Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hiring picture brightens for 2011

Orlando Business Journal

More employers plan to add full-time, permanent workers in 2011 than they did at this time last year, according to a CareerBuilder survey of almost 2,500 hiring managers and human-resource professionals.

Twenty-four percent of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2011, up from 20 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009. Seven percent plan to cut jobs, an improvement from 9 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009. Fifty-eight percent anticipate no change in their staff levels, while 11 percent are unsure.

The survey finds opportunities in sales to be the most prevalent, followed by information technology, customer service, engineering and technology.

“More than half of employers reported they are in a better financial position today than they were one year ago,” says Matt Ferguson, CEO at CareerBuilder. “2011 will usher in a healthier employment picture as business leaders grow more confident in the economy. Our survey indicates more jobs will be added in 2011 than 2010, but job creation will remain gradual. The year will be characterized by steady, measured gains across various industries.”

Florida's unemployment rate hit 12 percent in November, while metro Orlando's rose from 11.3 percent in October to 11.9 percent in November.

The industries gaining the most jobs in Florida are in private education and health services, up 28,900 jobs in the last year, according to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't take a holiday from job-hunting

Marcia Heroux Pounds
Sun Sentinel Columnist

Some unemployed workers stop looking for work during the winter holidays, figuring it's futile until January. Instead, job hunters should be angling for openings being posted in the first quarter of the year.

"Don't take a holiday from your job search," Susan Leventhal often reminds her class of job seekers at Broward County's Workforce One. "The seeds are planted for next year." Companies may know there is a merger or acquisition coming in the New Year, or a big contract for which they'll need more employees. Get your resumes to the right people now, she says.

Joan Ciferri, president of David Wood Personnel in South Florida, says it's a "bad idea" to put job search on the back burner because company budgets open up in a new year.

"We're seeing a pickup. Companies that have money, but were afraid to let loose are starting to scout talent. It's encouraging," she says. Ciferri says employers are interviewing job candidates now to fill jobs in January.

Recognize there also will be more competition for jobs as the economy recovers. "People who had jobs, some weren't willing to risk moving. Now candidates are saying, 'I'm really unhappy and I think I'm going to look this year," she says.

Here are some tips for job hunters during the holidays:

Be accessible. "Offer to come in anytime," Ciferri says. Or, volunteer your services for a project or take a contract job to get your foot in the door, Leventhal says.

Socialize. Get out of the house and enjoy holiday parties with family, friends, former colleagues and business networking groups. But remember to ask people what's going on with their employers. "Ask them to make an introduction to someone in their HR department," Ciferri says.

Leventhal recommends asking for advice,or for a resource – such as a networking group someone has found useful or the name of a recruiter. Add those you meet at events to your professional networking site connections.

Some job hunters may feel uneasy about bringing up the fact they're looking for work in front of family, friends or business associates during the holidays, but Leventhal tells them to "get over it."

"How can people help you if they don't know you need help?" she says.

Be targeted. Focus on employers, not vacancies, says Rob McGovern, chief executive of online job matching site Jobfox. Make a list of target employers you want to work for and be ready to pounce once jobs are posted.

"Companies don't have their jobs posted now because they don't have the budget to advertise," McGovern says. But those jobs funded by the new budget will automatically start appearing on company websites in January.

Pick 10 to 20 companies to research and track for job openings. Sign up for the employer's career page RSS feed and Twitter profile, as well as checking the company website for job postings. A new job posting will typically appear on an employer's website hours or even days ahead of showing up on major online job sites, he says.

Stress accomplishments. On your resume, make sure your results are highlighted and quantifiable. Instead of "I managed Broward County territory," write "I grew revenue in Broward County 30 percent for three years, which resulted in $3 million in sales," McGovern says.

Employers want to hire a problem solver so stress what you've accomplished rather than what you've done. If your resume says, "responsible for," start over, he says.

Volunteer. If you have extra time during the holidays, volunteer your services for a community organization. It will make you feel good and you likely make good business contacts.

Or, offer to work for an employer on a project or contract basis. That could help you get your foot in the door for a full-time job.

What job hunters should not do during the holidays, or any other time, is focus on the still ailing economy, Leventhal says. "Concentrate on the problem that you have the power to fix," she says.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search


Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to Network Your Way Into a Job.
Everyone’s talking about using social media for job-hunting. But how, exactly, should you do that? Here are 10 smart and strategic ways to network your way into a job using three popular online tools: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Let people know you’re looking.
Whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, let your friends and followers know that you’re looking for a job. Even better, tell them what type of job you’re looking for. They may not know of any openings right now, but if they know you’re available, they’ll think of you when a position opens up. That will help you hear about openings before they’re listed on popular job boards.

Don’t be afraid to network on Facebook.
Facebook may be for fun, but don’t make the mistake of overlooking your network there, especially if you already have hundreds of friends. Facebook can sometimes be more useful for job hunting than LinkedIn, because friends who know you personally have more of a stake in helping you. They want you to succeed—so use that to your advantage.

Make sure your Facebook profile is private.
Much of your Facebook profile is public by default, and you probably don’t want a potential employer browsing your personal updates. Under Account, then Privacy Settings, choose “Friends Only.” That way, an employer who Googles you won’t be able to see the details of your profile, your photos, or your personal status updates.

Find information about hiring managers.
Before you submit your resume, look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn and Twitter. (If he’s smart, he’ll make his Facebook profile private.) LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds are gold mines of information on individuals. Knowing more about the person who’s hiring can help you tailor your cover letter to their needs and desires.

Hyperlink your resume.
Add the URL for your Twitter handle and LinkedIn profile to your contact information on your resume. (But don’t add your Facebook profile, since that’s private.) Not only does this offer the employer another way of getting in touch with you and seeing how you interact online, it also shows that you’re social media-savvy, a skill valued by many employers.

Be strategic with Facebook lists.
Facebook’s list feature allows you to continue building your network without worrying about professional contacts seeing your personal updates. Under Account, then Friends, create a new list, and customize your privacy settings so professional friends can only see what you want them to see. That way your close friends can still keep up with your photos and personal updates.

Create the connections you need to get the job.
It’s all about who you know, right? Don’t just use the connections you already have. Figure out who you need to know to land a certain job—likely the hiring manager—and make that connection, whether by getting them to follow you on Twitter by retweeting their tweets, or growing your LinkedIn network until they become a third-degree connection. Twitter in particular offers opportunity to connect with professionals who might not otherwise give you the time of day.

Get Google on your side.
If don’t like what pops up when you Google yourself (because you know an employer will Google you), create a LinkedIn profile. Fill out your profile completely and become active on the network. That will help push your profile to the top of Google’s search results, which means a potential employer will see what you want them to see.

Join industry chats on Twitter.
Look for chats that revolve around your industry, or better yet, the industry you want to work in. Joining online conversations helps you keep up-to-date on the industry, meet helpful contacts, and showcase your expertise in your field. You may also want to network with other job seekers through weekly conversations like #jobhuntchat or #careerchat.

Seek out job-search advice.
All three of these networks are great places to find advice on job-hunting and mingle with other job seekers. Join LinkedIn groups that focus on job search. Follow career experts on Twitter, and “like” their pages on Facebook. That way you’ll get tips for your search even when you’re not looking for them. You can find U.S. News Careers on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Standard Job Titles Trump Unique Job Titles on Resumes

by Scot Herrick

Job titles are important to people. They are often used to provide unique recognition to people on the job - usually to provide the title and not the pay. After all, who wouldn't want the title of Chief Technology and Program Officer? My favorite was a database administrator who casually used the unique job title of "Data Janitor II" in his e-mail signature. It was, after all, a better description of what he was doing than his real title.

But unique job titles are killers when it comes to your resume. Resumes are used to get that first interview, so you want it to represent all of your job skills to the maximum amount of possible searches. That means you should junk your fancy, customized job title - "Senior Administrator, Blowhard Division" - and use the standard industry title - "Database Administrator." There are some good reasons why.

Recruiters Search on Standard Industry Titles
This is, perhaps, blindingly obvious, but when a recruiter goes to search Dice for job candidates, he's not going to put "Senior Administrator, Blowhard Division" in the search box. No, he'll put in the standard industry title of "Database Administrator," then limit the search to a geographical area and go from there. If you have the standard title and the locality, you have a search hit. If you have the "Blowhard Division" on your resume, the search engine will blindly bypass your resume and continue on.

Another job opportunity bites the dust. And you didn't even know it existed.

Companies Use Unique Job Titles Internally, Standard Job Titles Externally
Companies need to know where they stand with their competitors when it comes to the market price for people. They do that by comparing their job titles and pay structure to other companies through independent surveys. But it's pretty hard to compare your "Blowhard Division" job title to another if the company hasn't already mapped it to an industry standard. Plus, when your company goes out to look for candidates, they don't advertise the position as a "Senior Administrator, Blowhard Division." No, they post the job as a "Database Administrator" position.

The point here is that if companies are using standard industry job titles when they look at pay and advertise job openings, why shouldn't you be using the very same standard job titles for your resume?

Standard Job Titles Come with Assumed Standard Job Skills
If your resume does get picked up with that fancy "Blowhard Division" job title, the recruiter will have to determine if you have the job skills of a "Database Administrator." If you're fortunate enough to get a phone interview and not rejected in the 30-seconds the recruiter reads your resume, you'll get questioned to see whether you have the job skills necessary for the position.

Now, if you have "Database Administrator" on your resume, that comes with assumed job skills. Instead of questioning whether you have them, the interviewer will assume you do and ask how you've used them. Think of how much further along you are in getting a new gig simply because you have an industry standard job title.

You Are Not Unique, So Use It To Your Advantage
Listen, I hate being labeled as an Industry Standard Dude. I'd rather be a Ninja. I don't like being the square peg fitting into the square hole. I don't like being plug-compatible into a job, or a widget that fulfills a ubiquitous need. I have unique capabilities to bring to the job. I'm a person.

Do you know what I hate worse? Showing that uniqueness on the job title of a resume and never getting the opportunity to show an interviewer what great, unique talents I can bring to the party.

Use the industry standard job titles to your advantage by putting them on the resume so recruiters can find you in a job search. Then party on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rejuvenate Your Resume

You can't turn back time--but you can give your resume a face-lift.
by Charles Purdy, Monster+Hot Jobs senior editor

In a competitive job market, we have to do everything we can to make our resumes more attractive to hiring managers. This can be difficult for older workers, who fear that even if there's no bias (subconscious or conscious) against job seekers on the mature side of 40, a resume may make them look "overqualified" for the positions they want.

Here are five ways to make your resume more youthful, so you can score the interview--and make an impression with your experience and enthusiasm, instead of your assumed birth date.

1. Remove dates from your education. Hiring managers (as well as resume-reading software) may be looking for certain minimum requirements in the area of education. But they likely won't think about dates unless you mention them. If your life followed a typical pattern, the dates of your college degrees are an age indicator. (But education dates are a double-edged sword--if you got your degree or certification relatively recently, you may seem inexperienced; too long ago, "over the hill.")

2. Focus on recent relevant experience. Of course you're proud of all your accomplishments--but the people looking at your resume are interested only in the skills and achievements that relate directly to the position they're trying to fill. Many job seekers (not only those with long work histories) make the mistake of putting too much on their resumes.

For example, if you're a 45-year-old marketing professional applying for a management position, the fact that you were Congressional page in the early 1980s is interesting--but probably not relevant. (And the fact that you were, say, a data-entry clerk for eight months in the late 1980s is neither of those things.) Look at the earliest jobs on your resume--do they say relevant and unique things that will make you more attractive to this particular employer? If not, cut them.

3. Focus on new technologies. "Teletype," "DOS," Wite-Out correction fluid: your resume should have none of these things on it. Demonstrate that you're not an "old fogey" by removing all references to outmoded technology from your resume. If you're a graphic designer, for instance, you know that the design program Macromedia xRes is no longer being used--so why would you waste valuable resume space on touting your xRes skills?

List only software programs and technologies that are current in your industry.

4. Get online and get connected. Like it or not, many jobs now require a familiarity with social media. And almost all job seekers can benefit from the knowing how to navigate Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and industry-specific online communities. For many hiring managers and recruiters, if you're not online, you don't exist.

5. Give your resume a personal voice. Old-fashioned resumes contain a lot of lifeless writing, vague generalities, and "job-seeker jargon"--words and phrases that have lost all meaning through overuse: "detail-oriented," "team player," "responsible for," and so on.

Instead of saying that you're detail-oriented, give an example of how your attention to detail saved a past employer money. Instead of saying that you're a team player, tell the hiring manager about how your team worked together to increase profits. And never tell a hiring manager you were "responsible for" something--tell her what you achieved. Use numbers to quantify those achievements, and use strong verbs.

Finally, don't be afraid of "I" statements in your resume--enthusiastically telling your story as only you can will give your resume more vitality and help it stand out from the pack.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

'Tis the Season for Your Job Search

Don't put your career goals on ice during the holidays.
by Charles Purdy, Monster+Hot Jobs senior editor

Many job seekers are tempted to slow down the search (or pause it altogether) during the winter holiday season. But career experts say that, if you're looking for a new job, taking a break during the holidays is a mistake--because hiring doesn't stop.

At the end of the year, some companies rush to fill job openings that might otherwise be removed from next year's budget. And other companies will be looking ahead--as career expert Kimberly Bishop, the author of "Get Down to Business and You'll Get the Job," explains: "Jobs that might have been on hold until budgets are in place will become available in January," she says.

Roy Cohen, an executive coach and the author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide," agrees, saying, "There's a belief that recruiting shuts down during the holidays. That's a myth--so when other people take off from their job searching during the holidays, you're at an advantage should an opportunity surface. It's all about numbers and odds."

In fact, the holidays provide some distinct advantages and special opportunities for proactive job seekers. Here's how to make the most of your holiday-season job search:

Be flexible. Judi Perkins, of, says, "When I was a recruiter, the holidays were one of my busiest times, and I was often on the phone either side of Christmas day." Conversely, this means that you should be prepared to interview at unusual times, to allow for a recruiter's or hiring manager's busy holiday schedule.

Do volunteer work. All sorts of philanthropic organizations ramp up activities during the holidays--and volunteering can be a great way to network, gain skills, and fill the gap that unemployment might otherwise leave on your resume.

Cohen adds, "You'll meet other volunteers--great people who, by nature, will want to help. You'll feel good, too."

Look into temporary positions. Many companies have end-of-year crunches--at the same time that many workers want to take time off--so they look to staffing agencies to fill gaps. A temporary job can be a great foot in the door at a new company.

Seek out seasonal jobs. Bishop says, "The most obvious opportunities are in retail sales or retail-related positions. There are a variety of part-time and temporary jobs that range from sales and customer service to merchandising, stocking, greeting, gift-wrapping, and playing a role in special in-store events.

She adds, "The hospitality industry also offers opportunities: hotels, restaurants,and caterers have more events and parties, so they need to staff-up.

Use holiday social events to network. You don't want to make every conversation about your job search--but letting people know how they can help you is crucial. Cohen advises, "Have your pitch--who you are, what you want, and why--ready and perfect."

And try to keep things positive. For instance, when you tell people that you're looking for work, also tell them how you've been productive with your time off.

Reach out to your contacts. The holidays are a great reason to reach out to friends and acquaintances, as well as to reconnect with people you may have fallen out of contact with. Cohen suggests, "Send out a holiday greeting, but add a little extra in your message. Email or snail-mail the card to everyone in your job-search universe. It should be upbeat--that you continue and are committed to search for a great job and know that it is only a matter of time and timing. ... And that you're deeply grateful for all the people who have reached out along the way during your search."

And remember that the holidays are a time for giving. Find ways to help the people in your network, and they'll be likelier to help you in the future.

Recommit to your job search. Start 2011 off right: make an appointment with yourself to determine your goals for the coming year; then schedule some time to revamp your resume, practice your interviewing skills, and polish up your personal brand.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Job Interviews Require Connecting the Dots

by Scot Herrick

Here on Dice, I've made a big deal about ensuring you tell (remarkable) stories about your work because hiring managers remember stories better than they remember a listing of facts. One must create the stories, practice the stories, and then offer the stories during the interview. You know you will probably get asked what your most important career accomplishment was, don't you? There's your place for a story.

As powerful as interview stories are, however, they are not enough. Captivating stories are remembered by hiring managers - but not the benefit of hiring you for the work. Until you get the benefit from the story explained to the hiring manager - connecting the dots - you have a great story, but not the compelling reason to hire you.

How to Connect the Dots

You answer the interview question; perhaps you tell a hero's tale of overcoming adversity in the workplace to still deliver outstanding results to the business. The hiring manager is still staring at you with that "WIIFM?" acronym branded on his or her forehead. The one that says "What's In It For ME?" Because, seriously, that's what the hiring manager is hiring you for: to help meet his or her goals.

You answer the question or tell your story. Then you say "...and what that means for you is ____." This is the moment you connect the dots from your skill to your delivery to what's in it for the manager if he hires you. You, compared to everyone else. Everyone else rarely delivers a compelling story, much less connects the dots to show how that helps the hiring manager enough to hire you and throw out all the rest of the competition. You know, YOUR competition.

Use that Methodology Thingy and Ask 'Which Means...'

Getting to the benefit of something can usually gets done by asking "which means...." five times. You take your great story and ask yourself, "Why would that make me want to hire you?" And you answer (all to yourself while you are preparing). Then you take that answer and ask yourself, "Why would that make me want to hire you?"

When you get to the fifth answer, you should have a compelling reason to hire you based on the story you tell.

Hiring Managers Don't Connect the Dots

Hiring managers are people who have a million things going on. Your interview - important as it is to you - is simply another calendar entry of something that needs doing that day. It is probably an important something that needs doing that day, but it is also just another activity to complete before getting done with the day.

Great hiring managers connect the dots - but how many great hiring managers have you run into lately? If you don't connect the dots for the hiring manager, your compelling story will get remembered. But the compelling reason to hire you won't be there.

I've done hiring before - lots of it. But I didn't have job candidates who told me the job skill or experience or story and then connected the dots to say "...and what that means for you is ____." I may or may not have agreed with what it meant for me, but here, at least, was a candidate who not only told the compelling story, but provided me with a potential answer to what it meant if I hired them to help me reach my goals.

Can you connect the dots?

Scot Herrick is the author of I've Landed My Dream Job -Now What? and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. provides online career management training for workers who typically work in a corporate cubicle. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

10 tips to build your career in IT

Peter Bartram

So you've heard that, despite doubts about the economy, CIO salaries can still reach £200,000 - or higher. You'd like a slice of that action. But first you need to build your IT career. What's the secret of the high-earners?

When you meet some of the most successful IT professionals in the world, one fact shines out: none of them set out with pound (or dollar) signs in their eyes. They simply wanted to be great IT people who added value to their organisations. And because they were, the success and the stellar salaries (in some cases) followed as a matter of course.

So what is the secret of their success? Here are 10 characteristics which the top IT leaders share

1. They understand how IT can help their businesses grow.

To put it another way, they know what part IT should play to help realise the organisation's strategy. Take, for example, Sharon Bevis-Hoover, Coca-Cola's director of IT global transformation. Last year, she caught the eye of Coke's new chief executive Muhtar Kent, who asked her to work out how IT could help transform the global business.

2. They lead from the front.

They know that's the way to build a high-performing IT team. Jacqueline Guichelaar, who has a high-profile IT role at Deutsche Bank, can provide a lesson or two there. Her ability to build and lead teams of IT professionals has propelled her career through a succession of big IT jobs around the globe.

3. They know how to make change happen.

That is important when so many people feel threatened by IT-led change. You can't manage change well unless you're as fascinated by people - and what makes them tick - as with technology, advises Graham Johnson, transformation director at Ecclesiastical Insurance.

4. They are great IT talent-spotters.

They know that effective IT leaders don't grab all the glory for themselves. Every one of the top IT leaders has that ability.

5. They talk business language.

They know managers aren't impressed with technical jargon. As Abby Ewen, director of business transformation at global law firm Simmons & Simmons, say, "I can have nerdy conversations with the best of them, but I can also have strategic conversations. And I think that part of being a good manager is being able to make the leap between high-level and low-level subjects."

6. They know that great IT projects come from great teams.

Heather Allan is corporate services director at The Global Fund, which deploys a £2bn each year to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. She says, "You have to motivate and inspire a team with a clear vision of the future and you have to energise and motivate people to want to achieve it."

7. They create strong relationships with their stakeholders.

To put it another way, you need to win friends and influence people. Take Ian Woosey, group IT and e-commerce director at Carpetright. He worked with people throughout the company to help design end-to-end processes which new IT systems would support. Then he gave people in the business a role in defining the new system requirements.

8. They manage expectations of IT.

IT is not a 'silver bullet' that solves all problems. Allan Paterson, director of information systems for the Isle of Man government, says, "The key to a successful career in IT is delivery, delivery, delivery." But, notes Paterson, that doesn't mean agreeing with every off-the-wall idea that comes your way.

9. They use new technologies to deliver competitive edge.

One top IT professional who knows about this is Richard Cross, technology director at ITV. Cross has been proactive in finding ways to use IT to cut costs. And he was also at the forefront in helping ITV harness digital technologies to deliver new viewer services.

10. They contribute to senior management decision-making.

In order to do so, they acquire deep industry knowledge to add to their IT expertise. And that lesson applies as much in the public as the private sector. For example, the fact that Alan Cook acquired a deep knowledge of local government as well as IT made him an ideal choice for head of service business improvement and IT at Cumbria County Council.

And there's a final lesson, too. All the top IT professionals have a clear idea what they need to develop their careers. Then they acted to make it happen. Decisively.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nine Memorable Questions to Ask at Your Interview

By John Kador, Monster Contributing Writer

The landscape for job seekers today is more treacherous than at any other time in recent memory. In other words, if you want a job today, the hard work starts when you prepare for the interview.

That means not just nailing the questions you are asked, but actually asking the kinds of questions designed to make the interviewer sit up and take notice. It’s no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions.

Don’t squander the opportunity to shine by asking mundane questions the interviewer has heard before. Your goal is to make a statement in the form of a question. The statement is designed to:

-Highlight your qualifications.
-Demonstrate your confidence.
-Reinforce your commitment.
-Understand the employer’s challenges.
-Make yourself accountable.
-Advance your candidacy.

Questions are the best way to demonstrate that you understand the company’s challenges, emphasize how you can help the company meet them and show your interest in the most unmistakable manner possible -- by actually asking for the position.

Based on my interviews with dozens of recruiters, human resource professionals and job coaches, here are nine of the most memorable questions candidates can ask:

1. What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values?

2. What kinds of processes are in place to help me work collaboratively?

3. In what area could your team use a little polishing?

4. What’s the most important thing I can accomplish in the first 60 days?

5. Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company’s culture?

6. Am I going to be a mentor or will I be mentored?

7. How will you judge my success? What will have happened six months from now that will demonstrate that I have met your expectations?

8. This job sounds like something I’d really like to do -- is there a fit here?

9. Now that we’ve talked about my qualifications and the job, do you have any concerns about my being successful in this position?

Use these questions as prototypes for questions based on the particulars of the position you are interviewing for. Make them your own and polish them until their shine reflects on you. Asking questions like these is not for the faint of heart but, then again, neither is succeeding in today’s hypercompetitive job market.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Creative Ways to Improve Your Resume

Stuck in a resume rut? Here's how to review and revise with fresh eyes.
by Charles Purdy, Monster+HotJobs senior editor

Career experts are unanimous on the importance of customizing our resumes for each new job we apply for. But for many of us, when it comes to revising our resumes, the first question is "How?"

It's easy to get stuck in rut when you're working with material you know so well. So here are some ways to take a fresh look at revising your resume.

1. Analyze the job post's wording.
An easy way to make sure your resume gets you in the door for an interview is to echo the language in the job post. Look for ways to use the words in the post; a resume reader--human or software--may be screening for them. (If there is no job post, check the company's website--especially the About Us page and any corporate mission statements--for language you might adopt.)

If your resume says "supervise," but the job post says "manage," change it. If your last job title was "Social Media Ninja," and you're applying for a "Social Media Marketing Specialist" position, include the term "Marketing Specialist" in parentheses after your Ninja title (as long as you feel that this term could describe your past role).

Of course, don't stretch the truth!

2. Weed out fibs.
It's all too easy for little fibs to make their way into a resume. Several years ago, you added an unearned certification to your resume, just to get your foot in the door at a new company. Or you claimed competence in a software program you figured you could learn on-the-fly.

Then, as the years went on, those temporary resume fibs somehow became set in stone. Now's the time to chisel them out. Any lie--even a seemingly inconsequential one--can put your job search and your future job security in jeopardy.

Replace lies with truths--or set about making them true. It could be as simple as putting the word "pursuing" before that imaginary degree on your resume.

3. Get rid of the "objective statement."
Beginning a resume with an objective statement (a phrase that starts with something like "Seeking a challenging position ...") is out. As Lauren Milligan, resume expert at, says, "Employers already know that your objective is to get a job, after all." She suggests, instead, creating a personal summary statement that "illustrates how you are better than other candidates for the job." She adds, "Identify a few areas in your profession that you excel at ... and that you really enjoy doing."

Tell the hiring manager who you are and how you can solve her or his company's problems, not what you want.

4. Get rid of redundancies.
Don't waste time telling hiring managers what they already know. Many people do this in their descriptions of past jobs. For instance, if your last job was as a copywriter for an online rug retailer, saying something like "wrote marketing copy for a wide variety of rugs" is unnecessary. Instead of taking up space with definitions no one needs, describe specific achievements. Did your work improve sales, get praise from management, or improve SEO rankings? Use job highlights, not job descriptions.

5. Cut unnecessary resume "stories."
Work Coach Cafe's Ronnie Ann advises removing things that are not directly related to the story you're telling about yourself and the job you're applying for. She says, "I have an abundantly varied job history--better than 'job hopper,' huh?--and remember back to resumes where I just wanted to make each job so full-bodied and rich that I was sure the employer would want to meet me. But as interesting as we may be as human beings, employers just want to know if we're right for their company--and specifically the job in question."

For instance, if you're both a professional accountant and a certified dog groomer, you might want to play down your dog-grooming experience when you apply for jobs in finance.

6. Look for ways to use exciting language.
Check your resume's verbs, and use strong verbs to make your resume more vibrant. For instance, "responsible for daily bank deposits" (no verb) could easily be "oversaw daily bank deposits" (strong verb). And as you find each verb, look at its subject--is it you? If not, should it be? For instance, in "duties included writing press releases," the subject is "duties." It'd be much better to say something like "Wrote all company press releases."

7. Turn your resume upside-down.
I'm serious. Turn your resume upside-down and look at it from a distance. This will help you analyze its appearance separately from its content. Does it look too dense? Is it heavier on the top or bottom? Emily Bennington, a coauthor of "Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job," says, "Sometimes a resume will catch my eye simply because it's formatted beautifully. I know the most important component is the content on the page, but you should also pay attention to the packaging. Trust me, hiring managers notice!"

8. Write a draft in a different format.
In his book "The Overnight Resume: The Fastest Way to Your Next Job," career expert Donald Asher suggests writing a letter to a family member about your job accomplishments as a way to rethink your resume. (Go ahead, brag a little.) Then he says you can start turning this into a resume draft by removing most personal pronouns ("I" and "we"), taking out articles ("a," "an," and "the"), and cutting transition words like "and" (unless doing so would distort meaning).

Thinking of your resume as a letter or a story (in which you're the hero), or some other medium, is a great way to start making it fresher, more personal, and more effective.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Interview Follow-Up with a Recruiter

By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers

After you scrupulously prepared for the interview, wore all the right clothes and nailed the interviewer's questions, now the interview is over. So what's next?

How do you make sure the company knows you are even more interested in the opportunity? How do you get to the next step in the process? If you're working with a recruiter, this is where he can earn his keep.

If you got your job interview directly through the company, all your communications will be with the hiring manager and/or HR representative who is coordinating the search. The protocol is slightly different when you are working with a recruiter, since there is another person in the communication loop. When working with a recruiter, follow these steps for your interview follow-up:

Call the Recruiter for Interview Feedback

Make the call soon after the interview, while your impressions are fresh. This is your opportunity to debrief the recruiter about the interview -- what went right and what didn’t -- from your perspective. Be honest. Explain whether you clicked with the interviewer or not and if there were any glitches in your answers. If you gave an answer you wished you could take back, now is the time to bring it up so the recruiter can potentially clarify this with the client. The recruiter will also take this opportunity to provide interview feedback to you from the client, touching on specific positives and negatives and what the next steps will be.

It's always good for the recruiter to know what you, the candidate, are communicating to the hiring manager, so he will likely ask: Did you send a thank-you note? Your note should be a two-paragraph message, thanking the interviewer and letting her know you thoroughly enjoyed meeting with her. This is the perfect opportunity to state that you are even more interested in the job (if this is true) and that you hope to move to the next step in the interviewing process. Include a sentence or two reiterating the top skills you have that will help the company grow its business. Keep it brief! Although a thank-you note to the interviewer is a must, it's not necessary to send a note to a recruiter, but it's appreciated.

For Subsequent Rounds, Let the Recruiter Take the Lead

If things went well enough in your initial interview, the hiring manager will want to bring you back for a second interview to meet with more people at the company. The recruiter will coordinate all subsequent interviews and give you background on the people you will be meeting with, including their titles, experience and what they will be looking for during the interview. The recruiter should also tell you what type of interview to expect.

Remember to also send thank-you notes to the people you interview with during subsequent rounds. Briefly thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in working at the company. You'll want to get interview follow-up from the recruiter on this round as well.

Remember: Recruiters are paid to act as the intermediary, so leverage their talents in this role. They should know the hiring manager well and be able to ask for candid interview feedback. Don't be afraid to use their knowledge to your advantage.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Top 14 Interview Questions: How to Cut Through the Clutter

Questions are the key of any interview. While that’s an obvious statement, what isn’t quite so obvious is deciding which ones to ask.

Interview questions can be inappropriate (“Is that your natural hair color?” or “Can I buy you a drink after we’re through here?“). Or illegal (So, what religion do you practice?). They can also be routine (“What is your greatest strength and weakness?“). A few may be outright bizarre (“Why are manhole covers round?“). And some just shouldn’t ever be asked.

Certain questions are better than others in generating revealing answers from a job candidate.

The most effective ones require candidates to think quickly on their feet, give transparency to character traits and reveal how they will perform on the job. This is especially important as the hiring market has been flooded with a bevy of talent—you will have to carefully examine each individual to narrow things down and find the best and brightest candidate.

Below are 14 inquiries hiring managers have shared as being most beneficial. They range from basic to very straight forward–and even include a couple of curve balls. Consider these questions, the basis for asking them, the answers you’d provide, and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

What circumstances bring you here today?
This very open-ended question will surprise many candidates in getting things started. But it gives context for the candidate’s situation, such as whether or not they have any problems with their current employer, what motivates them and their goals. If they do not respond quickly, just sit quietly and wait for the response. “My parents said to get a job or get out” should throw up a very big red flag.

How would your best friend describe you?
This response typically indicates how the candidate wants you to feel they are perceived by friends. Take notes and then ask, “May I call your best friend and see how they describe you?” You may or may not be interested in doing so, but the response and body language that follows can indicate if you received a truthful response. Asking this question near the interview’s beginning helps get truthful responses for the remainder of your time with the candidate.

What would you say are your two greatest weaknesses and how do you work at overcoming them?
Most interviews contain the “What are your greatest strength and your greatest weakness” question. But this question focuses more on the candidate’s ability to identify the need for personal improvement. Ideal responses include honest recognition of issues and a plan they are already implementing to overcome them. Some candidates may even be able to turn their weaknesses into a positive, indicating strong alternative thinking and sales skills. Watch out for candidates who say they have no weaknesses.

How do you alleviate stress?
Every job has stress. If someone says they handle it fine without doing anything, it may signal that they’re either lying or don’t know how to control it. Look for positive activities or hobbies. If the response is “punching stuff” or “weekend benders,” it’s not a very good sign.

How do you typically deal with conflict?
As with stress, conflicts are something we deal with frequently. And uniquely. They can range from disagreeing with a supervisor to lunch preferences and cubicle decorations. Most employers look for someone who can manage these issues without getting frustrated. Ask for real-life examples or offer a hypothetical scenario and ask how they would handle it. “Punching stuff” or “weekend benders” are bad answers for this as well. As is this.

What are three goals you’ve achieved this past year?
Another twist in the usual “what are your short- and long-term goals” question, the response to this usually reveals if the candidate has personal or professional goals and their achievements. Lack of a quick response may indicate they don’t plan ahead. A negative answer shouldn’t be considered a bad thing if they qualify it with the fact that they are still working on achieving something. Responses which indicate drive, planning and good work/life balance for both short- and long-term initiatives are the best.

What was a major obstacle you overcame in the past year?
Problem solving is a key requirement of any candidate. This question reveals several things: What kind of thinker are they? Can they do projects on their own or does a manager need to hold their hand? It also confirms how determined they can be toward a project.

How do you raise the bar for yourself and others around you?
This gives the interviewer an idea of who is an above-average performer. It also demonstrates leadership potential and the willingness to be a team player.

Tell me about two memorable projects, one success and one failure. To what do you attribute the different outcomes?
The answer will reveal the candidate’s ability to learn from mistakes and achievements.

Where do you see yourself in five months?
Another twist on an interview fave. Typically, people ask the “five years” variety to gauge drive and long-term goals. But with today’s uncertainty, the answer could realistically be “living in Hooverville.” Brave ones could respond with “your position” or the exceptionally brazen “supervising you.” But the five-month angle reveals short-term goals and level of confidence for not only getting, but succeeding in, the new position.

What are the first five things you would do if you got this position?
Reserve this one for the mid- and senior-level candidates. The most competent ones will already have several things in mind, revealing how they go about problem solving and navigating interaction with co-workers.

What could your current employer do differently to be more successful?
This reveals the situation they are leaving behind, and whether they are a bitter, insubordinate or constructive criticizer. Press for details, such as if they ever communicated or initiated actions to improve upon the situations. This will reveal if they are a catalyst, a malcontent or just full of complacency.

What risks did you take in your last position?
Generally, risk takers are more successful than more passive individuals. While you don’t want someone who always throws caution to the wind, this question gives insight into the wisdom (or lack thereof) of risky decisions they made and the results that followed.

How did you prepare for this interview?
The answer is relevant to whether you prefer those who wing it or people who gather as much information as possible. Most will assume someone who willingly offers they are winging it are either incredibly bold or downright clueless. But if they answered well on all your previous questions, it’s a good sign they can improvise on the job.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Five Steps to Beat Job Search Procrastination

By Bill Knaus, EdD, author of End Procrastination Now

Procrastination dooms most job seekers to a sluggish search. Overcoming this complex human problem takes more than a "just do it" slogan to fix. You can start now to give yourself a winning edge by using time you'd ordinarily spend procrastinating to productively pursue job opportunities. You'll gain more ground in your search while others procrastinate.

Here are five quick tips to cut through procrastination barriers, find a great job and get hired.

1. Recognize the Problem

Unless you know when and how you procrastinate, you are likely to stay in a job search rut. So what is procrastination? It's an automatic problem habit where you postpone a timely and relevant activity until another day or time. When you procrastinate you always sidetrack yourself with a diversion, such as playing computer games, daydreaming, wringing your hands about whether your resume is good enough or complaining about a dead job market. You will almost always justify the delay, such as by telling yourself that you need to think more about your career. Once you realize what you do when you procrastinate, you can see the vulnerabilities in this process.

2. Commit to a Productive Direction

A commitment is a pledge that you'll follow through responsibly. However, promissory note procrastination can waylay that pledge. This is where you make a commitment and then automatically find ways to delay. Promissory note procrastination normally follows the double-agenda dilemma: wanting to meet the commitment (the stated agenda) but succumbing to a hidden agenda, which is to wait until you have an easy time of it. You can cancel promissory note procrastination by following three steps:

· Making a plan.

· Setting a time to begin work on your plan as soon as possible.

· Committing to work on your plan for five minutes, after which you decide whether to continue for another five minutes. The five-minute technique helps you get past inertia that can unravel your best intentions.

3. Refuse to Accept False Excuses for Delays

False optimism feeds procrastination. You routinely con yourself into thinking that later is a better time to start. This thinking takes many forms. Later, or maƱana, procrastination thinking, is that tomorrow will be a better time to do what you put off today. It rarely happens that way. Contingency procrastination thinking moves you to a complex new level: You tell yourself you'll go on your job search after, say, you've read the relevant books on how to create a great resume. Then you either put off buying the books or put off reading them once you buy them. You worsen your situation with Catch-22 procrastination thinking. You tell yourself that the job market is too tight, so why try? This type of self-handicapping virtually guarantees a self-fulfilling prophecy. How do you stop this automatic negative thinking? Start with awareness. If you recognize procrastination thinking, you have a fighting chance to shift to do-it-now thinking: doing reasonable things in a reasonable way within a reasonable time to profit and flourish.

4. Build Foresight

Procrastination is partially due to a normal human tendency to go for what is easy and avoid complexities and uncertainties. This survival tendency worked well when we roamed in small tribes 1 million years ago. You had a better chance to survive by grabbing a handful of nuts and berries than planting a wheat field and waiting to harvest it. The process of planning for the future was a radical shift in human evolution that came much later. Today we have both capacities: to go for what is easiest, as well as to plan and act to get a bigger long-term reward. Procrastination comes into play when primitive urges interfere with working toward that bigger long-term gain. To get past this natural short-term gain trap, see beyond the moment. Accept the fact -- even if you don't like it -- that to do better, you need to take a longer-term view and take the essential steps to get a great job. Act on that belief and you have fewer false rewards from complaining or playing a video game. (Here's more about prioritizing strategies for achieving long-term gains.)

5. Put Yourself on a Fearless Job Hunting Path

The path of a fearless job hunter is the path of a realistic optimist. Commitment, hard work and practicality pave the path. Procrastination is a sinkhole on the way. When procrastination interferes with your job search, disappointments can turn to discouragements that translate into future delays. As a fearless job hunter, you keep your eye on your priorities and manage your expectations by expectancy thinking. With expectancy thinking, you concentrate on what is likely to yield the best results in furthering your job search. For example, if networking has the highest yield, and you spend most of your time on the low-yield activity of reading want ads, then making a radical shift to networking sidesteps the procrastination sinkhole. (Here's more about fearless job hunting.)

[Bill Knaus, EdD, is the author of more than 20 books. His most recent are End Procrastination Now (McGraw-Hill 2010) and Fearless Job Hunting (New Harbinger, 2010).]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

5 Ways to Get Past 'You're Overqualified'

by Liz Ryan

When you write career-advice columns as I do, it's easy to get the idea that you've heard everything. Of course, as soon as I think that, along comes an email message from a reader to bust that notion apart. Here's an email message I recently received:

Dear Liz,

A person at the Workforce Development Center told me to take my BA degree off my resume so as not to intimidate employers who don't require a college degree. What do you think?

Thanks, Eliza

This is a new low--advising job-seekers to deny their hard-earned bachelor's degrees! That advice, of course, is ridiculous. We don't have to pretend to be less-well-educated versions of ourselves in order to get hired. We do need to spend a little time figuring out what the employer is looking for--what business problem lurks behind the job ad. Here are five ways to stay in the pipeline when you're applying for jobs you could do in your sleep:

Address the need, not the requirements.
If a job ad asks for candidates with three years of experience, the last thing you want to do is to write, "I have 18 years of experience!" in your application or cover letter. Employers get skittish about highly qualified candidates because they fear these folks will bolt for a better opportunity at the first chance.

Improve your odds of getting an interview by addressing the business pain, instead of the listed requirements. In your cover letter, you can say, "I can only imagine that looking after dozens of suppliers and keeping on-time deliveries and supplier quality at a high level are constant priorities." Let the manager know that you've slain his particular dragon before. That will help neutralize the fear that you're too experienced to do well in the job.

Say why you're interested.
If you're actually looking to downshift in your career, for instance, or would trade a loftier title for a shorter commute, say so in your cover letter! "I'm especially interested in the job at Acme Explosives because I prefer startup energy to the huge corporations I've worked in for the past decade." Be specific. If an employer sees a logical reason for you to prefer her job even though you've held bigger positions, that will help you get over the hump.

In the interview, talk about them.
Nothing is more appealing to an employer than to have a job-seeker talk about the company, rather than blather on about himself. "I've done blah-dee-blah-blah-blah" is hard to listen to for long, but "I'd love to know more about your purchasing process--how does it work?" is not. If you keep the focus on the job and use your brilliant questions to show your understanding of, and curiosity about, the organization, you'll help allay fears that you're just looking for a safe harbor until the dang recession blows over.

Probe for the pain.
Think about the most common obstacles you've run into when you've performed similar work, and ask your hiring manager about them. "A lot of companies run into supplier-quality issues--but maybe that's not a problem for you?" is a great interview question. Most likely, the purchasing manager will say something like "No, we've got our share of that"--and then you can say, "I'd love to hear about it!" The more you learn about the pain, the more aptly you'll be able to tailor your stories to let the manager know you've slain his most annoying dragons already.

Don't make it about salary.
If you apply for jobs you could have done (or did do) 15 years ago, you're not going to be able to hold out for a massive salary. One of an employer's most understandable fears about hiring overqualified people is that they'll walk in the door and ask for a salary bump a month later. Let the employer know that you're game to grow with the company, if you are, and that there are things (flextime perhaps, or the ability to work from home sometimes) that trump dollars and cents. Keep the conversational flexible and problem-solve-y, and keep the focus on solving whatever problem the employer is facing.

If you're asked, "Will you make a two-year commitment?" answer, "I will if you can do the same thing." That is supremely reasonable. Employers need help, and you've got lots to offer. Don't deny your education and your work history--change the conversation instead!

Liz Ryan is a 25-year HR veteran, a former Fortune 500 VP, and an internationally recognized expert on careers and the new-millennium workplace. Connect with her at (The opinions expressed in this column are the author's.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

7 Ways Your Resume Dates You

Porcshe Moran

The turbulent economy has forced many people to go back into the job market for the first time in years. If there is a thick layer of dust on your resume it might be beneficial to learn the new rules of resume writing and presentation before you start submitting applications. Even the most qualified applicant might not get called in for an interview if his resume creates the impression that he is out of touch with the current business environment. Do not assume that an impressive cover letter can serve as a substitute for a poorly written resume.

1. References Upon Request

There is no need to waste valuable resume space on this outdated section. Employers assume that you will provide references if asked. Instead, keep a separate page with the names and contact information of your references ready to supply to the employer once you have advanced in the interview process.

2. One Resume Fits All

While it is smart to keep a master resume on file, you need to customize it to fit each job for which you apply. Job-seekers who take the time to tailor their resume to the employer's needs will stand out from the pack. Eliminate the details that don't apply to the position and emphasize the ones that make you look the most qualified. It might take a little extra time to apply using this technique, but it will be worth it when your interview offers increase.

3. Objective Statement

The professional summary or profile has replaced the objective statement. Employers are focused on what candidates can do for them, not what the business can do for the candidate. You will sell yourself better with a concise bulleted list of the qualifications and accomplishments that make you a match for the position.

4. Single-Page Resume

One of the most touted resume rules is that the document must be one page. Many people will go to extremes to follow this command, resulting in tiny, unreadable font sizes just to avoid having a resume that extends onto the second page.

Unless you are a newcomer to the job market, it is entirely possible that you'll need more than a page to adequately showcase your skills and qualifications. If you have enough job experience that fits the position, it is acceptable to extend your resume length to two pages. Keep your resume succinct and relevant, but don't go under a 10-pt. font size.

5. Lack of Social Networking

Websites such as Facebook and Twitter might be considered distractions in the workplace, but they can be an asset on a resume. Employers want to know that applicants are up-to-date with current technology and communication trends. Links to a professional online portfolio, blog or LinkedIn page should be included in your resume header. There is a good chance that employers will do an internet search to find out more about potential employees, so make sure that all of your social networking profiles project a professional image.

6. Too Much Information

It is not necessary to give your life story on a resume. In fact, providing an employer with too much information can be detrimental to your chances of employment. Delete information about where and when you graduated high school. Ditch irrelevant jobs from 15 years ago. Although it was standard practice in some industries years ago, it is now inappropriate to include personal details in a resume such as information about your hobbies, religion, age and family status. Not only does it look unprofessional, but that information could be used to discriminate against you.

An employer will ask if they want to know why you left previous positions, so don't mention it on your resume. The rule of thumb is to pare down your resume to only include things that show why you are the perfect fit for the specific position for which you are applying.

7. Outdated Terminology and Skills

Skills in obsolete computer software and systems should be removed from your resume. Technical experience is critical in nearly every industry and employers often use technology keywords to find resumes in electronic databases. Listing basic computer skills such as word processing and using an internet browser is not recommended because employers will assume that you have those proficiencies. The job description is the best guide to determine the terminology and technology skills that should show up on your resume.

The Bottom Line

In a fast-paced and competitive job market the parameters for writing a resume continue to change. Resumes that do not reflect knowledge of the current needs in the workplace and the new rules of how to present yourself to an employer will likely end up in the trash.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CIOs say they're hiring again

After a long period of layoffs in a flagging economy, IT staffs are starting to expand as stalled projects are relaunched and workloads increase.

By Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld - The technology employment outlook is slowly starting to improve, but the uptick in hiring has been modest and hasn't come close to making up for the IT jobs lost during the economic downturn of the past couple of years.

The latest quarterly Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report projects a moderate increase in hiring during the fourth quarter. Some 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies with 100 or more employees were surveyed for the report.

The personnel services firm said that data center executives are slowly adding new employees as work starts on projects that had been put on hold, and as IT workloads increase in general. Almost half of the survey respondents said they expect their companies will invest in IT projects in the coming months.

The optimistic note comes after a couple of very bad years for IT workers. For instance, IT vendors have shed 215,000 jobs since January 2009, according to TechAmerica Foundation, an industry group. But in the first six months of this year, technology companies added 30,200 jobs to their payrolls, whereas they shed 143,000 jobs over the same period last year.

John Longwell, vice president of research at Computer Economics Inc., pointed out that vendors are filling not just technology jobs, but also sales, marketing and distribution positions.

"Those sectors that are feeling the early stages of the recovery are hiring, but we expect IT organizations overall to continue to run very lean through the remainder of this year," Longwell said. Such firms "are not laying off workers, but for the most part, they do not have plans to hire."

Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said that slow-growing employment numbers among vendors and user companies reflect the state of the economy. "Companies have been very, very cautious about hiring employees, especially permanent staff," he said.

Users are investing in technology as a way of avoiding hiring, while tech vendors are growing mostly via sales of computer equipment, PCs and servers -- not from the sale of people-intensive services, Bartels added.

The Robert Half survey found that CIOs are mostly seeking experts in network and Windows administration, database management and desktop support.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Job-Search Tips: How to Nail a Phone Interview

by Gina Pogol,

With nearly five candidates (on average) applying for each available job opening--and with hundreds applying for some positions--many human resource departments and recruiters are using telephone interviews much more extensively to narrow down job-applicant pools. These tips will help keep you in the running.

No more softball!
Until recently, telephone interviews were mainly used to verify your basic qualifications before the "real" interview. So if the position required an MBA and you thought you could sneak in with your good looks and your associate's degree, the phone interview would be as far as you got. People who met the basic requirements would then field a few softball questions. Preparation for these phone interviews consisted of spitting out your gum before answering.

Today, however, the person on the phone might not be some appointment-setting flunky--you could be speaking to an actual decision-maker. Expect to be grilled.

Before the interview
1. Create a cheat sheet. Keep your resume in front of you, as well as a list of key achievements in previous jobs. Write down the answers to commonly asked interview questions. You know the drill: What are your greatest strengths? What are your career goals? And so on.

2. Research the company. Yes, you didn't have to do this for phone interviews in the past, but now you do. Think of it as an early opportunity to show your stuff.

3. Take the interview seriously. One hiring manager told the Wall Street Journal that interviewees have put her on hold while taking calls from other people, allowed the interview to be interrupted by screaming children, or had the TV blaring in the background. One applicant on a cell phone actually ordered from a drive-through window during the phone interview!

4. Create the right atmosphere. Treat a phone interview like an important meeting with someone who can change your life--because it just might be. You wouldn't go to an important meeting in your pajamas, so dress neatly and attractively for your phone call. Sit up straight (you may even prefer to stand) because it makes your voice resonate more effectively. If you plan to use a cell phone, have a friend call you for a practice run to make sure the connection is good. And be alone for your interview. You wouldn't go to a professional meeting with your mommy by your side or a puppy in your lap, would you?

5. Finally, make sure your outgoing voicemail message sounds professional. (And if you don't know exactly when the interviewer will call, refrain from answering your phone with "Duuuuude!" during the window of possibility.)

During the interview
1. Be nice. You may speak with the company president. You may speak with a switchboard operator. No matter what, be professional and polite (because the switchboard operator talks to everyone).

2. Remember that the other person can't see you. If you need to stop speaking in order to write something down, don't just leave the interviewer with a bunch of dead air. Say something like "Please excuse me while I write that down."

3. Don't jump the gun. "So, Mr. Jones, where did you go to s--" "I have a bachelor's degree in communications and an online MBA." "As I was saying, where did you go to ski when you lived in Vermont?" Oops. Don't interrupt the interviewer. It's rude, and it makes your rehearsed answers sound a bit too rehearsed.

4. Don't drone on. Some people panic and feel a frantic need to fill up every pause in a conversation--especially when they can't see the other party. Don't do this. Drawn-out explanations make it look like you're either hiding something or trying to exaggerate your qualifications.

5. Ask questions. The phone interview is an opportunity for you to learn about the company and get a better idea of exactly what the hiring manager wants to see. For example, if career training in specific software is required, ask how the program is used. Then if you get an in-person interview, you'll be able to highlight your proficiency with the software and your ability to use it as required.

Closing the deal
Just as you would when completing an in-person interview, tell the interviewer what you want. At the end of a phone interview, make it clear that you are enthused about the position and that you would like to go further in the process. Be sure to send a prompt "thank you" that also recaps your qualifications and emphasizes your interest in the job. With any luck, you'll emerge with an appointment for an in-person interview.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What should you consider before changing your IT focus?

Author: Toni Bowers

I received an email from a TechRepublic member who is seeking advice about switching focuses in his IT career:

I have been working in Telecom as a software developer for six years now. At the beginning of my career I did work in embedded for about two years. Now I find my self wanting to switch back to embedded/device drivers. Is it advisable to make such a switch after quite a few years of experience in the IT industry? Would it in any way hamper my career with such a move?

In order to answer this question, I began by asking Justin James, who writes for our Programming and Development blog, his opinion.

He said, “Would I call it ‘advisable’? Not really. Unless your current specialty is on the decline, there is no need to make the switch. Unless you see otherwise, the pay rates are probably going to be the same. Up front you might have to take a pay cut due to lack of experience in the new field. In the long run, it may pay off to have a broader scope of experience, but that’s long-term thinking and it’s too hard to predict these things more than a year or two out. At the same time, other than having to start in a new industry and learn some new things, it may be worth a bit of a pay cut just to do something new and different. There should not be a substantial negative affect on his career other than the short term pay cut and the loss of seniority in your current job.”

Here’s my opinion: Six years may seem like a lot of time but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not. Some people make complete career changes to entirely other fields with more time than that under their belts. My advice would be to go where your heart is. If you really think that working with embedded/device drivers is something that would be more fulfilling or that you would find more interesting, then that’s the way I would suggest you go. No one would deny the pleasure of a good salary, but if you earn it doing something you aren’t really invested in, then, believe me, it won’t make you happy.

The good news is that you have already had a taste of the specialty you want to move into. If you find it beckoning you again, then something tells me that’s where your heart and interests lie.

Friday, September 17, 2010

6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook

by Kathy Kristof

The whole social networking phenomenon has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and dozens of similar sites. But there are a handful of personal details that you should never say if you don't want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind, according to Beth Givens, executive director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

The folks at also say that ill-advised Facebook postings increasingly can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for everything from auto to life insurance coverage. By now almost everybody knows that those drunken party photos could cost you a job, too.

You can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site?

Your Birth Date and Place

Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and where you were born too, you've just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life, said Givens. A study done by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — and sometimes all — of the numbers in your Social Security number, she said.

Vacation Plans

There may be a better way to say "Rob me, please" than posting something along the lines of: "Count-down to Maui! Two days and Ritz Carlton, here we come!" on Twitter. But it's hard to think of one. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like. But don't invite criminals in by telling them specifically when you'll be gone.

Home Address

Do I have to elaborate? A study recently released by the Ponemon Institute found that users of Social Media sites were at greater risk of physical and identity theft because of the information they were sharing. Some 40% listed their home address on the sites; 65% didn't even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings. And 60% said they weren't confident that their "friends" were really just people they know.


You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational user of illicit drugs, but this is no place to confess. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire — and, sometimes, who to fire. Need proof? In just the past few weeks, an emergency dispatcher was fired in Wisconsin for revealing drug use; a waitress got canned for complaining about customers and the Pittsburgh Pirate's mascot was dumped for bashing the team on Facebook. One study done last year estimated that 8% of companies fired someone for "misuse" of social media.

Password Clues

If you've got online accounts, you've probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom's maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song. Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? You're giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Risky Behaviors

You take your classic Camaro out for street racing, soar above the hills in a hang glider, or smoke like a chimney? Insurers are increasingly turning to the web to figure out whether their applicants and customers are putting their lives or property at risk, according to So far, there's no efficient way to collect the data, so cancellations and rate hikes are rare. But the technology is fast evolving, according to a paper written by Celent, a financial services research and consulting firm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Job Openings Up After Two Months of Decline

Job openings rose in July after two months of declines, a positive sign that companies could step up hiring in the coming months. The Labor Department says the number of jobs advertised rose by 6.2 percent to 3.04 million. That's the highest total since April, when temporary census hiring inflated that month's figure. Even with the increase, total openings remain far below the 4.4 million that existed in December 2007, when the recession began. [Source: Lakeland Ledger]

Friday, September 10, 2010

6 Career-Killing Facebook Mistakes

by Erin Joyce

With more than 400 million active visitors, Facebook is arguably the most popular social networking site out there. And while the site is known for the casual social aspect, many users also use it as a professional networking tool. With that kind of reach, Facebook can be a valuable tool for connecting to former and current colleagues, clients and potential employers. In fact, surveys suggest that approximately 30% of employers are using Facebook to screen potential employees – even more than those who check LinkedIn, a strictly professional social networking site. Don't make these Facebook faux-pas – they might cost you a great opportunity.

1.Inappropriate Pictures
It may go without saying, but prospective employers or clients don't want to see pictures of you chugging a bottle of wine or dressed up for a night at the bar. Beyond the pictures you wouldn't want your grandparents to see, seemingly innocent pictures of your personal life will likely not help to support the persona you want to present in your professional life.

2.Complaining About Your Current Job
You've no doubt done this at least once. It could be a full note about how much you hate your office, or how incompetent your boss is, or it could be as innocent as a status update about how your coworker always shows up late. While everyone complains about work sometimes, doing so in a public forum where it can be found by others is not the best career move. Though it may seem innocent, it's not the kind of impression that sits well with a potential boss.

3.Posting Conflicting Information to Your Resume
If you say on your resume that your degree is from Harvard, but your Facebook profile says you went to UCLA, you're likely to be immediately cut from the interview list. Even if the conflict doesn't leave you looking better on your resume, disparities will make you look at worst like a liar, and at best careless. (Social networking can also be used as its own job. Learn more in Make Money With Social Networking Sites.)

4.Statuses You Wouldn't Want Your Boss to See
Everyone should know to avoid statuses like "Tom plans to call in sick tomorrow so he can get drunk on a Wednesday. Who cares that my big work project isn't done?" But you should also be aware of less flamboyant statuses like "Sarah is watching the gold medal hockey game online at her desk". Statuses that imply you are unreliable, deceitful, and basically anything that doesn't make you look as professional as you'd like, can seriously undermine your chances at landing that new job.

5.Not Understanding Your Security Settings
The security settings on Facebook have come a long way since the site started. It is now possible to customize lists of friends and decide what each list can and cannot see. However, many people do not fully understand these settings, or don't bother to check who has access to what. If you are going to use Facebook professionally, and even if you aren't, make sure you take the time to go through your privacy options. At the very least, your profile should be set so that people who are not your friend cannot see any of your pictures or information. (These rules apply to Twitter as well, and you can also use Twitter to find a new job. Find out more in Tweet Your Way To A Sweet Job.)

6.Losing By Association
You can't control what your friends post to your profile (although you can remove it once you see it), nor what they post to their own profiles or to those of mutual friends. If a potential client or employer sees those Friday night pictures your friend has tagged you in where he is falling down drunk, it reflects poorly on you, even if the picture of you is completely innocent. It's unfortunate, but we do judge others by the company they keep, at least to some extent. Take a look at everything connected to your profile, and keep an eye out for anything you wouldn't want to show your mother.

Facebook Can Help You Get Hired … Or Fired
The best advice is to lock down your personal profile so that only friends you approve can see anything on that profile. Then, create a second, public profile on Facebook purely for professional use. This profile functions like an online resume, and should only contain information you'd be comfortable telling your potential employer face to face. Having a social networking profile is a good thing – it presents you as technologically and professionally savvy. Just make sure your profile is helping to present your best side – not the side that got drunk at your buddy's New Year's party.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nine Tips for Starting Out or Starting Over

By Pat Boer, Monster Contributing Writer

Whether you're a new graduate or career changer, starting a career takes a lot of motivation and energy.

If you're confident and know what you want, taking that first step is easy. But if you don't know where to begin or if you dread making that initial move, starting out -- or starting over -- is much more difficult. These tips will help get you going.

1. Have Your Hair Styled or Cut

Good grooming is essential to making a good first impression. You may find looking good makes you feel good and gives you confidence.

2. Shop for an Interview Outfit

You'll need proper interview clothes. Why not buy now and be prepared? Just as having your hair styled may jump-start your search, investing in the right interview outfit is another way to gain a professional edge.

3. Get Reconnected

If you've put off your search, chances are you've also withdrawn from family and friends. You may have avoided them, because you hate answering the question, "Have you found a job yet?" Give up thinking that you need to land a job on your own. No one succeeds alone. Get reconnected to stop cutting yourself off from the very people who care and can help.

4. Visit a Large Bookstore

Browse the career sections of large bookstores, where you can review the latest books on career fields. Other publications, such as Odd Jobs: Portraits of Unusual Occupations, highlight interesting jobs and unusual small businesses.

5. Take Vocational Tests

If you still don't have a clue about what you want with respect to your career, invest in vocational testing. Many vocational tests, now available online, help you identify career values and employment options. Some, like the Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, require you to contact a career counselor. Others are self-tests, like the Holland Self-Directed Search and the Values Identification Inventory.

6. See a Career Counselor

If you prefer talking things out or want individual attention (and who doesn't?), find a qualified career counselor to help you sort through your interests and make plans. A career counselor will help you focus your goals, prepare your resume and prep for interviews.

7. Surf the Net

Use Monster to find jobs, research companies and ask experts your career-related questions.

8. Join a Professional or Trade Association

This is a great way to find a wealth of information on your field and keep abreast of trends and salaries. Most associations also have job banks. And don't say you can't afford it. If you want to be successful, you need to pay your dues -- literally. In return, you'll find an easy way to get connected and gain support from people who share your ideas and values. If you want an inside track and an easy way to network, this is the place to start.

9. Trust the Process

A ball gathers momentum once it starts rolling. A job search is the same way. Once you begin, you'll find opportunities and eventually receive offers. So take your pick -- there are lots of ways to start.

Center for Career/Life Planning © 1999

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

UCF engineering, computer science ranked high

Orlando Business Journal

The University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is one of the best 100 in the world, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

For engineering/technology and computer science, UCF tied for 76th with Yale, Michigan State and Johns Hopkins universities, according to a UCF release.

UCF ranked among the top 50 U.S. universities and the top 30 U.S. public universities.

The international ranking system rates a variety of broad fields at research universities, including the number of highly-cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific and the number of articles published in the journals of Nature and Science.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How a Recruiter Can Help You Find a Job

by Gina Cappiello,

Not seeing much progress with your job hunt? Get some assistance from a recruiter.

Here are three important ways that working with a recruiter can help give you an edge over the competition:

They know what's happening in your industry
"The biggest perk when you're working with a recruiter is that they are truly entrenched in your specialty," says career coach Kevin Kermes, of Career Attraction.

Being grounded in a specific industry helps a recruiter expertly navigate its ins and outs. "A recruiter is always in the marketplace," says Lori Marcus, principal recruiter of Quad656. "They know who is hiring, restructuring, and firing. They know exactly what's going on day after day and have a continuous flow of market knowledge to share."

They know the right people and information
A recruiter has the powerful network of industry leaders that you desire. "Generally, the relationship your recruiter has with the recruiting and human resources departments increases your chances of being interviewed for a position over individuals that responded directly via an employment ad," says recruiter Mary Ann Henker, of The Henker Group.

Along with having a strong network to work with, "a recruiter might know about preferred positions that are slated to be announced to the public but have not yet been published," she says. Finally, a recruiter can alert you about "companies that have high turnover rates, dissatisfied staff, or other red flags that you should be mindful of," she says.

They will give you tips and feedback
"Recruiters can prepare you for the people you're going to interview with, because we know them already," says Marcus. "We know their interviewing style and how you should conduct yourself throughout the interview."

A recruiter will also give you valuable feedback about your interview. "We're able to give and get feedback and then give it back to the job seeker," says Marcus. Instead of waiting around and wondering what the company thought of you, a recruiter can relay feedback from the company to you and vice versa. "Your feedback about the company gets the hiring manager excited and reinforces your candidacy," she says.

And it's a two-way street
Recruiters may be helpful to your job search but they can be even more helpful if you can assist them. "The biggest complaint I hear from clients is that people aren't getting calls back from recruiters," says Kermes. He recommends positioning yourself as a hub in the industry and offering assistance. "Pick up the phone, call the recruiters, and ask how you can leverage your network to help them out," he says.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The 10 Best IT Certifications: 2010

Author: Erik Eckel

The certification landscape changes as rapidly as the technologies you support. Here’s an updated list of certs that currently offer the most value and validity for IT pros.


Just as with many popular arguments — Red Sox v. Yankees, Chelsea v. Manchester United, Ford v. Chevy — IT certifications are popular fodder for debate. Except that certifications, in an IT professional’s microcosm of a world, have a bigger impact on the future. Just which certifications hold the most value today? Here’s my list of the 10 accreditations with the greatest potential for technology support professionals, administrators, and managers seeking employment within consulting firms or small and midsize organizations.

This best certification list could be built using 10 Microsoft certifications, many of which would be MCITP accreditations. The world runs on Microsoft. Those professionals earning Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification give employers and clients confidence that they’ve developed the knowledge and skills necessary to plan, deploy, support, maintain, and optimize Windows technologies. Specifically, the Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 and Server Administrator tracks hold great appeal, as will Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010, as older Exchange servers are retired in favor of the newer platform.

With operating systems (Windows 2000, 2003, 2008, etc.) cycling through every several years, many IT professionals simply aren’t going to invest the effort to earn MCITP or MCSE accreditation on every version. That’s understandable. But mastering a single exam, especially when available examinations help IT pros demonstrate expertise with such popular platforms as Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, is more than reasonable. That’s why the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) accreditation earns a spot on the list; it provides the opportunity for IT pros to demonstrate expertise on a specific technology that an organization may require right here, right now.

3: Network+
There’s simply no denying that IT professionals must know and understand the network principles and concepts that power everything within an organization’s IT infrastructure, whether running Windows, Linux, Apple, or other technologies. Instead of dismissing CompTIA’s Network+ as a baseline accreditation, every IT professional should add it to their resume.

4: A+
Just as with CompTIA’s Network+ certification, the A+ accreditation is another cert that all IT professionals should have on their resume. Proving baseline knowledge and expertise with the hardware components that power today’s computers should be required of all technicians. I’m amazed at the number of smart, intelligent, and seasoned IT pros who aren’t sure how to crack the case of a Sony Vaio or diagnose failed capacitors with a simple glance. The more industry staff can learn about the fundamental hardware components, the better.

SonicWALLs power countless SMB VPNs. The company’s network devices also provide firewall and routing services, while extending gateway and perimeter security protections to organizations of all sizes. By gaining Certified SonicWALL Security Administrator (CSSA) certification, engineers can demonstrate their mastery of network security essentials, secure remote access, or secure wireless administration. There’s an immediate need for engineers with the knowledge and expertise required to configure and troubleshoot SonicWALL devices providing security services.

Although SonicWALL has eaten some of Cisco’s lunch, the demand for Cisco skills remains strong. Adding Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) expertise to your resume does no harm and helps convince larger organizations, in particular, that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to deploy and troubleshoot Cisco routing and switching hardware.

Here’s where the debate really begins. Increasingly, my office is being asked to deploy and administer Mac OS X networks. In the real world, divorced from IT-industry rhetoric, we’re being asked to replace older Windows networks with Mac OS X client-server environments. We’re particularly seeing Apple traction within nonprofit environments. We’ve found the best bet is to get up to speed on the technologies clients are requesting, so it stands to reason that earning Apple Certified Technical Coordinator(ACTC) 10.6 accreditation won’t hurt. In fact, developing mastery over Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server will help provide confidence needed to actually begin pursuing Apple projects, instead of reactively responding to client requests to deploy and maintain Apple infrastructure.

Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) 10.6 accreditation helps IT professionals demonstrate expertise supporting Mac OS X client workstations. If you work for a single organization, and that firm doesn’t use Macs, you won’t need this certification. But larger organizations adding Macs due to demand within different departments or consultants working with a wide client base will do well to ensure they have Snow Leopard client skills. The ACSP is the perfect way to prove mastery.

Unchanged from the last 10 best certifications list, ISC2’s security accreditation for industry professionals with at least five years of full-time experience is internationally recognized for its value and validity. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) title demonstrates expertise with operations and network security, subjects that will only increase in importance as legal compliance, privacy, and risk mitigation continue commanding larger organizations’ attention.

10: PMP
I fear organizations begin cutting project managers first when times get tough. Management roles and responsibilities often get passed to technical staff when layoffs occur. Even in challenging economic times, though, IT departments require staff familiar with planning, scheduling, budgeting, and project management. That’s why theProject Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) accreditation makes the list. The cert measures candidates’ expertise in managing and planning projects, budgeting expenses, and keeping initiatives on track. While there’s an argument to place CompTIA’s Project+ certification in this slot, PMI is a respected organization that exists solely to further professional project management and, as such, deserves the nod.

Honorable mentions: MCSE, ITIL, RHCP, Linux+, VCP, ACE, QuickBooks, Security+
In the previous version of this article, readers asked where NetWare certification stands. It’s not on the list. That’s not a mistake. It’s gone the way of BNC connectors, in my opinion. Microsoft owns the market. MCSEs have more value.

ITIL has its place, particularly in larger environments. RHCP (or Linux+) and VCP have roles within enterprises dependent upon Red Hat/Linux and VMware virtualization technologies certainly, but those organizations remain hit or miss.

Acronis’ ACE deserves a look. With some 3 million systems being backed up now by Acronis image software, it would behoove technology professionals to learn how to properly use the software. I think it’s fair to say there’s still some confusion as to the software’s tremendous potential.

SMBs are also demonstrating a surge of interest in QuickBooks technologies. From QuickBooks Point-of-Sale to QuickBooks Enterprise platforms, there’s strong, growing demand for QuickBooks expertise in the field. The company’s growth is impressive. There’s no other way to describe it. In a crappy economy, Intuit’s growing.

Security+, really, is a no brainer, but I’ll get lit up if I include nothing but CompTIA certifications in the top 10 list. However, my advice for anyone entering the industry or even veterans seeking their first accreditations would be to load up on CompTIA certs. How can you go wrong with the manufacturer-independent certifications that demonstrate mastery of fundamentals across a range of topics, including project management, hardware, networking, security, and voice networks? You could do much worse.

A word on the methodology
There’s no double-blind statistically valid data analysis run through a Bayesian probability calculus formula here. I’ve worked in IT long enough, however, and with enough different SMBs, to know what skills we need when the firm I co-own hires engineers and sends technicians onsite to deploy new systems or troubleshoot issues.

Sure, I could have thrown in ITIL to satisfy enterprise professionals, included RHCP to sate the rabid open source crowd, and added VCP to look hip modernizing the list with a virtualization element. But I’m just not seeing the demand for those skills in companies with up to several hundred employees. My firm’s been asked to deploy exactly one Linux server in almost seven years. And we’ve virtualized maybe a dozen systems. Therefore, I feel it would be a disservice to readers to include such accreditations when I see, on a daily basis, vastly greater demand for these other