Monthly Archives: May 2017

How to Use Job References Effectively

Posted: May 30, 2017 at 9:00 am

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For many years job seekers were advised to write “References available upon request” or “References attached” at the end of their resume. These days, however, it is customary not to supply or offer references with your resume unless they are specifically requested on a job application or by the hiring manager.

Here are eight ways you can you can avoid common mistakes many applicants make with job references.

1. Choose professionals.  Never use a friend, roommate or relative as a reference. Employers are looking for professional references from a supervisor or business colleague at a company where you worked. Your references should be in a position to speak to your accomplishments, skills and abilities. Choose professional colleagues with whom you are friendly, but not too friendly.

2. Use accurate information. A job candidate who misspells a name, makes a typo in an email address, gives out the wrong phone number, or cites an obsolete job title appears to employers as an employee who will make mistakes on the job. Check your work and have a friend proofread it for accuracy.

3. Get permission. Always get permission from former bosses and colleagues to use them as references. A request by email will suffice but it’s much better to contact your references in person or even face-to-face. Favorable references will be happy to help. Beware of lukewarm enthusiasm that can come across to an employer as a negative.

4. Protect your confidentiality. If you are using someone you work for or with as a reference, request their confidentiality so that word does not get out that you are looking for a job. If you don’t fully trust them, don’t even ask.

5. Neutralize negative references. Employers may request a reference from a previous job where you do not expect a positive response. In that case, alert the interviewer in advance, and explain why why you will not receive a glowing review.

6. Don’t overestimate the value of letters of reference. Letters prepared in advance may help to get your application considered but when it comes to making a hiring decision, employers are going to want to talk to your references over the phone.

7. Send your resume to your references in advance. They will probably not remember all the details of your employment; your resume will serve as a helpful crib sheet.

8. Tell your references about each of the jobs they may be contacted about. This will help them to give more relevant comments.  Don’t wear out your references. Use them for 3 to 5 jobs maximum to avoid your becoming a nuisance.

Job Interview Tips for Shy People

Posted: May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am

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Job interviews are especially stressful for shy people. However, if you are shy, you need not despair. There are many techniques you can use to prepare for interviews, increase your confidence and get the job you deserve.

It helps to keep in mind that a job interview is not a personal or social encounter. It’s a business meeting in which you are presenting your accomplishments and your skills. Interviewees are, in effect, playing a role just like an actor does. Actors appear spontaneous when they perform their roles only because they have practiced and practiced extensively.

Most actors will tell you that they are always nervous when they go on stage. It’s natural for actors and job seekers to feel nervous. Don’t worry about it. It’s how calm you look, not how calm you feel, that matters. Focus on preparing for your interview by using these tips, and you will come across as confident and self-assured no matter how many butterflies you have fluttering in your stomach.

Before the Day of the Interview

  • Do plenty of research: Search the internet to learn as much as you can about the company, its key personnel, and the person you will be meeting with.
  • Figure out your route: Plan exactly how you are going to get to your interview and how long it might take, including traffic. Allow time for traffic jams and unexpected delays. Check for alerts of delays due to construction.
  • Dress for success: Don’t wait until the day of the interview to decide what to wear. Pick out you clothes three or four days in advance. If you haven’t worn something recently, try it on to make sure it still fits. Check for stains and tears.
  • Practice your small talk: If you are not good at improvising casual conversation, prepare some lines you can use in advance and practice them with friends or relatives. Practice maintaining direct eye contact.
  • Confirm: Call the day before the interview to confirm your appointment including the time, location and the person you are supposed to meet with.
  • Bring some props: Create a portfolio and bring it in a three ring binder, even if you are not a graphic artist or designer. For example, if you are a retail buyer, show photographs or ads of your most successful product. Visual props are a natural aid to conversation.
  • Bring your resume: Bring two copies of your resume, one for you and one for the interviewer. Don’t count on the interviewer to have a resume you sent in advance.
  • Think of good questions: Based on your research, ask questions that show you are informed and interested.

Day of the Interview

  • Make a list: Make a list of everything you need to do on the day of the interview so you won’t worry about having forgotten something.
  • Leave early: You never know when you’re going to hit heavy traffic or other delays. Leave yourself plenty of time so you don’t get stressed out.
  • Arrive early: It’s perfectly OK to arrive 15 or 20 minutes early.
  • While you’re waiting: Once you arrive, give yourself time to relax. Don’t work on your laptop. It’s OK to read your email on your phone, but don’t type, or make calls. Turn off your phone’s ringer until after the interview.  And don’t make phone calls.

During the Interview

  • Eye contact: Remember to make direct eye contact just like you did when you practiced your small talk.
  • Posture: Maintain good posture and occasionally lean slightly forward to show that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Smile: It may feel artificial to smile when you’re nervous, but a “phony” smile is better than no smile at all. It will make your interviewer feel more comfortable which will, in turn, make you feel less nervous and shy. Let your lands rest on your lap. This will help you feel calm and look confident.

With a little preparation, no matter how nervous you may feel, you can project competence and competence and ace your interview.

Enhance Your Resume with Inexpensive Online Courses

Posted: May 1, 2017 at 9:00 am

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Online courses can make your resume sparkle with names from famous universities like Harvard, Yale and MIT. Even liberal arts courses which have no direct relevance to your job create the halo effect that comes from putting the name of an iconic university.

Most courses are free, but to really impress employers, you’ll need to earn and pay for a certificate from showing that you passed your tests and turned in your homework. Most certificates cost less than $100. And almost all schools let you take their course for free without a certificate.

Here is a sampling of what is available online from prestigious universities.

Harvard University: The Opioid Crisis in America

  • Learn about the opioid epidemic in the United States, including information about treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.
  • Verified certificate charge: $99. In Session.

The University of Chicago: Critical Issues in Urban Education

  • This course explores a set of critical issues in the education and educational reform space, with a focus on aspects of the field that have sparked controversy and polarized views.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

Yale University: Introduction to Negotiation

  • In this course, you will have several opportunities to negotiate with other students using case studies based on common situations in business and in life.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Started April 24, 2017.

Columbia University: Marketing Analytics

  • Develop quantitative models that leverage business data to forecast sales and support important marketing decisions.
  • Verified certificate charge: $375. Starts September 11, 2017.

University of Pennsylvania: Viral Marketing and Content

  • Successful strategies for you to use to create virality so that your campaigns become more shareable on social media and elsewhere.
  • Verified certificate charge: $95. Starts May 8, 2017.

MIT: Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer?

  • Turn your idea into a business, as you learn the essential skills needed to effectively identify and target customers.
  • Verified certificate charge: $300. Starts May 2, 2017.

Stanford University: Child Nutrition and Cooking

  • This course examines contemporary child nutrition and the impact of the individual decisions made by each family.
  • Verified certificate charge: $39. Starts May 8, 2017.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: What’s Your Big Idea?

  • From solving the world’s biggest problems to creating a commercial success, this course will give you a toolbox to vet your ideas and test them in the real world.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

Duke University: Behavioral Finance

  • This course is intended for anyone who has taken at least one course in economics either in high school or in college, and is interested in how our innate biases affect our financial decision-making.
  • Verified certificate charge: $49. Starts May 8, 2017.

For thousand more online courses from over 100 universities and educational intuitions check out edX and Coursera.