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Feb 24

Job interview? Read this before you dress

Posted in Tips & Tricks at 9:08 am

Here are 10 tricks for avoiding missteps and making the best impression

With the economy continuing to flounder and layoffs mounting, more and more people are finding themselves on an unexpected side of the desk: The side where the interviewee sits.

As if job interviews weren’t stressful enough, there’s also the anxiety of figuring out what to wear on them. How can you tell how dressed-up — or dressed-down — you can go?

The answer to that question will vary considerably based on the kind of job you’re seeking, but the following tips provide a basic guide for how to proceed. Read on so you can tackle those interviews with confidence.

1. Opt for a conservative look, not an outlandish one. Whether you’re trying for a top executive position or a job that will require you to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, attire that is distracting is a no-no. In most cases it makes sense to choose simple, understated styles and colors — blues and grays, for example. Black also could work, so long as you won’t be mistaken for an undertaker or a Johnny Cash wannabe. To avoid that fate, soften up your look by wearing another color near your face.

2. When in doubt, ask. If you’re honestly not sure what kind of dress would be most appropriate for an interview with a particular employer, call the company and ask for some guidance. Don’t bother the hiring manager with this; instead, call the human resources department and say, “I have an interview with So-and-So in the Such-and-Such department for a position as a _____. Could you let me know what would be appropriate dress for this interview?”

3. Dress for the job you really want. Some hiring managers recommend dressing one or two levels up from the position you’re seeking. The point behind this would be to show that you’re a serious job candidate who cares about making a good impression.

4. Accessorize with great care. This isn’t the time to go with wild nail polish, jangle-y jewelry, face jewelry, ankle bracelets, strong perfumes or colognes, brightly colored or printed purses or briefcases, scuffed briefcases, open-toed shoes, backless shoes or bare legs. All of your accessories should be understated, inconspicuous and professional.

5. Cleanliness is next to employability. Clean, pressed clothes are important, of course, but here are some other key areas to remember: Have clean, polished shoes in good repair, clean, groomed hair and fingernails, well-brushed teeth, fresh breath and absolutely no body odor.

6. Stay up to date. For men, suits and tie patterns can look dated if they’ve been hanging in your closet for several years. Even worse, your suit might be tight on you at this stage of the game. The same goes for women’s suits and dress-shirt patterns. To find out whether you’re looking a little bit too 1996, ask a trusted friend to help you assess your professional wardrobe.

7. Don’t wear these items! Just say no to: short skirts; capri pants; leggings; leather jackets for men or women; or turtlenecks for men. Men should wear collared shirts on job interviews — and in almost every situation, a tie won’t hurt your cause.

8. Your own common sense and good judgment should prevail. If you know for sure that wearing a tie on a particular interview wouldn’t be the right thing to do, then don’t do it. Same for a formal business suit. But don’t stubbornly think that this is the time to make a flashy fashion statement. Instead, this is the time to make sure your appearance doesn’t distract in any way from all the good information you have to share about yourself.

9. There’s no need to break the bank. Some of these tips might make you think that you need to rush out and drop hundreds of dollars on fancy new suits and shoes. That’s not true. You can find professional clothes on sale at deep discounts at major department stores and discount retailers, and you often can find new or barely used suits and dress shirts at thrift stores. Also, nonprofit organizations such as Dress for Success help disadvantaged women throughout North America and in other countries to get outfitted for job interviews so they can get on the path to financial independence.

10. Set aside enough time for a final once-over. Before you walk into the actual job interview, slip into the restroom and look in the mirror. Is your tie flipped around? Do you have any food in your teeth? Is your hair standing straight up? If not, you’re good to go!

Feb 06

Internet tips to help you land a job

Posted in Job Center at 11:50 am

There’s a wealth of career information on the Internet, and these resources are just a mouse-click away for any job seeker.
But as comprehensive as sites like CareerBuilder.com are, there are other resources on the Internet you can use to land a new job. Here are a few tips and tricks to help maximize your job search on the Web.

1. Career assessment tests
Career assessment tests can be engaging and fun, and the results can give you important insight into your working style to help you find the best fit.
For example, CareerPath.com (a subsidiary of CareerBuilder) has a number of helpful career tests, including a color test that gauges your reaction to colors and suggests potential career paths based on the result. Take note of any keywords that appear in your test results and use them as search terms.

2. Network, network, network
Most career experts encourage job seekers to expand their networks. You can connect with other professionals via Web sites like BrightFuse and LinkedIn, and even a personal contact on Facebook can provide an important connection to an opportunity.
Alumni groups with an online presence can also be a great place to network, since the focus of those groups is their eagerness to connect with fellow graduates.
If you’re not sure where to start, sign on to a networking site. Search for current or former co-workers and managers and invite them to join your network. Engage your network by sending messages and giving other users recommendations or kudos for the positive experience you had with them.

3. Research your prospective employer
If you’re competing against other candidates with equally impressive skills, education and experience, you really need to break ahead of the pack. One way to do that is to know your prospective employer.
Start with the company’s Web site; look in the “About Us,” “Media” or “Press Room” sections. To be fully informed, you’ll want to check out other sites with detailed information.
“Use online news sites to understand which companies are doing well or expanding,” suggests Patrick Madsen, the director of professional career services at The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. “Reading through articles and generally knowing where the world is going can open potential new doors and windows.”
Madsen also suggests that job seekers research information sites like Hoover’s, Vault.com or Careerbeam to learn about companies.

4. Person to person
Do an Internet search on yourself. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey found that one-in-four hiring managers are researching candidates online. If there’s any information out there that could negatively impact your chances of being hired, you need to be aware of it.
Once you’ve landed an interview, you can also research the person you’ll be talking to. Madsen recommends doing a simple Google search on the interviewer’s name, as well as checking Facebook or LinkedIn to see if they’ve got a profile there. They may also be featured on the company’s Web site.
Mark Moran, founder and CEO of Dulcinea Media in New York City, thinks this step is vitally important. “I’ve interviewed perhaps 500 people in the last five years, and I can tell you most of them failed to get the job because they did not use the Internet to research me, the company or our industry.”

5. Brave the cold
It’s ideal to use sites like CareerBuilder.com to reply to job postings from employers actively seeking candidates in your field. But you can also use the Internet to do a “cold” search on companies who are in your field.
Career expert Chris Russell, the founder of the Secrets of the Job Hunt blog, recalls his initial job search. He researched companies in his area (none of who were actively hiring) and compiled a list of 80. From there, he identified a contact at each company. Russell launched his own “direct mail” campaign and soon had seven interviews. One of those companies hired him.
The twist to the story? Russell’s job search was in the pre-Internet days of 1993. “The Internet would have made my campaign a much easier one if I had access to it back then. Today, there is so much information on the World Wide Web it can be daunting,” he admits. “But if you know where to search, you can end your job hunt that much faster.”

6. Back to basics
Some important basic tips to remember when using the Internet to land your new job:
• Make sure your e-mail address is professional; a handle like “partyguy2002″ will give employers a negative perception of you before you’ve even started.
• Don’t rely on spell check alone to capture any errors in e-mails, cover letters and résumés. The difference between the word “shift” and a common curse word is only one letter.
• Be sure to have text-only versions of any documents, so they can be easily sent or submitted to employers.