Search Results for: interview tips

What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach You about Your Career

Whether you caught the Super Bowl or are just catching up on the buzz, you’ve likely already seen or heard about all the commercials. So if you’re looking for an excuse to check them out again, why not learn something in the process? Here’s what some of the ads from this year’s Super Bowl game can teach you about your career.

  • Budweiser Dalmatian Spot – What’s better than a Rocky-style story of a Dalmatian training a down-on-his-luck Clydesdale and helping him make the hitch? This No. 1 favorite of the night can do more than bring a tear to your eye, it can also teach you something about persistence and the value of  mentors.
    Career Moral: Don’t give up if you miss that promotion. With hard work, you can improve your career. And don’t underestimate the value of a workplace mentor who believes in you and will help you achieve your ambitions.
     
  • Carrier Pigeon Fed Ex Commercial – An employee showcases a cost-saving innovation to his boss, but it turns out to be a disaster.
    Career Moral: We all make mistakes at work. When you do, it’s important to do what you can to remedy the situation and improve things. Also, don’t hide mistakes from your boss, learn to communicate bad news instead. They’ll find out eventually. It’s better to face problems head on.
     
  • Tide Talking Stain Spot – A qualified-sounding candidate’s job interview is derailed by an unsightly (talking) stain on his shirt.
    Career Moral: In the interview, first impressions are everything, so don’t forget to check your appearance and hygiene before your interview. Make sure your clothes are unstained, pack some breath mints, spit out the gum and take a glance in a mirror. The little things can make the difference between landing the job and inspiring a Super Bowl commercial like this one.
     
  • NFL True Story with Chester Pitts – Ephraim Salaam discovers Chester Pitts in a San Diego grocery store. The oboe-playing grocery bagger was drafted in the second round and now plays for the Houston Texans.
    Career Moral: This inspiring story of success, dreams and the power of having someone believe in you shows us never to underestimate the power of networking. You could find your next career-making relationship anywhere.
     
  • Coca-Cola Ad with Bill Frist and James Carville – The two politically differing figures stop arguing for a minute through the shared love for Coke and end up sharing some quality time in Washington together.
    Career Moral: You can get along with people you don’t see eye to eye with in the workplace. The trick is finding commonalities and giving them a chance.
     
  • Taco Bell Fiesta Platter Ad – Two employees rush to a meeting with their lunch in hand. They’re encouraged to take time to savor their lunch instead.
    Career Moral: Win at work life balance – take a lunch break!
     
  • Follow Your Heart CareerBuilder Spot – A woman at boring job watches her heart jump out of her chest and speak the truth to a horrible boss.
    Career Moral: Sometimes, change is necessary. Listen to your heart to see if you need a change.
     
  • Gatorade Ad with Derek Jeter – Everywhere he steps, Derek’s surroundings are influenced by the game. He notes that for him, “… the next game begins when the last one ends.”
    Career Moral: When you’re passionate about your work, it’s visible.
     

In case you missed them, USA Today has a rundown streaming all this year’s Super Bowl ads.

5 Ways to Improve your Job Search

Are you trying to find a new job but feel like you’re stuck in a rut and no one will hire you? Do you feel like you’ve exhausted all of the possibilities and there’s just nothing left to do? Here are a few tips you can use to improve your job search and give yourself another chance to land the job you want.

1. Get help writing your résumé. A fresh pair of eyes will be able to help you spot errors that you simply don’t notice. If you haven’t revamped your résumé in a while, now is a great time to do so. Have you already asked for someone’s help but didn’t feel like it helped your job search? This time, ask somebody else, like a professional who interviews and hires candidates. Ask a person who is going to give you honest feedback and point out any flaws so you can improve your résumé. Try to have someone review your résumé who works in your field. They should be able to point out strengths and weaknesses of your résumé and help you modify important features, such as the layout of your document. Also, remember to tailor your résumé, especially your relevant skills, for each and every job you apply for.

2. Clean up your cover letter. Your résumé may state that you are creative, well organized and proficient on the computer. But, does your cover letter say otherwise? How you write your cover letter can say more than the words you use. An employer will notice if your cover letter is dull, unorganized, or lacks proper formatting, contradicting the claims you make about your strengths in your résumé. Create your cover letter to positively represent you and your talents. That may include reformatting or rewriting your cover letter altogether.

3. Practice your skills. Offering your time and talents free of charge to a company will show a potential employer what you could provide for their business or organization. This also gives you the ability to test out the organization, and see if you like working there. An internship can provide the perfect opportunity that will reap benefits for both you and the company. If you are unable to complete an internship, think about volunteering. Non-profit organizations are a great place to volunteer your time because they are always looking for people to help out with their projects. Whether you intern for a company or volunteer for a non-profit organization, you will gain experience and be able to improve your weak or out-of-practice skills before your next job.

4. Check your own references. Make sure your references know that you’d like to list their names as you apply for jobs so they aren’t caught off guard when an employer calls to inquire about you. Tell your references what types of jobs you’re looking for and why you want to work in that field. Be specific about why you want to list them as a reference and how they helped you accomplish certain goals. Mention projects or assignments that they helped you improve on and then thank them for their generosity. Discussing your previous successes will help them point out your strong points to employers. If they can’t remember who you are, it’s time to find new references.

5. Apply through a staffing agency. A staffing agency can help you expand your job search. When you interview at one, you’re actually interviewing for several jobs at once. That’s because agencies have opportunities for direct hire, evaluation hire or temporary employment for many different companies. If you receive a temporary position, that’s a great opportunity to network by talking with co-workers and learning about other job leads. On the job, you and the company can also decide if you are the right fit, which can potentially lead to a full-time permanent position. Agencies fill a variety of positions at many organizations, so they just might help you make the connection you need.

To find the job out there with your name on it, you have to earn it. So, try using these tips when you apply for your next job. You never know; one or all of the tips could be the key to landing your next job.

Which of these tips do you have the biggest challenge with?

Write a Better Résumé – 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Recruiters

resumes recruiters wantYour résumé is your introduction to prospective employers. A well-crafted résumé can grab the attention of recruiters and help you land that all-important first interview. On the other hand, a poorly put together résumé can squash your chances of moving forward in the selection process. That’s why it’s essential to create a résumé that sells your strengths in a polished, professional format. The tips below can help you draft a résumé that gets results.

Eliminate spelling and grammar errors. One quick way to get your résumé thrown in the trash is not editing it for typos and poor grammar. You should always proofread your résumé several times before sending it out. Look out for spelling errors that the computer may have missed such as words that sound the same but have a different meaning (Example: build vs. billed). Consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member to review your résumé as well – you might be surprised what a fresh pair of eyes can catch.

Don’t use first person (I, me, my, etc.) It’s your résumé, so employers know who you’re referring to when you mention accomplishments and work experience. Using first person pronouns makes your résumé sound amateurish, unpolished and even “you centered.” That’s why you would delete the words “I” and “my” in the following sentence: “I earned my associate’s degree in math.” Instead, just write: “Earned associate’s degree in math.”

Use action verbs. Strong verbs bring your accomplishments to life. Action verbs also hold the reader’s attention by making your résumé interesting. See for yourself – which of these two candidates do you find more appealing based on the way they described their past job duties?

Candidate A: Did filing, clean up, phone calls and clerical duties.

Candidate B:  Cataloged department files for 15 employees on a weekly basis. Maintained clean office environment including dusting, sweeping and mopping. Answered over 200 phone calls each day using multi-line phone system.

Communicate results, not just a list of job duties. From the example above, you can see that if you were a hiring manager, you’re attention would most likely be drawn to Candidate B’s résumé over Candidate A’s. That’s because Candidate B’s résumé not only uses action verbs, but it also communicates more about the applicant’s actual accomplishments instead of just listing off a bunch of job duties.

Tailor your résumé to the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for 10 different jobs, you can just send the same résumé to each company, right? Wrong. Unless the job descriptions for each position are identical, you’ll need to tweak your résumé for each one. Tailoring your résumé doesn’t have to take a lot of time though. Just make sure you’ve reviewed each job description and know a little about the company you’re applying with. Then, create a new version of your résumé using the key words you found in your research. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a legal assistant and the law firm needs someone with experience working on trial cases and you have it, make sure you describe that experience in the version of your résumé you send to them.

Your résumé is your first touch with a prospective employer, so make sure that your paper introduction makes as good a first impression as you would hope to make in person. You can do this by taking the time to create a professional-looking résumé that appeals to employers’ hiring needs.

What résumé questions do you have? Post them in the comments sections.

Age Discrimination – Does This Affect You?

Age discrimination in the workforce is an issue that is not often addressed; however, there are ways to get your foot in the door if you’re a seasoned employee. According to a survey of 168 executives with a median age of 50 conducted by Execunet, a referral network, 74% surveyed are concerned they will be discriminated against because of their age, and 58% believe they have experienced age discrimination in the past. Although age discrimination does exist, it is one of the hardest discriminations to prove, according to research by AARP.

If you find yourself struggling to find a job and think that your age might be a factor, here are a few tips to aide you in your job search.

Start with your résumé. When searching for a job, make sure your résumé offers the most recent and relevant information. Experts advise mature job applicants to reference only the last 10 or 15 years of your job experience. Often times, candidates are overlooked because they have too much experience. Try taking some classes that educate you on the latest technology or trends in your industry, and make sure to list them on your résumé. Also, avoid listing dates such as high school or college graduation, as these can reveal your age.

Update your wardrobe. In an AARP survey, nearly half of the respondents surveyed felt that older workers cannot adapt to change. When you go in for an interview, make sure that not only your résumé reflects your knowledge of current work trends, but your attire reflects current styles as well. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in the latest trends or fashion, but ensuring your wardrobe and hairstyle aren’t aging you unnecessarily is always helpful when searching for a job. This boosts your self confidence, and allows the employer to see that you are up-to-date with what is going on around you.

Sell yourself. Don’t let the age factor get you down. If you show you’re confident and skilled, potential employers will be less likely to consider your age a factor when making hiring decisions. You may feel that younger people are hired to replace older workers, but keep in mind that younger workers feel most jobs are held by people with experience. Instead of focusing on this remember to sell your skills and abilities. Let the interviewer know you are open to training and learning new things. Make sure they know why you’re there and why you’re qualified for the position. Research the company before you interview so you can offer insight on how your past experience can benefit their company. Show enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, but don’t sound desperate.

Network with peers in your industry. You might feel as though you’re too old to network, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Find a local organization that specializes in your desired industry. Get involved within your community and make contacts with individuals that can help you get your foot in the door with companies. By getting your name and face out there with people in your industry, you will not only increase your chances of getting a job, but you will develop valuable and up-to-date information on what is going on in the field.

Age doesn’t have to be a negative factor when searching for a job. It can actually work for you if you follow these tips. Mature workers have confidence and knowledge in a time when we need it the most. With so many workers reaching retirement age, there is a gap in the knowledge between seasoned workers and younger workers just entering the workforce. Utilize your expertise and show how you can be an added value to the company.

Leaving on a Good Note

Ever start a job and know immediately that it wasn’t for you? If you read my post on Picking the Job That’s Right for You, you’ll remember the dilemma that my sister-in-law faced when trying to pick between several job offers. She ended up picking a job by following those tips. However, she didn’t plan on one of companies she interviewed with calling her back and offering her more money, better hours and increased benefits (which was the reason she turned it down in the first place). This was the job she originally wanted, and now it was a perfect match.

My sister-in-law decided to take the new job offer. Now, she had to figure out how she was going to tell her employers she wasn’t going to continue to work for them. She had only been there one day. Breaking the last tip on my post – don’t back out, she had to find a professional way of leaving without burning bridges.

Leaving a company, whether after one day or five years, is always difficult. Try following these tips to ensure that your transition out is a good one.

Let your boss know first. When you decide that it’s time to leave a company, talk to your supervisor before you talk to your co-workers. One thing that will surely upset your boss is to find out that you’re leaving the company from someone other than you. Try to schedule a meeting with your boss as soon as you make the decision. After you have informed your boss, then you can tell your colleagues.


Be honest. When talking to your boss, let them know why you are leaving the company. Whether it is for a professional or personal reason, being upfront and honest will give them the opportunity to remedy the situation if possible. It also allows them a chance to know what they might need to correct to retain future employees.

Be polite during your exit interview. If you are leaving the company due to a clash in the corporate culture or negativity among your co-workers, let them know the situation in hopes that they can correct the problem for future employees, but do it tactfully. Inform them of the situation with professionalism and maturity. Your boss is more likely to take your complaints and resignation positively if your demeanor and dialogue are well thought out and without malice.

Give a two-week notice. This is a typical time frame when leaving a job; however, if you work in a position that requires more time for your employer to find a replacement, then notify accordingly. Also, follow up with a short and simple resignation letter. Include your boss’s name, employment dates, departure date and your signature. If relevant, thank your boss for the opportunity, and try to say some positive things about him/her and the company.

Wrap up loose-ends. Try to finish up all your projects before your departure. If possible, type up detailed instructions for the next employee on how to do your job. Offer assistance in training the next employee if possible. By offering help and making the transition from one employee to the next a little easier for your former employer, you will demonstrate and generate respect rather than ill-will.

To keep yourself from having a bad experience on your way out of an old job and into a new one, keep these tips in mind. You never know, your past might collide with your future. And you wouldn’t want a bad exit to hurt your future career plans.

Have you ever had a bad experience when leaving a job? How did you handle your departure?

Pick the Job That’s Right for You

My sister-in-law recently received her bachelor’s degree in nursing and began searching for a job. She was a licensed practical nurse for 12 years prior to her graduation – so she had a lot of experience in her field, which helped her job search. She received several job offers and is having a terrible time trying to figure out which job to take. She has three small children, so picking the right job is crucial to her work/life balance.


This job dilemma is a good one to have; however, some people aren’t quite prepared to handle this situation when it arises.  Of course, in the grand scheme of things, you must take into account all factors when trying to find the right job choice for your career. When trying to determine the right job, keep these tips in mind:


Take time to compare: Don’t say yes immediately. Make sure to take some time to evaluate each job offer. Write down the pros and cons of each offer, and go over them with your family or someone you trust. If you have additional questions, write them down and call the potential employer back for answers. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You want to make sure it is a good fit for everyone involved.


Focus on your priorities: Money isn’t everything, so make sure that you understand everything each potential employer has to offer. Check out their benefits and healthcare package. Do they offer corporate perks or bonuses? If you receive a great salary but the company doesn’t offer any benefits program, or career advancement opportunities, is the pay worth it?


Be honest: Let other prospective employers know that you were offered another job and you are trying to determine the best fit. You don’t have to divulge any information about the salary or who is offering the job if you don’t want to. Let them know that you need some time to evaluate the offer, and give them a time frame in which you will get back to them. Most employers will understand if you ask for a few days to think.


Don’t back out: Make sure that you are respectful to all prospective employers. After you decide which job you are going to take, don’t back out. Once you have accepted a job offer, the company lets all other applicants know that the position has been filled. If you back out, the employer has to start all over, and it doesn’t usually reflect well on you.


You may love the idea of having multiple job offers, but the anxiety of picking between them can be tremendous. By following these tips, you can help narrow the field down to the one offer you want to accept.

Have you ever juggled multiple job offers? What was the deciding factor – money, benefits, time off?

What Not to Do When You’re Job Hunting

Countless eager job seekers are going to extremes to stand apart from the crowd. But, their efforts, though well-intentioned, can miss the mark. Last year, one video resume from an aspiring job seeker  became a YouTube sensation when it was posted without his consent after he sent it to several Wall Street recruiters. The resume and the buzz it generated subjected its creator to internet ridicule – and didn’t exactly help his job prospects. But in some cases, a video resume has been just the ticket. Another job seeker, featured by Career Journal, actually landed four job offers from his video resume.

Video resumes aren’t the only new trend being used by job seekers to stand apart from the crowd. Recruiting bloggers often post horror stories of job seekers trying too hard to set themselves apart from the pack – from dressing up in costume to sending lavish gifts to hounding recruiters with frequent calls and e-mails. So how can job seekers figure out if these efforts will help or hurt their job search?

The Brand Dame, a professional recruiter, recently posted a list of things not to do in a job hunt – from the perspective of the person picking through resumes. Though it sounds a little harsh, her insights should be taken seriously by job seekers. Recruiters, she says,  “…are looking for reasons to eliminate you.” It’s your job to sell yourself as the right candidate for the job, not eliminate yourself by making a dumb move. And in a competitive job market, it can be hard to find the right balance between not trying and trying too hard. Here are a few top ways you can ensure your resumes gets put in the “no” pile. (Hint: Avoid these at all costs.)

  • Try too hard. Give your job search serious effort, but don’t become a nuisance to the recruiters and hiring managers you are applying with. A unique way to stand out from the crowd isn’t necessarily a wrong move, but whether it’s a right one or not will depend largely on the type of job and industry you’re trying to get into. An off-the-cuff video resume probably won’t appeal to conservative companies or industries, but it might work for creative fields.

  • Oversell yourself. Some people can make themselves sound pretty impressive on paper. Others just make themselves sound self-absorbed and self-important. Present your skills and your abilities for what they are, and keep it at that.

  • Bribe. Recruiters don’t take kindly to being bribed for an interview. Some have legal obligations with the companies they work for to not accept any gifts or outside compensation for their efforts. Don’t go overboard on gestures you send recruiters. Keep your efforts professional, simple and to-the-point.

  • Lie. Don’t say you graduated from Yale, with honors, if it’s not true. It’s the job of recruiters to verify your resume for facts, and these days, a simple Google search or call to a university can quickly uncover the truth and lies behind applicants’ resumes. A recent story on Career Journal highlighted how one woman’s high-powered career fell apart after it was discovered she fudged the truth on her resume when she lied about her credentials.

  • Hassle/harass. Yes, believe it or not, recruiters have been hassled, even harassed or stalked by overly eager job seekers. While a thoughtful gesture can set you apart from the pack, showing up at a recruiter’s front door with a singing telegram and a $100 flower arrangement probably isn’t going to land you a job. Unless you’re applying to be a birthday party clown.

Do you have any stories of job hunting tips gone awry? Share your experiences in the comments below.