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Archive for the ‘Pre/Post Employment Services’ Category

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

In Pre/Post Employment Services on April 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

Over the past couple of months, career expert Jeff Hunter has surveyed a group of recruiters and HR managers in order to provide job seekers with insight into the hiring process. His list of ten questions inspired interesting responses, including varied answers regarding resumes and resume length. It’s clear that there isn’t a straight answer to the age-old question “How long should my resume be?”

Here are some of the responses from top recruiters and HR executives:

“1-2 pages for a junior candidate, 3-4 pages for a senior candidate.”–Glenn Kwarcinski, senior technical recruiter in the Wireless Technologies Division of Apple

“One page, but I don’t ding people for more than that.”–Craig Campbell, director of talent acquisition at Dolby Laboratories

“2 pages . . . that’s it. But I believe a true recruiter’s job is to set interviews, not submit resumes.”–Sean Rehder, recruiter

“There is [no single correct answer.] But remember that the longer you go, the greater the chance of boring the reader.”–Jeff Hunter, career expert

And here are five tips to consider as you update your resume and debate the length it should be:

1. Make sure your resume clearly and succinctly communicates your achievements. Avoid resume “filler”–vague language that doesn’t precisely explain a skill or an accomplishment. According to Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, you should try to tie each thing in your work history to a measurable result you achieved.

2. Evaluate whether an achievement is best highlighted in your resume, in an interview, or perhaps in your cover letter. Rueff says, “The resume is an outline, or a storyboard of you. It tells a story of continued achievement and growth. Storyboards hit the high points; the interview is when you can introduce dialogue, drama, the overcoming of barriers, and so on.”

3. Consider whether a long-ago job best supports your qualification for a job you’re after today. For example, a valuable experience waiting tables at one of the busiest restaurants in your town may have taught you how to multitask, but does that job readily speak to why you would make a great software engineer at Oracle?

4. Look at the format of your resume with fresh eyes and consider whether a brief paragraph or five to seven bullets would more easily express what you managed to do in your last few jobs. Rueff explains, “Consider your audience. For example, if you’re applying for a job that will require a lot of writing, consider developing a two- or three-sentence paragraph for each job that gives a hint of your writing skills. However, if you’re in a technical field, brief bullets may best showcase your experience. The bottom line is that whether you bullet-point your achievements or offer more color in a paragraph format, everything should be tied to a result and tell a mini-story within the bigger career story of you.”

5. Avoid cliffhangers or one-liners that extend your resume to a second or third page. Often that last hanger line will either be ignored or simply have the potential employer asking, “Why didn’t they clean that up?!’

And last but not least, if you’re concerned about resume length even after running through each of these considerations, do not shrink the font size to something barely readable. Recruiters, hiring managers, and others who can help get you a job want to actually read your resume, so don’t make doing so difficult. While there is no rule of thumb when it comes to the overall length, one to two pages is still the average. For your resume, ask yourself whether it’s direct, informative, insightful, and appropriate to your skills and experience. No problem, right?!


Ways to Get the Job When You’re Not the ‘Ideal’ Candidate

In Pre/Post Employment Services on March 15, 2010 at 8:34 am

It may seem like a waste of time to apply for a position that, at least on paper, doesn’t exactly match your skills and experience. After all, many job seekers can’t even get a hiring manager’s attention when they do appear to be a perfect fit.

But if you believe you’re capable of performing a job well despite the fact that your background doesn’t completely align with the requirements of the position, there might still be hope. You need to consider yourself from a hiring manager’s perspective and build a case that shows why you’re the best person for the position. Following are some tips:

1. Don’t waste their time
First, make sure your background meets at least the most basic criteria for the position. If the job requires expertise in three specific software programs, for instance, and you are familiar with only one, don’t apply. But if candidates should possess seven years of experience, and you have five, an employer might consider your application. Keep in mind, however, that some firms simply will not interview you if you don’t meet every requirement, no matter how close your qualifications are. After all, companies still can afford to be picky.

2. Find an inside connection
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door when you’re a near fit for a job is by  getting a referral from someone who can speak to the hiring manager on your behalf. Ask those in your network if they — or someone they know — can provide an entrée into the firm. Social networking Web sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be especially helpful in uncovering individuals who may have an “in” at your target firm, but be judicious when requesting assistance. You should have established trust and credibility with anyone you ask to go to bat for you.

If you can, try to leverage your contacts to arrange a meeting with the hiring manager. Sometimes, all it takes to get a chance at the job is a face-to-face meeting where you can make your case directly. This allows you to establish a rapport with the employer and demonstrates your enthusiasm for the position.

3. Address concerns upfront
Instead of hiding any shortcomings you possess, acknowledge them. For example, if you’re overqualified for a position, use your cover letter or the interview to explain why the job nonetheless appeals to you. Perhaps after managing a large team of employees for years, you’ve decided you’d prefer to do more hands-on work as an individual contributor and not oversee others. Or if you’re a bit underqualified, you might note how strength in one area (such as a well-regarded certification you recently earned) could make up for weaknesses in another (your lack of necessary experience, for instance).

4. Highlight  return on investment
Hiring managers seek employees who have a track record of saving previous employers time or money. Promote the bottom-line benefits you can offer by highlighting accomplishments in your résumé or cover letter. You could note, for example, how you spearheaded the implementation of a new billing system that saved people time when uploading data, freeing up staff to focus on other critical tasks.

5. Offer a trial run
With some companies only beginning to cautiously add new staff, hiring managers are less likely to take a risk on someone who doesn’t exactly match the job criteria. As a result, you might have to sweeten the deal to persuade an employer to take a chance on you. You might offer to start the job on a project or temporary basis, for instance, with the agreement that you will be brought on full time if certain performance objectives are met.

6. Be truthful
Above all, keep in mind that you should never stretch the truth in an attempt to improve the odds of getting a job. Your lie could easily be uncovered, and you could damage your professional reputation, seriously harming your prospects of finding a job not only with your target firm but also other companies.

Many organizations are willing to take smart risks on seemingly promising employees, but it’s up to you to show them why taking a small leap of faith would be a wise move. By addressing any potential concerns upfront and building a compelling case for yourself, you’ll improve your chances of convincing them that an “imperfect” candidate like you is the right choice.

5 Steps to Say ‘No’ (With Kindness)

In Pre/Post Employment Services on January 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

You know that little project you agreed to complete because your boss said it would only take a minute? Or the lengthy phone call with your friend who only rings when she is in crisis (again)? How about the two-hour community car wash that took nine months to organize? Welcome to Time Vampire Central — where non-mandatory activities suck you dry.

Believe it or not there is indeed a silver bullet for the time vampires in your life. It is the tiniest complete sentence in the English language. With a little practice, the simplest, most powerful utterance in our fabulous system of words can be yours. Are you ready? Say it with me now.


Saying “no” is not easy, especially for women who are conditioned to accommodate everyone else’s needs before their own. But we are modern, savvy individuals who know that setting boundaries is the key to our success. “No” is a part of establishing those limits so we have room to breathe and achieve.

If you are ready to release the time vampires from your life, the following process will help them bite the bullet once and for all.

1. Acknowledge. If someone asks you to do something, it is because they have faith you can do it or they like you enough to want to spend their time with you. If spearheading a new project or attending that party makes your heart sink instead of sing, first acknowledge the person’s thoughtfulness for having considered you.

2. Express gratitude and interest. Thank the person for his or her invitation, then show interest in the project itself. Ask questions pertaining to the person’s request. Most often, people just want to feel important enough for you to listen.

3. Decline. Once you have acknowledged the person’s request and expressed your gratitude for the consideration, politely decline with a few simple words. If “no” itself is too hard, you can say you have an overlapping commitment.

4. Offer alternatives. If someone remains persistent in pursuing his or her request, offer up alternatives. Be careful not to get too involved in brainstorming new ideas or you might find yourself sucked into the project after all.

 5. Remember this: If you still struggle with declining people’s requests, stick a note on your mirror that reminds you that saying “no” to someone else is actually saying “yes” to yourself. Repeat it like a mantra until it becomes second nature. And if that doesn’t work, tell yourself that “no” is indeed a complete sentence. It really is.

You needn’t make excuses when someone asks you to do something you’d rather not. Consider a few simple sentences such as “It sounds like a wonderful opportunity that I am going to miss. Do keep me posted on your progress!” Or “I look forward to hearing all about it. To your success!” You can also say “no” without uttering the word at all. Letting that call go to voicemail or answering non-urgent e-mails the next day is another way of letting the world know you are simply not available at the moment.

Saying “no” is a lot like flossing. You may not notice an immediate impact, but, over time, you will appreciate the difference it can make in your life. With the “Power of No” by your side, the time vampires suck from your life will recede into the darkness from whence they came, and you will have liberated your personal bank account of time for what matters most.

10 Ways to Schmooze Your Way to Success

In Pre/Post Employment Services on January 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

Everybody knows that in this day and age, it’s not always about what you know, it’s who you know. During trying economic times like these, the key to landing your dream job is to stand out from the competition by showcasing both your talent and personality. 

For a quick and painless networking experience, follow a few tips that will help you leave a lasting impression:

1. A handshake can make or break a first impression, so practice, practice, practice! Demonstrate your self-confidence and genuine interest by executing a firm shake. 

2. Don’t be shy! Attend events related to the industry that you’re interested in and mingle. Whether you’re waiting in line at the coat check or sitting up at the bar, you just never know who you might meet.

3. While chatting it up with people you’ve just met, be sure to talk about topics other than the industry you’re trying to break into. Listen and ask questions. It’s important to showcase your personality, and who knows, maybe you’ll find out that you share common interests!

4. Don’t be too pushy. When meeting someone new, don’t simply shove your resume at them. Everyone knows you’re talented, so establish a friendship first. After all, no one likes to feel as though they’re being used. 

5. When attending events, don’t forget to ask for a person’s business card or contact information at the end of a conversation. People love to know that others are interested in what they do, so chances are, they would love to continue talking with you, even if it’s just via email.

6. That being said, be ready to hand out a business card of your own! Some may think that business cards are outdated, but it’s a lot easier to remember to contact someone with a concrete reminder sitting in a coat pocket.

7. Stop apologizing. Too often, inexperienced networkers tend to apologize to those they’re reaching out to. If you don’t think you’re worth their time, why would they? And more importantly, networking doesn’t have to be a burden…just think of it as building new relationships!

8. People receive tons of emails each day, so it’s easy to miss one. To make a more lasting (and tangible!) impression, send a handwritten note when saying “thank you.” Even if it’s a coffee date with a friend of a friend, a handwritten note adds a personal touch as you thank someone for their time.

9. Follow up. Again, potential employers meet new people every day, so it’s important to stay on their radar by sending an email or making a call every few months. Just started a new internship? Finished an awesome class project? Let them know! It shows them you’re gaining experience and reminds them that you’re out there. 

10. And finally, take a risk. Many people fear networking because they’re afraid they’ll be rejected. Such a fear will prevent you from meeting interesting (and interested!) people.

7 Digital Job-Hunting Mistakes

In Pre/Post Employment Services on January 11, 2010 at 12:01 pm

As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough already, the Internet has added a few new twists to the process. Specifically, there are now more ways to shoot yourself in the foot. Beware of these digital faux pas:

Not having an electronic version of your résumé. Savvy job hunters go a step further and put their résumés in PDF format. These look more professional and they can’t be altered.

A silly E-mail address. If your E-mail is something like “ilovekittycats,” you’ll appear unserious and unprofessional. ( Also, did you know some hiring managers say an AOL account makes you look out of touch? It’s true.)

Not being on LinkedIn (or whatever networking sites relevant to your field), not keeping your profile current, and not having two or three good recommendations.

Incriminating photos or information on Facebook/MySpace/etc. Guarantee: Potential employers are going to Google you. Clean up your online rep!

Same goes for Twitter or your blog. Refrain from snarking about your current or former boss. Never write anything that makes you look dishonest, unintelligent, or crazy.

Sending E-mail blasts. No one likes getting anonymous mass E-mails, including HR managers.

Exclusively relying on online job-listings. Make the six-degrees-of-separation idea work for you and identify jobs before they’re advertised. And then be the only applicant.

Meanwhile, the basics of job-hunting remain the same: network like mad, treat your job search like a job, always send a thank-you note.

The Often-Overlooked Interview Advantage: Good Grooming

In Pre/Post Employment Services on December 28, 2009 at 5:10 pm

There are dozens of factors that affect whether or not you land a job: from your work and expertise to your education and your personality. In addition to these weighty factors, your appearance also counts, in particular good grooming.

Fashion stylist Colin Megaro, the founder of Planet Style Concierge, says that today, “Grooming standards are definitely higher across the board.” Megaro, whose company offers style analysis, personal-shopping services, and more, offers up these tips to make sure you’re good to go at your next interview.

1. Good grooming is standard, no matter the industry. If you work in the music industry, you may think you can push the boundaries of good grooming — but you’d be wrong. “Standards do not vary from industry to industry,” according to Megaro. “No matter what you do for work you should always be well-groomed. Take some pride in yourself and always present the best you.”

2. Nail it! Men and women should always be manicured, according to Megaro. “That’s right, gentlemen! A manicure and a good buff go a long way,” he states. Megaro, who styles both men and women, advises women to choose neutral colors for nails. “Bright red, black, or jeweled nails are not appropriate for the workplace.”

3. Don’t look shady with a “five o’clock shadow.” The rugged look probably isn’t best for the office, either. He says, “Five o’clock shadows aren’t OK — even after five o’clock. If you’re heading to an interview from a current job or even from home, schedule it so you have time to wash your face, shave, and make sure your suit is fresh and wrinkle-free.”

Facial hair can be fashionable, but it’s probably best for men not to rock the ZZ Top look. “If you must have it, it needs to be short and well groomed,” he cautions.

4. Put your best foot forward. “Women MUST have a pedicure if they’re wearing open-toe shoes, but even if you’re a man, your shoes shouldn’t look as if you regularly walk on hot coals (unless that’s the job you’re pursuing),” Megaro counsels. He recommends that shoes always be polished with proper soles. If you scuff a shoe, he reveals, “A Sharpie the color of your shoe can save the day!”

5. Wear it well. Make sure your clothes reflect the job you’re pursuing. “When dressing for an interview, research the company and dress accordingly. If you are interviewing at a bank, wear a classic suit with a beautiful tie or scarf. If it’s a media company, you have a bit more freedom. Aim for a more modern suit with a great briefcase/bag. You should show your personality and individualism when it’s appropriate,” he states.

6. Breathe easy. Fresh breath is a priority if you’re going on an interview. Megaro points out, “You don’t want to smell bad breath on other people and, trust me, they don’t want to smell it on you!” He recommends brushing your teeth, carrying breath mints, and keeping mouthwash in your desk or breath strips in your pocket.

7. Use scented products sparingly. If you’re wearing cologne or perfume, exercise caution. “Yes, it can be worn, but please do not bathe yourself in it. Remember that some people are sensitive or allergic to smells. Also, no one wants to walk into a wall of cologne,” Megaro says.

8. Act natural. Aim for a daytime appearance, especially when pursuing an office job. Megaro, whose company also offers wardrobe consultation and shopping tours, urges job seekers, “Avoid wearing too much makeup or overpowering nail color, and keep hair color to natural tones. We don’t need to see bright colors, over-done highlights, or bad wigs.”

9. Tress to impress. Beware of overdone hair. Megaro says, “Too much, whether it be color or product, is never attractive!” If you’re a bit too coiffed, you may appear high-maintenance, and, possibly, out of touch.

10 biggest job interview mistakes

In Pre/Post Employment Services on November 20, 2009 at 9:34 am

10. Over-explaining why you lost your last job. It’s okay to mention that your last position was eliminated, but then move on to what you can do for this employer.

9. Conveying that you’re not over it. “During interviews, some people are acting wounded, angry or sad,” Schoonover says. These are normal emotions after a layoff but they don’t belong in a job interview — or you may “seem unstable and communicate that you don’t grasp the business reasons for layoffs,” he adds.

8. Lacking humor, warmth, or personality. Many anxious job candidates are “one-dimensional during interviews, and are too focused on getting their talking points across,” notes Schoonover. “Don’t forget to show qualities that can be a real plus in the decision-making process, including humor in good taste, warmth, and understanding.” One thing interviewers want to know, of course, is how pleasant you would be to have around the place every day.

7. Not showing enough interest or enthusiasm. After all, “companies are looking for people who are excited about working with them,” Schoonover says.

6. Inadequate research about a potential employer. It’s essential to be up on the latest news, so be sure to Google the company before the interview. Be prepared with well-informed, thoughtful questions about its products or services and its future plans. Many applicants aren’t bothering, Schoonover says, and it shows.

5. Concentrating too much on what you want. Focus more on what the interviewer is saying. Listening carefully is crucial in steering the conversation toward how you would fit in and what you have to offer.

4. Trying to be all things to all people. “Devote most of your effort to talking about what you know you do well, and don’t try to stretch your actual qualifications too far,” Schoonover advises. A good rule of thumb: Don’t apply for any job unless you have at least 75% of the stated qualifications.

3. “Winging” the interview. Schoonover hears from many hiring managers that candidates often aren’t ready to answer difficult questions. So rehearse. “Prepare and practice a 90-second verbal resume, and some answers to possible questions, so that you come across as succinct,” he suggests.

2. Failing to set yourself apart from other candidates. “You have to make the strongest possible case for why you are the best person for the job,” Schoonover says. “Specifically address what impact you can have on sales, profits, costs, or productivity within the next three to six months. Use quantifiable achievements from past positions to back up your performance promise.”

And the No. 1 mistake OI Partners’ coaches see job hunters make:

1. Failing to ask for the job. “You have a much better chance of getting the job if you ask for it,” says Schoonover. “Close the interview by summing up what you can bring to the job, and ask for the opportunity to deliver those results.”


How to Network Without Being Phony, Lame or Desperate

In Human Resources, Pre/Post Employment Services on November 17, 2009 at 11:45 am


Let’s face it: Even when you’re on top of the world, chances are good that the idea of networking sounds like a big, fat drag. You can probably think of 100 other things you’d rather do — like cleaning the blades of your ceiling fan. But if you’re one of the 14.9 million people who are competing for what seems to be a handful of jobs, your confidence has probably taken a hit. So now is probably not the time to be meeting anyone new. In fact, now is not the time to get out of your pajamas.

Ah, but it is. Networking is the single most valuable thing you can do with all this free time you have now. It will help you build the relationships that will stay with you for the rest of your career. You will learn more about your profession, industry and community. It will protect you from becoming an out-of-touch doofus. And, best of all, it will put you in front of people who have leads on jobs that haven’t been published yet (the hidden job market). Through active networking, you could be the only candidate who is considered for that great job. Why? Because you got there first. Networking will do that for you. So while you change your clothes, change your mind about  networking, too! Here’s how:

Remember there’s nothing phony, lame or desperate about being out of a job.
With so many people who have been laid off, people are expecting to hear from you and help you. Call them.

Change your mind about what you’re networking for.
If you think that one meeting this afternoon is going to land you a job, you’re going to sound desperate. Each meeting is a chance to tell your story about what you do and who would benefit from your talent. So try to relax and take each meeting as it comes. Some that you have high expectations for will turn out to be duds. Some that you think will be long-shots will be gold mines. You’re networking not to land a job but to meet people, who will then introduce you to others, who will then introduce you to still others — one of whom will one day say, “When can you start?”

Remember that it’s not all about you.
You’re meeting because the two of you have something in common (similar job title; shared interest in the profession, industry or community; the person works in a company that interests you). Focus on that commonality and explore possibilities that spring from that commonality. Truly listen to what that person is saying, don’t just wait until his lips stop moving so you can start talking yourself.

Be yourself.
That is, be your best self. Don’t be the self that wants to stay home in your pajamas, hugging a pint of Ben and Jerry’s tight. Be the self who is at the top of your professional game, with a wealth of value to still deliver to the world, with a track record of successes that you still keep top of mind.

Tell your story without the usual job-search downers.
If your story tends to end with, “And then I got laid off,” you might want to rewrite your script. Focus on your accomplishments and the fact that people noticed your potential throughout your career. Be real about how it is that you’re between jobs right now, just like “a lot of really great people these days” (use those words). And then immediately ask your networking partner a question about the company, industry trends, anything that shows you’re still a player in your field and ready to start contributing again.

Have a full calendar.
No networking meeting should ever be the last networking meeting you have scheduled. Always have something else (lots of something  elses) lined up. No one wants to be anyone’s last, best hope.

Have an agenda.
Many job seekers have only a vague notion of what to talk about in a networking meeting, so networking becomes synonymous with  small talk. Small talk does not impress anybody unless you’re looking for a hostess job. Spend two minutes talking about your background, 15-30 minutes talking about the jobs and employers on your target list, and the rest of the time talking current trends in the industry. Don’t forget, like any good business meeting, end it on time. Don’t dawdle. Don’t linger. Don’t ask for that second cup of coffee. Get out politely, but get out.

Thank your networking partner immediately afterward and confirm you’ll stay in touch.
It’s amazing how few people actually do this. Stand out! Send a note. Send an e-mail. Say thank you. And report on how you followed up on all that great advice you just got. Keep that person informed of your progress. If you do this, you’ll continue to have a lively network of people who care about you and respect you for the rest of your career.

Pay it back.
You may be out of work, but you still have all your resources. Use them to help others in or out of the job search.

Tips on how to make ends meet

In Pre/Post Employment Services on September 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Throughout the economic downturn, many companies were forced to lay off workers, implement furloughs, decrease benefits and cut salaries in order to stay afloat. Although recent reports indicate the recession is over and recovery is on the horizon, workers may still feel a pinch in their paychecks for a while.

If you’re counting the seconds until your paycheck hits your bank account, you aren’t alone. Today’s economic situation has household budgets everywhere tightening, as 61 percent of workers report they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet, according to a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 4,400 workers. This is up from 49 percent last year and 43 percent in 2007.

It’s not just people earning average salaries who are feeling the need to pinch pennies: 30 percent of workers with salaries of $100,000 or more report that they too live paycheck to paycheck, up from 21 percent in 2008.

Making ends meet
Undoubtedly, workers are getting creative in the ways they’re making ends meet in this economy. Some are creating a budget for the first time ever, others are taking on second jobs, and a few are scaling back on the non-necessities. Many workers even have to dip into their personal and retirement savings to pay the bills.

Depending on your age, experts suggest putting aside anywhere from 10 to 35 percent of your earnings for retirement. This is easier said than done in any economy but it’s even more difficult today. To get by financially, 21 percent of workers say they have reduced their 401(k) contributions or personal savings in the last six months. Twenty-three percent of workers who earn six figures or more report that they have also reduced their 401(k) or savings.

While some workers are reluctantly tapping into savings, others don’t even have this option. Thirty-six percent of workers say they do not participate in any programs such as 401(k), IRAs or retirement plans, up from 31 percent in 2008. In addition, one-third of workers (33 percent) report that they don’t put any money aside into their savings each month, up from 25 percent in 2008. Thirty percent set aside $100 or less per month for savings and 16 percent save less than $50.

Tips to prepare for the future
Here are six tips to stretch your paycheck and ride out the economic downturn while also preparing for the future:

1. Keep track of spending
Create a spreadsheet to analyze what you spend each month, including the money spent on those inevitable invisible expenses, such as a morning coffee, cab ride or afternoon snack. Once you can see where your money goes, you can clearly see where you can cut back. Do you really need to buy a bagel every morning for $1.99? Or, could you buy a package from the grocery store for $3.99?

2. Boost your income
Think of ways you might be able to earn a little extra cash. In an April 2009 CareerBuilder survey, one-in-ten workers reported taking on a second job in this economy to help make ends meet. If this is something you can handle on top of your current job, look into pursuing some viable options. Check out sites like for contract and freelance opportunities, or search for jobs using terms like “part-time” and “temporary.”

3. Speak up
Find out what benefits and employee programs your company offers that could help you save money and take advantage of them. For example, you could cut costs by taking advantage of flexible spending options, wellness benefits, retail discounts or transit reimbursement.

4. Use direct deposit
When you have your paycheck deposited directly into your bank account, you resist the temptation of just cashing it or getting cash back. Talk to your HR department to see how you can set this up for your next paycheck.

5. Pay yourself first
Set aside a certain amount of money every week, or from every paycheck, in a separate savings account. Try to set up an account where you can’t transfer money into your checking account online. Don’t touch it. Even if it’s only $10 a week, over time, you’ll see it add up from your regular contributions and earned interest.

6. Skip the ATM
If you have cash on you, you’ll spend it. Minimize your trips to the ATM by giving yourself a weekly cash allowance and using only that for the week. This might mean cutting back on daily lattes and lunches out, but you won’t miss it over time.

Job Search Tip: Prep Your References for a Reference Check

In Pre/Post Employment Services on September 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

Prepping your references can make all the difference in whether you get the job you want or not. A positive reference check is a priority in the hiring decisions of many employers. Make sure your references are prepared to respond favorably when the potential employer calls for a reference check.

In a client company, we have eliminated the competition and settled upon two candidates for the job. Both are superficially well-qualified. However, reference checks and background checks are critical.

The primary candidate had the field to herself until it took me three weeks to check her references. The second candidate came to our attention during this reference check time.

What did the primary candidate do wrong? She included no reference phone numbers on her application nor on her resume. Her listed references were coworkers, not bosses, so we had to dig for the numbers of her former supervisors. Indeed, we had to dig for the numbers of her listed references. Several references never returned calls over two weeks.

I finally had to loop the candidate in to get her help to contact the references. She should have been on this before I started calling to check the references. Her references should have known that I would call.

They should have been informed about how important their participation was in whether the candidate was offered the job. The reference checks and their preparation should have been a priority for the candidate.

Instead, she let another candidate get her foot in the door and she may lose her stated dream job. I can’t predict how this selection will end, but, the primary candidate truly blew it.

Prep your references. Make sure they know the potential employer will be calling. These are the types of questions the potential employer will ask.

Make sure your references are ready to answer these questions – in a timely, optimistic, positive, honest, open manner. Tell your references to please chat up your strengths. They can make all the difference in whether you get your dream job.


By Susan M. Heathfield,