A sampling of questions from visitors and answers from the experts.
I really need a job! I'm open to anything and I always tell employers that I have no preferences, that I need a job and that I just want to work! I follow up with letters and phone calls thinking if they know how eager I am, they'll pick me over someone else less eager. Why am I not finding work?
Employers definitely look for the "eager" employee; however, nowadays "eager" employees are not hard to find! Today's employer is frequently concerned with a long term match and prefers to hire an employee who knows what he or she wants. Stating "no preference" could hurt you. Being flexible is great; being unfocused hurts you. Find a balance. Know what you want to do and express it ... along with flexibility to work where your next employer needs it. Following up with letters and phone calls could also hurt you unless this follow up has been approved in advance by the employer. Respect the time and procedures of the company you are applying to.
I keep sending resumes and never get any response! Is there something wrong with my resume or are HR people just rude?!?
More and more employers are turning to software and Internet based application processing. It's not the employer's responsibility to pay for technology and people standing by to tell you they have nothing to say. If there is a decision to move forward with your candidacy, you'll hear about it. It's not uncommon to have 300 applicants for a single position. Understand it's costly and pointless to reach out to candidates who are not selected to move forward. If you'd like assistance with a resume, visit our "A Winning Resume." There's tough competition out there!
Should I send a "Thank You" note after I have accepted an employment offer?
Since so very little is actually written on this subject and practice as of now is not customary, no expectation exists. Because your new position is a new start of a journey that hopefully will lead to progressive success, we do suggest you start out "on the right foot." A very simple and short note stating "Thank you for the opportunity, and I am enthusiastic to prove my contribution and earn your confidence" is an appropriate message. Use your own words, of course. The note should be no longer, in fact actually shorter in length, than the Thank You note sent after an interview.
I'm seeking a stable job that won't be eliminated. Have any good advice?
Please read our article "The New E-conomy and Your Job Search." Some helpful tips on safeguarding your present job are found in that article. If you are presently unemployed seeking new employment, you can certainly ask at interview "Has this company been affected by the economy at all? Have you noticed that company customers have been affected?" It is important to not use words like "stable" or specifically inquire as to whether the position is at risk. The fact is that "stable" companies have indeed downsized. Temporarily eliminating jobs is sometimes a necessary means of actually being a "stable" company. The cost of hiring rarely pays off unless the hired employee remains in position for an average 6 months. (Give or take a few months). Companies will most likely not be interviewing you if they perceive the position is at risk. Not all companies have been affected, some are rebounding already, and we're extremely optimistic regarding the economic rebound which is happening.
What are some good interview questions to ask which would help me learn about the management style and expectations of my potential supervisor?
If you have the opportunity to interview with your potential supervisor, direct questions are not only appropriate for you to make the right decision but will also portray your work ethic favorably. You will maximize your chances for consideration by being diplomatic rather than confrontational...and it's certainly in your best interest to retain as much control as you can. Always appropriate questions are..."What do you expect from your team members?" "If I were granted the opportunity to perform in this position, what do you see as a potential most important contribution?", "Are you looking for someone to remain in this job description long term, is there a determined career path, or has that not been determined yet?" Bolder, riskier, but often worth asking questions include..."How would you handle me if I made a mistake?" "Do you expect your staff members to suggest new ideas?" It is important that you do not monopolize the interview with your own questions...unless you are specifically informed that it is your turn to do so. Also consult the "Power Interview" for more targeted info.
Should I Post My Resume on the Internet??
Internet postings can provide you great visibility to a multitude of employers; however, you may not be able to control who sees it. It's better to maintain a confidential profile (such as at our site) or e-mail your resume to specific postings. Consider what will happen if your present employer sees the resume. Are you prepared for confrontation or possible replacement at your job? Also, consider the subscription fee to employers for the resume access. Many smaller to mid-sized firms may find the fee too high and these are the employers who statistically are highest paying.
What Should I Wear to My Interview??
You may have already heard a wealth of advice suggesting the appropriateness of the "dark suit." This is true for many, but CERTAINLY not all, situations. The most universal and best idea is this---dress slightly "better" than you would on the job for which you are applying. For instance, wearing a suit to a manufacturing floor position would probably disqualify you, leaving the interviewer thinking that you are more comfortable in business formal setting. As another example, wearing a "dark suit" which appears conservative and unimaginative might disqualify you from a position with a creative risk-taking team. Dress the best you can for the role to which you are applying! Ties, accessories, colors and jewelry all make a statement about your personality and the role you wish to assume. Hygiene and clean, untorn clothing are always essential for ALL positions.
When Should I Arrive for a Scheduled Application Appointment or Interview?
Some may think earlier is better, until you speak with the interviewers and hiring authorities. Actually, arriving too early can be interpreted as unwilling to follow direction. Many interviewers feel "pressured" when their appointments arrive early and sit "waiting." This can start the process on a negative note. 5 minutes early will be well-received by the most interviewers we have surveyed. More than 10 minutes early is rarely considered a positive, and in fact, irritates many. Tardiness is never a positive, and may actually disqualify you immediately. Arrive in the parking lot a target 15 minutes early, but don't enter the premises more than 10 minutes early.
How Should I Address My Interviewer?
In some cases, your interviewer will provide you this information at initial introduction and handshake. Pay attention at the onset, so that you don't miss this vital piece of information if provided. If you are not specifically informed as to the interviewer's preference, then the titles "Mr." or "Ms." are most appropriate. The important exception is where you know that the interviewer owns a professional title such as "Doctor," "Attorney," "Senator," etc. Professional titles should always be observed during these processes. Keep in mind that many interviewers might request you to relax the formality after your initial address. It is always important to respect the preferences once determined. These rules of business etiquette are established to offend the least and please the most.
How/When Should I Follow Up After My Interview?
Our "Power Interview" booklet addresses this question in detail; however, for now it is important to state that your follow up might be the most important thing you do…and inquiring about this step when you close the interview is critical to learning the hiring authority or interviewer's preferences. Failure to follow up afterward indicates to many interviewers that you're really not serious about the job. Following up after a resume, however, could hurt or help you dependent upon employer preference. Visit "A Winning Resume" for more info,
How Do I Best Explain Reasons for Leaving Previous Jobs or Problems I Have Encountered?
We never see enough information about this in other career columns or websites, and this is a major reason people disqualify themselves without even knowing it! It is NEVER appropriate to volunteer negative information about a previous employer, especially if it borders legal accusation or slander! Employers take on enormous risk every day by empowering managers and professional employees to potentially create problems. No employer wants to further take on the risk of hiring an employee who circulates "bad press" and damages the employer's reputation. True or not, discretion demonstrates good sense, understanding of business etiquette and company loyalty. Avoid using any negative terminology in writing and on applications. Let the interviewer "pull" any negative info about others without your volunteering. If you're looking for specific terminology for your situation, we suggest you contact us with your details and questions. This is important, especially where termination or legal actions may exist! Do not follow "cookie cutter" advice here!
How Do I Compare Positions Which List Annual Compensation to Those Which List Hourly Wage? How Do I Know Which Will Pay More?
Always consider paid overtime, bonuses, incentives, benefits and potential raises in the calculation. Many people fail to do this! This is another question which is best answered individually with more specifics. For now, please keep in mind that benefits can comprise up to 75% of an individual's total compensation. Also, please know this…a 40-hour week at $10/hour yields an annual base of $20,800. A 50-hour week with $10/hour base and paid overtime yields an annual base of $28,600. A six-month increase affects 1/2 of your annual base. A 5% increase at 3 months is less annual base compensation than an 8% increase at 6 months. Paid training, long term advantages, quality of life, satisfaction, resume enhancement and visibility, among others, are also to be considered. Clearly, there's always more to consider than the upfront hourly wage.