2 vital areas where extraverts can improve their job search

woman-at-computer

With the plethora of job-search advice for introverts (Is) and approximately zero for extraverts (Es), it must make the Es feel…unloved. I’d like to give some love to the Es, because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. In this post I’ll advise the Es on mistakes they can avoid.

There are two components of a jobseeker’s marketing campaign, written and verbal communications, where Es can use some help. We’ll look at the résumé, networking, and the interview.

1. Written communications. For most, the job search begins with submitting a résumé and possibly a cover letter to the employer. The act of writing a résumé can sometimes be problematic for the Es, who prefer speaking over writing.

Is, on the other hand, prefer writing than conversing and, as a rule, excel in this area. The Is are more reflective and take their time to write their marketing materials. They prepare by researching the position and company—almost to a fault.

Es must resist the urge to hastily write a résumé that fails to accomplish: addressing the job requirements in order of priority, highlighting relevant accomplishments, and promoting branding.

One excuse I hear from my extraverted customers for faltering in this area is that they’ll nail the interview. At this point I tell them they “ain’t” getting to the interview without a powerful résumé.

Where the Es can shine in this area of the job search is the distribution of their written material. They are natural networkers who understand the importance of getting the résumé into the hands of decision makers and, as such, should resist simply posting their résumé to every job board out there.

This is where the Is can take a lesson from their counterpart, the ability to network with ease.

2. Verbal communications. Speaking of networking; extravers are generally more comfortable than introverts when it comes to attending formal networking events. But not all Es are master networkers.

The main faux pas of poor networkers is loquaciousness, which is a fancy word for talking too much. While Is are often accused of not talking enough, the Es have to know when to shut the motor—a tall order for some Es.

stop talkingNetworking isn’t about who can say the most in a three-hour time period. Take a lesson from the Is who listen to what others have to say. People appreciate being listened to.

Many of my extraverted customers tell me they talk too much, and some have admitted they botch interviews because they—you got it—talk too much. Some of them say they can’t help it.

Es are known to be very confident at interviews, which is a good thing. But they can also be over confident which leads them to ignore the tenets of good interviewing. That’s a bad thing.

At interviews the Es must keep in mind that it’s not a time to control the conversation. The interviewer/s have a certain number of questions they need to ask the candidates, so it’s best to answer them succinctly while also supplying the proper amount of information.

Lou Adler writes in an article about answers that are too long:

The best answers are 1-2 minutes long….Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.

One more area the Es must work on is conducting the proper research before an interview. They are confident verbal communicators and may see no need to research the job, company, and competition; thus going in unprepared. Winging it is not going to win the job; the person with the right answers will.

The Is, on the hand, could take a lesson from the Es’ playbook in terms of confidence during the interview. They need to speak more freely and quicker; rather then reflecting and appearing to reflect too much. This is where the Is preparation comes in handy.

There has to be a middle ground, referred to by folks like Daniel Pink as ambiverts, when it comes to reaching the right amount of talking and listening at networking events and interviews. Accordingly, the Es who “score” slight in clarity on the continuum (11-13) are more likely to be better listeners, as well as comfortable with small talk. This is likely true for introverts who also score in the slight range.

When it comes to written and verbal communications in the job search, Es have to be cognizant of taking their time constructing their résumés and knowing when it’s time to listen as opposed to talking too much. Without understanding the importance of effective written and verbal communications, the job search for the Es can be a long haul.

Photo, Flickr, Source One Network Solutions

6 ways to interact with one of the most important people in the interview process

Receptionist

Who is one of the most important people in the interview process? The recruiter? Sure they’re important; you go through them to get to the interview.

Human Resources? They’re important, as well. Like the recruiter, you may have an initial phone interview with them.

The hiring manager? Definitely important. They make the final decision. You don’t have the goods, you don’t get the job.

There’s one other person you may not be considering. That person would be the office guardian.*

Why the office guardian is so important in the interview process

Read the following brief story which illustrates why the office guardian is important in the interview process.

A job candidate was applying for a position at the organization for which I currently work. He called for directions to the career center, which is common practice; however, he was so belligerent that he reduced our office guardian to tears.

Apparently this man thought he was all that and could treat our office guardian like a third-class citizen. This was a huge mistake on the candidate’s part.

This interaction was relayed to the director of the career center. He took it upon himself to promptly call the applicant to tell him not to bother coming in for the interview, and lectured the candidate on how NOT to treat one of an organization’s most important assets.

If you’ve never considered the importance of the office guardian, than you should change your thinking. Whether you’re applying for a CEO, vice president, middle management, or individual contributor position, you damn well better treat this person with respect.

How to interact with the office guardian

1. Getting the call for an interview. In some cases—especially at a small company—the call for an interview may come from the office guardian. Answer the phone professionally, e.g., “Hello, this is Bob McIntosh. How may I help you?”

Then thank the office guardian for calling and that you look forward to the interview and hopefully meeting as many people at the company as possible.

For good measure, ask the office guardian to restate their name. And repeat their name to show you’re paying attention.

2. Calling for directions or the agenda. As depicted in the story above, calling for directions is appropriate, and most likely the office guardian can provide the best possible directions, including when rush hour occurs, or if there’s road construction along the way.

You were astute enough to ask the office guardian for the interview agenda, including who will be present in the interview. The office guardian gladly disclosed the information, giving you an advantage for the interview.

Make the office guardian feel special for the help they’ve given you.

3. Meeting the office guardian. This is it. The time you’ve been waiting for, the interview. So the question is when the interview actually begins. You guessed it: meeting the office guardian. They are your first point of contact. Here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Smile, but don’t overdue it. You don’t want to come across as insincere.
  2. Extend your hand, especially if the office guardian is a female, and initiate eye contact.
  3. Say, “I’m Bob McIntosh. I’m here for the interview for the marketing specialist position. Please don’t announce me until they’re ready to interview me. By the way, Steve, I appreciate the directions you gave me. I made it here without any trouble. Thanks!” Saying their name shows you payed attention during the phone call.
  4. If the office guardian asks if you’d like water or coffee, say that you would if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. (Some suggest against accepting a drink, but I feel if you’re thirsty, accept it.)
  5. You may want to ask for the interviewer/s business cards before the interview begins. If the office guardian doesn’t have them, thank them anyways, always being polite and grateful for their help.

Go into the interview and kick ass!

4. Dropping by unannounced. This rarely succeeds. However, one of my customers stopped by the HR department of a bank to deliver a pain letter. She was greeted with warmth, asked if she’d like to meet the HM, and promptly left.

Her introductory letter was well received. She was offered an interview and landed the job. This is one of a few instances I’ve heard that yielded a positive result. I don’t discourage it, but be ready for rejection.

5. Saying good bye. Make sure you say good bye to the office guardian, even if it means waiting for them to return from a task. Say, “I just wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to thank you for all your help. I hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future.”

You may have forgotten to ask the office guardian for the interviewer/s’ business cards. This is your opportunity to get them if the office guardian has them. If they don’t have the business cards, simply ask if they can clarify how to spell the interviewer/s’ names.

6. The thank you note. You may not have considered sending the office guardian a thank you note. This would be a mistake. Because the office guardian is an important part of the interview process, they deserve to be thanked as well.

Whereas you might send a unique email to the interviewer/s, I suggest you consider sending a thoughtfully written thank you card. The reason for a thank you card, as opposed to an email, is that cards can be hanged on cubicle walls for everyone to see. They’re a reminder of the good work you’ve done.


I hope after reading this, you realize how important the office guardian’s role is in the interview process. No, they don’t conduct telephone interviews. No, they don’t ask difficult questions in the face-to-face interview.

But they do observe your first impressions and if asked what they think, they will give an honest account of your first impressions, over the phone and in person. Do the right thing; treat the office guardian with respect.


*Instead of calling this individual the receptionist, I’m referring to them as the office guardian. I could be snarky and call them the “gatekeeper,” but this would be derogatory.

Photo: Flickr, vperkins

6 topics to include in your interview follow-up note

Thankyounote2

Some job candidates believe the interview is over after they’ve shaken hands with the interviewers and have left the room. Well, that went well, they think, and now it’s time to wait for the decision.

And perhaps it went well. But perhaps one or two other candidates also had stellar interviews and followed up their interviews with notes sent via e-mail or a thank you card.

So here’s the question: when is the interview really over?

The answer: after you’ve sent the follow-up note.

If you don’t believe that a follow-up note is important, read the article, Write a Post-Interview Thank You that Actually Boosts Your Chances to Get the Job, and note that by not sending a follow-up note (according to CareerBuilder):

  • Employers are less likely to hire a candidate–22%.
  • Employers say it shows a lack of follow-through–86%
  • Employers say the candidate isn’t really serious about the job–56%.

If these figures aren’t enough to convince you to send a follow-up, then don’t hold out much hope of getting a job, especially when smart jobseekers are sending them. I hope this gets your attention.

So if you’re wondering how to go about sending a follow-up, consider to whom you’ll send it and how you’ll send it.

Who do you send it to? If you’re interviewed by five people, how many unique follow-up notes should you send? That’s correct, five. Take the time to write a unique follow-up to everyone who interviewed you.

(Read my post on a thank you note that was sent to my daughter after a college visit.)

How do you send it? You can send your follow-up note via e-mail or hard copy. This depends on your preference and/or the industry, e.g., someone in the humanities might prefer a thank you card, whereas someone in high tech might appreciate an e-mail.

Here’s an idea: send both, an e-mail immediately after the interview and a professional card a week later.

What do you say in your follow-up note?

1. Show your gratitude. Obviously you’re going to thank the interviewers for the time they took to interview you; after all, they’re busy folks and probably don’t enjoy interviewing people.

2. Reiterate you’re the right person for the job. This is the second most obvious statement you’ll make in your follow-up  notes. Mention how you have the required skills and experience and, very importantly, you have the relevant accomplishments.

3. Interesting points made at the interview. Show you were paying attention at the interview. Each person with whom you spoke mentioned something of interest, or asked a pertinent question. Impress them with your listening skills by revisiting those interesting points.

4. Do some damage control: How many candidates wish they could have elaborated on a question, or totally blew it with a weak answer? Now’s your chance to correct your answer. This may be of little consequence, but what do you have to lose? Besides, interviewers know you were under a great deal of pressure–it’s hard to think of everything.

5. Suggest a solution to a problem: Prior to the interview you were unaware of a problem the company is facing. Now you know about the problem. If you have a solution to this problem, mention it in your follow-up or a more extensive proposal.

6. You want the job: You told the interview committee at the end of the interview that you want the job. Reiterate this sentiment by stating it in you follow-up note, which can be as simple as asking what the next steps will entail. This shows your enthusiasm and sincere interest in the position.

After you’ve made it this far in the process–networking, writing a tailored resume and cover letter, and multiple interviews–it would be a shame to blow it by not sending a follow-up note. Take the time to send a unique follow-up note (within 24-48 hours). When you get the job offer, you’ll be happy you did.

13 ways to act professionally in the job search

Professional Woman2

Years ago my daughter had to defend her position when she was accused of something that she and I felt was unjust. Nonetheless, before she spoke to the principal, I told her to act professionally.

The look on her face was priceless. “How should I act professionally in this situation, Dad?” she asked. Exactly. How do you act professionally in a situation that is less than desirable? The best answer I could give my daughter was, “Do your best. Just do your best.”

This event prompted me to think of 13 ways to act professionally in the job search:

  1. Treat people with respect. This is simple advice your mother gave you as a child. In your job search you’ll run into a helpful people and people who are…well putzes who think it’s all about them. Treat all of them with respect and work with the ones who treat you with respect.
  2. Resist the urge to only take and not give. The term “Pay it forward'” has real meaning. Create good karma by being a giver, understanding that the help you give others will be returned by someone else. One of my customers, who recently landed a job, was the epitome of a networker because of the leads she doled out like candy.
  3. Don’t be too quick to ask. Related to #2, don’t assume people have the time to review your resume or LinkedIn profile, or meet you for coffee to give you job-search advice. You will find many helpful people who want to help you in your search, but ease into it with a few emails or a phone call before you pop the question.
  4. Act positive. Having been unemployed myself, I understand the emotional ups and downs, as well as the financial burden, that go with being out of work. I’m not telling you to feel positive; I’m telling you to act positive. In other words fake it till you make it. Keep in mind that people feel more inclined to help those who appear positive.
  5. Dress the part. Put on the appearance of a professional by dressing properly, not like you’re heading to the beach. I can spot the jobseekers who aren’t fully into their job search by the way they dress, e.g., they wear tee-shirts instead of button-down shirts; yoga pants instead of dress pants or skirts. First appearances count; they really do.
  6. Be a student of the job search. I’ve witnessed those who understand the norms of the job search and those who don’t. The ones who do, dress appropriately, maintain a positive attitude (despite how they’re feeling inside), and follow proper etiquette. You are part of an organization called the Job Search.
  7. Be dedicated to your job search. I ask my workshop attendees how many hours a week they should dedicate to their job search. The ones who tell me what they think I want to hear say more than 40 hours. That might be a bit extreme, as there are other important things in your life, like family, friends, your sanity. I say 25-30 hours should suffice. Work smarter, not harder, as they say.
  8. Listen to constructive criticism. It is essential that you don’t get offended when someone critiques your “brilliant” résumé, interview performance, or networking etiquette. People generally want to help you in your job search. You’re not required to take their advice, but listen to what they have to say.
  9. Show up or call on time. In your case, it may be for the interview and appointments you’ve set up to meet with other jobseekers. The rule of never being late still applies. (Worse yet is forgetting entirely about an appointment, of which I’m guilty.) Call ahead if you’re going to be late, though. You might get some forgiveness.
  10. Don’t make excuses. We all make mistakes. If you made a mistake that may have led to your termination, admit to it. Employers are looking for self-awareness and transparency. The second part of the equation is explaining what you’ve learned from your mistake and how it won’t happen again.
  11. Realize the employer is not your enemy. Here’s the thing, the employer is only trying to hire the best person possible. Many hiring managers, HR, recruiters have been burned by hiring the wrong person—68% have done it at least once. Don’t create an adversary environment between you and the employer; you’ll lose.
  12. Follow up; always follow up. If you had a great meeting with a fellow jobseeker or you were granted an informational interview; always remember to respond with a thank you message and a call to action. Sometimes our meetings don’t warrant further action. Nonetheless, show your gratitude for the time the individual took to help you.
  13. Employ proper etiquette. I’m not only talking about at an interview. Show etiquette at networking events, as well as on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Actively listen when someone is talking. Don’t interrupt and refrain from speaking too much. If you don’t have anything nice to say on LinkedIn, don’t say anything.

The story of my daughter turned out well–she was not at fault of what she was accused. I was proud of how my daughter handled the situation. She acted professionally and manged to create a positive atmosphere between her and the principal I, on the other hand, might not have done so well.

5 ways dwelling on your age will hurt your job search

angry man

I’ve added one more reason why dwelling on your age will hurt your job search. As with anything you try to achieve, attitude is key.

One of my connections sent me part of an email he received in response to a job lead he shared with a networking group. The damning part of her email to him was when she wrote, “Most of their workers are under 30. So…that puts me out of the running.”

Some of you might be thinking this person is absolutely correct in writing this. You may have experienced some age discrimination and it pissed  you off. I get this. But the point is that this woman already hurt her chances before even getting to any interview. She let her age hurt her job search.

Yes, it can be difficult landing a job the older you get, but your age can also be a selling point. Before you get to the interview to sell yourself on your job experience, maturity, dependability, and life experience, there are four distinct aspects of your job search that need attention.

Your attitude shouts angry

A successful job search will take a positive attitude and a projection of friendliness, or at least civility. One thing I’m acutely aware of in job seekers, as well as people currently working, is their anger.

Job seekers need to contain their anger, if not in public, certainly online. You must realize that the majority of people on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are currently employed, and don’t share your anger.

Even most job seekers do their best to contain their anger, and are careful of what they write. How do I know? I’m constantly trolling LinkedIn and checking out my connections.

When I see comments about how it’s the employer’s fault that a person didn’t get hired, two thoughts come to mind: maybe it’s true. Maybe said employer practiced ageism. The second thought is “Ooh, people are watching; they’re looking. And they’re not liking what they see.

As I said, most people on social media are employed and may be in a position of hiring employees. If you don’t think employers keep track of you on social media, think again.

Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey found that 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, states an article on Namely.

One instance of releasing your anger can be all it takes. So all I’m asking is that you think twice before hitting “Send.” No, give it a night.

Your résumé is NOT your life story

He who retires with the longest work history doesn’t win. I’ve said this to my Résumé Writing workshop attendees after looking at their résumés, some of which show 30 plus years of work history.

Years ago a job seeker showed me his résumé, which went back to the time he graduated college…30 years or so. I told him, “Paul (that was his name), your résumé goes back too far in your work history. And it’s four pages long.”

“I know,” he told me. “I want people to know about my life.”

Paul’s résumé is not uncommon. I’ve had job seekers who hold the same belief, the more experience they show the better. Stop the record. First remember that what interests employers most are the most recent five to seven years of your experience.

Second, they want to see job-related accomplishments. I’ll repeat what many professional résumé writers spout, fewer duties and more accomplishments are what will impress employers.

Third, your résumé has to be easy to read and must be conventional in appearance. White space and shorter paragraphs (no more than four lines) improves readability. Today’s résumé is written in sans serif font, such as Arial. Stay up with the times.

Fourth, limit your work history to 10 or 15 years at most. Don’t show your age immediately and give an employer the opportunity to think you’re too old.

Marc Miller of Career Pivot offers other suggestions in a great article5 Things on Your Resume That Make You Sound Too Old.

Your LinkedIn profile lacks vitality

Does your LinkedIn profile present a poor first impression and turn people away? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen job seekers with photos that look like mug shots from the eighties. This alone is inviting age discrimination.

I know this sounds weird, but if you guys are concerned about being judged based on your photo, color your hair. I’ve seen plenty of fine color jobs. But if coloring your hair is not your style, at least smile.

Other ways to show vitality include using positive language in all sections of your profile. One line I show my workshop attendees is one from a LinkedIn member’s Summary, “I love what I do and I’ve been doing it successfully for 10+ years.”

What about you job seekers who feel compelled to explain your unemployment status? Don’t make this the gist of your Summary. Instead sound more upbeat with something akin to: “Currently I am enthusiastically searching for a career as a registered nurse. I am increasing my skills by taking courses at a accredited university.”

Use the media feature in the Summary, Experience, and Education sections. Show your vitality like my former customer who landed a job as a landscape architect. She shows off momentous work, both residential and commercial, that she produced. Think about producing a YouTube video the wind turbine you engineered just recently, including rocking music.

Take a look at a video produced by Al Jazeera America about one of my connections photographing models and homeless people. This is a great example of bringing a LinkedIn profile to life.

think positiveUpdate often with positive messages. Read articles and write supportive words about said articles. When you write about how employers are essentially the devil in disguise, employers take note of what you write.

Don’t turn people off at networking events

Most older workers I know can carry on an intelligent conversation because they’ve had years of practice. At our career center networking events, they carry on conversations far beyond the two hours allotted for the event. Much of what I over hear is positive talk about the progress of their job search, about their personal commercial, about their daily lives.

On the other hand, I will occasionally hear negativity seep through like black bile. This is when I hear one networker tell another that he can’t get an offer because of his age. “Not necessarily true,” I pipe in.

What I didn’t tell you about the email I mentioned at the beginning of this post is that my customer said this woman’s attitude seems rampant throughout the networking group.

If this attitude is rampant throughout the group, it may not be a healthy group to belong to. Networking groups should not provide a forum for commiserating with fellow networkers; they should offer positive support.

It is essential that you talk positively about your job search. Leave out of the conversation the fact that you experienced ageism at one of your interviews. Instead focus on the value you’ll deliver to potential employers.

Do this through a natural elevator pitch that doesn’t sound too rehearsed. Be a listener, as well as a talker, and be genuine. Most importantly, sound positive, even if you’re hurting emotionally. I always remind my workshop attendees that those who appear positive are more likely to receive help.

One of my connections, George Armes advises older workers to “Get out of the house. If there’s a certain industry you’re interested in, join an association connected with it and seek out volunteer openings. Attend industry and professional meetings and conferences. You never know who will know someone who is hiring….Read the full article.

Your attitude sets the wrong tone at the interview

It begins when you enter the room. According to a study of 2,000 interviewers, a third of them will make a decision of whether to hire you based on your first impressions, which include your eye contact, smile, handshake, and how you enter the room.

Let that sink in.

If you walk into the room slowly, with your shoulders slumped, a frown on your face, eyes diverted, and offer a weak handshake; your chances of success are nil to none. You need to enter with a skip in your step. Stand erect. Smile to show your enthusiasm. First impressions matter.

Expect the obligatory question, “So why did you leave your last position?”

Do not answer with, “There was a conflict in personality. My new supervisor was a 30-year-old woman. She knew less than I did about managing an assembly process. We didn’t see things the same way.”

The interviewer who’s asking the questions is 40 and will be your direct supervisor. He’s thinking chances are you won’t do all that well when working together. So leave reference to age and gender out of your answer.

You’ll probably get the directive, “Tell me about yourself.”

Do not begin by telling the interviewer that you have 35-years of experience in project management in the telecommunications field. This comes across as your main selling point.

Instead focus on the fact that for the past four years you’ve consistently cut costs by applying agile techniques.

You may be asked why you’re willing to accept a position that offers less responsibilities and lower pay. Many of my older job seekers are fine with this, as they’re tired of managing others and the bills are paid.

One of my former customers accepted a job that will require him to be a mentor to younger technical writers. This is a valuable skill older workers can perform at their jobs, and a viable reason for accepting a position that offers less responsibility.

Practice makes perfect

So what’s the solution? I’m brought back to the statement the woman made in response to my customer reaching out to help the networking group: “Most of their workers are under 30. So…that puts me out of the running.”

This attitude has to be dropped. You may feel that you’ll experience ageism around every corner, but don’t give into these fears, or at least try to veil them when you’re conducting your job search. I don’t buy that people will instantly right themselves at the interview. I believe it’s a prevailing attitude that travels like a speeding train that can’t be stopped.

By the way, my customer Paul I told you about took his four-page resume and came back to me with a resume that was three and four quarters long. I guess he took some of what I said to heart.

Photo: Flickr, Oliver Nispel

7 reasons to say no to a job offer

NOI don’t recommend that my customers say no to a job offer unless there’s a good reason. That’s why when one of my most promising customers told me she was reluctant to accept a job offer at a leading hotel corporation, I advised her to consider the circumstances.

First of all, she would be assuming a great deal of responsibilities. And second she’d be making 70% of what she previously made. Both of these factoids seemed the equivalent of doing hard labor in a rock quarry and being paid minimum wage.

I only needed to point out the disparity of salaries for her to decline the offer, even though she had negotiated a $4,000 increase. (Actually she’s smart enough to realize this.) You must be practical when considering the salary for the position. Can you pay essential bills with the salary? Will you have to cut back too much on “wants?”

There are times when you should decline an offer. My customer’s story is just one of them. A ridiculous salary offer isn’t the only reason for declining an offer. There are six others.

You’re not excited. When pundits say you’re not the only person being interviewed, they’re correct. The responsibilities of said position have to motivate you to be your best. They have to excite you.

So it figures that not only should the employer be concerned about your motivation; you should want to be motivated as well. Will the position challenge you to do your best and offer variety, or will it be a dead-end street?

Bad work environment. Another reason for not accepting an offer is sensing a volatile work environment. A former colleague of mine would often confide in me that where she was working was a toxic work environment. Management was distrustful of its employees and would often be abusive.

During an interview you should ask questions that would uncover the company’s environment. A simple one is, “Why did the former marketing specialist leave?” Or, “What makes your employees happy working here?” What about, “How do you reward your employees for creativity and innovation?”

Sincere answers to these questions will assure you that you are entering an environment with your eyes wide open, good or bad. Vague responses should raise a red flag. The best way to determine what kind of environment you may inherit is to network with people who work at a potential organization.

It goes against your morals and values. Salary.com gives this reason. “The nature of your temporary work shouldn’t make you feel like you’re compromising who you are or your beliefs. Obviously you should avoid anything illegal, but beyond that black and white is a lot of grey.”

Some of my customers have learned this lesson too late. They took a job they were not sure of and had to resign because of lack of integrity. “I should have known the company was wrong when they put off my questions about integrity,” one of them said to me.

Security. A fifth reason for not accepting an offer is the financial status of the company. If you discover through discussions that the company is at risk of closing its doors soon, it’s not wise to accept the offer, even if you “just want a job.”

This also goes for grant-funded positions. A position that will end in less than a year should make you consider if you want to join the organization only to be let go before you even get your feet wet.

You lack goals. Some of my customers have told me that they’ve been taking temp-to-perm positions that have spanned over many years; and that they’re tired of the short-term stints. Additionally, their résumé resembles one that shouts, “Job hopper.”

Your current unemployment can be a time to strategize about where you want your career to go, a time to experience clarity, not throwing darts at a wall of short-term jobs. Or if you’re unemployed, take time to think about what you really want in your next career. The offer you’ve just received should match your goals and career direction.

It’s not a cliche when I tell my customers that things happen for a reason. After I was laid off from marketing, I had a chance to reflect on what I really wanted to do. I had clear goals. So here I am.

Because you can. I say this knocking on wood. The labor market hasn’t been this healthy in years. With the “official” unemployment rate hovering around 5.0%, this is a great sign.

This also means your chances of getting a job are very good, so you can be selective…to a point. I’m not encouraging you to wait until your 25th week of UI to pull the trigger. You don’t want to cause undue stress by waiting too long to begin an earnest job search.

This may be a great time for you to get trained in skills you lack. In the state of Massachusetts, you can train (often free of charge) 20 hours a week, while still receiving your UI benefits. Are you a project manager but don’t have a Project Management Professional (PMP) cerfification? Now would be a good time to pass up a job you’re not so sure about.


While I wanted my customer to land a job in a short period of job seeking, I would have kicked myself for telling her that a bird in hand is better than nothing. I have tremendous faith in her abilities and tenacity and don’t want her to take a job that won’t make her happy. She will be land soon. That I’m sure of.

Photo: Flickr, Nathan Gibbs

4 reasons for NOT saying at an interview that you’re a Perfectionist

PerfectionistI can say with certainty that I am not a perfectionist. Today, for instance, I’m wearing brown shoes, olive-green pants, a black belt, a blue striped shirt, and a Mackintosh plaid tie. And, oh, my socks don’t match. I attribute this imperfection to my upbringing in a chaotic household, where no one really knew how to dress.

My colleague won’t mind me telling you that she prepares her room the night before her workshops. She puts aside exactly three Starbursts, a cup of lukewarm water, two paper towels, and enough sharpened pencils for twenty attendees. Not only that; she reviews her presentations before every workshop. Is she a perfectionist? Quite possibly.

If you claim perfectionism as a strength at an interview, you’re likely to lose the job before the interview’s over. Here are four reasons why:

1. Interviewers have heard this claim far to often and it insults their intelligence. Someone I once interviewed answered my question, “What is your greatest strength?” with a smug look on his face, that he was a perfectionist. I immediately thought he was a con man.

2. A perfectionist is someone who has a difficult time finishing projects or assignments because she thinks it must be perfect,which is a tough bill to fill. I knew a person who would prolong delivering something as simple as a PowerPoint presentation because the thought of handing it in imperfect terrified her.

3. A perfectionist is most likely going to irritate those around him because he will expect perfection from them. CBS Money Watch repeats“It also messes up the people around you, because perfectionists lose perspective as they get more and more mired in details.”

perfect woman4. An astute interviewer realizes that there are negative ramifications that accompany perfectionism. Psychology Today states,  “A one-way ticket to unhappiness, perfectionism is typically accompanied by depression and eating disorders.”

Those who consider themselves to be perfectionist are so concerned about being successful that they’re more focused on not failing. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Bad news for perfectionists abound when Wikipedia also claims there’re serious psychological ramifications associated with it: “Researchers have begun to investigate the role of perfectionism in various mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and personality disorders.” Yikes. This makes me glad that my ties rest in my drawer at work like a nest of snakes, instead of hanging neatly on a tie rack at home.

However, there seems to be some contradiction when Wikipedia describes perfectionists as perfectly sane people who simply excel: “Exceptionally talented individuals who excel in their field sometimes show signs of perfectionism. High-achieving athletes, scientists, and artists often show signs of perfectionism.”  This makes sense. I suppose that if I were to be operated on, I would want a perfectionist as my surgeon.

I’m certainly not a perfectionist, and it hasn’t hurt my performance–my performance reviews consistently garner “Very Good”–but I wonder what it would be like if my clothing were perfectly matched. I’m sure I’d suffer some malady. One thing is for certain, it’s better to choose a different strength to give at an interview.