Don’t Suffer from Job Application Phobia – FAQ

I was on Twitter the other day and a young lady commented, “Having to fill out the job application makes you not want the d*mn job!” It was at that moment that I knew it was time to write this article as I totally agreed with her and felt her pain.  During your job search, you will probably fill out several LONNNNNNG online applications.  It can be a very frustrating and tedious process; however, you needn’t suffer from job application phobia.  While each application is different, there are some general guidelines that can be used across the board.  I hope my responses to these FAQs help get you through the process while keeping your sanity!

1) Why are job applications so long and detailed?

Sometimes I secretly think they make them so long to see if you actually really want the job and want to go through and answer all their questions!!  But seriously, filling out the job application is very important and should not be minimized as employers use this as a screening device. If they see a half-completed application, they may assume that the person is not really that serious about the job and you will most likely be skipped over for the interview. Employers have carefully designed their questions to get the information they need to determine if you are a good fit.  The saying is true: “Resumes tell the employers what YOU want them to know and job applications tell them what THEY want to know.”  So be prepared to spend 30 minutes to an hour per job application.  In case no one has told you, looking for a job IS a job!

2) Do I have to fill out the entire application?

No you don’t, but keep in mind that might cost you the chance to interview.  If you want to proceed to the next step, you definitely have to fill out at least the required fields.

3) Should I have my resume and cover letter prepared beforehand? 

YES!! This will save you a lot of time.  Having your cover letter and resume already prepared means all you have to do is upload it or copy and paste it.  Some applications require a cover letter and some don’t, but it is better to have it prepared beforehand then to have to stop in the middle of the process and develop one.

4) What information do I need regarding previous/current jobs?

Most applications want information on the last 3 – 4 jobs you’ve had.  So it would be a good idea right now while you’re thinking about it to make a list of pertinent information for those jobs.  You know they are going to ask for this information so having it already written down BEFOREHAND will save you so much agony!!!  You should have the following information:   A) company name and address, B) supervisor’s name, title, and phone number, C) hire date and end date, D) starting and ending salary, E) your job title and accomplishments and F) reason why you left that job.  Basically, your success in filling out applications will be determined largely by how prepared you are.

5) What if I worked for a company that no longer exists or my supervisor no longer works there?

Just give the most recent contact information that you had for the company and/or supervisor.  You can explain in an interview that the company shut down or your supervisor left.  If just your particular location doesn’t exist anymore, give the information for the main office or headquarters. Human Resources should be able to verify the information employers need.

6) Should I submit my references at the same time as my application?

If you are given the option to include references, I would go ahead and submit them.  Now remember, your references should be 3 people whom you’ve had a professional relationship with for about a year.  That could be a supervisor, co-worker, professor, or someone you’ve worked with in a volunteer capacity – not family or friends.  Your references should be up-to-date and not go back to someone you had a relationship with more than 3 years ago, but there may be some exceptions.  I normally update my references every 6 months whether I am looking for a job or not.  That way when the time comes I already have the people and information I need.  Oh yeah, be sure to give your references a copy of your resume and give them a ‘heads up’ if an employer will be calling them about you.

7) Why do they ask you your graduation date from high school and/or college?

My guess would be to try to figure out your age.  Most people graduate high school at 17 or 18 and college at 21 or 22.  So depending on the year of your graduation, they can add it up and figure how old you are.  They may use your age to discriminate against you if they feel that you are too old or too young. I only fill in the graduate date if it is mandatory.  (If you haven’t actually graduated yet, you can put the month and year that you plan to graduate.)

8) What should I put as my reason for leaving a job if I was fired?

You can write “would like to discuss in the interview.” That way you can explain the circumstances surrounding your termination.  Now you can’t do this for every job, but if there is one job that you feel needs to be explained in person, then it is acceptable.  I was a hiring manager for a number of years and when I saw that someone wanted to discuss in the interview their reason for leaving a job, that did not stop me from calling them.  (Tip:  Make sure when you discuss it in the interview, you discuss it positively.  See my blog:  “How Do I Talk About Being Fired In an Interview?”)

9) What should I put when asked about desired salary?

Always give a range if you can such as $50,000 – $55,000/year or $20.00 – $25.00/hour based on research you have done in your field or what was mentioned in the job description. Having a range gives you more flexibility when it’s time to negotiate.

10) Is it okay to put “see resume” anywhere on the application?

Absolutely not!!  More than likely you can just copy and paste the information directly from your resume.  Don’t be lazy!!  Remember, applications are part of your first impression.

11) What should I put if an answer is required but the question doesn’t pertain to me? 

You should write “NA”  or “Not Applicable.”

12) Is it okay to say that I don’t want my current boss to be contacted?

That is perfectly fine. I always say that I don’t want my current boss to be contacted because I don’t want them to know that I am looking for a job.  The only exception was when I was transferring to another team/location within my same company.

13) Do I have to answer questions regarding ethnicity, sex, veteran or disability status?

No, you don’t have to answer these questions.  Ideally, these questions are asked to ensure fair hiring practices of all genders and ethnic groups.  As a hiring manager I had to submit a form monthly to my corporate office detailing how many male, female, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc. applicants I had.  This was to ensure I was giving everyone a fair chance and wasn’t just hiring people who looked like me (African-American women).

I have seen an increase in applications wanting to know if you are a veteran.  My personal belief is that due to reports in recent years that veterans are not able to find jobs once they return home, companies have been given incentives to hire them.  As far as the disability question, it should be done to assess what additional assistance would be necessary for disabled candidates to be able to perform the same job as everyone else.

Now of course, all of the above information could be used to discriminate against you.  That’s why I said you don’t have to disclose that information and you can simply select ‘I prefer not to answer.’

14) Do I have to give my social security and driver’s license numbers?

Only if it is mandatory.  Other than that, you can leave it blank or put “will provide later.”  This information really shouldn’t be needed until the background check is done and you can provide it at that time.

15) What does the fine print on applications really mean?

This is the part normally at the end of the application and you should definitely read it carefully.  Most of the time it is regarding the truthfulness of your responses and confirming you didn’t knowingly give false information.  Some applications may have statements authorizing them to do a background, employment, and credit check.  So again, make sure you read the entire application and are in agreement with what you are submitting.

16) Is it okay to email my resume and cover letter to someone at the company AND submit an application?

You always want to be mindful of the directions in the job description.  If it says “No emails or phone calls,” then make sure you follow instructions.  Of course, if you personally know someone who works at the company and want them to pass your resume/cover letter along to the hiring manager, that is okay.  Just make sure you always submit the application regardless because there are legal ramifications regarding companies not following the proper hiring procedures.

17) How long does it take to hear something after I have submitted my application?

That depends.  It could be 3 – 4 days up to 3 – 4 weeks or more.  How long it takes could be determined by how many applications they get, how soon they are looking to fill the position, how busy they are or when Human Resources gives them the green light to start setting up interviews.

BONUS TIP:

PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD! PROOFREAD!  Most applications give you the opportunity to proofread before submitting.  It is very important that you take the time to do this so that you don’t have any mistakes or misspelled words. Also don’t use abbreviations.

 

Today I Woke Up With No Job (6 Tips to Survive Unemployment)

This statement has been true for me 3 times in my career. Each time was a little bit different – 2 times I had advanced warning and 1 time I did not.  With each period of unemployment lots of different thoughts went through my mind.  What happened? Why me? Was there anything I could have done to avoid this?  Did my manager know more than he was telling me?  What am I going to do?  I was also thinking to myself – I am intelligent. I have an advanced degree. I’m professional.  I’m not lazy and I know I am qualified to do several types of jobs.  So why am I unemployed?

I have fully come to understand how not having a job (and a job title) is directly correlated to your sense of self-worth and self-esteem.  Do you have any idea how humiliating and humbling it is for someone to ask you where you work and you have to say, “I don’t have job” or “I got laid off” or “I was fired from my job.”  Trust me….it’s not a good feeling at all.  Then on top of that people keep asking you about it every time they see you or talk to you, which just adds to the “shame.”

Nonetheless, each unemployment period was a great time of reflection for me. I was able to ask myself some very pertinent questions. Who am I? What do I like to do? What am I good at?  What am I passionate about?  Where do I want to be in 5 years?  Why didn’t I save more money?  Were the job and my co-workers really that bad? And ultimately, what have I learned from this experience?  So if this is you right now and you woke up this morning with no job, I am hoping to give you a few tips that may help you cope with this time of unemployment and uncertainty.

1) Get Some Rest

Let me repeat….BE SURE TO GET PLENTY OF REST!!  When is the last time you slept past 9:00?  (I’ll wait.)  Well, now you can!!! It won’t be long before you are back in the “rat race” and having to set your alarm clock to get up at 5 or 6 AM, so enjoy your leisure lifestyle while you can.  I know some of you have a spouse and/or children who depend on you and you still have to get up each morning at a certain time, but you can make up for it by taking a mid-day nap.  Ya know, it occurred to me one day how busy I get and how little time I have to actually spend in the house that I am paying for.  I realized one day that I never really spend anytime in my guest bedrooms.  So while I was unemployed, I made up for it by taking naps in those rooms during the middle of the day. If you really want to be a rebel, don’t even get dressed and just lounge on the couch most of the day.  Hey, you are paying to live there so be sure to get your money’s worth!! Get some rest.

2) Reassess Needs And Wants

Unemployment is a perfect time to reflect on what you really need and want in your career.  Do you want to switch industries? Do you need a job with flextime so you can drop your kids off at daycare?  Do you want a job where you don’t have to go into the office everyday?  Do you want a job with a 15 – 20 minute commute?  Assess what you want and absolutely have to have in a job. In addition, you can Google ‘free career assessment test’ and take one of the many tests online to see what career might be best for you.  Even if you are an experienced professional, it may not be a bad idea to take the test just to affirm your strengths, weaknesses, personality type, etc.  The more honest you are with yourself and where you are in your career, the easier it will be for you to find a job that works best for you.

3) Develop A Plan

While I do suggest that you get some rest, I also highly suggest that you develop a plan of action after you’re done resting and reassessing. Your plan at minimal should consist of the following:

a) Updating your resume/cover letter – I suggest that you let a professional do this because you have an emotional attachment to the information and may not be able to market yourself appropriately.

b) Uploading your resume and setting up job search agents on websites – You may want to do a few general ones (indeed.com or simplyhired.com) and a few that are specific to your industry and city.  Five or six websites should suffice.

c) Saturating your network – Once you’ve updated your resume, send it to those in your network and let them know what you are interested in.  LinkedIn is great for increasing your network and communicating with people who may be able to help you.  You must also attend networking events and job fairs.  Remember, sometimes you have to be bold to reach your goals.

d) Applying for jobs – I know it seems silly to mention this, but I need to make it clear that you should be applying for jobs until you actually get one.  Don’t get the ‘big head’ and think just because you got through 2 or 3 interviews, you are guaranteed the job.  Even if you are 99% certain you will get the job offer, KEEP APPLYING TO OTHER JOBS!!!

4) Set Daily/Weekly Goals

If you are going to file for unemployment, they will have a goal for you which may be 4 or 5 job search activities each week.   But aside from that, you should set your own personal goals.  Determine what you want to accomplish each day and week.  Now, I will be honest and say that looking for jobs everyday can be a very monotonous and draining process.  So it is necessary for you to switch up your routine.  Some days you may get up first thing and look for a job and network with others.  Other times you may relax during the day and do your job searching at night.  During one of my unemployment periods, I would take my laptop to Barnes & Noble once a week and have lunch.  I would stay there 3 – 4 hours looking and applying for jobs; however, the time went by so fast because I was in a different environment.  For each time of unemployment, once I met my goal I stopped looking for the remainder of that week.  So if I met my goal by Wednesday, I didn’t look for a job Thursday – Saturday.   This actually motivated me to stay focused and find my jobs to apply for early in the week.

5) Get a New Hobby / Stay Involved

Think about all the times you said, “I wish I had more time to _____________________.”  Now you do!  Take advantage of the extra time you have to do the things you couldn’t before.  You can repaint your kitchen.  You can go on a field trip with your son or daughter.  You can get a membership to a gym or enroll in a salsa class.  If you are already involved in the community through your sorority/fraternity or a non-profit organization, be sure to stay involved.  This will keep you motivated and give your brain a chance to think of something other than your unemployment.

6) Reward Yourself For Your Accomplishments

Of course I don’t know where you are financially, so only you can decide what is an appropriate reward for yourself.  For some it may be something as relaxing as a manicure/pedicure or as simple as going out for ice cream or a movie.  For others it may be a weekend trip out-of-town or front row tickets to a concert.  Either way you should have rewards for yourself when you have accomplished those goals listed above.  It will keep you energized and motivated.  Even though you are unemployed, you still have to take care of yourself and your mental health.  Go ahead and spend a little on yourself…..you are worth it!

As you get older and mature, you realize you are much more than what your job title says you are.   You are much more than the name tag they gave you to wear at work. Use this time of unemployment to really get to know and fall in love with yourself. Who are you really? Being unemployed for some time can be a bit of a good thing.  I know it doesn’t feel good right now, but it will work out for your good.  I’ve learned to describe my time of unemployment as a time of transition.  I have learned to be still and listen to that small voice that says – YES YOU CAN and YES YOU WILL!  I know this isn’t what you had planned for your life, but guess what – dreams change.  Your dream job is right around the corner and it will be the perfect job for you.  Now let me boldly proclaim to you what I have had to whisper several times to myself….hold on, the best is yet to come!  This too shall pass!

Human Resources Q & A – I Asked the Questions You Wanted to Know

I recently spoke with 3 Human Resources professionals and asked the questions YOU wanted to know.  They gave answers to the questions that they felt most knowledgeable about.  HR Professional 1 has 17 years of experience, HR Professional 2 has 15 years of experience, and HR Professional 3 has 20 years of experience.

1.  Does someone from Human Resources or the Hiring Manager actually look at ALL the resumes that are submitted for a job?

HR Professional 1:  It depends; if an overwhelming number of good resumes are received, the H.R. Department will not review all the resumes. The H.R Department will stop screening resumes when they have a sufficient number for interviews.

HR Professional 2:  Yes, in most cases the hiring manager will review the resume. If it’s a large company the recruiter will filter through resumes and then pass them on to the hiring manager.

2. How many resumes on average are submitted for each job that is posted?

HR Professional 1: The number varies from the time of year the position is posted. More resumes are received from May – December due to new grads entering the workforce.

HR Professional 3:  200.  It truly rangers from 100 – 700.

3. Does Human Resources or the Hiring Manager actually read cover letters?

HR Professional 1:  Sometimes but not always. The H.R. Department is more concerned with what is on the resume.

HR Professional 2:  Yes, the cover letter gives the recruiter a summary of the candidate applying instead of having to review the resume in details.

HR Professional 3:  No. I do if I have time and something isn’t making sense when I read their resume.

4. How closely does a candidate’s experience need to match the job description to be considered a good fit?

HR Professional 1:  For most positions the candidate’s background does not have to match, but the resume must show that the candidate has the potential to be trained for the job. This conclusion can be drawn based on the candidate’s degree or volunteer work in the community.

HR Professional 3:  Very closely.  If not, I would hire an internal person and train that person.

5. How often are companies utilizing phone interviews to determine the top candidates? How many phone interviews are done on average?

HR Professional 1:  My company will conduct a phone interview for a referral out of state. Otherwise we will not conduct a phone interview.

HR Professional 2:  Some companies are using videos to interview candidates as well as phone interviews. 10 to 15 depending on the position needing to be filled.

HR Professional 3:   As the recruiting person, I am interviewing everyone on the phone. Then I decide if they should come in to meet the manager. We conduct online interviews for remote candidates instead of flying them in.

 6. Do employers view candidates on social media as a way to eliminate them? If so, which social media is utilized the most and what are employers look for?

HR Professional 1:  My company does not have a social media policy in place, so we were advised by legal counsel not to utilize this tool.

HR Professional 3:  LinkedIn.  I like to connect with the person, see how much time they spent on their profile and if it lines up with their resume.

 7. What are you typically looking for in a background check? How far back do you go?

HR Professional 1: We go back 10 years. We are looking for felony convictions. A conviction does not necessarily mean the candidate will be denied employment.

HR Professional 2:  This is industry specific.  For an accounting position we are looking at the person’s background to make sure there’s no fraud or theft in their past. For drivers or anyone dealing with customers no illegal activity or warrants, etc. In some cases 7 or more years if they have violations.

 8. If a former employer is listed as a reference, what information can they legally provide?

HR Professional 1: Most companies will only provide dates of employment, position and whether or not the candidate is eligible for rehire. If the candidate signed a release salary information may be disclosed.

HR Professional 2:  Dates of employment, job title and if they are still employed there.

9. Do companies sometimes check your credit report? Is that legal?

HR Professional 1:  It is legal if the position is a management position and the candidate is required to qualify for a company credit card or the position involves working with money.

HR Professional 2:  Yes, they can check your credit report if you are applying for certain positions and it is deemed legal in certain areas.

 10. What are some illegal interview questions?

HR Professional 1: Where were you born? Are you married? Do you have children? How old are you?

HR Professional 2:  Birthdate, marital status, religious, etc. – anything personal.

11. Why does it take so long to make a job offer?

HR Professional 1: Waiting on reference, degree and background checks. Also, new hire paperwork must be sent up the chain of command for signatures.

HR Professional 2: There are several factors: budget for the position(s), background and reference checks etc.

 

 

 

20 Resumes Myths Dispelled

1.  The purpose of a resume is to get a job.

NO! The purpose of a resume is to highlight your qualifications for a SPECIFIC job so you will get an interview.   Thus, the resume leads to the interview.  After the interview is the follow-up, job offer and THEN the job.

2.  You should have 1 resume and use it apply for all jobs.

FALSE!!!  This is the worst thing you could and really is a waste of your time.  You should have a general resume to use as your foundation and then tweak your resume for EACH job that you apply for.

3.  It is best to use a resume template and just fill in your information.

The best thing to do is to start with a blank document.  This will allow you to format and space the document how you want as templates could limit your space and not be easily manipulated.

4.  It is always best to use a chronological format.

This is simply not true!  The best format to use is the one that highlights your qualifications the best whether that is a chronological, functional or mixed format.   The chronological format normally shows progression in your career and education.   The functional format focuses on your actual skills and not when or where you got them.   The mixed format is a mixture of the two.

5.  Your resume should go back as far as your first job and include all the jobs you’ve had.

Generally speaking, your resume should go back only 10 years and include previous/current jobs that are relevant to the job you are seeking. However, there are some exceptions.  If you are seeking a senior level/executive management position, the employer will probably want to see ALL of your experience which will qualify you for the job.

NOTE: If you are using a curriculum vitae (CV), it can be as long as you want it to be.  CVs are typically used in the following industries: education, research, medical, dental, and those seeking a Ph.D.

6.  Your resume should only be 1 page.

If you have enough experience/education to require a 2nd page, then by all means don’t short change yourself trying to get it to fit on 1 page.  (Tip:  Decrease your margins on your resume to 1/2 an inch and that will help with the formatting and give you more room to work with.  Be sure your name is on each page in case they get separated. Also, never print on the back of the page.)

7.  It is okay to use any font and font size.

You should always be mindful of the industry you are pursuing and what is acceptable for that particular industry.  It would be safe to stick with fonts that are legible.  However, DO NOT use Times New Roman because that is the default font in Microsoft Word and everyone uses it. To make your resume instantly stand out, pick another font.  Your font size should never be less than 10.  Your name and headings can be up to font size 16 or 18.  You want these 2 things to stand out the most for obvious reasons.

8.  Resumes should have no color or designs on them.

It is okay to use color in some instances, just be conservative.  I have seen resumes with the name and headings in a different color than the body of the resume.  Again, be mindful of the industry you are going into.  Color may be more acceptable in Marketing or Advertising versus Accounting or Information Technology.  If you have a personal design or QR code (www.qrstuff.com) that you have created, it is acceptable to use that as well.

9.  The objective should list the specific job or industry you are targeting.

There should be NO OBJECTIVE on your resume…..I repeat…….NO OBJECTIVE!! That is old school…say 1995…..and we don’t do that anymore.  Most objectives are very generic and you sound just like everybody else.  Objective:  Seeking a challenging position in a successful company where I may utilize my skills and have an opportunity for advancement.  Sound familiar?  DELETE IT NOW!!!!

10. You should list all of your education/certifications/training.

Generally, I would say list what you have earned in the last 10 years.  Definitely remove high school once you have obtained an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree.  Once you have been out of school for 10 years, remove the graduation date because it will age you.  Of course, there are exceptions such as education and the medical and dental fields where it is necessary to show your comprehensive education.

11. You should only include experience on your resume that you were paid for.

This is 100% false.  Your resume should include ALL experience that qualifies you for a particular job – whether paid or unpaid.  So it is quite acceptable to include volunteer work, community involvement and professional organizations on your resume.

12. If you have worked multiple positions/locations for a company you should list them separately on your resume.

You can list them separately; however, it would probably be best to combine them to show a longer work history with the company.  Below is an example of someone who has worked 2 positions in 2 different locations for one bank:

Chase Bank                Dallas/Plano, TX           2005 – Present

Branch Manager (2010 – Present)

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3

Bank Teller (2005 – 2010)

  • Accomplishment 1
  • Accomplishment 2
  • Accomplishment 3

13. You  should include information about your employer on your resume such as company website, address, phone number, etc.

Absolutely not!  The resume is about YOU not the employer. Don’t waste space on your resume with company information.  All of these things go on an application.  If you want to highlight a specific contribution that may be listed on the company’s website, you can include a hyperlink that will take the employer directly to your accomplishment.

14. You should put the exact month and year that you started and ended each job.

It is unnecessary unless the employer specifically asks for you to include this information on your resume.  Not including the months gives the illusion that you worked somewhere longer.  This may be helpful for those who have job hopped and/or only worked short periods of time at a company.

15. You should put ‘References Available Upon Request’ at the bottom of your resume.

This is old school as well…..say 1985.  You should list 3 professional references on a separate sheet of paper with your name at the top and have it already prepared to provide should the employer ask you for it.  You want to include the following information: Name, Title, Company, Email Address and Phone Number.  Be sure to call your references ahead of time, send them a copy of your resume, and let them know that a potential employer may be calling them about you.

16. It is best to upload and send your resume as a Microsoft Word document.

The best way to save and send your resume is as a PDF document to ensure that the formatting does not shift.  Also, this keeps your information from being altered.

17. You don’t need to bring your resume with you to an interview because the employer already has it.

False!  This is a huge misconception.  You should ALWAYS bring at least 3 copies of your resume with you when you go for an interview.  You may be surprised and be interviewed by multiple people and they each need their own copy.  Also, your resume should always be printed on resume paper for a more polished look.

18. You should staple your cover letter, references and business card to your resume.

NEVER put a staple in your resume!  If it is more than 1 page or you want to submit it along with additional items, always paperclip them.

19. You should only update your resume when you are actively looking for a job.

Actually, you should constantly update your resume – probably once every 6 months.  You may not remember every skill you acquire or training class or accomplishment.  So it is best to update it consistently so that when you are ready to submit it for a job, you do not have to think about everything you have done for the past 2  – 3 years.

20. An employer will take 2 – 3 minutes to look over your resume to determine if you have the skills they are looking for.

FALSE!!  Employers receive nearly 100 resumes for every 1 job that they post.  So they will initially take 10 seconds to browse over your resume to see if they like you or not.  Ten seconds will determine if your resume goes in the ‘call pile’ or the ‘do not call pile.’  Use your 10 seconds wisely!!

 

Is There a Cure for Boredom in the WorkPlace?

It is 3:00 PM. You are staring at the clock on the wall thinking to yourself – “Man, I have 2 more hours.” This is the same time each day that you have to push yourself to concentrate just a little while longer so you can get through the rest of the day. You go through your daily “3:00 routine” – go to the bathroom, go to the vending machine downstairs to get a Coke, stop by your co-worker’s office to chat for a minute, and then reluctantly head back to your cave….uh… I mean your office. You sit there for a while thinking to yourself –  it has happened again…I’m bored.  This boredom is not because you don’t have work to do and it’s not necessarily because you don’t like the work that you do, but you are just simply bored. You contemplate leaving early for the day but you know you can’t because you want to call in “sick” later in the week.  And you have a report you need to get to your boss by EOD.  So, you are stuck at work. To pass some of the time away you check your personal email, get on social media to see if anyone commented on the last thing you posted, and you may even spend a little time perusing some websites looking for a job. BUT after all of this only 25 minutes has passed and you are still bored.

Why does this happen? Why do we get bored in the workplace? Initially when we started working at our job, we were excited to be there and couldn’t wait to tackle the issues for the day. Now some time has gone by and we’ve mastered our job duties.  We’ve built a good rapport with our team members and clients and our boss treats us good (most of the time).  We even have some great perks.  But what happened? Where did the enthusiasm go? At what point did we start hitting the snooze button on the alarm multiple times to prolong the fact that we must get up and go to work?

I’m sure we could go on and on with reasons why we get bored in the workplace, but I think there is something more important to focus on – is there a cure? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I want to propose a few suggestions.

1) Tell Your Supervisor

I know you are thinking to yourself….No way, I’m not telling my supervisor anything because there may be repercussions.  Well, I don’t exactly mean walk into your boss’ office tomorrow and say, “I’m bored.”  You will have to be a little bit more creative in your approach.  Perhaps you could mention that you aren’t feeling challenged anymore and would like to gain some additional skills.  You may be surprised at how simple it can be.  I did this once and I must admit I was nervous, but I was very candid with my supervisor.  I said something like “When you hired me, you hired me to do my best work and I can no longer do that in my current position.  I feel that my skills would be better used in another area.  I am very passionate and like to do quality work. I want to be able to give 100% everyday and if I’m not able to do that I don’t feel like I’m doing my part.”

Remember what I said about a creative approach?  Pour it on thick.

2) Switch Roles/Teams

After you tell your supervisor you want to gain additional skills or use your current skills somewhere else, figure out if there is another role you could play on your current team. Another option would be to move to another team altogether within your company. This could be a win-win situation and hopefully an easy transition. The only change will be that your office will be on the 4th floor instead of the 3rd.  (It will also help with those who are concerned about how job hopping will look on their resume.)

Now the conclusion to my story…..After I told my supervisor I could be better used in another area, he asked me what I would like to do.  I said, “I would like to be the Career Planning Instructor.”  He asked me why and I gave him my reasons and literally within 1 week I moved to another department and was teaching my first class.

3) Change Your Schedule

Perhaps you have been working 8:00 – 5:00 Monday – Friday for the last 4 years.  Try coming in 9:00 – 6:00 or 10:00 – 7:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Sometimes just making a slight change in your schedule makes all the difference.  A few other suggestions are working from home 1 – 2 days a week or working 9 hour days Monday – Thursday and a 4 hour day on Friday.

I recently implemented a change in my work schedule myself.  I was working 8:15 – 5:15 most days and I felt rushed trying to get to work by that time and normally was dragging in.  Now I work 9:00 – 6:00 and was amazed at how much of a difference 45 minutes made.  I don’t feel like I have to rush in the mornings plus I miss some of the rush hour traffic; thus, I am much more relaxed when I arrive at work.

4) Attend Networking Events / Professional Development

Do a little bit of research to see what professional organizations are in your city pertaining to your industry.  I don’t think your supervisor will have a problem giving you some time to attend an industry networking event or a conference.  You can also enroll in some classes and get another degree or some certifications.  Be sure to mention that the more you learn about the industry, the more knowledge you have to bring back to the company.  (wink wink)  Hopefully your department has a professional development budget that will pay for your costs associated with these things.

5) Spice Up Your Personal Life

Now you can interpret this any way you want to but what I am suggesting is maybe taking salsa lessons or joining the choir at church or remodeling your home or taking more vacations.  If you have more exciting things going on in your personal life, it takes your mind off the frustration that can be caused by your job.  You actually have something to look forward to once you leave work and it can make the day go by faster.  (And don’t get me wrong……if you meet someone “special” that would be great too!)

6) Find Another Job

Unfortunately (or fortunately) this may be the only option. After you have exercised all of the above suggestions, this may be the only cure.  But BEFORE you start looking for another job, do some soul-searching and figure out what you truly want in a job.  If not, you will be right back in this same spot in a few years.  Hey, having to find another job is not always a bad thing and can be quite rewarding if you do your research beforehand.  When you are interviewing for your next job, be sure to ask how they value work/life balance and how they feel about professional development.  You can ask about the management style and culture of the office and if there is an opportunity for a flexible schedule.

Like I said, these are just some of the things that I suggest and have actually done.  I am eager to hear from you and what you do when you are bored in the workplace.  Leave your “cure” in the comment section.

15 Quick Tips for Your Interview Day

Your interview day has finally arrived!  You are ready but nervous.  What should you do?  What should you not do?  What will happen in the interview?  How can you convince the employer to hire you?  I know all of these questions are going through your mind but relax….you will be fine.  Here are some quick tips to get you through your interview day.

1.  Dress professionally – less is more.

This is definitely something you want to prepare in advance.  You shouldn’t get up the morning of your interview and be frantically looking through your closet for something to wear.  It should be taken very seriously as it is part of your first impression….and most importantly it should be PROFESSIONAL.  Decide the night before what you will wear and bring to the interview.

2.  Arrive 15 minutes early. 

This is to give you time to gather your thoughts just before the interview.   Use the extra time in the lobby to look over your notes one last time and observe the atmosphere.   Remember, the interview starts as soon as you walk through the door and they are watching you.  If you happen to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance, just wait in your car.

3.  Turn your cell phone completely off.

The last thing you want to happen is your phone ringing or vibrating in the middle of your interview.  So you should turn it completely off or leave it in the car.  You don’t want the employer to think that if you’re hired, you’ll be distracted by family and friends calling you all the time.

4.  Be nice to everyone you meet.

It is very important that you DO NOT underestimate the receptionist.  If you encounter the parking lot attendant or custodian, be nice to them as well.  They could have more say in whether you or hired than you may think because they could tell the hiring manager about your rudeness.  Plus, if you get hired you don’t want to already have “enemies.”

5.  SMILE and have a nice, firm handshake.

You got an interview so SMILE!! You should be ecstatic to be there!   Remember, your handshake says a lot about you and it displays your confidence at the beginning and end of the interview.  A nice firm grip with 2 – 3 pumps will suffice.  If you have sweaty palms, very inconspicuously wipe your hand on your pants or skirt just before you extend it.

6.  Let the interviewer be in charge and match his/her style.

You are in the employer’s “territory” so let them be in charge and determine the pace of the interview.  Each employer has a different style so you have to figure out what it is and match it.  Some may be straightforward and just want to ask you back to back questions and some may have a more laid back approach and be open to small talk.  Keep in mind, if they don’t like talking to you in a 30 or 60 minute interview, why would they want to hire you and talk to you everyday?

7.  Have several copies of your resume and references (or letters of recommendation) available.

Even if you have already submitted your resume online or emailed it to the employer, bring extra copies anyway.  Besides, you may be interviewing with more than 1 person and they each need their own copy.  If your resume has changed since you initially submitted it, just let the employer know that you wanted them to have an updated copy.  It’s not a bad idea to have your references/recommendations ready because it shows you’re prepared.  If you don’t give it to them in the interview, you can always attach them when you follow up (see tip 15).

8.  Make eye contact and be mindful of your body language.

Both of these directly relate to your confidence.  Generally, you want to make eye contact the majority of the time and occasionally look away. A little trick is to look at the person’s nose or the space between their eyes and it will still look like you are making eye contact.  For your body language, make sure you always have a pleasant expression on your face and you’re not slouching or messing with your hair.  Try to keep your hands in your lap.  Ladies, cross your legs at your ankles if you’re wearing a skirt.

9.  Have paper and a pen to take notes during the interview.

This is because you won’t remember everything.  It also shows that you are interested in what’s being discussed.  Prepared for the interview = prepared for the job.

10.  Be conversational and have adequate answers to their questions. 

The interview is the only way an employer can tell if you’ll fit into their team.  So you want to give them plenty to go on by having adequate answers to their questions – not just 2 or 3 sentences.  Think of it this way….if you asked your friend what they did over the weekend and all they said was, “I watched tv and did the laundry.”  What would you think?  Of course, you would think they were leaving out something and you would want to know more.  Don’t leave the employer wanting to know more.  Adequately answer their questions by telling a complete story.

11.  Be very familiar with the company.

Do adequate research on the company AND the department you will be working in.   The key is to identify what they do so you will be able to communicate how you can help.  This research will come in handy when they ask, “What do you know about this company?” or “What attracted you to this position?”

12.  SELL YOURSELF!!! 

If you can do this very confidently, you have accomplished 75% of your goal.  Most people are very bashful in this area because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their accomplishments.  Actually, the interview and the resume are 2 places where you can brag on yourself and not be seen as arrogant.  Your task is to convey your skills and qualifications so employers know they need YOU at their company.  Even if you are unsure how to answer a question or if it seems like the interview is going rather badly, stay positive.

13.  Have at least 3 questions to ask the interviewer.

I know you’ve been made to believe interviews are one-sided and you have to just answer their questions and that’s it.  Erase that from your mind and know that you should ask questions to see if the job is a good fit for you as well.  Ask questions about the daily duties, company culture, management style, expectations, current issues (so you can offer a solution on the spot), etc.  You can write them down and read them right from your paper.  Not having any questions = not really interested in the job.

14.  Find out what the next steps are.

You should be confident that you will get to the next steps after the interview, so ask what they are so you will be prepared.  It’s that simple.

15. Follow up within 24 hours.

Get the interviewer’s business card to send a thank you letter (or e-mail).  If you had multiple interviewers, send a thank you to everyone individually.  Mention something specific from the interview so that they remember you and realize that you pay attention and retain information.  It’s important to do this in a timely manner because you want them to get your thank you BEFORE they make their final decision.

BONUS TIP:

Take a moment to gather your thoughts before answering difficult questions.  It really is okay.  You don’t have to respond the second they finish asking you a question.  Taking a moment will keep you from saying “um” and rambling as much.

 

10 Tips to Getting a Job Long Distance

There used to be a time some years ago when employers would readily hire candidates from out-of-state.  Not saying that they don’t still do it, but I believe they don’t do it as much.  Now, it is still possible to relocate to another city, but you must have a strategy and let employers know your value.  In other words, why should they hire you over someone else who may be local?  They are probably thinking it will take you longer to actually be able to start the job and you may require relocation assistance and these wouldn’t be issues for a local candidate.

I have relocated twice in my career.  The first time I relocated from Missouri to Dallas and the second time was from Alabama to Dallas.  (Yes, I relocated to Dallas twice!)  Since I have been asked about this subject a lot recently, I thought I would share some of the bumps and bruises I encountered when relocating and give you tips to get around them, which should make your transition smoother.

1) START EARLY IN YOUR JOB SEARCH

You should start your job search 6 – 9 months in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan.  Since you will be relocating there are a lot more things to consider than if you were just getting a job across town.  Starting early gives you time to save your money for the actual move.  You will also need to use your vacation/sick/comp time sparingly as you may need this time to make multiple trips to your desired location for interviews and house hunting, etc.

2) TAKE YOUR ADDRESS OFF YOUR RESUME

This is to level the playing field so employers won’t automatically discriminate against you because you are not local.  Yes, your phone number will still be there, but employers know people have cell phone numbers from all over so this doesn’t necessarily give away that you live somewhere else.

3) LOOK AT JOB WEBSITES SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGETED AREA

So, if you wanted to relocate to Dallas you would look at  ‘jobsindallas.com’ or ‘dallasnews.com’ or ‘dallasjobsite.com.’  You can also simply Google the job you are looking for in the city you are looking to move to.  For example, ‘Engineering Jobs Dallas, TX.’  You may be surprised at the results and discover more companies that hire for your position than you think.  It also might not be a bad idea to work with a head hunter/recruiter in the area.

4) PICK 10 COMPANIES YOU’D LIKE TO WORK FOR

You will have to do some research because you MUST target your job search.  If not, it may take longer for you to find a job.  Pick 10 companies you are interested in working for.  Once you have identified those companies, submit your resume whether they have a job opening or not.  60 – 80% of jobs are never advertised.  They may not have an opening now, but they may once they receive YOUR resume.  Once they see your resume, they may realize that they need someone like you at their company.  Remember, you want to relocate so you have to BE BOLD!!

5) USE LINKEDIN TO CONNECT WITH EMPLOYERS

Go to the ‘People’ tab on LinkedIn and do an advanced search.  Enter the zip code of your desired location and select the industry to find employers.   You can also look for those who  have a certain title and work for a certain company…particularly the 10 companies you identified.  Be sure to personalize your invitation request when you connect with these employers.  Flattery still works!  You can say something like ‘Hi Ms. Smith, I was very impressed with your profile and I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.’

That’s it…..nothing more…..at first.  You must have a very subtle approach.  After they have accepted your connection, wait about 2 weeks and then mention that you are trying to get some tips on the industry.  Ask if they could give you some advice and perhaps some feedback on your resume.  BINGO!!  You get your resume in front of an employer.  You will just have to feel them out after that to determine your next steps – informational interview, asking to pass your resume on to someone else, chatting with you on the phone, recommending job websites, etc.  Under no circumstances do you ever start off by saying “I WANT A JOB WITH YOUR COMPANY!”

Also, join groups on LinkedIn for your desired industry and location.  If you want a teaching job in Dallas, you would join ‘Educators Dallas-Ft Worth.’  This will connect you to more employers and also other professionals in your industry who may be able to give you some insight.   People are nicer than you think but DO NOT STALK THEM!!

6) CHANGE YOUR HEADLINE ON LINKEDIN

This is the part immediately under your name on your profile and it is a way to market yourself.  You want to definitely showcase your 3 areas of expertise so employers can find you.  You can say “Human Resources professional seeking opportunities in Recruiting, Employee Relations, or Workforce Planning.”  Now be careful…..because your current boss may be watching!  So if you think that might be the case change “seeking opportunities” to “with expertise.”  This will at least let an employer know what your experience is in.

Also in the Summary section on LinkedIn you can actually say you are looking to relocate.

7) SET UP A SKYPE ACCOUNT

Do this if you haven’t done so already.  This will come in handy for your interview and again level the playing field.  And of course, practice answering interview questions on Skype (see my blog “How to Prepare for a Phone/Skype Interview”).

8) WRITE TARGETED COVER LETTERS

Your cover letter is your time to make a personal connection with the reader.  This is where you can mention that you will be relocating in the near future.  If you are willing to pay for your own relocation, then say that as well.  You can mention that you will be in the area soon and you would love the opportunity to interview (see the next tip).  Most importantly, let them know that you are available for a traditional, phone, or Skype interview.

9) PLAN A TRIP TO DESIRED LOCATION

This is probably the most strategic thing you should do if you want to relocate.  Plan a trip during the work week so you can do interviews – informational and traditional – whether you have any real job prospects or not.  You have to show employers that you are serious about moving and have to make interviewing you convenient for them.  Remember, you are at a slight disadvantage than local candidates by being out of town.  So you have to take the extra step.   When you connect with these employers (Tip #5), try to set up an informational interview FACE TO FACE.  The whole point really is to turn the informational interviews into real interviews, so you should treat them as such and be prepared.

(I did this and it works! I had sort of been getting the run around by an employer I really wanted to work for.  I’d had numerous phone conversations with this employer and he seemed to like me but was hesitant to make me an official job offer.  So, I planned a 3 day trip to Dallas and left him a message letting him know when I would be in town and I would love to stop by just to chat with him in person.  Once I made it to Dallas, I called him again and he told me to meet him for lunch.  I did and the next day he officially made me a job offer!   I would like to believe my assertiveness had something to do with it.)

10) DO RESEARCH ON SALARY / COST OF LIVING

Now, I didn’t do everything perfect on my first relocation to Dallas.  This is where I messed up because I didn’t quite realize the difference in the cost of living.  So consequently, I didn’t factor that into my salary negotiation.  I now know how important it is so make sure you have done the appropriate research to know the difference.  You can use www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator to figure out the difference between your current city and your desired city.

So there you have it….ways you can position yourself to get a job long distance.  As I mentioned before, it’s not impossible but you do have to be strategic and have a definite plan of action.  These tips worked for me and I’m sure they will work for you as well.

Happy Relocating!!

8 Things to Consider When You DON’T Get the Job

There will be times when you seem to do all the right things and STILL don’t get the job.  Maybe there are some mistakes you are making that you are not aware of, or honestly, it may not really have anything to do with you at all.  Employers sometimes post jobs and go through the interview process even though they already know they are going to promote someone within the company.  Depending on their company guidelines, they may have to post jobs anywhere from 14 – 60 days just to give others a chance to apply.  At any rate, there will be a time when you don’t get a job.  Here are some tips to help you assess the situation:

1.  LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

I know it’s disappointing but it’s not the end of the world.  You didn’t get the job, but you did get an interview which means you were qualified.  Don’t start doubting yourself and your skills.   Think of it as a learning experience.  Every time you interview you get the chance to practice selling yourself, get feedback on your resume and find out what employers in your industry are looking for.  You are just getting more prepared for your next interview.

2.  SEND A THANK YOU TO THE EMPLOYER

Even though you did not get the job, you still want to be professional.   The appropriate thing to do is thank the employer for the opportunity to interview and ask that they keep you in mind for future opportunities.  You never know……something could open up in 3 months or that employer could refer you to someone in his network.   I would imagine most employers don’t get a thank you from candidates that they did not hire, so sending one could prove very favorable for you.  Remember to always be professional – whether you feel like it or not.

3. GET FEEDBACK FROM THE EMPLOYER

Either call or email the employer and ask them for feedback.   You want to know what you can do to improve your interviewing or negotiating skills.  This is strictly for your professional growth – not to ask them to reconsider their decision.  Keep in mind, some employers will give you honest feedback and some won’t, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

4.  CONNECT WITH THE EMPLOYER ON LINKEDIN

AFTER you have learned that you definitely did not get the job, then you can connect on LinkedIn.  Don’t connect while you are still waiting to hear back.  It may come across as too pushy or make the employer uncomfortable while they are trying to make a decision.  Connecting with them on LinkedIn is a way to stay in touch with the employer as sometimes they post job openings to their network.  Also, every time you post something or update your own profile you show up on their homepage as well and it reminds them of who you are and what you do.

5. EVALUATE THE PROCESS

After you have gotten feedback from the employer, you really should do a self-assessment to see what you could have done better.  Did you match the style of the interviewer?  Were you likeable? Did you have SPECIFIC answers to questions?  Did you follow up to the interview in a timely manner?  Were you on time and dressed professionally?  Did you ask questions in the interview?  Did you negotiate your salary appropriately? Did you follow ALL the instructions you were given during and after the interview?  Was there something that came up in your background check that could have prevented them from hiring you?  Did your references/previous employers say good things about you?

6. PRACTICE INTERVIEWING

I strongly suggest you practice answering interview questions EACH and EVERY TIME you have an interview.  Even the most seasoned professional should practice answering questions so that it comes across natural and addresses the employer’s needs.  Interviewing is not just simply rattling off answers to questions – you MUST have a conversation with the employer and have SPECIFIC examples of your experience.  Every time you practice you will come across more polished.

7.  REASSESS YOUR JOB SEARCH

You want to make sure you are applying for jobs that adequately fit your skill set, interests and career goals.  This will keep you from getting to the interview and realizing that the job is not a good fit for you.  Your job search should be targeted.   It really is a waste of time to apply for every job you come across.

8.  KEEP GOING

The best way to get over a job that you didn’t get is to keep applying for more jobs.  You shouldn’t suspend your job search until you have actually landed a job…..and there is a job out there with YOUR name on it.  So keep going!!! You didn’t get the job this time, but I am confident you will nail it the next time!

12 Things You Should Remove from Your Resume NOW

1.  MULTIPLE PHONE NUMBERS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES

Employers are very busy and will not call you or email you at multiple places.  You should put the BEST phone number and email address to reach you.  They may only have 3 interview slots and may make an appointment with the first 3 candidates that they speak with.  When you are job hunting, you should check your voice messages and email on a regular basis so that you can respond to the employer in a timely manner.  Slothfulness in this area may very well cost you an interview.  By the way, the email address and voicemail greeting should be professional because it is part of your first impression.  You may  need to create a separate email address just for interacting with employers.

2. OBJECTIVE

Objective:  Seeking a position in a growing company where I may utilize my skills and have an opportunity for advancement.

Objective:  To work in a professional, challenging environment that allows me to best utilize strong negotiation and communication skills with opportunities for career advancement.

Either of these sound familiar?  I can guarantee you employers have seen it a thousand times.  Employers already know that’s your goal.  Objectives are old school and not necessary anymore so don’t waste space on your resume with this.  Start right away with your Key Skills/Core Competencies.  Use keywords directly related to the job description.

3. PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY PARAGRAPH

Professional Summary:  Results-oriented and versatile professional with proven success in managing complex projects, growing revenue, and resolving both interpersonal and operational issues. Keen understanding of sales and marketing concepts and applications. Adept in building collaborative relationships with professionals from diverse backgrounds and at all organizational levels.

Professional Summary:  An accomplished multi-tasked professional with an expertise in communications, interpersonal and organizational skills,  solution focused, and result oriented with a history of exceeding   objectives. A decade of successful experience in, customer service, mortgage and real estate support with organized strengths in account maintenance, review document control and record management functions.

That was A LOT to read, right?  Well, think about how employers feel.  After about the 12th resume it all starts to blend in.  They don’t want to read essays and long paragraphs and they certainly don’t want to “dig” through to figure out if you have what they are looking for. Make it easy for them and list your skills in bullets and short phrases.  You have 10 seconds to get their attention…..that’s how much time determines if your resume goes in the “look at again” pile or “do not look at again” pile.

4.  OVERUSED WORDS / PHRASES

Motivated, Team Player, Great Written Communication Skills, Multi-tasking, Interpersonal Skills, Organizational Skills, Results-oriented, Customer Service, Detail-oriented, Excellent Time Management Skills, Typing – 55 wpm, Flexible, People Person, Hard Worker, Reliable, Dependable, Dynamic

If you use any of these words, your resume will sound just like everyone else’s.  Your resume is your time to shine.  You should think about what makes you unique.  What is your brand?  What are your areas of expertise?  Consider who will be reading your resume and use buzzwords for your industry.

Now, if the job description itself mentions these words, then by all means, put them on your resume when applying to THAT particular job.  However, in general, leave these words off because they are not helping you and are doing more harm than good.

5.  “RESPONSIBLE FOR” and “DUTIES INCLUDE”

Again, these are overused.  You should be listing accomplishments for each job not simply what your daily duties are or what you are responsible for.  You are trying to impress the employer.  They want to know what you accomplished at your current/previous job that you can do for them. So, when listing your accomplishments, start with an action verb:

Initiated, Led, Managed, Supervised, Trained, Increased, Decreased, Organized, Implemented, Facilitated, Coached, Authored, Negotiated, Drafted, Coordinated, Recommended, Liaised, Communicated, Executed, Designed, Identified, Improved, Presented, Resolved, Recruited, Promoted

6. WORK EXPERIENCE THAT’S MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO

Your resume is a snapshot of who you are so you shouldn’t try to list everything on there.  Employers want to know what you have done recently and know that you have kept up with the latest trends and technology.  Saying that you got “Employee of the Year” in 1998 only makes them think that you have not done anything else noteworthy recently, because if so you would have listed it on your resume.  Don’t “get married” to your resume.  In other words, don’t get into a long-term commitment with the things that are listed on there right now.  Actually, your resume is a work in progress until you retire.  (Sorry…but somebody had to tell you!)  You should constantly update it with the most recent accomplishments/skills/education and delete the things that are not so relevant anymore.

Think about your career over the last 10 years. What are your MOST IMPORTANT accomplishments?  That’s what you should list on the resume.  However, there are a few exceptions.  If you are applying for an Executive level position – Director of Operations or Vice President of Finance, they may be interested in more than 10 years just to see your total background.  Also, if you are going into education, you will probably use a Curriculm Vitae (CV) instead of a resume and this may cover more than 10 years.  In either of these situations still don’t get too carried away – accomplishments only!

7.  COMPANY WEBSITE AND DESCRIPTION

The resume is about YOU – not the company so don’t give attention to these things.  If an employer wants a description of the company, they can Google it.  I only suggest putting websites if it is a link to YOUR work.  If you did a website design or were the presenter at a conference, then list it or put the hyperlink on there.  Also, you don’t need the company address, supervisor’s name, supervisor’s phone number, number of hours you worked, or part-time/full-time status. All of these things belong on a job application.

8.  DATE YOU GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE IF MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO

This will only age you because employers know that most people graduate from college at age 21 – 23, so they will just add up the years to figure out how old you are.  If they can figure out that you are 48, it may work against you if they are looking for someone younger who they can pay a lesser salary.  Plus, don’t date your education.  Technology and trends change so fast that whatever you learned 10+ years ago they are probably not doing now anyway…..or definitely not the same way when you learned it.

9.  HOBBIES / PERSONAL INTERESTS

Bowling, Hunting, Ballroom Dancing, Jogging, Reading, Traveling, etc. do not belong on a resume.  You can put them on your LinkedIn profile, personal portfolio, or discuss it over lunch when you get the job.  If you like doing community service as a hobby or personal interest, you should list it in a section entitled “Community Involvement” or “Professional Affiliations” so it gets the recognition it deserves.

10.  THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO AGAIN

Your resume should always look FORWARD to the job you are trying to get and not just simply list things you have done in the past.  You are letting an employer know your experience and expertise by what you put on your resume.  Don’t take up space talking about things you don’t want to do again.   Putting it on your resume may cause them to ask you about it in an interview.  If you don’t mention it, hopefully you won’t have to do it on the next job.

11.  REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

This is also old school.  Just go ahead and list your 3 professional references in a separate document.

12. TIMES NEW ROMAN FONT

Everyone uses this on their resume since it is the default font when you open Microsoft Word.  Change it to something else that is legible and still professional looking to make your resume stand out.

FAQ – Lunch Interviews

1.  Why do employers have interviews over lunch?

There are a number of reasons:  a.) it may be the most convenient time for them to meet, b.) they want to see your table manners – definitely if the position you are interviewing for will require you to take others out to lunch or c.) they just like to go out to eat.

2.  What should I do if I am not familiar with the restaurant the employer chooses?

Nowadays most restaurants have their menu online and you can look it up prior to your interview to familiarize yourself with what they offer.  You can also arrive a little earlier and ask for a menu or ask the host what they recommend.  If the employer shows up and sees you already looking at the menu, it’s no big deal.

3.  How early should I arrive?

You should treat lunch interviews as regular interviews and arrive 15 minutes early.

4.  Where should I put my purse, bag and/or coat?

If you have a bag or briefcase put it on the floor next to your chair or in one of the other empty chairs at the table.  A more upscale restaurant will have a coat check, but if not you can also put your coat in one of the empty chairs or hang it on the back of your chair.  Now, make sure your bag and coat are not in the aisle in the way of the servers that will be passing by.

Ladies, when you are going for an interview take a smaller purse (or wallet) that can fit in your lap under your napkin.

5.  If the interviewer is a woman should I open the door for her or pull out her chair?

Absolutely not!  In business things of this natural are gender-neutral.  If you try to pull out the interviewer’s chair or open her door, she may see it as being overbearing.  And under no circumstances do you walk her to her car.  Keep in mind, this is a business meal….you are not on a date!

6.  How do I know what to order?

You can do the things mentioned above in #2 or you can very casually ask the employer what he/she will be having or recommends.  Take notice of the price of the suggested items and stay within that range.  You don’t want to order a steak that costs $21.99 and the employer has a chicken salad for $11.99.  Do not order messy foods.  You will already be nervous and shouldn’t add to that by trying to figure out how to wrap the spaghetti around your fork.  Also, never order alcohol…even if the interviewer is having alcohol.  It could be a test to see if you will drink in the middle of the day.  Then if you get the job, you may do the same thing and come back to work after you have been drinking.

7.  Is it okay to pray over my food?

Of course.  There’s no need to make a big deal about it.  Just pray as you would normally.

8.  How do I pace myself during the meal?

You want to watch the interviewer and keep the same pace.  You don’t want them to be done with their salad and having to wait 10 minutes for you to finish yours.  Also, don’t get done too early.    The lunch interview is NOT about the meal.  So, make sure you eat a snack beforehand so you do not arrive starving.

9.  What if there is something wrong with my food or I don’t like it?

This is where you have to make a decision as to whether it is absolutely unbearable or you can still get through it.  If it is clearly something you cannot eat (you’re allergic to it or you feel it will make you sick), very politely explain that to the server and order something else.  You should order something that can be prepared quickly like a salad so you don’t “hold up” the interview.

Now, if you order something and then realize you don’t quite have a taste for it, just eat a reasonable portion of it anyway.   Remember, the interviewer is observing your table manners and you don’t want to do anything that will raise a red flag like being too picky or indecisive.

10.  How do I take notes and eat during the interview?

Very carefully.  You can have a small notepad for jotting down those important things you want to be sure you don’t forget.  You will have to use your listening skills more so in this situation and then jot down most of your notes as soon as you get to your car.

11.  What if I need to excuse myself from the table?

The only reasons you should excuse yourself is to use the restroom or excessive coughing or sneezing.  In this case just say, “Excuse me, I will be right back.”  That’s it…you don’t have to announce that you are going to the restroom.  I mean…where else would you be going????  You should not leave the table to take a phone call because your phone should be turned off or left in the car.   The only phone call exception is if there is a family emergency and someone is in the hospital.  In this instance, you would let the employer know that as soon as you sit down at the table.  You can say, “I just want to let you know that a family member is in the hospital and I may be getting an update while we’re here.  I apologize in advance if I need to step away for a moment.”

12.  What if I see someone I know while at the restaurant?

Speak briefly, explain that you’re on an interview and try to keep moving.  Example:  “Hi Michelle, how are you?”  (Michelle:  I’m doing great.)  “Good to see you! I’m on an interview with XYZ Company.  I will catch up with you later.”  Hopefully, they will get the hint that they should end the conversation.  You may have to give them a “look” that says “I can’t talk right now.”  Once you leave the interview, you can call them on the phone and fully explain the reason for your abruptness.

13.  Can I take home a “to go” box?

NO!  You should try to eat the majority of your food and not really leave too much on your plate.

14.  Should I offer to pay or leave the tip?

No, it is not necessary.  The employer will pay for the meal and leave the tip.

15.  Can I smoke after the interview?

You may smoke once you are out of the view of the employer.