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Tips for a Better Interview

Are you ready to wow hiring managers during your next job interview? If you aren’t sure, you better keep reading. Here are some excellent interview tips:

Have an outstanding resume.

Impressive qualifications are a must on any resume, but a list of key accomplishments may not be enough. Your resume appearance is important, as well as your attention to detail. An error free resume is absolutely necessary.

Gaps? Get rid of them.

Life happens, but you don’t have to broadcast it on your resume. If you went through a time that you did not have a full time position, fill the void with volunteer work, projects related to your field that you worked on or even unrelated work. Hiring managers are looking to hire a productive person.

Be honest

Most people have worked in a position that they don’t wish to highlight, or a company they are less than proud of, but have to include the information for resume continuity. If an employer asks you about this position, even if was less than positive, be honest. The worst thing you can do in an interview is to be caught telling an untruth.

Prepare for interview questions.

There are many questions you know you will be asked. You will be asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, you will be asked about your work history, your greatest accomplishments, your weaknesses and so on…be prepared. There will also be questions that take you by surprise, making it that much more important to prepare yourself for the standard interview questions.

Show who you are.

It may not be a good idea to enter with a joke right away, but a little personality will go a long way in an interview. Employers are working to determine if you will be a good cultural fit with the current team. Don’t be too rigid that you aren’t showing who you are. Find common interest points to discuss.

Follow up, follow up, follow up!

Always take the time to send a thank you note or email (determine which is best during the interview process, some companies don’t use a lot of technology) within 24 hours. Missing this step could make all of your effort thus far a waste. During the interview be sure to ask for an appropriate timeline to call to follow up about the position.

Get Better Results with Your Job Ads

Your company has a job opening with no interest from job seekers.  Is it possible that your job ad could use some help?  Here are some tips to writing effective ads for hiring the right person the first time:

Use an Informative Job Title
The job title really isn’t the place to get creative.  The job title is the first piece of the puzzle that job seekers see and will make a quick decision on whether or not to read on.  Use a title that best describes the position and utilizes common keywords (ex:  sales, accounting, customer service).

Explain Your Company Culture
What makes your company so great to work for?  Explain your company culture and highlight your signature attributes in your job ad.  This job ad is, after all, an advertisement for your company.  Highlight perks offered, unique benefits and why anyone would love to work for your company.

Give a Descriptive Job Summary
Represent a full scope of the functions the successful candidate will be completing as well as what their role will be within your company or organization.  Don’t just list tasks, make it all encompassing and inviting.

Describe What Your Company Needs
While most applicants know that you are not going to find someone that meets all of your expectations in an employee, if you are clear about the skill set that is necessary to perform the job and which additional skills would be valuable, you will cut down on the time it takes to sift through resumes after you place your ad.

Group Information
There is a lot of information to include when posting a job, but a complicated posting can deter job seekers from reading or applying.  Keep your information grouped in a logical manner using bullet points and breaks to make it easier to read and follow, as well as bold, italics and underlines to make it appear more interesting.

Make it Easy to Take Action
Once you have the attention of candidates, you want to present an easy to execute way to apply.  This could be a direct link to an online application, an email to send a resume to, or use the site for a one click application for job seekers.

Share the Job Posting
After you have finished writing your job post, share the information on your network.  Post it to your social media sites, post it in your foyer, share it with your employees to re-post on their social networking sites and share it off of’s page.

Make a Great First Impression at the Job Interview

When you are ready to look for work, really ready, take the time to put your best self forward.  There are many opportunities for error on a resume and in an interview, so here are a few tips to help you stand out in a positive manner.

Ensure the individuals you recruit as references for your resume:  a) know that you are using them as a reference, b) know what position you are applying for and what your expectations are of them as a reference c) think highly of you as a professional.  Too often job seekers list references without first checking with them.  Put a lot of thought into the people you put down.  Make sure they are articulate, think highly of you, and are professional on the phone.

Stay positive.  When an interviewer asks you about a past employer, or why you are looking to leave your current position, it is important to not state the negatives about the job.  It is easy to say that you don’t like the supervisor, or you have a co-worker that always calls in sick, or perhaps that you keep getting skipped over for a raise.  But DON’T.  Instead say that you have always been interested in the company you are applying to, or that you have been working toward this position.  Refrain from saying anything negative about your past/current employer and turn the tables to where you are seeking out this position because it is the perfect fit for you and you are the perfect fit for the company.

One more piece of advice, when you arrive, shake your interviewers hand, firmly, while looking him or her in the eyes and smiling.  Do not give the limp fish handshake.  A firm handshake exudes confidence and power.  That is the goal of the whole interview, to show that you are confident that you are the perfect fit for the company and position.

The interview is your ticket to the position.  Research the company, know your stuff and be prepared and confident.  Your future just started.

Running Background Checks When Hiring

Make Your Employee Background Check Reasonable

Running an employee background check can not only be helpful in better understanding the applicant, but can also be useful in protecting a business from liability. Employers must still be very careful about what kind of information they ask for and look into, however. If an employer goes too far, he or she may face a lawsuit. Here are some things to keep in mind when performing an employee background check:

  • Be reasonable: The best advice for an employer running a background check is to keep such an investigation reasonable. Running a credit report and checking up on references makes a lot of sense, but combing court records, interviewing neighbors and requiring physicals for all of your applicants may not make much sense and may get you in trouble.
  • Make your investigation business-related: Part of being reasonable is ensuring that your background check is really business-related. If you are hiring a security guard, then digging heavily into a person’s criminal background may be extremely relevant and justified. If you are hiring a part-time janitor, you may not need to go to such lengths. In order to avoid being sued, make sure to tie what you’re asking for directly to the job at hand.
  • Get the applicant’s consent: Another way to avoid liability in general is to get the applicant’s consent before accessing potentially sensitive information. Some things, like credit checks, expressly require you to get the applicant’s consent, but even if you might otherwise have access to sensitive information, it pays to be careful and get the applicant’s consent in writing. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask for the consent on a job application.

Records an Employer Can Likely Consider when Performing an Employee Background Check

Some of the records below, such as credit reports, drug tests and driving records, require the consent of the applicant, but are still considered routine records to be used when performing a background check. As discussed above, regardless of the record type, always make sure that such an inquiry is related to the job. Asking a pizza delivery man for his driving record makes sense, but asking a software engineer for his or her driving record may not be as relevant.

Here’s a list of the types of records routinely involved in an employee background check:

  • Drug tests
  • Driving records
  • Social Security number
  • Court records
  • Character references
  • Property ownership records
  • State licensing records
  • Past employers
  • Personal references
  • Sex offender lists

Records You May Not be Able to Consider when Performing an Employee Background Check

  • Criminal records: Whether employers can access criminal records varies greatly between states, but in many states such records can only be used by certain employers such as public utilities, law enforcement, security guard firms, and child care facilities. Even if employers cannot access criminal records, whether employers can ask about past criminal activity also varies greatly between states, but some states allow employers to ask about a criminal past even if they won’t allow employers to access criminal records. This is probably a potential employer’s biggest area of liability and it is highly recommended that you consult a lawyer to find out the rules applicable in your particular state.
  • Bankruptcies: Although bankruptcies are a matter of public record, employers generally cannot discriminate against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy.
  • Worker’s compensation: When a person files a worker’s compensation claim, the case becomes a public record. An employer may usually only use this information if the injury might interfere with the applicant’s ability to perform the work required by the job, however.
  • Medical Records: Medical records are confidential and generally cannot be released without an applicant’s knowledge or authorization. Employers can require a physical examination for the job if it makes sense, however, in which case the employer will have access to those results.
  • Military Records: Under the federal Privacy Act, military records are confidential and can only be released in very limited circumstances
  • Educational Records: Generally, transcripts, recommendations, discipline records, and financial information are confidential and cannot be released without consent. If the applicant gives their consent and it makes sense for the job, however, transcripts can be, and often are, requested.

Source: Essential Screens, Running Employee Background Checks

How to Follow Up After You Submit Your Resume

Illuminated lightbulb amid dim bulbs - creativity and innovationFinding a career or job you are a great fit for at a company you have wand to work for can be hard to find. Once you do find this and apply, there is more to do to ensure you won’t go unnoticed.

1.      When you call, have your elevator pitch ready.

Oftentimes job seekers will call to ask if the hiring manager received your resume. To stand out, use this opportunity to stand out by building a rapport with the hiring manager.

2.      Use this time to let the hiring manager know you understand the company.

Employers like to hire people who are enthusiastic about their business. Do you research, understand the ins and outs of the industry and demonstrate that you know your stuff.

3.      Timing can be tricky.

When you follow up, be sure to do so at an appropriate time. Each employer operates differently, so you may want to wait 1-2 weeks after you submit your resume. However, if the ad states that the company is hiring immediately, you will want to reduce that time to 2-4 days.

Be careful not to waste the time of the hiring manger, or to oversell yourself. This is a critical time in the hiring process and putting your name in front of them not only on your resume but verbally can be very beneficial in your job search.

Leading Your Team

There is a general consensus that being a boss does not instantly make you a leader. They are different.  A person becomes a leader by inspiring others to follow.  A person becomes a boss because of a hierarchy within a company.

There are all sorts of books out there that make claims to help you become a great leader, but in general, it is the humanness of us all that help us become better leaders.  Here are some tips on how to lead your employees to greatness:

1.  Set reasonable goals.  Don’t over delegate workloads and manage the flow of work on your team.  Assess each member’s skills and assign accordingly.  Keep notes or mental notes of strengths and weaknesses and reassign duties as needed.

2.  Lead by example.  Respect authority, inspire your followers to perform at a high level and take pride in your work and theirs.  Empower your workers.

3.  Don’t focus on the negative.  Too many bosses spend their time correcting issues, faults and errors of employees.  Instead, focus your efforts on the positive to create an inspiring atmosphere.  Mention behavior that needs to be corrected, but praise achievements.

4.  Analyze your performance.  Being in charge gives you autonomy with your workers and how you are performing, but you must still be transparent to find room for improvement and inspire others by identifying your weaknesses and finding solutions.

5.  Encourage others to problem solve.  As the boss you may believe that your solutions or ideas are the best fix, but maybe you haven’t thought of all the options.  By bringing others in to discuss and brainstorm with you, you may discover solutions that had previously not been on your radar.

6.  Listen.  Listen to ideas and thinking processes, don’t let people become dependent on you to lead them to ideas.  Explore problems with employees and hear their thoughts.

To be a great leader, it is important to really hear and understand the issues people face daily.  Every worker is different, so are their struggles and their strengths.  Hear it, understand it and embrace it.

The 6 most popular New Year’s resolutions at work

By Jacqueline Smith, Business Insider

This time of year, many people assume the motto, “New year, new job.”

In fact, a fifth (21%) of the 3,252 employees* said their top resolution for 2016 is to leave their current job and find a new one. That’s a 5% increase from last year, when 16% of employees said they’d like to move on.

Among younger workers, the number is even higher. About 30% of millennials — those between the ages of 18 and 34 — expect to have a new job by the end of 2016.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Poll, found the top five New Year’s resolutions among workers this year, aside from landing a new job. They are:

Save more money.

More than a third (38%) of respondents plan to put more of their paycheck into savings this year.

Be less stressed.

About a quarter (28%) want to decrease their stress levels in 2016.

Get a raise or promotion.

Another quarter (26%) would like to move a step up on the ladder over the next 12 months.

Eat healthier at work.

A fifth (19%) plan to consume less junk food at the office.

Learn something new.

About 17% resolve to take more courses, training, or seminars in 2016.

*survey was conducted by CareerBuilder

Avoid Holiday Burnout at Work

By Marcelle Yeager, US News and World Report

Now that we’ve made it past Halloween, the busy, often dreaded holiday season is ahead. While it’s supposed to be a celebration of joy, peace and what we are thankful for, it is typically the opposite. There are many reasons: You likely have year-end work tasks looming and mandatory office holiday parties. Prepping for the holidays takes a huge amount of energy, and spending inordinate amounts of time with extended family often makes people feel anxious.

How can you make the holiday season at home and work a time of rejuvenation instead of exhaustion? There are small changes you can make to be more aware of your state of mind and turn those negative holiday pressures into more positive endeavors.

Decide that there is more to life than being busy. How much do you dislike when you ask someone, “How have you been?” and their response is always: “Busy!” Don’t compete in the game of who has the busiest life. Wouldn’t it be great to hear and say, “Great! Enjoying [fill in the blank].” Typically you hear that response from people in retirement. We need to attempt to feel this way preretirement. Almost everyone is busy, so it’s not news. Focus on things that you love doing rather than the fact that you are busy. If you’re hyper-aware of just being busy all the time, you probably are not taking time for things that bring you happiness.

Spend time on things that bring you joy. There is always work for the next day, just as there are always things on your to-do list at home. Learn to prioritize to-do lists and figure out what must be done that day, and what can wait. You will probably find that there are a lot of tasks on those lists that are not essential. Cross them out, or move them to another list.

The next step is to figure out what brings you joy, because this will make both your day at the office and at home calmer. It could be that you like to take the dog for a walk or to go to the dog park in the morning before work. Build in time for that. Playtime with your kids after work? Carve out the time. Animals and children aren’t consumed with busy schedules and can teach us to live in the present.

Make a difference in others’ days. Bringing a smile to someone’s face only gives back to you. Say hello to colleagues in the office and people riding in the elevator with you. Greet the cleaning staff at the office, and remember to say thank you. All of these gestures will make you feel good and give you energy surges for the day.

Record or share positive events from the day. For a big shift in mindset, either write down positive events from your day or simply share them with a friend or partner. You may not notice it immediately, but over time you will feel more engaged in work and home life. It’s a way of training your mind to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. This can be challenging for certain personality types, but it is worth the effort. Just like anything, practice can bring you closer to perfect.

Escape once a day. Even if you live to work, everyone needs an escape. This could mean reading a good book for 15 minutes before or after work. Perhaps it’s a walk around the block during the day to refresh your state of mind. Try taking a lunch break instead of eating in front of your computer. Maybe it’s a seven-minute workout. Whatever it is, try to incorporate something in your routine that makes you feel disengaged from the daily grind.

Take deep breaths. It’s not easy to make yourself stop what you’re doing – especially when you’re extremely busy – to take a deep breath. But it has amazing restorative effects. Do this whenever you are faced with something frustrating either at home or at work. It is a good relaxation technique for your mind and emotions and can help you recalibrate quickly to focus on what’s important.

Stress is known to cause physical and emotional damage. This happens frequently as people are busier than ever. If you don’t take the time to figure out what is significant and what can wait, you won’t be able to escape from your day in small ways. These tiny shifts can have a big impact on your overall well-being and stress levels, and may help you avoid burnout that you feel now or are certain to feel when the holiday season is in full swing.