Friday, December 30, 2011

Use Cleverness with Caution in the Interview By Tom Musbach, Yahoo! HotJobs

Well-meaning job seekers sometimes get too creative when making their cases to potential employers, such as the candidate who said he was "allergic to unemployment."

The contrived allergy and other wacky pitches were revealed by hiring executives in a survey by Accountemps, a large staffing service for financial professionals.

Creativity Can Backfire

The group of 150 senior executives offered several other examples of candidates going too far in their attempts to stand out:

"One candidate said that we should hire him because he would be a great addition to our softball team."

"A candidate sang all her responses to interview questions."

"One individual said we had nice benefits, which was good because he was going to need to take a lot of leave in the next year."

"An applicant once told me she wanted the position because she wanted to get away from dealing with people."
The statements above reflect poor approaches to a common interview question: "Why should I hire you?" Career experts offer several alternatives that can help job candidates respond more successfully.

Break It Down

Richard Phillips, founder of Advantage Career Solutions in Palo Alto, California, suggests a three-step approach that flows from the job description:

Begin your answer by listing the top three to five requirements of the job as you understand them, based on your research and what you've learned in the interview.

Summarize how your skills and experience will enable you to make a significant impact in those areas.

Finish by stating your interest in the organization. Keep it short and sweet.
Tailor Your Story

Joe Turner, author of Job Secrets Unlocked, suggests you prepare your best "story" to answer the question by showing how you will go the extra mile.

"Here is where you tell that story of exactly how you worked 60-hour weeks, acquired new skills, or whatever it took to distinguish yourself and meet the challenge head-on to successfully make the sale, save the project, rescue a client or whatever it was," he says. "If you can monetize the end result, your story will only be that much more dramatic. Since no other candidate can duplicate your own personal story here, you'll make a memorable impression."

Run With Your Ideas

During the process of researching the employer and preparing for the interview, think of what you might do if you had the position, advises Carla-Krystin Andrade, author of Kick Start Your Job Search.

"Perhaps you have an idea for a new feature for their product or a new process that is relevant to the position," she says. "This is the perfect time to tell them about this idea and show them how you would bring value to the position if they hired you."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Refresh Your Retro Resume in Six Steps By Karen Hofferber, Monster Contributing Writer

Many people are facing the prospect of finding a new job. And some are even contemplating a complete career change. If it has been years since you've updated your resume, you may be wondering where to start. Follow these six steps to turn your dusty retro resume into a high-powered personal marketing tool for winning interviews in today's competitive job market.

Find Your Resume's Focus

Before you start refreshing your old resume, you need to clarify your job target. Without a clear vision of your career direction, your resume won't do a good job selling you to potential employers. If you have more than one career interest, you'll be much better off developing different versions of your resume rather than trying to construct a one-size-fits-all document.

Having trouble finding your focus? You might want to start with some self-assessment tests or by speaking to a career counselor.

Research Your Target Job

Thoroughly research your job target before writing the first draft of your resume, especially if it's been a while since you've been in the job market. Talk to people in your target industry, and scour job postings on Monster to get a good idea of the qualifications employers are looking for. If you are changing careers, your research may prompt you to enroll in continuing-education classes to gain new skills.

Look for keywords that continually crop up in different ads. If you see terms used frequently, they should probably be in your resume whenever applicable. Pay attention to skills that aren't mentioned in these ads as well, and remove items from your old resume that will make you seem outdated.

Develop Your Career Profile/Objective

Now you're ready to begin writing. If you're a career changer, you'll need a clearly stated objective to open your resume. Don't expect busy hiring managers to figure out what you want to do. Use this section to explain key skills you can leverage from your prior career into your new job target. Emphasize how you can help the organization, rather than what you want in a job.

Here's a before-and-after example:

Before: Seeking a challenging position with a future-oriented company offering opportunities for growth and advancement.

After: Dynamic public speaker/presenter with advanced technical knowledge, seeking to leverage these strengths as an award-winning computer instructor into an entry-level software sales position.
If you're looking for a new position within your current field, use the Objective section on Monster's Resume Builder to write a compelling career summary. This is the perfect place to write a few hard-hitting sentences emphasizing the breadth of your experience and the value you bring to the table.

Zero in on Your Achievements

Your resume must have an accomplishments-driven focus to compete in today's job market and maximize calls for interviews. Avoid simply rehashing boring job descriptions. Instead, detail the results and outcomes of your efforts.

If you were a hiring manager, which would you find more compelling?

Before: Responsible for troubleshooting and maintaining workstations and systems.

After: Improved systems uptime from 91% to 99.9% for 350 corporate and remote users through expert, cross-platform (Windows NT/UNIX) troubleshooting/maintenance.
For each of the positions you've held, use action verbs and phrases to describe how you contributed to your employers, such as cut costs, generated revenue, improved service, enhanced processes, solved problems and saved time. Use numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, comparisons or other key details to back up your claims. Be sure not to reveal facts that disclose proprietary or confidential company information.

Design Your Resume

Does your retro resume resemble a typing job circa 1970? To stand out from the crowd, use your word-processing program's advanced formatting features, such as bold, italics, line draw, industry icons, attractive fonts, etc. -- without going overboard -- to give your resume a distinctive look. If you are not confident in your design capabilities, seek assistance from a resume writer or talented friend.

Proofread and Test-Drive

Your resume must be perfect. Carefully proofread your resume to ensure proper grammar, punctuation and usage. If you are changing careers, ask for feedback from hiring managers in your targeted field for valuable input on how your resume stands up to the competition. After it's complete, post your resume online where thousands of employers will see it, and you can apply for jobs easily.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Resume Help for the Unemployed By Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Mounting a job search when you’re unemployed may leave you feeling like you can’t compete with your gainfully employed peers. This just isn’t true. Transform your resume from holding you back to propelling your success.

Assess the Gap

“The best way to address an employment gap depends on how long you’ve been out of work,” says Teena Rose, director of resume-writing firm Unemployed for a year or less? Then your best strategy may be to say nothing. “Shorter time frames of up to a year or so aren’t absolute necessities to explain on a resume,” says Rose, noting that she advises her clients with less than 12 months of unemployment to resist the temptation to overexpound. “Hiring managers understand job candidates will have date gaps from time to time, especially when factoring in the jobs lost during this recent recession,” she says.

Longer employment gaps can be trickier, and this is where your resume could use some well-crafted words to show how you’ve filled that gap. Here’s how to write a resume to show you’ve been productive while between jobs.

Emphasize How, Not Why

“Hiring managers are more interested in knowing how you used your time away from the workforce as opposed to why you were unemployed,” says Anne-Marie Ditta, president of First Impression Career Services, a Mount Vernon, New York-based career-planning firm. Instead of focusing on the layoff, company closure, job termination, caregiver responsibilities or other circumstances that led to unemployment, Ditta recommends you spotlight how this time off allowed you to acquire new skills, deepen existing industry knowledge or cultivate your contacts.

Get Busy During Your Unemployment

If you can’t think of a single resume-worthy activity or pursuit to show how you’ve used your time off, then you need to get busy. “I coach my clients that unemployment is not vacation time,” says Kathy Sweeney, president of resume-writing firm The Write Resume. “If they haven’t been involved in some sort of activity, I implore them to investigate options to gain further experience.”

Many activities can provide compelling resume content. For example, volunteering; tutoring; coaching sports; learning a new computer program; studying a foreign language; or pursuing temporary, freelance or contract work can show current experience on the resume.

For example, a stay-at-home parent can highlight her accomplishments as a volunteer like this: “Won board approval to establish a community parent/child playgroup at the town hall. Led grassroots group to raise $47,500 annually and opened new revenue stream for county.”

Sweeney tells her clients “that experience is experience, regardless of whether it is paid or volunteer. If a client is enrolled in school, for example, I will make that a full-time job on the resume. I’ll include information on the certificate or degree program as well as any quantifiable results, such as grades or instructor praise.”

Ditta emphasizes the importance of showcasing what you accomplished during your unemployment, just as you would for paid employment. “‘Devoted four years to managing a large estate and complex/difficult medical decisions while caring for terminally ill parent’ will be better-received by an employer than ‘took time off to care for a sick relative,’” she says.

Avoid These Resume Mistakes

Never Exaggerate Dates on Your Resume to Extend the Duration of Your Last Job: “Stretching dates to cover a gap is lying on a resume, and that is never a good option,” Ditta warns.

Don’t Feel Forced to Use a Traditional Resume Format: A purely chronological resume may not be the best option for those who have been unemployed for a number of years. Instead, explore the advantages of a combination resume, Rose suggests. This type of resume allows you to emphasize key skills while downplaying employment gaps.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short: “The most common mistake I see unemployed professionals make on their resumes is minimizing their contributions,” Ditta says. “I’ve worked with clients who have raised significant amounts of money for nonprofit organizations, for example, but when asked about this, they reply that they were only a volunteer. The fact is that they achieved it, and therefore, they should take credit for it.”
Remain Proactive

“When it comes to covering resume gaps created by unemployment, it’s best to be proactive rather than reactive,” Rose says. By focusing on what you’ve achieved during this challenging period, you will demonstrate to employers your can-do attitude, resourcefulness and ability to drive successful results.

Friday, December 2, 2011

10 Cover Letter Don'ts By Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Your cover letter is the first thing employers see when they open your materials. Avoid these 10 mistakes, and make your first impression a good and lasting one.

Mistake No. 1: Overusing 'I'

Your cover letter is not your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer's needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word "I," especially at the beginning of your sentences.

Mistake No. 2: Using a Weak Opening

When writing a cover letter, job seekers frequently struggle with how to begin. This often results in a feeble introduction lacking punch and failing to grab the reader's interest. Consider this example:

Weak: Please consider me for your sales representative opening.
Better: Your need for a top-performing sales representative is an excellent match to my three-year history as a #1-ranked, multimillion-dollar producer.
Mistake No. 3: Omitting Your Top Selling Points

A cover letter is a sales letter that sells you as a candidate. Just like the resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons you should be called for an interview. Winning cover letter tips include emphasizing your top accomplishments or creating subheadings culled from the job posting. For example:

Your Ad Specifies: Communication skills
I Offer: Five years of public speaking experience and an extensive background in executive-level report.

Your Ad Specifies: The need for a strong computer background.
I Offer: Proficiency in all MS Office applications with additional expertise in Web site development and design.

Mistake No. 4: Making It Too Long

If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader's time.

Mistake No. 5: Repeating Your Resume Word for Word

Your cover letter shouldn't regurgitate what's on your resume. Reword your cover letter statements to avoid dulling your resume's impact. Consider using the letter to tell a brief story, such as "My Toughest Sale" or "My Biggest Technical Challenge."

Mistake No. 6: Being Vague

If you're replying to an advertised opening, reference the specific job title in your cover letter. The person reading your letter may be reviewing hundreds of letters for dozens of different jobs. Make sure all the content in your letter supports how you will meet the employer's specific needs.

Mistake No. 7: Forgetting to Customize

If you're applying to a number of similar positions, chances are you're tweaking one letter and using it for multiple openings. That's fine, as long as you customize each letter. Don't forget to update the company, job and contact information -- if Mr. Jones is addressed as Mrs. Smith, he won't be impressed.

Mistake No. 8: Ending on a Passive Note

When possible, put your future in your own hands with a promise to follow up. Instead of asking readers to call you, try a statement like this: I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (555) 555-5555.

Mistake No. 9: Being Rude

Your cover letter should thank the reader for his time and consideration.

Mistake No. 10: Forgetting to Sign the Letter

It is proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. However, if you are sending your cover letter and resume via email or the Web, a signature isn't necessary.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Describe Your Work Style By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers

During the course of any job interview it’s likely you’ll be asked to describe your work style. How you answer this interview question will help the interviewer determine how well you’ll fit into the company.

When the interviewer asks this question, here are five key points he is looking to find out about you:

1. Do You Like to Work Autonomously or Collaboratively?

During the job interview, detailing how you work with others is important. The vast majority of companies value a collaborative work style. If you prefer working independently, the best way to answer this interview question is to say, “While I do my best work alone, I like input and feedback along the way.” This will communicate to the interviewer that you value the opinions of others, but prefer executing primarily on your own. If you enjoy working collaboratively, let the interviewer know that. Elaborate on the process and rewards (synergy, fun, superior results, etc.) that come from working closely with others.

2. How Do You Like to Work with Your Boss?

This is one of the most common interview questions. The interviewer wants to see if you and the boss would work well together. Some people prefer a boss who simply states the goal and then lets them run with it. If that’s you, say, “I like a manager who sets the main objective and then lets me figure out the best way to reach it.” Others may prefer having the boss give more specific direction up front. If that’s more your style, in the interview, emphasize that, in return, you like to provide regular updates to your boss so he’s informed about the status of the project.

3. What Is Your Communication Style?

How you communicate is part of your work style. The interviewer may ask if you like to communicate through email, phone or in-person meetings. Some cultures place a premium on written communication, while others are less formal. Email is generally more efficient; however, it’s important to balance email with a personal touch -- whether it’s a phone call or meeting. During the job interview, discuss the framework in which you typically communicate. For example, some people like to give an overview while others get deep into the details. Both can work depending on the situation and audience. A more balanced approach to this question would be, “I tend to give the overview and then a few supporting details.”

4. What Hours Do You Work?

Let the interviewer know how many hours you work in the course of a day. Some people like to get in early and leave before rush hour, while others conform to whatever the work hours are. What the interviewer wants to hear is that you are committed to doing whatever is necessary to be successful, so you might want to say something like, “I’ll work as late as needed to get the job done.”

5. Do You Plan Your Day?

During the interview, talk about how you approach your day. People who plan their days typically get more done. Let the interviewer know that you focus on getting the most important things done first. This will let her know that one of your strengths is prioritization.

Being asked to describe your work style is an open-ended question -- and your opportunity to focus on the things that will portray you in the most positive light. For example, if you say, “I start at 7 a.m., like to work collaboratively, plan my days and always make sure I get the most important things done early,” that helps the interviewer picture you successfully doing the job. You can’t ask for a better result in a job interview than that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 job-search tips for career changers Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder Writer

You've hit a turning point in your career. Whether it's because your job has slowly become less satisfying over the years, or you woke up one morning and realized you hated going to work, you've decided it's time for a change.
If only you knew what you wanted to do next. Details.

The "I don't know what I want to do, but I know it's not this" predicament is confusing at best. Besides the issue of figuring out what you want to do, there's also reality to consider. You might think you'd make a great marriage counselor, but do you really have the time, energy and means to get the necessary training? Will your career change require you to relocate? How will you convince potential employers that, after 10 years in one career, you have the necessary experience for a new one?

Because the career-change process is complicated, it's important not to rush into anything. Take time to explore your options and answer all of the questions you have about the career paths you're considering. Or, as "What Color is Your Parachute?" – the best-selling career guide – puts it:

"Good career choice or career planning postpones the 'narrowing down' until it has first broadened your horizons and expanded the number of options you are thinking about. For example, you're in the newspaper business, but have you ever thought of teaching, or drawing or doing fashion? You first expand your mental horizons, to see all the possibilities, and only then do you start to narrow them down to the particular two or three that interest you the most."

Once you've got a short list of potential careers, it's time to begin your job search. Mark C.D. Newall, senior vice president at Keystone Associates, a career transition and management firm in Boston, offers the following quick tips for job searching in a new field.

1. Play the game. As newbie, you're going to have to put in a lot of footwork. "Intensively networking, utilizing technology, honing your interviewing skills -- all of these things are important and need to be done," Newall says.
2. Identify your edge. Since you won't be able to rest on your experience, it's important to identify other selling points that will make you stand out to employers. "Everybody is smart, everybody works hard, everybody has a good degree -- differentiate yourself from all of the others by having an edge," Newall advises. "If you have global expertise, call it out. If you have outstanding and demonstrated interpersonal skills, let interviewers know that you will connect with and take care of their clients."
3. Be willing to move. Flexibility can go a long way when breaking into a new career. "Expanding your geography will also expand your opportunities," Newall says.
4. Speak to your passion. "Know what is important to you -- what really gives you that sense of accomplishment -- what gets you out of bed in the morning. Hiring managers will see your passion and how it relates to their business, and they want to hire that," Newall says. Given the amount of self-reflection career change usually requires, rattling off a list of things that make you tick shouldn't be too hard.
5. Have a solid methodology. Like in any job search, you'll need a game plan, Newall says. "Organize your time, your contacts, your approach, and conduct your job search in a planned and thoughtful manner. Then be ready to toss aside your plan, and be able to react to that last minute call."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The One-Page Resume vs. the Two-Page Resume Best Practices for Resume Length By Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Resume length is one of those issues that vexes job seekers. So we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the matter: “Should you have a one-page resume or a two-page resume?” Here’s what they said.

Pro: One-Page Resume

“Ideally, your resume should be one page, because recruiters and managers have short attention spans,” says Jennifer Brooks, senior associate director of the MBA Career Management Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s your ad; it doesn’t have to be comprehensive. If you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done in your entire career, you’re not thinking about the buyer, who just needs to know what’s relevant.”

Her tip for keeping your resume short and easy for the “buyer”: Use a summary statement. “It’s better than a career objective,” she says. “It’s what you want me to know about you in a nutshell. That makes it easy for recruiters to know your focus and your skills.”

Dani Johnson, author of Grooming the Next Generation for Success, agrees. “If you have a long work history, know that most people don’t read what you did 10 years ago,” she explains. “Put the focus on your most recent accomplishments, and if you have skills that repeat from one company or job to the next, state ‘same as above as well as these’ to save room.”

Pro: Two-Page Resume

While everyone agrees shorter is better, it’s a fact that some of us will need longer resumes. If you’ve got a lot of varied experience or a long career, you may well need more space to tell your story.

“Two pages may be OK,” says Paul C. Green, a former hiring manager and the author of Get Hired. But three or more pages is too much. The best way to present your career information is through a chronological resume format with bulleted skills listed below each position.” One exception: Any skills that are relevant to a particular employer or are in demand in today’s workplace, like critical-care nursing, nanotechnology or eliminating environmental hazards, for example. For maximum impact, list these skills in your resume's career summary.

Kim Isaacs, Monster's Resume Expert and director of in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says even if you’re going long, stay focused on what’s most relevant to prospective employers. “Let go of information that doesn’t help win job interviews,” she says. That includes positions held long ago, outdated accomplishments, old training and hobbies. She also suggests putting effort in your presentation. “Design is equally as important as resume length and content. A one-page resume that’s crammed with information is less desirable than a well-organized two-page resume that is easy to read and digest.”

Compromise on Resume Length

Like any good argument, there is a middle ground solution, according to Chris Laggini, vice president of HR for DLT Solutions, an IT reseller and service provider in Herndon, Virginia. “Recruiters read for speed," he says. "They are on a minute-long word hunt for certain titles, skills and years of experience. Hiring managers read for detail. So, we recommend that you have both a one-page resume for the recruiter and an in-depth resume format to be shared with the hiring manager. In your short version, make certain to highlight keywords and titles referenced in the ad for the position. In the long version, provide the hiring manager with enough detail for them to get an accurate picture of you, what you are capable of accomplishing and what you want from the career path.”

The Final Word on Resume Format

All our experts agree that the key to writing an effective resume of any length is to choose elements carefully. “A good way to filter your experiences is to survey your network on the needs of employers, and sample business articles for common themes of discontent in the workplace” Green explains. “List 10 ways employers are hurting today [and] describe 10 of your skills that you can deliver to deal with them. Use your resume to convert what you have done in the past to what you can do in the future -- then your phone will ring.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

1 in 6 Job Seekers Found Their Latest Job On A Social Network ~Josh Constine

Despite LinkedIn’s professional focus, it’s Facebook that’s leading social networks to become a major way people find new jobs. 16% of those unemployed and looking, employed and looking, or employed and open to a new job said “an online social network directly led to finding their current/most recent job”, according to a newJobvite study. Of these 22.1 million Americans, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn, and 42% cited Twitter. The findings should signal HR departments and recruiters of the importance of social networks, and especially Facebook, to their success.
Last year, just 11% of job seekers had found their latest gig from a social network. Jobvite surveyed 1,205 American adults for this year’s study.
The rise of Facebook as a job source can be in part tied to the proliferation of tools that harness the social network’s biographical data and massive user base. BranchOut released its Recruiter Connect enterprise search product, and Jobvite, Work4 Labs, and now provide ways to distribute job openings through Facebook.
A year ago, Facebook redesigned the profile to make work info immediately visible, which prompted more users to keep it up to date. Combined with the size of the user base and the frequency with which they visit the site, recruiters can both search a larger pool of applicants and expose job listings to a larger audience using Facebook than LinkedIn.
The dedicated professional social network is still very important for recruiting high profile white collar employees. However, as Facebook improves privacy controls to make it easier to count both professional and personal contacts as friends, it is chipping away at LinkedIn’s value-add for the blue collar work force.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What Motivates You? Strategies to Answer This Tough Interview Question By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer

"What motivates you?" is one of those tough interview questions where your answer will depend on your background and experiences. This soul-searching interview question can really catch you off guard unless you've thought about it before the interview. Contemplating when you have been most satisfied in your career will not only help you answer this question, but it will also help you focus on what you want in your next job.

Two candidates answer the motivation question, reflecting their values and what is important to them.

The first one says, "In my previous job, I worked directly with customers and their problems. What I liked was solving problems and helping people. Sometimes it took a lot of effort on my part, but it was very rewarding when the customer appreciated the service."

This answer reflects the candidate's interest in helping people and the satisfaction he gets in finding solutions.

The second candidate says, "Two years ago, I was involved in a project I was really excited about. The team I was working with had to come up with innovative ways to market a product that was not received well by consumers. It took lots of effort and long meetings, but we met our deadline and launched a terrific marketing campaign. It was really a motivating experience."

This candidate likes thinking outside the box and being part of a team. He loves a challenge and works well with pressure and deadlines.

Prepare Your Script

Writing out your thoughts will help you think about times when you felt energized by your work, times when you looked forward to going to work. For a source of ideas, refer to your resume. Which tasks did you list? Were they the tasks you enjoyed most and felt most motivated doing?

A statement on your resume might be:

Project leader: Led a team in coordinating and monitoring the progress of projects to assure the flow and completion of work on schedule.
What was it that was motivating about this experience? Being in charge? Being the source of information? Controlling the flow of work? Making sure the standards were in line with your work values?

By making a list of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did before. Do you want more of this type of responsibility in your next job? The answers to these questions will give you insight into what stimulates you as well as possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs with similar responsibilities.

Additionally, by focusing on times when you were energized by your work, you may become more enthusiastic about the job you are seeking.

There is no such thing as the perfect answer to the motivation question. Your answer will be based on your own individual experiences and analysis. Ultimately, this exercise will help you reveal to the interviewer what turns you on in your work. Even if you are not asked this question, your preinterview thinking, analysis and scripting will help you be more focused, projet more interview confidence and be more in control of what you want in your next job.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Prep for the Top 10 Interview Questions By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer

Too many job seekers stumble through interviews as if the questions are coming out of left field. But many interview questions are to be expected. Study this list and plan your answers ahead of time so you'll be ready to deliver them with confidence.

1. What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is the most dreaded question of all. Handle it by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters, which I find very helpful."

2. Why Should We Hire You?

Summarize your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company. I'm confident I would be a great addition to your team."

3. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. For example, "I've selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what the company does, and this company is very high on my list of desirable choices."

4. What Are Your Goals?

Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future. For example, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes. I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility."

5. Why Did You Leave (Or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

If you're unemployed, state your reason for leaving in a positive context: "I managed to survive two rounds of corporate downsizing, but the third round was a 20 percent reduction in the workforce, which included me."

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience."

6. When Were You Most Satisfied in Your Job?

The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will get an idea of your preferences. "I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me."

7. What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can't?

What makes you unique? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills and traits. Summarize concisely: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills, and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to use my knowledge and break down information to be more user-friendly."

8. What Are Three Positive Things Your Last Boss Would Say About You?

It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me, and he likes my sense of humor."

9. What Salary Are You Seeking?

It is to your advantage if the employer tells you the range first. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area, and your bottom line or walk-away point. One possible answer would be: "I am sure when the time comes, we can agree on a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?"

10. If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Want to Be?

Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer "a bunny," you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer "a lion," you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality would it take to get the job done? What impression do you want to make?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Do Your Research Before a Job Interview By Charles Purdy, Monster+HotJobs Senior Editor

You hear it all the time from career experts: "Research the company before you go into a job interview." But what does that mean, exactly? Here are some tips on using the Internet and tapping your network to gain information and insight that'll improve your interview answers -- and help you ask the right questions.

The Company's Mission

Your prospective employer's Web site is a great place to see the company as it wants to be seen. Look for its mission statement -- something that outlines the company's values (perhaps on an About Us or similar page). Then consider how the position you want relates to that mission. Also think about how your experience and background have prepared you to support the company’s goals. Don't parrot a mission statement back word for word, but do let it inform your discussion.

Recent Company Achievements

While you're at the company's site, look for a Press Room or Company News page that links to recent news releases. (Or simply search the Web for news about the company.) Then think about the long-term implications of this news -- not only for the company, but also for you when you get the job -- and prepare some questions about the news if that makes sense. Your well-informed conversation may be a critical factor in your interview's success.

Your Interviewers

If the company site has a search tool, use it to search for the names of the people you'll be meeting. You may find bio pages or press releases that give you insight into their most visible activities at the company. Then look to LinkedIn or do a general Web search to get some more background information about them. You might find some common ground (for instance, a shared alma mater) you can bring up in conversation, or a recent professional achievement for which you can pay a compliment.

What to Wear

The company's Web site can also help you determine how to dress for the interview. Are there pictures of the executive team? If they're all wearing dark business suits, you should probably dress very formally. If the CEO is pictured wearing a T-shirt, business casual is probably fine (though you'll rarely want to dress more casually than that).

The Industry

Next, learn what general-interest publications, trade publications and blogs are saying about your employer and the industry as a whole. Search national publications for news on major corporations; use hometown newspapers to learn about small businesses or local industries. Depending on your field, you should be prepared to discuss your industry's financial prospects or other industry trends.

People on the Inside

People who already work at the company are another great source of information -- they can give you insight into business initiatives, corporate culture and even personality dynamics. Start on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections -- but don't stop there. Look to professional organizations and alumni organizations you belong to, and ask friends and relations if they know anyone who might have information to share about your prospective employer.

Research Yourself

Now that you've found out everything you can about the company and the people who'll be interviewing you, Google yourself -- you can be sure the interviewers will be doing the same. (If you have a common name, use your name and city or your name and industry as the search term.) First, make sure that everything a Web search reveals about you presents you in a good light. Then prepare to discuss the search's top hits -- they might just come up at your interview.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Three Job-Interview Myths By Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

Think you know all there is to know about interviewing for a job? According to career coach David Couper, many surprising myths surround job interviews. In his book Outsiders on the Inside, Couper lists several myths that, if you believe them, may prevent you from landing your dream job.

More Resources from Monster:
Interview Coaching Service
Start a Job Search
All Interview Preparation articles
So here's the truth about three of those myths -- as well as several tips on making the most of a job interview:

Myth 1: The Interviewer Is Prepared

"The person interviewing you is likely overworked and stressed because he needs to hire someone," Couper says. "He may have barely glanced at your resume and given no thought to your qualifications."

What You Can Do: Think of a job opening as a set of problems to which you are the solution. Prepare for an interview by identifying the problems hinted at in the job ad (if there's no job ad, research the company and industry) and preparing examples of how you'll solve them. For instance, if one of the primary job requirements is to write press releases, the problem the employer has is a lack of effective press releases. For the interview, you could prepare a story about specific results you've achieved with press releases you've written. Show how you can solve that problem.

Myth 2: The Interviewer Will Ask the Right Questions

Many interviewers prepare no questions beyond "tell me about yourself," says Couper. And in some cases, you may be interviewing with a human resources representative or a high-level manager who doesn't have a lot of specific information about the open job's duties.

What You Can Do: Prepare several effective sound bites that highlight your past successes and your skills. A sound bite is succinct and not too detailed, so it's catchy and easy to remember -- "I was the company's top salesperson for eight months in 2008," for example.

Reference letters are another great source of sound bites. If a former manager wrote something about how amazing you are, quote her (and offer to leave a copy of the reference letter when you leave the interview). For instance, "Company Z's art director called me the most thorough and well-prepared project manager she'd ever worked with -- and that ability to plan for any possible problem is something on which I pride myself."

Myth 3: The Most Qualified Person Gets the Job

No one believes this myth any more, right? As Couper says, "Less-qualified but more outgoing candidates may win over an interviewer's heart."

What You Can Do: If you're on the shy or introverted side, practicing your interview techniques beforehand is key. Work with a close friend or relative until you're comfortable with your interview answers. You never want to be stuck with a short, one-word answer -- so prepare explanations and examples to discuss.

Also, research the interviewer. Find her profile on LinkedIn or look for recent news about the company. To set the tone for a friendly interaction, find a reason to compliment her for a professional accomplishment or her company's success. And don't forget to smile and make eye contact.

Finally, keep in mind that looks matter: You should be well-groomed and dressed to impress. If you're not sure how formal your attire should be, ask the human resources person you've been dealing with what's typical. Alternatively, find someone inside the company to ask, or check the About Us page on the company's Web site. If the management team is pictured in dark suits and neckties, you'll likely want to dress as formally as possible. If the CEO is pictured in a T-shirt, business-casual clothes are fine (but you'll rarely want to dress more casually than that).

Friday, October 28, 2011

How To Build Job Skills Through ‘Adjacency’ BY SCOT HERRICK | OCT 28, 2011 | POSTED IN JOB NEWS TAGS: CAREER ADVICE, JOB HUNTING

Adding job skills to your resume is a critical practice for building your employment security in today’s job market. Adding job skills, though, gets harder to do with companies cutting back on training and not targeting what you need for your career work.

One option is to look at the work being done around you and acquire new job skills. I like to call these “adjacent” job skills — the work happening right next to you.

The way to look for these skills is to examine who gives you work to do (inputs) and what people do with the work when you give it to them (outputs).

An input for a Project Manager, for example, would be a business case. Knowing how to build a business case is a good job skill to have as a Project Manager because it supports that work. It also expands your work capability since PMs often manage building the business case in the first place.

An output of your work could be the input to a co-worker’s reporting work. Creating the reports could add to your job skills, too. At a minimum, understanding the process of building the reports, and knowing what they mean to those who receive them, creates context to your work. Context and knowing how the full process runs is especially helpful in job interviews.

How do you go about getting these skills?

Provide Backup for a Coworker
People need vacations and are gone for events, but the work still needs doing. A good manager has backups for every position so that if someone is gone for the day or a week, the work still gets done.

Look for the job skills you’d like to add to your tool bag, determine who on your team has them, and offer to back them up. You’d have to get trained, plus you’d do the work and produce results from it. Job skill acquired.

Work on Department Projects
Project work is another area where skills can be acquired. You can either accept a role where you would need to learn the skill you want with training, or volunteer to work with a person doing the work skill you want to learn.

Or, perhaps, you take a portion of the work from the person who has the skill and, through interaction, learn more about the rest of the work. Then, the next time a project comes along, you offer to do more of the work based on what you learned from the last project.

The great thing about project work is there are defined roles — and expected results. Working a project using a new job skill will mean your new job skill will produce specific results. That’s great on a resume or a job interview.

Target Your Work
The keys to building job skills are (1) knowing what skills you have, and (2) knowing which ones you need to further your employment security. You shouldn’t just unilaterally add adjacent job skills but, instead, try to target specific skills that will help you improve your work and get the next job.

With employers consistently skills as “requirements” for a job, getting familiar with those adjacent skills offers you a great way to add them to your own portfolio in the job you’re doing now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The 7 Deadly Sins of Resume Writing

The 7 Deadly Sins of Resume Writing
By Peter Newfield, President of

The resume is a double-edged sword: If your resume is a strong, accomplishment-driven example of your career experience, it can open doors and bring you new opportunities. But, if your resume is weak, disjointed, and boring it can virtually slam the door on your next career move. Whether you write your own resume or have it professionally prepared, check over your document to ensure that you have not committed any of the following "Seven Deadly Sins" of resume writing.

Purge your resume of any false information immediately! Lying about job titles, dates of employment, awards, or inflating statistics, financial figures, or numbers of employees supervised will definitely catch up with you in the end. Do not falsify college or grad school degrees -- if you did not graduate, just indicate the number of credits or years of undergraduate classes you actually attended. More and more companies are doing background checks on prospective employees and they are looking for precisely these types of falsehoods.

If your resume contains gaps in years of employment, it will raise questions. If you can explain the time away from employment and feel that it would be important for a prospective employer to know this information, include it in your cover letter. If you did not graduate from college but did take any professional training courses, include this information under the "Education" heading instead of just leaving off any reference to education.

Job hopping and presenting work experience in various fields can be disconcerting and raise a few red flags about your ability to stick with a job for any length of time. If you have moved about and changed fields over the years, it may be in your best interest to group these positions by category (a functional resume style) rather than by date (reverse chronological style). List the category, for example "Pharmaceutical Sales" and then present the related work experience. Then list the next category "Financial Services" with its related job information.

Resumes are meant to be concise portraits of your career experiences and strengths. You are not doing yourself a favor by rambling on for three pages or presenting your job information in large, wordy paragraphs. Break up the information with bullets to highlight your accomplishments or achievements, key words, and brief descriptions of your day to day responsibilities.

Recruiters, HR Directors, and Personnel Managers want to know "What have you done lately?" A strong resume should highlight the past 10-12 years of work experience. Emphasize your current job the most as opposed to the jobs you held 20 years ago. Times change, technology changes, and the experiences gained in those after-school and summer jobs during high school just don't matter any more.

Never use the pronoun "I" when writing your resume. Resumes are written in the third person. Do not claim full credit for achievements accomplished as part of a team or group effort. Don't include personal information on your resume such as hobbies, religious organizations, or marital status.

Your resume could be the equivalent of career gold but if it is presented with typographical errors, or on stained or badly reproduced paper, that is the personal image the prospective employer will be left pondering. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that the document representing your best chances for new and rewarding employment opportunities is clean, crisp, and professional in appearance.

There you have it -- the "Seven Deadly Sins of Resume Writing" -- ignore them at your own risk!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Career Mapping: So You Don’t Get Lost Along the Way

Career Mapping: So You Don’t Get Lost Along the Way
-Gordon Miller, career coach, speaker, and the author of The Career Coach: Winning Strategies for Getting Ahead in Today’s Job Market

Just as companies who use a business plan as a "road map” find the path that is easier to negotiate, people who use a “career map” have a much better chance of reaching their destination. Think about it. If you’re in Winnemucca and you want to get to Wichita, a map is a handy thing to have. Without it you might eventually end up Wichita. Might. Eventually. But it could take much longer than it needs to and it most likely will be a forgettable trip. Sound familiar?

Making a career map can be beneficial at any stage of the game for many of us. If you’re just entering/re-entering the workplace, or perhaps been in the fray for decades, career mapping can prove to be an invaluable tool. Particularly if you are thinking of switching fields. (According to the surveys I have done for my new book, 57% of us are considering a change. Just thought you should know). More importantly, your Career Coach thinks the “C-Map” is necessary to help you better navigate the rapidly changing workplace rules. Changes like continuing record layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, the advent of technology and its impact on many of our jobs.

When I talk about developing a career map, I’m referring to an actual document. Typically, it’s a one or two page piece, a summary of your career strategy going forward. It’s a road map. A guide. It doesn’t mean you absolutely have to go by that route. If you get to someplace in your travels and the road is under construction, you may have to take a detour. Your company has been sold? Your department has been outsourced? Your position is being eliminated? Not to worry (too much). You have a plan.

A Strategy

The career mapping plan I’ve developed, which has worked wonders for the many clients I have worked with, is made up of nine (9) specific steps as follows:

1.An Overview: This first step consists of a ten thousand-foot view of want you want to accomplish in the future. One year, five years, whatever makes sense for you. There are times when the map will need to be changed suddenly. Perhaps your significant other finds a great job in another city, or you realize that the new boss and you don’t jive.

2.Identifying Your Market: The next step is to identify who your market is. It’s the same step a business goes through. Decide which industries or companies are most likely to continue to grow and need you.

3.The Marketing Plan: If you are working long hours, not making the money you want, and are quite unhappy, it may be a matter of focus.
Decide which aspect of your profession is the most appealing for you and develop a plan to market your knowledge, skills and experience to get the position you want.

Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses: The idea is to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. But first you have to know what they are. Ask the people in your life you most respect to help you with this one. Put them down on paper. It may give you a new understanding of you.

4.The Positioning Statement: In order to be good at what we do, we have to know what business we are in. The positioning statement is no more than one paragraph long. It spells out here’s who I am, and here’s how I’m going to position myself going forward, and here are my capabilities, and here’s how I fit into my industry or company.

5.The Action Plan: Now that you know what you want to do for the next year or two, you need to identify the tactics you use to carry it out. You might include research, talking to experts in your industry, and mirroring people who are already successful doing what you plan to do.

6.The Financial Plan: The key here is to understand that a change in career direction may have a impact of your finances. I recommend you determine up-front what could happen, good or not so good, and have a plan to deal with it.

7.The Review: How often should you stop along your journey, take a look at where you are on your map, check weather patterns and road conditions? If you are new to “mapping,” I suggest you do it once a week. Once you are more comfortable with the process, once a month is probably often enough. The key is to set a pattern for regularly looking at your progress.

Today’s job market is changing so rapidly that the people who hope to do well are those who have an idea about where they are going and how they are going to get there. I see too many of us making career decisions without a real strategy behind them. It’s a little like Ready!…Fire!…Aim! Occasionally you’ll get lucky and hit the target. Most often you won’t.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

5 Ways for IT Pros to Become Indispensable

5 ways for IT pros to become indispensable
Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing and recruiting firm Modis, talks about how IT pros can maximize their value
By Ann Bednarz on Fri, 09/30/11 - 10:29am.

Tech is faring better than most industries on the jobs front. Unemployment is hovering around 4% compared to a national unemployment average of about 9% across all industries. Nonetheless, job security still feels elusive for many.

I spoke recently with Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing and recruiting firm Modis, about what IT pros can do to maximize the value they bring to organizations. Modis had come up with a list of five ways to be an indispensable IT professional in any economic climate, and Cullen elaborated on the topic.

But first the Modis list:

1. Know how and when to be thrifty;

2. Pay attention to preventative maintenance;

3. Be a jack of all trades;

4. Leverage IT to increase office productivity and demonstrate the benefits; and

5. Build relationships with coworkers.

In general, the pointers emphasize how IT pros need to think beyond the technical task at hand and use their expertise to help business leaders make strategic tech investments. CEOs and CFOs want to know how their investment in IT is translating into profits for the company, Cullen says, and that means IT workers need to learn everything they can about the business.

"Try to look at the business you're in, and how the work you do in IT could augment the return-on-investment for IT in that particular business," Cullen says. "Don't just sit back and focus on your work. Really understand your environment."

Oftentimes when a Modis client wants to retain a contract worker at the end of an assignment and use that worker for a new project, it's not just because of the person's tech skills, Cullen says. It's also because of the worker's understanding of the environment and willingness to bring ideas to the table.

Sometimes that means questioning a planned project, rather than simply doing the task someone tells you to do. If you're brought on to help with an ERP upgrade, for instance, "maybe you should ask: 'What do you want to accomplish? Why are we upgrading now? Have we looked at other platforms?'" Cullen says. "If you have an opinion, it's of value to speak up. People are looking for informed opinions."

Building relationships with coworkers and end users is also important. "Get to know other people in the work environment, particularly users of IT," Cullen says. "We want people to realize the importance of speaking up, letting people know who you are and what you do, and expanding your horizons."

A little self-promotion can help at a time when hiring managers are being extremely selective about the people they hire.

"I don't want to say they're looking for the purple squirrel, but they're coming close," Cullen says. "Companies have budget for IT staff, but they're being very picky, very demanding about who they're going to bring on."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Two ‘Right’ Answers Hiring Managers Are Looking For

The Two ‘Right’ Answers Hiring Managers Are Looking For
By Scot Herrick

Most people miss the simple truth about job interviews. You only need to answer two questions:

•Are you motivated to do the work?
•Will you fit in with the manager and team?

Most people don’t realize your resume is all about getting the initial phone interview. Nothing else, just the phone interview. And during the phone interview, you must prove — to a person who does not know the job as well as you or the hiring manager — that you have the job skills to do the work. If you prove you are qualified to do the work, you will most likely move on to the face-to-face interview with the hiring manager.

The Focus of the Face-to-Face Interview is Different from a Phone Interview’s

A phone interview is all about proving you can do the work. A face-to-face interview with the hiring manager is all about showing you are motivated to do the work and can work with the manager and the team.

Now, there are a lot of people, including commenters here on Dice, that whine they are qualified to do the work, but the hiring manager doesn’t get that they are super-qualified because of their skills and experience and instead hires someone with less (fill in the blank) or the wrong (fill in the blank).

Those people miss the point of the face-to-face interview. They’re not about your qualifications. They’re about why you are motivated to do the work despite the obstacles, and whether you can work with the manager’s team. If you can’t show your motivation or if your behavior doesn’t fit, the manager won’t hire you — no matter how qualified you are for the job.

Think about it from the manager’s view: You’re a person who doesn’t work well with the person doing the hiring, and you don’t work well with the style of this particular team. Why would a manager hire you if all he sees is headaches and a ticked-off staff?

After all, managers hire you to help achieve their business goals, a hard enough objective without the burden of someone who doesn’t fit their management style and the team’s problem-solving style.

If you’re a go-get-’em hotshot looking for immediate answers, you won’t do well in a culture that’s all about consensus and collaboration.

Likewise, if you don’t like a lot of interaction and the management style is a lot of walking around and coworkers dropping into cubes to solve problems, the contact will drive you crazy, not to mention your manager and your coworkers.

That’s why the face-to-face interview is all about fit, not qualifications. Can the manager work with you or are your styles incompatible? Will you work with the team — or drive them crazy? Your style is neither “right” or “wrong,” it’s simply about whether your style of working fits in with their style of working. If it does, you’ve got a shot. If it doesn’t, you don’t.

The Face-to-Face Interview is not About Job Skills

Of course you need the skills to do the work. But by the time you hit the face-to-face interview with, it’s already assumed you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting in the interview.

What’s not assumed is that you can overcome the many obstacles to getting work done or that you will get along with the manager and the team.

So let me say it again. In the face-to-face interview, there are only two questions to answer: Are you motivated to do the work and will you fit into the organization? If you get two “yes” answers, you’ve may get an job offer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interview Presentation: Perception vs. Reality

Interview Presentation: Perception vs. Reality
You and the Interviewer May See Things Differently

By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers

In our work as recruiters, we clearly have experienced situations where what we see and what the candidate thinks he is presenting could not be further from each other.

For example, let's say Jeremy waltzes into our conference room and plops himself down in the chair. His hair is a mess and his shirt looks like it needs some spray starch and a hot iron. Jeremy thinks he's presenting a picture of someone who is self-confident, comfortable with himself, not looking too eager about the open position and not intimidated by a couple of recruiters.

His personal grooming choices make his solid qualifications moot, because it's hard to get over his appearance. Our first thought would be that Jeremy is recovering from a late night on the town. His posture indicates his energy is low and his half-closed eyes convey that he is trying (unsuccessfully) to stay awake during the interview. His wardrobe malfunctions reflected a lack of preparation for the important meeting. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Poor personal grooming and sloppy attire can detract from that all-important first meeting. It does not take a lot of time to check your overall interview presentation, and it is definitely worth the effort. Here are some cautionary tales and tips for making a favorable impression.

Interview Advice: Consider How You Look -- and Smell

A colleague once interviewed a woman in her late 20s who made the mistake of unbuttoning too many buttons on her blouse. The young woman thought she looked terrific, but in reality her interview presentation was very distracting. Then there was the promising candidate who scored highly in the phone interview. Impressed by what he heard, the recruiter set up an in-person interview at his office. Imagine his astonishment when the early-30s man walked in wearing a tie with a knot the size of his knee cap. Sadly, this person was not trying to make a fashion statement.

While the visual image you present is important, so is the impact you make through the other senses. Have you ever been in an elevator with someone who applied cologne too liberally? Here is some interview advice: Less is definitely more when it comes to applying a fragrance, particularly in the workplace.

For people who smoke, even more restraint may be necessary. While a smoker may be immune to the smell of nicotine in their clothes, the interviewer sharing the same small space (like an office) may find that odor unpleasant. And if the smoker has tried to mask that smell with mints or perfume, the resulting atmosphere may be downright off-putting.

Pull Your Interview Presentation Together

Enlist the help of someone you trust to review your choices at least a day before your interview. Model your interview clothes and style your hair just as you would for the interview. Then have this friend critique your appearance. Ask him to be brutally honest about what may need to change.

Next, ask your friend for some interview advice. Will your nonverbal communication hurt your chances in an interview? Do you absent-mindedly crack your knuckles, jingle loose change in your pocket or cross your legs and rapidly jiggle your foot? If your friend cautions that your behavior may be distracting, acknowledge the habit, avoid it, and channel that nervous energy toward interview preparation and focus.

Personal Grooming and Presentation Tips

Since you'll probably be shaking hands at some point during the interview, check your fingernails. Are they clean and clipped? Good posture denotes confidence and energy -- how do you carry yourself? If you know you tend to slouch, pretend you have a string attached to the top of your head and it is tied to the ceiling. That string is pulling your head up, keeping your posture straight. And it goes without saying, be sure your hygiene is impeccable.

People do judge a book by its cover, so be sure your interview appearance is picture perfect. The impression you leave should be memorable, but in a good way.

Friday, September 30, 2011

9 Hot IT Skills for 2012

9 Hot IT Skills for 2012
By Rick Saia

Computerworld - Slowly but surely, many U.S. companies are loosening their viselike grips on IT hiring and looking to add new staffers to bolster business growth in the year ahead.

That trend is reflected in Computerworld's annual Forecast survey. Nearly 29% of the 353 IT executives polled said they plan to increase IT staffing through next summer. That's up from 23% in the 2010 survey and 20% in the 2009 survey. Altogether, it's a 45% increase in hiring expectations over the past two years.

"We're seeing [strong hiring] across the board," among organizations of all sizes, says Mike McBrierty, chief operations officer for the technology staffing division of Eliassen Group, an IT recruiting firm. He says there has been pent-up demand for infrastructure upgrades and investments that had been shelved over the previous three years.

The Forecast survey also revealed that IT managers may be thinking about innovation, not merely keeping the lights on, as they plan their staffs for 2012. Respondents said these nine skills will be in demand.

1. Programming and Application Development

61% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 44% in the 2010 survey.

This large year-over-year jump doesn't surprise people like John Reed, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology, who sees demand for a variety of skills in areas ranging from website development to upgrading internal systems and meeting the needs of mobile users. "Web development continues to be very strong" as companies try to improve the user experience, he says, adding that there will also be a lot of effort to develop mobile technologies to improve customer access via smartphones.

Mobile application development is especially hot in healthcare, says Randy Bankes, associate director of IT at Lehigh Valley Health Network, a multicampus healthcare system in Allentown, Pa. Bankes says he's had a "god-awful hard time" trying to hire people with skills in mobile technologies. "It's competitive as hell right now," says Bankes.

Bill Predmore, director of enterprise application support at the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, also sees growth in mobile technology, especially in the transportation industry. "There's more and more of a push to implement whiz-bang Web stuff, along with making trip planners, [bus and train] route data and schedule data presentable on mobile devices," he says.

2. Project Management

44% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 43% in the 2010 survey.

Big projects need managers, but they also need business analysts who can identify users' needs and translate them for the IT staffers who have to meet those needs and complete projects on time. "The demand has been more for business analysts than project managers," Reed says -- in other words, those who can help deliver projects rather than merely oversee and monitor them.

That's what Sean Masters discovered when he embarked on a job search in March. "When I was framing myself as a systems, network, security or other administrator role, I was hardly getting any attention," says the IT professional from Worcester, Mass. "As soon as I shifted my résumé to list those specific technologies used in accomplishing specific projects, I was suddenly framing myself as an engineer who could not only manage systems, but also plan, design and implement them."

3. Help Desk/Technical Support

35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 43% in the 2010 survey.

As long as technology is used in the workplace, there will be a need for support staffers, be they internal or remote. And in organizations such as Lehigh Valley Health Network, help desk and tech support are points of entry for IT professionals and places to pick up the skills that can advance them into, say, a programming or systems analyst role, says Bankes.

But mobile operating systems "have added a new dimension to help desk and tech support," says David Foote, CEO of IT staffing consultancy Foote Partners. "There are so many operating systems now that the mobile platform, and especially tablets, have quickly shoved aside the old Windows/Mac OS PC desktop axis."

4. Networking

35% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 38% in the 2010 survey.

Robert Half's Reed says IT professionals with networking skills continue to be in high demand and have been "for a few quarters." That demand has been fueled, in part, by virtualization and cloud computing projects. In fact, during his recent job search, Masters says he saw heavy interest in virtualization skills.

Reed says hiring managers are looking for people with "practical work experience" in the networking arena, especially if they have worked in an organization that has migrated to a virtualized or cloud-based environment. In particular, they're looking for people with VMware and Citrix experience.

As for certifications, they're important but they're "not driving the market one way or the other," he says.

5. Business Intelligence

23% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 13% in the 2010 survey.

Eliassen Group's McBrierty says his firm is starting to see more demand for IT professionals skilled in BI. The uptick indicates a shift from focusing on cost savings to investing in technology that provides access to real-time data, enabling better business decisions.

That may happen at Lorillard Tobacco, says Dan Clark, manager of server and desktop technology. The $6 billion company is looking to expand its use of Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software from about 175 users to more than 2,000, he says. "This will require additional head count to develop and administer," Clark says, adding that he's especially interested in SharePoint developers.

6. Data Center

18% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 21% in the 2010 survey.

Like networking, data center operations will be impacted by organizations' virtualization and cloud strategies. In particular, Reed says, hiring managers will be looking for IT professionals with backgrounds in data center operations and systems integration.

In addition, the demands of having data available to achieve guaranteed IT service levels underscore the need for people who are experts in disaster recovery and business continuity, according to Bob Cuneo, CIO at Eliassen Group. Companies need to ensure that the systems that users depend on will be there when they need them, and those systems need to be backed up and replicated, he says.

7. Web 2.0

18% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, up from 17% in the 2010 survey.

Technical skills centered around social media remain in demand today, as more industries look for ways to integrate Web 2.0 technologies into their infrastructures, and Reed says he expects that demand to continue in 2012. He sees .Net, AJAX and PHP as key back-end skills, with HTML, XML, CSS, Flash and Javascript, among others, on the front end. "Organizations know they need to engage their customers via online platforms, and professionals who can support these initiatives will continue to command a premium in 2012," Reed says.

8. Security

17% plan to hire for this skill the next 12 months, down from 32% in the 2010 survey.

The one-year drop may be surprising given that information security threats are a moving target, but security is a top-level concern for many organizations, especially those that are considering cloud computing as part of their IT strategies, says Reed.

Corey Peissig, senior vice president of technical operations at Mortgagebot, a Web-based mortgage software provider, says security is a top priority at his company. "Strong technical security and auditing skills are in high demand in our business," he says. "The challenge is that good talent in this arena is sometimes difficult to find."

9. Telecommunications

9% plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months, down from 17% in the 2010 survey.

"We have an aggressive agenda to upgrade communications systems," with a strong need for voice-over-IP help, says Laurie Connors, a human resources official who handles IT hiring at Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based healthcare organization that includes the renowned Massachusetts General Hospital.

That's why Partners will be looking for telecommunications expertise in the coming year. Foote says he sees demand for people with IP telephony skills, and for those familiar with Cisco IPCC call center systems.

Although there may be some concerns about the resiliency of the U.S. economy over the next year, the three-year trend in hiring plans highlighted in Computerworld's Forecast survey indicates that IT hiring budgets are expanding. "We're in a cycle now where it's more about innovation than cost savings," says Reed. "You can only create so much efficiency, [and] you can only reduce so much cost."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leave on a Positive Note

Leave on a Positive Note
How to Write a Letter of Resignation
By Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume Expert

Whether you're on your way to a great new position or unhappily leaving your employer for personal or career-related reasons, you need to write a resignation letter.

The main goal of your letter is to inform your employer about the details of your resignation, but the underlying benefit is a chance for you to strengthen your relationship with your supervisor/colleagues and leave on a positive note. Approach the letter as if you're writing a thank-you note, and you'll be on the right track. The following tips will help:

The Introduction

Your letter's introduction should indicate that you are resigning and should provide your last day of employment. For example: "Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position as [job title]. My last day of employment will be [date] ."

The Body

The body of your letter should mention your reason for leaving and show your gratitude for the experience the job has given you. Here are a few ways to state that you are leaving, based on your situation:

Found a New Job: “I have accepted a position as [job title] in [location], which will give me the supervisory responsibilities I have been eager to assume."

Starting School: “I regret having to leave [employer name], but I am strongly committed to earning my [degree type] and have been accepted to [school name] for the fall term."

Medical Reasons: “I regret having to leave, but I am currently experiencing medical issues that prevent me from continuing in this position."

Partner Relocation: “My wife/husband has been offered an excellent job opportunity in [location], and we have decided to move there so that she/he can accept it."

Relocation Refusal: “The company's restructure has left many of my colleagues looking for new positions, so I am grateful for your offer of reassignment to the office. However, my family and I have decided that relocation is not feasible for us right now."

Bad Experience: “My decision to leave is based on both personal and professional reasons, but please understand that I have thoroughly enjoyed my association with [company name]. I have learned a great deal from you, and I look forward to applying this knowledge in my next position."
You may also mention that you appreciate the opportunity to work with your supervisor and other team members. If you name-drop, be careful not to exclude anyone. Remember that your letter may make the office rounds. If appropriate, state your willingness to help with the transition; for example, you might offer to train your replacement.

The Closing

End your letter with an expression of kind wishes and interest in keeping in touch. For example: “I hope that we can continue our professional relationship and that we meet again in the future. Best wishes to you and to the rest of the staff.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Choosing Your Resume Strategy: Specialist or Generalist

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

In a buyer's market, you may be tempted to throw all your skills on your resume, praying that the sheer variety of your experiences will overwhelm an employer. After all, you wouldn't want a potential employer to overlook that one gem in your background that could really set you apart.

But does the generalist resume work best today? Not necessarily. Recruiters say emphasizing the breadth of your experience depends on what you're looking for.

The Generalist's Advantages

Positioning yourself as a generalist could be effective if you:

-Target Small Companies: "A company with fewer than 500 employees may see a job seeker with a broad base of skills as giving them more for their money," says Dave Upton, founder and CEO of ExecuNet. At tiny companies or startups, a broad array of skills is often essential due to the need to wear different hats, Upton added.

-Target Downsizing Companies: Organizations that consolidate functions will often want someone who can do many things, such as a single HR generalist who can handle compensation and benefits as well as recruiting functions, says Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson.

-Will Take Any Job: Recruiters agree that the scattershot approach yields scattershot results even in the best of times. But if you simply want a foot in the door of a company -- any company, doing anything, anywhere -- selling yourself as a jack-of-all trades could pay off.

The Specialist Positioning

Selling yourself as a specialist is preferable if you:

-Know Exactly What You're Looking For: If you're sure about what you want and know how your skills match up to the requirements, make the case that you're the one they need and don't muddy your resume with a variety of unrelated skills.

-Work in a Competitive Industry: These days, employers who used to receive dozens of resumes for a position may see hundreds or thousands. The person who fits the job best, particularly in a competitive field, is more likely to get the job than someone who can do a bit of everything, recruiters say.

-Seek a Job Requiring Specialized Skill: An employer filling a job that requires deep knowledge of industrial automation, forensic accounting or video game design, to name a few, can usually find a candidate with the exact skills to match the job. If you don't have the specific skills, your knowledge of gardening, accounting or music theory, while nice to have, won't make up that deficit.

The Best Approach

Still not sure which approach is best? Recruiters recommend playing it safe by positioning yourself as a "specialist, with breadth." To do this:

-Research a job opening and the company to find out exactly what skills are needed and what other skills might be useful.

-Emphasize the depth of your expertise in the most necessary job skills -- the ones that actually match the job description -- and add your compatible skills at the bottom of the resume.

-Don't send out a hodgepodge resume. You're more likely to confuse the recruiter or the hiring manager, who may think of you as a dabbler without depth.
This tactic, recruiters say, will cover your bases by showing the breadth and depth of your skills, and that could be a winning combination in a tight job market.

"When more people are vying for the same jobs, it's even more important to show your skills fit well," says Lindsay Olson, partner and recruiter at Paradigm Staffing. "If you are a generalist, then you should be able to tweak your resume to fit the position. A resume should show me how you fit the requirements, not make me guess."

Cross-Wilson agrees. "If you possess the 'nice to have' skills, then show them, but not at the expense of the 'must have' skills," she says. "In most cases, if you are not competitive on the must-haves, you will not get the job."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Should you send a thank you letter after an interview?

Should You Send a Thank-You Letter After an Interview?
By Margot Carmichael Lester, Monster Contributing Writer

Does sending a thank-you letter after an interview really make a difference? Could it possibly influence the hiring decision in a positive way? Should you even bother? We asked several experts for their thoughts, and here’s what they had to say.

Point: Interview Thank-You Letters Have Impact

“Sending a well-crafted and timely thank-you note can add a positive impression to an already positive connection,” says Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent, a Cincinnati firm specializing in talent acquisition, recruiting and staff development. “While it won't likely make the difference in getting hired, it can help them to remember you in the sea of people that they interact with on a daily basis.”

Ken Goldman, a partner with ImproSells, a Jersey City, New Jersey-based communication training company, agrees. “If you're not going to take the extra steps to get the job, what will you be like six months in? I think it reflects poorly on the candidate.”

The extra effort on the part of one candidate made a difference to Carol Galle, president and CEO of Special D Events, an event-planning firm in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I recently filled an open position for which I had two highly qualified candidates, but it was a thank-you note that made the difference,” she says. “[One candidate] took the time to create a custom two-dimensional note card with our company's logo and a sincere, handwritten message of thanks. I want to hire people who genuinely want to work for my company, and it was clear from her effort that was the case.”

Counterpoint: Notes Don’t Make a Difference

“A thank-you note is seen as good taste and polite, but I’ve never seen it come close to making a difference in a hiring decision,” says Sharon Siegel, a recruiter and career coach with a 140,000-employee organization in the New York City area and owner of SharonCC, a career-consulting company. “If someone meets the credentials and has a great interview, we're not going to change our minds on making an offer if a thank you isn't received. On the other side, if someone has a terrible interview or would not be able to do the job, sending a beautiful thank you doesn't make me change my mind.”

Some folks feel sending a thank-you letter after an interview can actually hurt your chances under certain circumstances. “It is better to not send one, especially if you are not a good writer or [if you] have really poor handwriting,” says Kristine Dunkerton, an attorney and executive director of the Community Law Center in Baltimore. “Even if you are a good writer with good handwriting, I don’t think it is a great idea because it makes you seem a bit desperate.”

The Final Word

While a thank-you letter may or may not make a difference in hiring, it’s still probably a good idea to send one. “While many recruiters and hiring managers say they don't care about thank-you notes anymore and don't pay attention to them, you never know if the person that you're interviewing with does care,” McClure says. “So it's best to make sure that you check the box and send the note. If they don't care about it, then it didn't hurt. If they do, then you met their expectations.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Revamp Your Online Image

Revamp Your Online Image
By staff

Many young professionals are all over the Web, especially on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. But what might be cute and funny to friends and family may not be as humorous to potential employers (such as pictures from that blowout party you attended on New Year’s Eve). It’s not surprising that with the ease and affordability of search engines, employers can and do eliminate job candidates based on an applicants’ online image.

In a 2005 survey of 102 job recruiters by ExecuNet, 75 percent said that they utilize search engines to research job candidates, and 26 percent have eliminated candidates based solely on what they have uncovered online.

Whether you’re a new graduate looking for your first professional gig, or have already gotten your feet wet in the professional world, you need to keep tabs on your online image. You spend so much time on your resume -- be careful about the rest of your online profile as well. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Beware of social paparazzi: With blogs and photo-sharing sites abounding on the Web, there’s no telling where that picture a fellow partygoer snapped is going to end up. While you should have a good time when you’re out, keep in mind that you never know when the spotlight might shine on you. (In other words, when someone tempts you to do a keg stand, think twice before assuming the position.) You wouldn’t want damaging pictures or videos surfacing on the Internet featuring you as the star.

Do your own PR: The trick to maintaining a positive online image is to increase the favorable content out there. Create a professional Web site or publish your resume online (leaving out your street address, Social Security number and other personal information). You can also create a blog that focuses on your industry or hobbies. Be sure to keep them updated and you’ll impress anyone who Googles your name.

Use technology wisely: Take advantage of new online job-searching technologies by uploading your resume to so that employees can find you using precision searches. Monster’s new precision search technology means candidate searches will no longer return hundreds of “so-so” options. They’ll come back with several great options most tailored to what the employer is looking for -- making sure your resume will meet its perfect match and not get lost in the crowd.

Bring in the authorities: If you come across a Web site that contains images or inappropriate information about you that you want deleted, contact the site’s Webmaster and request that the information be removed. If that doesn’t work, consider using, a paid service that trolls the Web for information about you and destroys harmful content.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Six Soft Skills That Could Land You the Job

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

Wanted: Payroll manager with BA in accounting, five years of management experience, extensive knowledge of payroll principles and a sense of humor.

Wait. Humor? Now you have to reconcile W-2s, process checks and crack up coworkers? Has the job market become that competitive?

Not exactly. Employers seem to demand the moon these days, but they're really looking for candidates who may be easier to work with (assuming they already have the core skills to do the job). That means "soft," or intangible qualities, such as leadership skills, a sense of humor or being able to "play well with others," can be a strong competitive advantage for the job seeker. When a search comes down to two systems analysts with similar backgrounds and core competencies, the one who also may be a better "team player" or who can "wear many hats" is more likely to get the nod.

Qualities You'll Need

"Today, employers want to see a candidate's ability to show value in the workplace beyond the job description," says Stefanie Cross-Wilson, co-president of recruitment and talent management at Hudson. "It's the tangible skills or core competencies that get you in the door. It's the soft skills that often get you the job."

Any of these six qualities could give you a competitive edge:

-Leadership/Team Building: Leadership skills are not only critical for supervisory positions, but also for candidates who may want rise to positions where they'll give directions to others, experts say.

-Team Player: Employers like people who play well with others. Even if the job you seek isn't officially part of a team, an employer may want examples of how you collaborated with people who don't report to you.

-Goal-Oriented Self-Starter: This doesn't necessarily require motivating others. While employers don't necessarily want loose canons or mavericks, they do appreciate people who don't need to be told what to do and can set their own tasks and follow through.

-Excellent Communicator: No matter what the core job duties are, the ability to write a coherent memo or email, give clear verbal instructions and help meetings run smoothly -- or, at least, not sabotage meetings -- will probably be needed.

-Flexibility/Multitasking Ability: Sometimes employers will call this the "ability to wear many hats." Most professionals have multiple job duties even in the best of times. In an environment rife with layoffs, managers are especially comforted knowing a candidate can take on even unanticipated tasks.

-Sense of Humor: Unless you're applying to Comedy Central, you don't have to make them double over laughing, according to John McKee, president and founder of and author of Career Wisdom. "While I don't hear recruiters asking for candidates who can tell a joke well, I do believe that evidence of light-heartedness and/or the ability to lighten up a tough situation is valued, and self deprecation seems to be well-received," he says.

Putting the Skills in Play

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

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

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

Build Mini-Stories

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

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