How NOT to lose the job during the job interview

interviewing effectively
This is getting frustrating. You have updated your resume, crafted a killer cover letter and assembled an impressive portfolio. The interviews are coming, but ... you keep falling just short of getting the job.

It's time to examine what, specifically, is holding you back. 

Have you put so much time and effort into getting in the door that you've neglected what comes next? 

There are several obstacles that could be preventing you from securing your dream job. Take a deeper look into your job search efforts to determine what's keeping you from landing opportunities. 

Say goodbye to the obstacles holding you back and hello to a bright future.

Make a Good Impression

You have about seven seconds to make a strong first impression. That's enough time for a smile, a firm handshake, eye contact, and a quick "Hello". 

Be memorable with these first impression basics:
  • Arrive 10 minutes early. Not earlier (awkward) and not later.
  • Dress appropriately for the position. Even though you know the dress code is casual, don't show up in ripped jeans and a tee for the interview. Step it up a notch and keep it classy (more on that to come).
  • Show up prepared with several copies of your resume, your portfolio (if applicable) and a pen (please bring a pen).
  • Research the company. Be prepared with an understanding of their mission, their core services or products and what charities they support. There will be a quiz.

looking for a job, job interview

Dress the Part

In preparation for each interview, you stare blankly at your clothing selection. So many things hang in your closet, but, alas, you have nothing to wear. You are not alone in this anguish; however, what you wear is an important element to getting the job you want. Invest in classic pieces with crisp fabric that can be mixed and matched easily.
  • Ladies: Purchase a classic pant suit or polished dress for your interviews. Pair with tasteful accessories, comfortable but stylish shoes and a sophisticated tote with enough room for your interview deliverables.
  • Gentlemen: You can't go wrong with a gray suit. Keep your outfit smart, streamlined and unpretentious. Also, stand out from the khaki-and-oxford IT applicants with a fitted sweater and slim pants. GQ recommends maintaining clean lines by putting your phone in your cross-body messenger bag.

Bite Your Tongue

Nailing an interview takes finesse, especially knowing what to say and when to shut up. Some people say too much while others say too little. If you focus on trying to figure out what the interviewee wants to hear, you'll lose ground, because you stop listening in order to prepare your answer. If your interview skills aren't cutting it, grab a friend and practice answering common interview questions. Or, better yet, find someone with an HR background to bounce ideas off.

Keep in mind, sometimes you can say too much. An interviewer may let you talk and talk and talk ... right out of the running.

Fill Your Skill Gaps

Some jobs require a technical skill that you haven't quite mastered or that you have zero knowledge about. Don't let that break your resolve. You can quickly amp up your knowledge in the area, whether you watch YouTube tutorials or enroll in classes. This way, when asked about the skill, you will look like a go-getter. Interest in continuing education is impressive, so reveal your knowledge and how you are actively acquiring it in your interviews.

Guest post by -- Thanks, Kathy

Related Articles
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Asking the right questions
What to wear on the interview


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"I just bought your e-book on interviewing and am really enjoying it. Thank you for being such a terrific resource to me in my career/job search. You have helped me tremendously. What is really special about all your advice is you tell me exactly what to say. You are so great and I have turned all my friends on to you as well. I really respect all your advice." -- Kathleen, New York City 


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Imperfect past? 8 things to know about background checks

online reputation management
The economy may be recovering, but it’s still a tough and competitive job market out there—to the point where it’s more difficult than ever to find a good job if you don’t have a perfect past. 

How can someone with a criminal record, a resume of too-many part time jobs, and credit in shambles hope to compete?

Believe it or not, it is possible to get hired today even if you do have an imperfect past. The movement to implement “ban the box” policies in jurisdictions across the country shows a growing belief that someone shouldn't have to spend his or her entire life paying for one or two youthful mistakes. 

By using the steps laid out below, you can give yourself a fighting chance in today’s competitive job market, despite the mistakes you’ve made in the past.

background checks
1. Run a background check on yourself: This tip is something that every single job searcher should keep in mind before heading out to interview for a new position. 

As the first step of your job hunt, run a background check on yourself and see what employers are seeing. If you have been convicted of a crime before, chances are good you’ll see it on the report. However, be on the lookout for criminal history that doesn’t match your past. 

It’s fairly common for employment background checks to have errors, and if you actually have criminal history, one of these errors can turn your one or two youthful indiscretions into the beginnings of a repeat criminal lifestyle.

2. Know the rules of expungement: If the skeletons in your closet pertain to criminal history, know the rules of expungement in your state. There’s a chance that you will be able to apply to have your criminal records sealed, in which case they will not turn up on background checks. You eligibility for expungement will depend on the magnitude of the crime you committed, how long ago the offense took place, and whether or not you’ve had repeat offenses since. If you are able to expunge a criminal charge, run another background check on yourself to make sure that it really isn’t coming up on the report.

ban the box misdemeanor
3. Consider moving to an area with “ban the box” legislation in place: If you have a criminal record, you have a better chance getting a job in a “ban the box” jurisdiction than you do anywhere else. In these areas, employers aren’t permitted to ask about criminal history on job applications. That means that you can get a job interview and make a good impression without the skeletons in your closet painting you as a pariah. 

Employers can still run background checks, of course, but “ban the box” policies at least give ex-offenders a fighting chance.

4. Be honest: Never lie on a job application or an interview. If you are asked about your criminal history, you need to tell the truth and do your best to explain the situation. The same holds true for bankruptcies, poor credit, or other issues in your past. Employers these days will find out this information one way or another, thanks to background checks. If you lie, the employer will toss your application out of consideration because they aren’t interested in hiring someone who isn’t honest to them. If you tell the truth, you might lose your opportunity, but you might also find someone who appreciates your honesty and is willing to give you a chance in spite of your past.

5. Know which jobs to target: It’s inescapable that the things you have done in your past will impact which jobs you can be considered as a competitive applicant. For instance, if you have a DUI offense in your past, you will not be hired for a job involving driving. And if you have a bankruptcy in your past, or if you have disastrous credit and debt in the here and now, you will never be the best candidate for a job involving the handling of money. 

Knowing these rules—both written and unwritten—will help you to save time by only targeting the jobs you can feasibly hope to attain.

target the right company

6. Know which companies to target: Similarly, some companies will give you a better shot if you have a rough history than others will. For example, larger and more established companies are generally less likely to hire someone with a criminal record—often reflected in corporate policy or bylaws. 

Newer and smaller companies with less rigid rules, however, might be more willing to recognize that you are trying to rebuild your life after the mistakes you have made in the past.

7. Work the law of averages: Most applicants these days have to send out dozens or even hundreds of resumes and job applications to get just a small handful of interviews. Applicants with criminal records often have an even lower average. In other words, you have to commit yourself to getting a job and really work the law of averages. The more applications you send out, the better a chance you have of finding someone willing to give you an interview.

be on your best behavior

8. Be on your best behavior: If you have an imperfect record, than overall politeness and demeanor is even more important to your job chances than it is to the average applicant’s. Dress well and present yourself as a professional, intelligent, friendly, and thoroughly engaging person. This extends to the Internet, as employers may be checking your social media accounts. Making a good first impression with an employer is pivotal to overcoming the black marks on your record and ultimately getting hired.

Ultimately, as you search for a job, just remember to keep your chin up. There are people who will write you off because of a criminal charge or financial struggles, but there are also people who will want to help you succeed. Find those people, land the job, and move on with your life. It’s easier said than done, but it can be done with effort and persistence.

Guest post by Michael Klazema of Thanks, Michael! 

I have friends who have landed jobs after felony and misdemeanor convictions, so I know that the advice Michael shares can help people overcome problems from the past. Kathy

Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background check industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.
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An exit strategy for the miserably employed

be strategic in your job search, improving your job chances, an exit strategy for the miserably employed,
I met with a job seeker recently who was in the midst of a miserable job experience. Perhaps you can relate. You may dread going to work at your current employer.

Sometimes it can feel like you are trapped by a bad work situation, but you aren't ... if you take steps to escape. 

Here’s how:

1) Decide if your work situation is really that bad or if you have let office gossip taint your perspective. Also consider if you are letting a fixable problem fester instead of doing something about it. Don’t skim over this guidance … and don’t take the good aspects of your job for granted. 

Make a list of what’s good and bad about your job and tally it up. Does the good outweigh the bad? If yes, then consider sticking with it and improving the situation. Jobs are hard to come by so don’t take leaving your job lightly, but if the bad outweighs the good or if you are in a crisis situation where you feel you could lose your job any minute …

2) Commit to fully engaging in a stealth job search … a search you keep on the down low so it won’t jeopardize your current employment. Note that I said “commit.” That’s important. Many miserably employed people are immobilized by fear or procrastination and don’t take action … staying in a bad situation for years … all the while losing their confidence, energy and joy. Stop that! 

Prepare now for opportunities that will come … it will build your confidence and restore your hope for a better career. One great way to prepare is to reach out to recruiters who specialize in your field or industry. Here's how.

3)  Refocus your mind from your bad job drama to the pursuit of a passion. Take salsa dancing ... design jewelry ... build a bookshelf ... write a book ... do something to free your mind from negativity (which can only make your work situation worse and make you less attractive to hiring companies). 

Pursuing such a passion may even lead you to a new business or career, but even if it doesn't, it can help you see that your job predicament is not your whole world.

4) Complete an action plan to determine the job you want and how to land it. Visit the Free Downloads page to find a Career Search Action Plan, as well as a Career Search Checklist and other free printable resources.

5) Carefully let the right people know that you are job seeking:
  • Don’t tell your coworkers that you are unhappy or job seeking. The word will spread quickly and can be used against you.
  • Don’t broadcast your job search or air your dirty laundry on your LinkedIn status bar or in LinkedIn group discussions, or on your Facebook wall, or any other social media site. Social networking can be useful, but if you want to remain employed while job seeking, communicate privately and confidentially to individuals who can help you; never in an open forum.
  • Do un-friend bosses and coworkers on Facebook and make your Facebook wall private if your conversations there could hurt your job prospects. Note: People do not receive a notice that you un-friended them, but they may notice they can no longer view your wall. Explain to them that due to problems you’ve had with the site, you’ve curtailed your activity on it.
  • Do disconnect with bosses and coworkers on LinkedIn if you plan to markedly change your status or join job seeking groups.

Here's how to disconnect from someone on LinkedIn:
- Log onto LinkedIn and visit the person's profile. 
- Click the triangle next to the blue "Send a Message" button near the top.
- Select Remove Connection.

Note: People do not receive a notice that you disconnected from them, but they may see your name in the "People You May Know" box on your Home Page as a potential person to connect with. Be ready to express surprise if they invite you to re-connect and comment that they thought they were already connected to you. 
  • Do temporarily change your LinkedIn settings to not show your profile updates (otherwise your connections will receive a notice of these activities in their network updates).
Here's how to keep your profile changes private:
- Go to your Edit Profile page.
- On the right sidebar, look for the white box that reads, "Notify your network". 
- Click the down arrow and select "No, do not publish changes". Note that I typically leave this option turned off, but you may want to change it to "Yes, publish changes" after you have completely finished profile edits to alert your network about your recent updates and career aspirations.
  • Do contact people who can help you. Send them your resume, tell them what kind of job that you seek, ask them to refer you for positions, and to send you job leads. Keep in touch so that they know your status and that you still want their help. Also remember to help those who help you by sending them job or business leads, by referring business to them, and by talking them up to their potential customers.
6) Improve yourself on your current company’s dime … This is a win/win deal for you and your company. Figure out your weaknesses … the things you need to improve before other companies will hire you and gain that knowledge now. Take classes, learn new software, ask an accomplished coworker to teach you things, etc. By learning new skills, you will become a better worker for your current company and perhaps, a more qualified candidate for a better internal job.

7) Become a leader in your field on LinkedIn by sharing your knowledge … Determine what aspects of your field you are most qualified to share wisdom. For example, if you are a fundraising professional who has been involved in a capital campaign, share that knowledge in relevant LinkedIn group discussions. 

A friend of mine became a thought leader on fencing, a sport that had been his passion for years. In a similar way, I was always good at helping friends get work, so I started sharing job tips on LinkedIn. From there the blog was born.

It’s easy to participate in a LinkedIn group … simply join a group, get accepted and either create your own posts or respond to other people's posts. Making these efforts can make a huge difference in how people perceive you. I toiled at progressive communications positions for 20+ years, but it wasn’t until I started participating in discussion groups that peers noticeably began perceiving me as a communications leader.

If you are wearing the battle scars of a bad job, decide today to take action ... after all, it can help you Get a Job! -- Kathy


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An easy way to get people to see your LinkedIn recommendations

Did you know? 

Unless employers or customers are your 1st or 2nd degree connection or have paid for a premium account, they can’t see your full profile … or all of the splendid written LinkedIn recommendations that you’ve racked up. 

To fix that limitation, send them your LinkedIn recommendations as a document. It’s easy to do and so effective.

Create and share a document featuring your best LinkedIn recommendations.

Simply copy your LinkedIn recommendations into a Word document and format it to look clean and easy to read. Add a nice headline and perhaps your picture. Consider saving it as an easy-to-read pdf (Adobe Acrobat) file. And voila! You have an impressive document that you can use to …

  • Attach to emails when you are applying for jobs or convincing a prospect that they should do business with you.
  • Upload the document to online job application systems (aka Application Tracking Systems) when the system asks if you would like to upload documents in addition to your resume.
  • Include the sheet in a portfolio that you present at job interviews.

Need more LinkedIn recommendations to make this work?
Encourage your 1st degree LinkedIn connections to write a recommendation for you by scrolling to the Recommendations section of your Edit Profile page and clicking “Ask to be recommended”.  Follow the prompts to invite select people to recommend you. Only ask people to recommend who you know well enough to vouch for you.

To request recommendations, scroll to the Recommendations section of your Edit Profile page and click "Ask to be recommended".

To help people write recommendations about you, give them a general idea about what you would like them to say, or send them your resume and/or the job description from the job that they are recommending you for.

Seek to have at least two recommendations for each of your current and past companies because that’s how many can appear on your profile without visitors having to click to view more.

Recommend others! To encourage people to make recommendations about you, make thoughtful recommendations about them first. Many people will gladly return the favor.

To recommend people, visit a person’s profile and then click the arrow next to the "Send a message" button. Click "Recommend" and follow the prompts.

Develop a LinkedIn recommendation sheet and share it with others! Doing so could help you Get a Job! 

What ideas do you have about this subject? Share your thoughts. If I can be of help to you, please let me know. Invite me to connect on LinkedIn and then feel free to ask me questions. -- Kathy


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