractors or consultants to save costs. Additionally, "green" jobs, and health care jobs are among those still actively populating want ads. And, the pay is respectable. For instance, Payscale.com shows the median annual salary of an environmental engineer with 3-5 years experience is $60,672.

∴ Myth 2: The Internet is the best place to find jobs.
The Internet is an efficient way to survey jobs among many companies, but personal interaction is still key to job search success. Truth is, employers are bombarded with thousands of resumes from the Internet -- especially in a recession. Therefore, the chance that your new boss will choose your resume out of a pile of prospects is slimmer than ever. Instead, focus on finding a position, apply for it, and then do some research and connect personally with a hiring manager in the company to follow-up. Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, also offer a great way to connect with targeted employees on your company dream list. These connections are golden because they can give you insider info about unpublished positions and help you sail past HR "blockers." Personal recommendations go much farther in landing a job than random resumes.

∴ Myth 3: Searching companies in hiring freezes is a waste of time.
Like many situations in life, hiring freezes are not absolute. Savvy networking, the right face-to-face meeting, and the ability to sell skills critical to the prospective company can be the perfect formula for lighting a fire under an employer in a hiring freeze. Behind closed doors, hiring managers are told to make exceptions for spectacular candidates that can show them the money, especially in a recession when every dollar counts.

∴ Myth 4: Expect a salary cut.
In hard times, companies value astute problem-solvers more than ever. While employers may trim the fat elsewhere, there is always room in the budget for top-tier talent. However, during a competitive job market, there is a bigger burden to prove you are worth a higher salary, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Ultimately, companies want their talent investments to pay off -- and stick around. "If an employer goes to the expense, time, and effort to find a qualified candidate, it wants the person to stay, " Challenger adds. The last thing an employer wants is for a prized candidate to temporarily accept a lower salary than her previous salary and say "hasta la vista" once the job market recovers.

∴ Myth 5: Companies are not interested in hiring people over age 55.
There are several reasons Challenger, Gray & Christmas disputes the adage that older employees are unemployable. In a struggling economy, employers value seasoned workers' shorter learning curves (aka: less money invested in employee training) and their ability to do the work of several younger, less-seasoned workers. Separately, like a fine wine, experienced employees who are surgeons, accountants, attorneys, engineers, and IT professionals get better with time. Clients gravitate to more experienced employees in these professions. This adds up to more cha-ching for employers.

∴ Myth 6: Experience and advanced degrees guarantee a job.
While experience and education have their plusses, they aren't guarantees to landing a job. In a deep recession, experienced and degreed people come a dime a dozen. "It is very important to sell your world experience, your concrete accomplishments, and expertise; things that make an impact on the company rather than just your knowledge," Challenger says. Research what skills the employer values most in order to tailor your sales pitch accordingly, Challenger adds. And, because the market is so tight, though you are experienced, someone with more experience is likely applying for the same job. Take time to create your brand image and sell, sell, sell!

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The Online Essentials for Your Job Search
Tips for Making the Web Work for You
by Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs

Job search was the fastest growing U.S. online content-site category in 2008, according to digital ratings authority comScore. The growth coincides with the loss of over 2 million jobs last year and a rising unemployment rate, but it also underscores how easy and effective the Web can be for finding a job.
"Online job search resources provide a vital service to those in need of new job prospects and opportunities, and Americans are turning online for this assistance now more than ever," said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore.
But are job-seekers using Web tools to their best advantage? Here are several essential tips for making the Internet work you:

∴ Diversify your search. You want to case a wide net when looking for a job, so don't limit yourself to one site or one type of site. In addition to job boards like Yahoo! HotJobs, try sites associated with your relevant industry or professional associations, alumni career resources, and local career centers.

∴ Search many terms. Think about possible synonyms for the types of jobs you want. If you're looking for a sales job, you should search on all relevant terms, like "sales rep," "account executive," "sales associate," or "inside sales."

∴ Use a job-search agent. Once you do an online job search, many sites allow you to save the parameters you used so that you can be notified via email when new job postings arrive that are relevant to the conditions you outlined in your search. (Example: Job Alerts feature on Yahoo! HotJobs.)

∴ Research every promising job opportunity. The Web makes it very easy to learn about places you might want to work. For example:
♂ Check individual company sites, learn about the culture or corporate mission.
♂ Search news sites for relevant reports about a potential employer, or follow its financial performance, using sites like Yahoo! Finance.
♂ Ask questions about certain employers through your online networking groups or other community sites, like Yahoo! Answers.
♂ Prepare your salary expectations by using sites like PayScale.com or Glassdoor.com.

∴ Connect with social networking sites. You can use your profiles on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and ZoomInfo for professional benefits. The sites let you highlight your work experience and achievements, learn about new job openings from your contacts, or keep a mini blog about your accomplishments or your job-search progress.
The suggestions above are just a few of the many creative ways people use these tools to network successfully. In addition, recruiters increasingly use these sites to search for information about candidates, so having an updated profile can boost your exposure.
But that exposure leads to a final caution, since most people also use those sites for recreational purposes:

∴ Monitor your online appearance, or digital footprint. Do an Internet search on your name, and examine the list of search results. Are there questionable photos you should "un-tag" or inappropriate comments you should delete? Use the privacy settings on your profiles, and be discreet about people you let into your networks and the information you share.
Getting hired is all about making a good impression, so make sure your online appearance enhances the impression you make.

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6 Fields That Stand to Benefit From the Stimulus Plan
How Job Seekers Can Benefit, Too
by Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

President Obama has promised the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- commonly known as the stimulus plan -- will boost to the flagging economy by creating jobs in a variety of sectors.
Though it will take a while before federal, state, and local governments determine how exactly to allocate the funds, economists agree that six sectors are poised to see a boost as a direct or indirect result of the stimulus. These include:
∴ Construction. The biggest thrust of the stimulus plan is a national two-fer: creating jobs while shoring up the nation's infrastructure, including roads, bridges, rail lines, and wastewater and drinking water facilities. The Associated General Contractors of America estimates that stimulus spending would create or save 1.85 million jobs, including 640,000 in construction and 300,000 among suppliers and equipment manufacturers. Job opportunities will be even broader than traditional hard-hat jobs; there will also be openings for transit coordinators, waste disposal engineers, and accountants and managers with experience in large construction projects.

∴ The Green Sector. This is a broad category of jobs, and there is some overlap with construction and energy. But generally these jobs are in some way aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses, reducing dependence on oil, or reducing consumption of other non-renewable sources. Examples can range from architects, to manufacturers and installers of solar panels, to energy rating auditors.

∴ Medical Information Technology. The stimulus bill includes $19 billion for updating health information technology. This is intended to increase the number of physicians who use computers in their practice and will likely create opportunities for training health personnel and running health systems. It could also lead to job openings in hardware and software companies, from computer assemblers to systems analysts to project managers.

∴ Education. Many states have made cuts in their education budgets, but the stimulus plan calls for a $53.6 billion state-stabilization to help states avoid further cuts and layoffs. Funding could also lead to new jobs for teachers and administrators in areas such as Head Start and other early-education programs. The stimulus also sets aside funds for modernization of schools (which overlaps with infrastructure and construction).

∴ Energy and Utilities. A key part of the stimulus plan, and a campaign pledge by Obama, is the modernization of the nation's electrical grid. "Smart grid" jobs will include regulators hired by public utility commissions, in addition to load management engineers, meter manufacturers and systems control center operators.

∴ Federal Government. A $787 billion package doesn't just administer itself. There will be openings for more lawyers, regulators, accountants, and administrators to ensure all of the dollars go where they're intended.

Too Soon to Celebrate?
Despite the oft-heard new phrase, "shovel-ready jobs," the stimulus won't create jobs overnight, economists say. Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and the Urban Institute, tells Yahoo! HotJobs that the stimulus is laying the seeds for future growth but, alone, won't turn around the job market.

"It takes time for government investment to expand the job market," Holzer says. "The most that economists expect in 2009 is fewer pink slips than we might have seen (without the stimulus). We need to also limit the damage of housing and credit markets as well as overseas markets, in order to achieve a broad-based economic recovery."

Sophia Koropeckyj, an economist at Moody's Economy.com, says that the stimulus plan is more about stopping the economic pain and limiting damage in the short term.

"Automatic stabilizers in the plan, such as unemployment insurance benefits, will have an immediate effect," she says. "In the second half of this year, tax cuts will help support employment, and by next year, state aid and infrastructure spending should begin to kick in."

Plant Your Own Seeds
Assuming that seeds planted by the stimulus plan bears fruit in all of these sectors -- and more -- how can job seekers prepare to benefit, whether this year or next? Economists believe that landing a stimulus-created job relies on the usual, time-tested qualities: education, experience, skills, and networking.

"A recession is a good time to get new training, update skills, or get certified in a new field," Holzer says. "Beyond that, (job hunters) should be patient and realistic and should keep an eye on sectors and industries and companies where new demand is opening up."
For more information on the types of job created in the stimulus plan, see "Jobs in All 50 States" on the White House blog and this study from the Council of Economic Advisers.

Jobs in all 50 states
http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/White_House_Releases_Additional_State1.pdf

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT PLAN:
THE IMPACT FOR ALABAMA

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In Alabama, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:

♂ Creating or saving 55,000 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector. [Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, ※The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.§ January 9, 2009.]
♂ Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 1,770,000 workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President*s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers* paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]
♂ Making 70,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide 每 and 70,000 families in Alabama 每 new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]
♂ Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 247,000 workers in Alabama who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 37,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]
♂ Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 156 schools in Alabama so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]
In addition to this immediate assistance for Alabama, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will help transform our economy by:
♂ Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years, creating enough renewable energy to power 6 million American homes.
♂ Computerizing every American*s health record in five years, reducing medical errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.
♂ Launching the most ambitious school modernization program on record, sufficient to upgrade 10,000 schools.
♂ Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation*s roads, bridges and mass transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s.

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6 Soft Skills That Could Land You the Job
by Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

WANTED: Payroll Manager with BA in accounting, five years of management experience, extensive knowledge of payroll principles, and a sense of humor.
Wait. Humor? Now you have to reconcile W2s, process checks, and crack up coworkers? Has the job market become that competitive?
Not exactly. Employers seem to demand the moon these days, but they're really looking for candidates who may be easier to work with (assuming they already have the core skills to do the job). That means "soft," or intangible qualities, such as leadership, sense of humor, or "playing well with others," can be a strong competitive advantage for the job seeker. When a search comes down to two systems analysts with similar backgrounds and core competencies, the one who also may be a better "team player," or can "wear many hats," is more likely to get the nod.

∴ Qualities You'll Need
"Today, employers want to see a candidate's ability to show value in the workplace beyond the job description," Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson, tells Yahoo! HotJobs. "It's the tangible skills or core competencies that get you in the door. It's the soft skills that often get you the job."
Any of these six qualities could give you a competitive edge:
♂ Leadership/Team Building. Leadership skills are not only critical for supervisory positions, but also for candidates who may want rise to positions where they'll give directions to others, experts say.
♂ Team Player. Employers like people who play well with others. Even if the job you seek isn't officially part of a team, an employer may want examples of how you collaborated with people who don't report to you.
♂ Goal-Oriented Self-Starter. This doesn't necessarily require motivating others. While employers don't necessarily want loose canons or mavericks, they do appreciate people who don't need to be told what to do and can set their own tasks and follow through.
♂ Excellent Communicator. No matter what the core job duties are, the ability to write a coherent memo or email, give clear verbal instructions, and help meetings run smoothly -- or, at least, not sabotage meetings -- will probably be needed.
♂ Flexibility/Multi-Tasking Ability. Sometimes employers will call this the "ability to wear many hats." Most professionals have multiple job duties even in the best of times. In an environment rife with layoffs, managers are especially comforted knowing a candidate can take on even unanticipated tasks.
♂ Sense of Humor. Unless you're applying to Comedy Central, you don't have to make them double up laughing, according to John McKee, president and founder of BusinessSuccessCoach.net and author of "Career Wisdom."
"While I don't hear recruiters asking for candidates who can tell a joke well, I do believe that evidence of light-heartedness and/or the ability to lighten up a tough situation is valued, and self deprecation seems to be well-received," McKee says.

∴ Putting the Skills in Play
Other common soft skills demanded on job listings include "time management" (you can get everything done on time), "strong work ethic" (you're not inclined to take three-hour lunches), and "problem solver."

Though you might be able to hint at any of these qualities on your resume, it's really in an interview where you let the skills shine. "At interview time, most hiring managers are digging deeper into core skills, but also evaluating soft skills, which depend on what is necessary for the position," says Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing.

You don't have all of these soft skills? Don't worry. Even in today's job market, it's not necessary to be super-human. Cross-Wilson says: "Employers don't expect you to be brilliant at everything. In the interview you can be honest if there is a weakness you have. If you are able to be relaxed and be yourself, they'll see you as authentic."

∴ Build Mini-Stories
Olson suggested that job seekers build "mini-stories" around the soft skills they think would be valuable for the job and share them at the interview. "You should prepare specific examples of how you dealt with a specific task or issue that will help others understand you have skills to solve their problems too."

What if you don't think you have the necessary soft skills to land the job? It's not like you can take a class to boost your sense of humor, but you can ask a mentor or a friend for help in improving, for example, your email etiquette. Many soft skills can be built or improved on the job, experts say. Consider volunteering for more responsibility, or jump at the chance to be on a team, so that you'll have anecdotes to tell on your next interview.

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6 Essentials for Finding a New Job
by Robert DiGiacomo, for Yahoo! Hot Jobs

Here are half a dozen essential tips for landing the right job in good economic times or bad:

∴ Try a Sales Technique
Be prepared during a telephone screening or a first interview to make the "60-second sell," a four- to five-sentence summary of your biography and career accomplishments, according to career counselor and author Robin Ryan.

"When they say, 'Tell me about yourself, why should I hire you?' you have a memorized statement about why you'd be good on the job," says Ryan, author of "60 Seconds & You're Hired!"

∴ Work Your Personal Network
Networking doesn't have to be confined to business contacts, especially when you're trying to break into a big company that may use automated software to screen applicants.
Ask everyone you know if they have a connection to a specific employer; the goal is to get your resume forwarded to a hiring manager via the company's internal network, rather than having it come from the outside and get lost in the shuffle of other applicants.

"Microsoft gets 100,000 resumes a month -- how do you think they're going to find you otherwise through that cyber hole?" Ryan says.

∴ Expand Your Horizon
Julie Jansen, a career coach and author of "I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This," recommends attending professional association meetings in a related field, as well as those in your own specialty.

For example, although your experience may be in marketing, add gatherings for finance executives or other fields in which you could apply your skills and experience to your regular schedule of ad and marketing group meetings.

Another networking strategy is to give it the old college try, by tapping alumni, even those you don't know.

"Most universities have online directors of alumni, so I'd go that route if possible," says Jansen. "If not, contacting the alumni office would be Plan B."

∴ Check Your Skill Set
Although you may not have the time or financial resources to pursue an advanced degree, taking additional coursework in your field to boost specific skills can get you noticed by a recruiter. Also, don't forget to cite key experience gained from volunteering for community, school, or nonprofit groups.

"Look at your transferrable skills, including project management, budgeting, supervising others, and organizational planning," Ryan says.

∴ Know Your Worth
Even during a downturn, it's a mistake to settle for less just to get the job. Before accepting an offer, consult a salary survey or online salary calculator to make sure the package is competitive within your field.
"It's an outdated idea that you should take anything to get your foot in the door," Ryan says. "It could take you 10 years to get a decent salary."

∴ Do It Daily
Whether it's posting your resume in the common area of your apartment building, or sharing your job hunt with your doctor, dentist, dermatologist, or gynecologist, you should incorporate your search for work into every aspect of your daily life.

"Do something every single day that is about looking for a job," Jansen says.

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Six Common Job Search Mistakes
Barbara Safani

A job search is like a journey and sometimes it*s easy to take a wrong turn. Many feel overwhelmed and unintentionally neglect some of the important strategies that contribute to a productive and efficient search. Below are some of the most common mistakes I see among job seekers and some tips for getting your search back on track.

1. The Resume Isn*t Accomplishment Focused. Job seekers often create resumes that are no more than a laundry list of job tasks. Such documents do little to differentiate you from the competition. Instead of writing about things you did, write about the accomplishment within the task. Rather than saying that you make widgets, explain that you exceeded the company*s quota for making widgets by 25% by retooling the production process and eliminating redundancies.

2. The Network Has Been Neglected. If you don*t stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and clients your request to reconnect with them after the relationship has been dormant for so long will be met with suspicion. If you only reach out to your network when you need a favor, your network will dry up very quickly. Find ways to remain involved in the lives of your acquaintances, colleagues, and clients and plan to give more than you get. Create natural touch points for staying connected. Send articles that you think might be of interest to your network or create a personalized e-card to recognize someone*s birthday. Invite people for coffee and attend events at professional associations.

3. Little Online Presence. Your resume says you are an accomplished professional and a leader in your field. Yet when a hiring manager or recruiter puts your name in a search engine, either nothing comes up or they find others with the same name and can*t distinguish you from the others they see listed. Many hiring authorities will want to research your candidacy past the resume and an online search is one of the best ways to do this. Make it easy for them to find you by creating customized online identity, business, and social networking profiles. Some important tools to consider using are LinkedIn, TheLadders.com, Plaxo, Ziggs, and ZoomInfo.

4. No Personal Marketing Plan. Think about what you want in your next job. Identify the type of position, industry, company, geography, size, and corporate culture you are interested in. Then do some research to uncover which organizations best match the descriptions of your dream companies and market yourself directly to those companies whether they have an open position or not. Reach out to your network to see if you are connected to someone who knows someone in that company and ask for an introduction. The goal is to build inroads into these companies before they need you and later leverage that relationship when they are in need of new talent.

5. An Unorganized Job Search. When you are in a job search, you start to accumulate a lot of information. You may have different versions of your resumes, multiple cover letters, scores of job postings you have applied to, business cards from networking contacts, company research, and job search articles and tips. You need a system for organizing and automating this information as much as possible so you can quickly retrieve what you need and cut down on the clutter. Save yourself the headache of creating your own system and sign up for a free account on a career management tool like JibberJobber or TheLadders* online tracking tools.

6. In It Alone. Being in a job search is often like being on a roller coaster. There are highs and lows and job seekers need to have someone in their lives to help them move forward and remain accountable for their search. Relying on a friend or loved one for support can sometimes be problematic and add stress to the relationship. A better strategy is to find someone else and partner with that person to share advice and leads and offer support.

Many would say, ※I wish I knew then what I know now.§ But you*ve got the opportunity to learn and prosper from the oversights of others. Take this advice to heart and reflect it in your search to obtain your dream job!

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8 Ways to Make Yourself More Marketable
by Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs

The economy is shaky -- and it may feel like your job is, too.
Whether you're already job hunting or believe you may need to soon, there are steps you can take to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. Here are eight tips from the experts on increasing your marketability:

∴ Use your name as your brand, especially in email. Don't confuse potential employers by using your maiden name on your resume and your married name in your email. And the nickname your friends find funny may not look professional.
"Manager jobs don't go to people with cute email addresses," said Marianne Adoradio, a recruiter and career counselor.

∴ Meet an employer's need. Employers "want a round peg for the round hole," said Kathryn Ullrich, a career expert and executive recruiter.
You may want to stretch yourself by trying a job you've never done before, but there's not much in that for the employer. Any time you apply for a job, make sure you can tell a story about your career that shows why you would be the best person for the job. "It's really about what the employer is looking for," Ullrich said.

∴ Maintain a smart online profile. "All that stupid stuff you put on Facebook -- take it off," said Richard Phillips, owner of Advantage Career Solutions. At the same time, find industry blogs and forums and start contributing comments.

∴ Ask for help. "Ask everyone for one thing they would suggest you do if they were in your shoes," Adoradio said. "It seems to reveal things that you wouldn't have thought to ask."

∴ Become active in a professional association. This means doing more than paying dues and showing up for meetings. Find a way to help: For example, perhaps you can organize expert speakers in your field to be on a panel. It will boost your resume, build you self-esteem and give you valuable connections. "You're building up relationships with people who are going to hire you," Ullrich said.

∴ Take a class or get a certificate. This is especially helpful if it teaches you a skill -- new technology that's being used in your field, for example -- that you don't already have.

∴ Take on a new project at work. It should be "something that lets you add something new to your resume," Phillips said. "Think in terms of the resume that you're going to be writing. What do you want to have on there that isn't on there now?"

∴ Be flexible. You may not want to commute more than 10 miles, but being willing to bend a bit will open up more opportunities. It will also make you a more attractive candidate because it signals to employers that you're able to handle change.

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Five Resolutions for Your Resume
And Five Bloopers to Avoid!

by Doug White, Robert Half International

You may have already backslid on a New Year's resolution to eat healthier or save more money, but if you're one of many workers who vowed to land a new job in 2008, it's not too late.

Here are a few resume-related resolutions to consider and some real-life goofs -- dubbed "Resumania" by Robert Half International's founder, Robert Half -- from job candidates who could have benefited from resolutions of their own:

∴ Resolution #1: I will customize my resume.
Different companies have different needs, so don't send the same version of your resume to every organization. Tailor your resume by highlighting your skills and qualifications that most closely relate to the requirements of the open position. Carefully review each prospective employer's job advertisement and mirror their language when discussing your strengths and previous experience. In short, make it easy for hiring managers to see how you will play a role in helping them accomplish their goals.

This candidate failed to do so: "OBJECTIVE: To find any type of job."

∴ Resolution #2: I will write in a straightforward manner.
Hiring managers are drawn to professionals who communicate clearly and concisely. Write short, crisp and compelling sentences in "plain English." Applicants hurt themselves when they weigh down their resumes with trendy business phrases, technical jargon and flashy five-dollar words.

Here's an example of a candidate whose verbiage confuses instead of clarifies:
"SKILLS: Able to remedy posterity and proficiency to the desired cumulus within the work arena. Once expounding upon these various constitutional elements, affinity is achieved, and I sequester the cultivation essential for yielded efficiencies."

∴ Resolution #3: I will eliminate unnecessary information.
Certain pieces of personal information don't belong on a resume. There is no reason to include your date of birth or marital status, for example. In fact, doing so puts potential employers in an awkward position because they are not supposed to take information like this into account when making hiring decisions. In addition, omit details about your hobbies, reasons for leaving previous positions, and non-work-related achievements that have no bearing on your career.

While these accomplishments, like the one provided below by a nostalgic job hunter, may be treasured, a prospective manager probably won't be as impressed.
"HONORS: I won an award for an essay in first grade and got my picture taken with the principal. That was a big win. My parents took me for ice cream."

∴ Resolution #4: I will make no mention of money.
Never cite your salary requirements unless an employer specifically requests that information. Mentioning money in your resume, or cover letter, can come across as presumptuous. Wait until you've secured an interview and the employer has expressed interest in hiring you before broaching the subject.

Consider this off-putting statement:

"REQUIREMENTS: I'll need $50K to start, full medical, three weeks' vacation, stock options and, ideally, a European sedan."

∴ Resolution #5: I will develop a proofreading procedure.
Nothing damages a job candidate's chances like a careless typo, which calls into question the person's attention to detail. Steer clear of grammatical goofs and spelling blunders by establishing a step-by-step proofreading system. In addition to running your computer's spell-check function, read your resume several times on screen and on paper. It's also wise to ask trusted friends or family members for editing suggestions.

This applicant's miscalculation may have indicated to hiring managers that they couldn't "count" on him:

"HOBBIES: My three biggest hobbies are cars, racquetball, golf and reading."
Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. For more information about our professional services, please visit www.rhi.com. For additional workplace articles and podcasts, visit www.workvine.com. Additional Resumania examples can be found at www.resumania.com.

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Words to Avoid in Your Resume
by Christopher Jones

Most resume-writing guides focus on "power words" -- words that promise to grab the attention of recruiters as they scan hundreds of resumes -- but few tell you what words to avoid in your resume.

Below is a list of words and word types that your resume would be better without.

∴ Abbreviations and Acronyms
AFPCA, CHIGFET, FIPL, MRSRM, ZWE: Looks like a fresh game of Scrabble, doesn't it?

Too many abbreviations and acronyms in a resume make it unreadable.
As a rule, avoid using abbreviations and acronyms unless they are commonly recognized. If you work in an acronym-heavy industry, such as technology, use acronyms sparingly.

∴ Personal Pronouns
It seems odd to avoid personal pronouns (I, me, my) in your resume -- a document that is all about you.

But, it actually does make sense.

Since your resume is all about you, the addition of "I" or "me" is redundant. Since a resume should contain no unnecessary words, there is no place for the personal pronoun. Your resume, after all, is not a memoir but a concise summary of your skills and experience.

∴ Negative Words
These words spell death for a resume.

Words like "arrested," "boring," "fired," "hate" and "sexist" catch a recruiter's eye like to a two-ton magnet catches a paper clip.

If there are difficult issues you want to raise, save them for the interview.

∴ Keep These Words to a Minimum
There are other words that are sometimes necessary in a resume, but that should nevertheless be kept to a minimum.

Among these:
♂ Abused words: a, also, an, because, the, very
♂ Any word you can't define: You may think using these words make you sound smart, but if you use them incorrectly they could kill your chances of landing the job.
♂ Words that can be embarrassing if spelled wrong: assess, skills

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Four Steps to a Better Job Interview
by: Brad Karsh

Here's a question I often hear: What are some things I can do to prepare for a job interview?

Answer: There really aren't too many things in life more awkward than a job interview. You're dressed in formal business clothing, sitting across from a stranger. This stranger has the right to ask you anything from the most elaborate to the most mundane questions. And you have to spend an hour talking about nothing but yourself. Actually it sounds pretty similar to a blind date!

Just like a blind date, there are some definite no-no's you need to avoid if you want to make it to the next level.

1. Don't try to outwit or outguess the interviewer.
Most candidates go into a job interview thinking it's a contest where the goal is to defeat the interviewer in some type of battle of wits.
"Aha, Brad has asked me this question. Clearly, that is some type of trick question. I just don't know what the trick is yet. Here's how I would normally answer the question, but instead I should say what he probably wants to hear."
That thinking is when good interviews go bad. Sit back, relax, and pretend it is a conversation with a friend. Those are the best interviews.

2. Read the job description.
I call the job description the "cheat sheet" for the interview. Chances are the items listed on the job description will come up in the interview. For instance, if the job description says, "looking for creative problem-solvers" one of the questions you will receive is, "Give me an example of when you creatively solved a problem."

3. Have reasons for everything you've done.
Most companies conduct behavioral interviews. It means they are more interested in the hows and the whys as opposed to the whats. They want to know what makes you tick. An interviewer is not simply going to say, "Oh, I see that you worked as a sales rep in your last job. Cool."

That interviewer may spend about 10 minutes asking questions about the job: "What did you like about the job? What were your accomplishments? What were your biggest mistakes?"

And on and on. Be sure you have answers.

4. Ask questions.
There is nothing more damaging than not having a single question at the end of an interview. It shows that you have no curiosity or interest in the organization. Almost every interviewer will leave about five minutes at the end of the interview to answer questions. Make sure you have a couple. Two or three questions is appropriate, and they can be either personal questions -- "What do you like about working here?" -- or they can be business questions -- "How has the Internet affected your business?"

There you have it. Four quick ways that you can make sure you ace the interview and have the job offers rolling in. Good luck!

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Recruiter Roundtable: The Follow-Up
How to Make Contact After the Job Application
by Yahoo! HotJobs

The Recruiter Roundtable is a recurring feature that collects career and job-seeking advice from a group of recruiting experts throughout the United States. The question we put before our panel this month is:

We often hear that it's good to "follow up" a week or so after sending a resume and/or applying for a job, especially if you don't hear back from the company. What are some practical guidelines you would suggest for when and how to follow up -- without being pesky?

∴ Detail the Value You'd Add
Start by identifying the best person to speak with by checking with your network contacts or the firm's front-desk staff, and determine what you want to say. When communicating with the hiring manager, express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and highlight why you would be the right fit for the role. For example, if you're applying for a finance opening, mention the processes you implemented in a previous position to help the company significantly reduce costs and that you could assist the prospective employer in a similar fashion. As you conclude the discussion, ask about the next steps in the hiring process.

The key when following up with hiring managers is to avoid simply asking if they received your resume. Instead take the opportunity to demonstrate your initiative, show your enthusiasm, and detail the value you can contribute to the firm.
-- DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

∴ Use Your Network
One week is a good time frame for a follow-up. Follow up once. Unfortunately, many companies and recruiters just don't have the bandwidth to personally respond to every job inquiry at the disappointment of many candidates. If you don't have a contact name, search LinkedIn for the contact of the hiring manager or recruiting manager. Usually someone's LinkedIn account is tied to their personal or work email address, and you can ask for an introduction through your network.
-- Lindsay Olson, partner, Paradigm Staffing

∴ Keep It Short
Find a contact in the company/division of interest through professional networks. No matter what method of follow up you choose (i.e. phone, email, professional network), express your interest in the position, highlight your top qualities that match the job and keep your message short and to the point.

Describe how you would benefit the company with attaining their goals and list something that is relevant to their organization. Let them know you would be available to meet in person or over the phone to further discuss your background.

If you don't hear back within a week, ask yourself: Is this a company/job you are really interested in? If so, reach out again.
-- Judy Ottaviano, recruiting manager, and Marybeth Lambert, executive recruiter, Wells Fargo

∴ Check Your Spam Folder
Many organizations are receiving record high numbers of applications these days, and often there isn't time (or staff) to provide direct updates to every applicant. Check to see if the organization has an online application status tool. Many Web-based systems will provide real-time updates on application status, but sometimes you have to dig to find them. Also, check your email spam folder. Many systems will produce an automated note that confirms receipt of an application, or gives information about general timelines, but you won't see it if it gets caught by your spam blocker.

If the automated tools can't help, then give a call to the organization's staff employment or personnel department.
-- Noah Apodaca, lead recruiter for staff at the University of California, Irvine

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Recruiter Roundtable: Keys to Success in 2009
Expert Advice on What Job-Seekers Must Do This Year
by Yahoo! HotJobs

The Recruiter Roundtable is a monthly feature that collects career and job-seeking advice from a group of recruiting experts throughout the United States. The question we put before our panel this month is:
In light of the troubling economic climate and tightening job market, what is the one thing that job-seekers must do in order to be successful in landing a good job in 2009?

∴ Exhaust All Options
Tell everyone you know about the type of position you are looking for, network online and at industry events, go on informational interviews, work with a recruiting firm, take on temporary assignments, and be flexible when meeting with prospective employers.
When developing your cover letter and resume, quantify the value of your contributions to previous employers, including how you helped cut costs, reduce inefficiencies or improve profitability. There are opportunities available, but job seekers will have to work harder to find them and cannot afford to leave even one stone unturned.
-- DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

∴ Network With Smarts
Candidates must be building and strengthening their network -- ideally before it's needed. Find networking events to go find other like-minded individuals and connectors. Build your online presence through your social networks and be an active participant in the community. And remember to give more than take -- share your knowledge, help others be better, and invest time in building strong, long-lasting relationships. These are the relationships that could turn into future job leads.
-- Lindsay Olson, partner, Paradigm Staffing

∴ Flexibility Is Key
Stay open to opportunities in new or related industries, companies of a different size, or in a different location; and be aware that with the advent of technology, a new location just may be your home office.

Be flexible. You may or may not have to travel a bit more, take a different title, or give up some of the perks you've had in the past to assume your new role. All things being equal, if you're flexible around these topics you're chances of getting hired increase considerably.
-- Cheryl Ferguson, recruiter, The Recruiter's Studio

∴ Diversify and Listen
My advice is two-fold: Be ready to diversify the ways in which you communicate your experiences AND listen well.

First, make a laundry list, just for yourself, of all the projects, contributions, ideas, etc., from your last three positions. This is what's not on your resume. It jogs your memory about how you have differentiated yourself. You'll recall and distill examples of your success, and you'll be ready for more questions.

Second, listen closely to what the recruiter and/or hiring manager is asking you. They are looking for something very particular, whether the opportunity is leadership or entry-level. Walking someone through your resume or citing examples that they're not seeking could hinder your ability to seem specific to their job. You want to be very clear about your transferable skills and your willingness to adapt to their environment.
-- Ross Pasquale, recruiting/sourcing consultant, Monday Ventures

∴ Tailor Your Resume
The most important thing that job seekers must do in 2009 to be successful is to diversify the content of their resumes based on the roles that they are applying for. For example, a job seeker may have worked in the past as a Java engineer, and also obtained project management along the way. However, a resume that is oriented strongly toward being a Java engineer has only a slight chance of being considered for a project-manager position.
For job seekers to increase their chances at success, they should shape their resumes to reflect relevant matching skills with the job posting(s) they are applying to. By doing so, a recruiter and/or hiring manager will more easily understand how a job seeker's past experiences apply to the posted role. This method increases the chance of being considered a strong candidate, receiving an interview, and, ultimately, a new position.
-- Joanna Samuels, senior account manager, GravityPeople

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Top 10 Job Interview Mistakes
How To Avoid The Gaffes That Can Ruin Your Chances Of A Job Offer

The best way to avoid the most common and dangerous job interview mistakes is to think ahead and decide not to make them. Read on for a whistle-stop tour of the top ten interview clangers!

1. Lying
Although it's tempting, it doesn't work. By all means gloss over the unflattering things. But out-right fibbing NEVER pays.

Mark Twain said: "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything." Think about it. They will catch you out later.

2. Slating your current company or boss
Fed up with your current job and would give anything to leave because they've treated you badly? Your job interview is NOT the time to seek revenge.

The interviewer will be listening to your answers and thinking about what it would be like to work with you.

Ask yourself: do you like working with people who constantly criticise others? Isn't it a bit wearing? The trouble is that the interviewer draws massive conclusions from your answers.

So your throwaway comment about your boss or employer may be interpreted to be your "standard" way of thinking. It makes you look bad, not your employer.

3. Being rude
If you find you were accidentally rude, then apologise calmly and genuinely. Then leave it behind you and get on with the rest of the interview. If you dwell on it, it will affect your performance.

What's "rude"? Well, that depends on your audience. As a rule of thumb, avoid cracking jokes about potentially sensitive topics and beware of being too "pally" with the interviewer: polite and friendly is enough. After all, you're not in the pub with them. So stay professional.

Remember that everyone you meet could be involved in the selection process. So blanking the receptionist or talking down to the junior members of staff could cost you the job.

4. Complaining
Ok, so your train journey might have been a nightmare and maybe you thought the tube would never arrive, or the tailbacks on the motorway were endless. But your interviewer doesn't want to know that!

Complaining, even in jest, is not a recommended icebreaker. It may be completely harmless, or it might simply make the interviewer switch off. Don't let complaining set the tone for the interview!

5. Talking about people you don't get on with at work
These days, it's common to be asked how you deal with conflict. Companies realise the importance of interpersonal relationships in the working environment.

So if they ask you about difficult people or situations, make sure you hold back from character assassination and blaming others for problems because it won't do you any favours!

If you accidentally do "break" this rule, apologise and explain what you "really" meant.

6. Not being prepared
Re-read the relevant version of your CV and the job advert, just before the interview. You'd be surprised how many people can't remember what they wrote on their CV. And if you remember what type of person the job advert was looking for, it's easier to demonstrate that you have those qualities.

Make sure you've brought with you anything you were asked for. It's fine to bring a note-pad and pen, but make sure they're tidy. It's even ok to bring notes with you; particularly if you have any questions you want to ask. It shows you're taking the job application seriously. Ill-prepared candidates rarely get job offers.

7. Appearing to be too nervous, or too confident
If you appear too nervous they'll think you're not confident enough to do the job. However, appearing too confident will make them think you won't fit into the team.

If interview nerves are an issue for you, it's worth getting practical help from a professional, such as an interview coach.
Or you could try a Mind Tools Stress Management Masterclass.

8. Making a weak first impression
Unfortunately, no matter how hard the interviewer tries, a lot of "don't want to hire them" decisions are made in the first few minutes of contact. If you make a strong first impression, the interviewer will be more inclined to overlook "imperfections" in your answers.

Make sure you know what to wear and have checked out the latest job interview etiquette.

9. Not having researched the company
As a general rule, the more famous the brand, the more they will expect you to have done your homework. Researching the company shows you're serious about the job.

Example from a real interview for a major food brand:



Candidate: "Hello Mr. Interviewer. Yes, I'd love to work for your company. I think your brand is great and I really believe I could make a contribution to your marketing strategy."

Interviewer: "So what do you think about our current merchandising, compared to our competition?"

Candidate: "Oh... Errr.... Well, I haven't had time to check it out, really."

Likelihood of getting the job? Low.

10. Putting your foot in it an not noticing
This can be the most unnerving of all job interview blunders.
Yes, we know, you didn't mean to put your foot in it. But it doesn't really matter what you intended. What counts is how the other person reacts.

So what can you do?

Be prepared to say "sorry, that's not what I meant!" This requires you to pay attention to the interviewer, rather than your own thoughts and feelings. Once you've apologised, leave it there, take a deep breath to help you relax and move on with the job interview.

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13 Job Interview Mistakes To Avoid
By Nathan Newberger

The wrong move can cost you the job! You've worked hard to get to the interview stage. You passed the cover letter and resume screening process...maybe even a few telephone interviews.

Now its time for the face to face interview with the employer itself. Any number of items can go wrong but you have to be in control and must have confidence. Go into an interview with the feeling that you are going to impress them so much that they will have to make you an offer.

The interview is the most stressful part of the job hunt for many people because now they can't hide behind the cover letter and resume. The real face to face human connection between possible employer and job candidate takes place. But for starters if you simply follow these 13 tips below, you are on your way to interviews with results.

A big part of a successful interview is avoiding simple mistakes. Mistakes are deadly to the job seeker and easy to avoid if you are prepared.

These are the most common interview mistakes - and their antidotes.
1. Arriving late. Get directions from the interviewer - or a map. Wear a watch and leave home early. If the worst happens and you can't make it on time, call the interviewer and arrange to reschedule.

2. Dressing wrong. You make your greatest impact on the interviewer in the first 17 seconds - an impression you want to make powerfully positive. Dress right in a conservative suit, subdued colors, little jewelry (but real gold, or silver, or pearls), low heels (polished) and everything clean and neat. Hygiene includes combed hair, brushed teeth, deodorant and low-key scent. Check everything the night before, again before walking out the door and once again in the restroom just before the interview.

3. Play zombie. OK, you're nervous. But you can still smile, right? And make eye contact, yes? Sit up, focus on the interviewer, and start responding. Enthusiasm is what the interviewer wants to see.

4. No smoking, no gum, no drinking. This is all comfort stuff for you, and none of it helps you here. Employers are more likely to hire non-smokers. At a lunch or dinner interview, others may order drinks. You best not.

5. Research failure. The interview is not the time for research. Find out the company's products and services, annual sales, structure and other key information from the Internet, the public library, professional magazines or from former employees. Show that you are interested in working for the prospective employer by demonstrating knowledge about the company.

6. Can't articulate your own strengths and weaknesses. Only you can recognize your most valuable strengths and most hurtful weaknesses. Be able to specify your major strengths. Your weaknesses, if such must come up, should only be turned around to positives.

7. Winging the interview. Practice! Get a friend, a list of interview questions and a tape recorder and conduct an interview rehearsal. Include a presentation or demonstration if that will be part of the real interview. Start with introducing yourself and go all through an interview to saying good-bye. Write out any answers you have difficulty with, and practice until your delivery is smooth (but not slick).

8. Talk, Talk, Talk. Rambling, interrupting the interviewer and answering to a simple question with a fifteen-minute reply - all of these can be avoided if you've thought through and practiced what you want to communicate. Good answers are to the point and usually shorter.

9. Failure to connect yourself to the job offered. The job description details the company's needs - you connect your experiences, your talents and your strengths to the description. It answers the essential reasons for the interview - "How my education/experience/talents/strengths fit your needs and why I can do this job for you."

10. Not asking questions - and asking too many. Use your research to develop a set of questions that will tell you whether this is the job and the company for you. This will help you limit and focus your questions. But don't overpower the interviewer with questions about details that really won't count in the long run.

11. Bad-mouth anyone. Not just your present employer, or former employer, or the competition. You don't want to look like a complainer.

12. Asking about compensation and /or benefits too soon. Wait for the interviewer to bring up these issues - after the discussion of your qualifications and the company's needs and wants.

13. Failure to ask for the job. When the interviewer indicates the interview is over, convey your interest in the job and ask what the next step is.

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Top 10 Biggest Interview Mistakes
By Rosemary Haefner

Hiring managers don't want to hear a lot of things during an interview -- confessions of a violent past, a cell phone ring, a toilet flush. Yet job seekers have committed these interview gaffes and worse, according to CareerBuilder.com's annual survey of the worst interview mistakes.

Odd behavior isn't the only way to ruin your chances of landing a job. When hiring managers were asked to name the most common and damaging interview mistakes a candidate can make, 51 percent listed dressing inappropriately. Forty-nine percent cited badmouthing a former boss as the worst offense, while 48 percent said appearing disinterested. Arrogance (44 percent), insufficient answers (30 percent) and not asking good questions (29 percent) were also top answers.

To ensure your interview is smooth and error-free, follow these five tips.

∴ Do some research: When you walk into a job interview, knowledge of the company's history, goals and current activity proves to the interviewer that you are not only prepared for the interview, but also that you want to be a part of the organization.

∴ Don't lie: If the conversation drifts to a topic you're not knowledgeable about, admit you don't know the answer and then explain how you would go about finding a solution. Displaying your problem-solving skills is better than babbling about something you don't understand.

∴ Keep it professional: Although interviewers often try to create a comfortable setting to ease the job seeker's nerves, business decorum shouldn't disappear. Avoid offering personal details that can be controversial or have no relevance to the position, such as political and religious beliefs or stories about a recent break-up.

∴ Know what to expect: Expect to hear staple interview questions: "What's your biggest weakness?" "Why do you want to work here?" "Tell me about yourself." "Why did you leave your last job?" These open-ended questions are harder to answer than they sound, so think about your responses before the interview.

∴ Put on a happy face: The interview is not the time to air your grievances about being wronged by a past boss. How you speak about a previous employer gives the hiring manager an idea of how you'll speak about him or her once you've moved on.

Unfortunately, many job seekers are not only ignoring these tips, they're making mistakes that leave unforgettable impressions for all the wrong reasons. Here are 10 real-life examples from this year's survey:
♂ Candidate answered cell phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a "private" conversation.
♂ Applicant told the interviewer he wouldn't be able to stay with the job long because he thought he might get an inheritance if his uncle died - and his uncle wasn't "looking too good."
♂ The job seeker asked the interviewer for a ride home after the interview.
♂ The applicant smelled his armpits on the way to the interview room.
♂ Candidate said she could not provide a writing sample because all of her writing had been for the CIA and it was "classified."
♂ Candidate told the interviewer he was fired for beating up his last boss.
♂ When the applicant was offered food before the interview, he declined saying he didn't want to line his stomach with grease before going out drinking.
♂ An applicant said she was a "people person" not a "numbers person" -- in her interview for an accounting position.
♂ During a phone interview the candidate flushed the toilet while talking to hiring manager.
♂ The applicant took out a hair brush and brushed her hair.
Rosemary Haefner is the vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com. She is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior, workplace issues, employee attitudes and HR initiatives.

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10 Ways to Ruin a Job Interview
by: Liz Ryan

The great thing about a job interview is the way that it narrows the field. If you can get in front of the people making a hiring decision, that means that you've already moved from a group of perhaps 100 resumes to a field of just a few serious contenders. At that point, your chance of getting a job offer improves dramatically.

Of course, having surmounted that huge hurdle, the last thing you want to do is blow it. To that end, here are 10 job-interview gaffes to avoid.

1. Complaining about the parking or directions.
Don't think it doesn't happen! As cordial and happy-go-lucky as your interviewers may seem, they don't want to hear a job-seeker complain that the place was hard to find or that the parking is inconvenient. The best (that is, the worst) example of this I ever experienced as an HR person came from the candidate who said, "Seven handicapped parking spaces next to the front door? What, are you having a wheelchair convention or something?" That was a short interview.

2. Bad-mouthing your previous job, manager, or company.
If you've been laid off or suffered some other unpleasant experience at your last job, it's easy to launch into a litany of everything the old employer did wrong. Don't do it! The interviewer is bound to wonder "Will this person be bashing me behind my back on some future interview, too?" Zip it.

3. Digging into details off the bat.
The typical selection process allows plenty of time for you to learn everything you need to know about the company's dental plan, its tuition-reimbursement policy, and the size of your cubicle. Don't ask about any of these items on a first interview, when you should be focusing the conversation on the role and the organization.

4. Groveling.
Employers want to hire people who can do the jobs and who are enthusiastic about the work. What's not so appealing is the candidate whose every word and gesture conveys the message, "Hire me, I beg you!" Joblessness is no fun, but you don't help your chances of getting the nod by presenting yourself as a candidate whose most notable attribute is desperation.

5. Answering a question before you understand it.
The absolute worst answer to any interview question is the response that shows you weren't really listening. When an interviewer asks a question that requires thought, like, "Tell me about a time when you had to convince a team of people to change gears," you don't want to blurt out, "Oh, I've done that a million times!" Any "tell me about a time when" question is a question that the interviewer has chosen to elicit a specific problem/solution story from you. Take the time to think through the question and compose a thoughtful answer. A few minutes of silence in the room won't kill anybody.

6. Spacing out.
Any interviewer worth her salt will be able tell when you've zoned out. If you're wondering whether the 5:40 train will get you home in time to watch the playoff game, the interviewer will spot it in your eyes. If you're really out of it, he may throw you a curve ball like, "So, who would you say was the most effective member of Teddy Roosevelt's cabinet, and why?" Stay in the room, with your eyes either meeting the interviewer's or looking thoughtfully at the ceiling. Or your shoes.

7. Slouching.
We'll throw in tipping the chair back off its front legs, resting your head on your hand, and lacing your fingers together behind your head.

8. Cursing.
Interviewers love to put job candidates at ease. When you reach the state of ease that lets an "f-bomb" escape your lips, you've gone too far.

9. "Opening the kimono."
It's tempting to share with a sympathetic interviewer the news that this job search has been really hard, that you're not getting callbacks, and that you've already sent out 150 resumes. Don't do it. Smart job candidates put out a vibe that says, "I'm glad to be here with you and this job might be fun, but I'm a capable person who's aware of his value on the job market."

10. Doing anything disgusting.
The long list of personal gross factors includes picking one's teeth or nose, spitting, and other unmentionables that are best left to the imagination. Any of these is a sure-fire interview-killer (and can we really blame the employer for that?). One candidate asked me for a cup of water, took a sip, swished it around in his mouth, and spat into a potted plant. Niiiiiice!

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10 Questions Never to Ask in Job Interviews
by: Liz Ryan

You know enough to bring a list of questions to a job interview. When the interviewer asks you, "So, do you have any questions for me?" the last thing? You want to say is "No." But that could be the best option if you're at a loss for words, because some interview questions are better left unasked.

Here are 10 highly unsuitable interview questions that should never make an appearance, unless you don't want the job:
1. "What does your company do?"
This was a reasonable interview question in 1950 or in 1980, before the Internet existed. Today, it's your job to research any company you're interviewing with before setting foot in the door. We need to show up for a job interview knowing what the employer does, who its competitors are, and which of its accomplishments (or challenges) have made the news lately.

2. "Are you going to do a background check?"
It is amazing how many job candidates ask this question, which provokes alarm on the part of the interviewer, instead of the more general, "Can you please tell me a little about your selection process, from this point on?" Lots of people have credit issues that cause them worry during a job search, or aren't sure how solid their references from a previous job might be. If you're invited for a second interview, you can broach any sensitive topics from your past then. Asking "Will you do a background check?" makes you look like a person with something to hide.

3. "When will I be eligible for a raise?"
Companies fear underpaying people almost as much as they fear overpaying them, because a person who's underpaid vis-a-vis his counterparts in the job market is a person with one eye on the career sites. Instead of asking about your first raise before you've got the job, you can ask (at a second interview) "Does your organization do a conventional one-year performance and salary review?"

4. "Do you have any other jobs available?"
A job search requires quick thinking about straight talk, and if a job is far below your abilities, you're better off saying so than beating around the bush with this question. You don't have to take yourself out of the running; you can say, "The job sounds interesting, but frankly I was earning 30% more and supervising people in my last job. Could you help me understand the career path for this role?" That's the cue for the interviewer, if he or she is on the ball, to highlight another job opening that might exist.

5. "How soon can I transfer to another position?"
You're broadcasting "I'm outta here at the first chance" when you ask this question. If you like the job, take the job. If it's not for you, wait for the right opportunity. Almost every employer will keep you in your seat for at least one year before approving an internal transfer, so a job-search bait-and-switch probably won't work out the way you'd hoped.

6. "Can you tell me about bus lines to your facility?"
Get online and research this yourself. It's not your employer's problem to figure out how you get to work.

7. "Do you have smoking breaks?"
If you're working in retail or in a call center, you could ask about breaks. Everyone else, keep mum; if your need to smoke intrudes so much on your work life that you feel the need to ask about it, ask your best friend or significant other for smoking-cessation help as a new-job present. Lots of companies don't permit smoking anywhere on the premises, and some don't like to hire smokers at all. Why give an employer a reason to turn you down?

8. "Is [my medical condition] covered under your insurance?"
This is a bad question on two counts. You don't want to tell a perfect stranger about your medical issues, especially one who's deciding whether or not to hire you. Ask to see a copy of the company's benefits booklet when an offer has been extended. This is also a bad question from a judgment standpoint; no department managers and only a tiny percentage of HR people could be expected to know on a condition-by-condition basis what's covered under the health plan. Anyway, your pre-existing condition won't be covered under most corporate plans for at least a year.

9. "Do you do a drug test?"
If you have a philosophical objection to drug tests, wait until they ask you to take a drug test and tell them about your objection. Otherwise, your question sounds like, "I'd fail a drug test," so don't ask.

10. "If you hire me, can I wait until [more than three weeks from now] to start the job?"
Employers expect you to give two weeks' notice. If you're not working, they'd love to see you more quickly. If you ask for tons of time off before you start working -- unless you have a very good reason -- the employer may think, "How serious is this candidate about working?" In any case, a start-date extension is something to request after you've got the offer in hand, not before.

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How Flexible Should You Really Be?
by Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs

In tough times, job-seekers are often advised to be flexible about issues from commute length to salary to job title. But while it's true that you have to be realistic, some compromises may end up hurting you more than they help.

"I don't believe that you just cave and take anything," said Mary Jeanne Vincent, a career coach in Monterey, Calif., and owner of WorkWise. "I have an underlying philosophy that you always sell value."

Steve Levin, CEO of Leading Change Consulting & Coaching in Portola Valley, Calif., draws a distinction between what he calls "healthy resiliency and begrudging compromise." One is a reasonable response to a challenging market. The other is a self-defeating trade-off.

To tell the difference, experts suggest asking these six questions:
∴ How badly do you need money? If you're about to lose your home or are having trouble putting food on the table, you may need to take whatever job is offered.

∴ Will the job make you miserable? Taking a job that's not right for you increases the risk that you'll be laid off again within a few months -- something that can make it even harder to find the next job. If you will feel resentful rather than excited about the job, you might be better off continuing your search.

∴ Can you explain why you're taking it? If you take a job that's less than your previous one, you'll need to be able to explain this apparent step backward the next time you're looking. Saying you couldn't find anything else is not likely to impress an interviewer.

But if you have a good reason for taking a position -- to gain experience in a new industry, for example, or to learn a new skill -- a step down doesn't have to hurt you.

∴ What's most important to you? Perhaps you'd be willing to take less money as long as you got the title and authority you wanted. A longer commute may be more palatable if you can telecommute some of the time.

"You really need to do all this thinking -- what are the tradeoffs you are willing to make in order to be employed?" said Libby Pannwitt, principal of the Work Life Design Group in San Carlos, Calif.

∴ Will this job help in the long term as well as the short term? Consider what you'd like to be doing several years from now -- and whether this job could help you get there.

"I really believe that a lot of people panic and get anxious about short-term needs and forget all about their long-term goals," Levin said. If a job will give you an important new skill, for example, it may be worth making other trade-offs to take it.

"In a knowledge-based job market, learning is your quickest pathway, your best investment," Levin said.

∴ What is the alternative? To know how flexible to be, you have to know the market. Long-term unemployment is hard on both careers and finances.

If you decide to wait for a better job, "What are you doing with your time while you're waiting?" Levin said. "If you aren't working for someone else, then work for yourself - by treating your job search as a full-time endeavor."

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