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Career-Life Times, Issue #1 -- Six Factors That Can Cost You the Job/Interview
February 08, 2004

Issue No. 1, Feb. 8, 2004

"Get Hired - Get Noticed - Get Ahead"

Welcome to the first issue of CAREER-LIFE TIMES! I hope you find it to be informative, useful, entertaining, and -- most of all -- worth reading!

Many electronic newsletters are published on a regular schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.), and they stick to this whether they have anything good to pass on or not. I, on the other hand, think "content is king." So I won't let a schedule dictate when this newsletter is sent... if I don't have valuable information for you, I'll wait until I do. You could get one every day for a week, or go three weeks without a single issue. It'll be unpredictable, but that will make it more interesting, right? And you'll know that when an issue DOES show up in your email IN box, it'll be worth reading!

If you don't like it, you can leave it (there's an unsubscribe link at the end), but I hope you'll give it a chance. It's just a baby and needs time to grow up! So stick with it for a couple of issues before you decide it's not for you, OK?

Now let's get on with it. Here's what's in this inaugeral issue:

* What Turns Potential Employers ON; What Turns Them OFF?
* Six Factors That Can Cost You the Interview/Job
* No Interview is Perfect, But These Mistakes are Just Weird!
* The Magic of Music
* Do More Than Expected to Get Ahead
* Tips for Requesting a Raise
* Earn With EBay, Even if You Have Nothing to Sell
* Worth Quoting - Henry Ford
* Just for Laughs
* Random Rants & Ramblings

What Turns Potential Employers ON; What Turns Them OFF?

According to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, these are the most important qualities that employers are looking for in a job candidate, in priority order:

(1) communication skills;
(2) honesty/integrity;
(3) teamwork skills;
(4) interpersonal skills;
(5) a strong work ethic.

Be sure to highlight those skills in your resume, during your interview, and in your thank-you letter.

That same survey discovered the number-one thing that can turn potential employers off -- a job candidate's appearance! Specifically, they cited unusual hair color or style, body piercings, tattoos, and unusual clothing as things that most often gave a bad first impression. What you think is "cool" may be the "hot" ticket to the reject list! So keep your need to express yourself under wraps during the interview, and you'll have a better shot at getting the job.

Six Factors That Can Cost You the Interview/Job

In addition to an unprofessional appearance, here are six factors that can help you remain in the unemployment line:

(1) Being unprepared for the interview. Prepare, plan, and practice! In today's tough job market, you MUST do everything you can to give yourself an edge... preparation is the key.

(2) Not being able to communicate clearly and effectively. This is important during the interview and on the job. Being nervous can really mess up your communication skills, so being well prepared and practicing what you're going to say are always your best bet.

(3) Being aggressive, arrogant, or acting in a superior way. No one wants to hire or work with people who think they're better than everyone else. Be careful with your attitude, even if you think you're surrounded by incompetent fools. Being confident is good. Being an arrogant jerk is bad.

(4) Making excuses for failings. Your teacher never bought "The dog ate my homework!" and your boss isn't going to buy "The finance department gave me the wrong figures!" In the grown-up world, you have to take responsibility for what you are responsible for! You'll never earn respect by blaming others when things go wrong.

(5) Saying unfavorable things about previous employers. Even if you left a job because the boss was an egomaniac who took credit for all of your hard work, verbally abused you in front of others, and poisoned the plant on your desk, don't say anything bad about him/her during an interview. When asked "Why did you leave your last job?" say something like "My manager and I both agreed that my advancement opportunities were limited there and obtaining another position was the best option for me and my career goals."

(6) Having a poor/limp handshake. Why do people think you'll be a lousy employee if you have a lousy handshake? That's not really logical, is it? Doesn't matter. It just turns people off and gives them a bad impression of you. So make your handshake firm and confident but not bone-crushing. (It's not a competition to see who winces first!)

No Interviews is Perfect, But These Mistakes are Just Weird!

During an interview, you often worry about what to do and what not to do. Appear confident. Don't fidget. Don't interrupt. There's a lot to keep track of to ensure you don't make mistakes. But think back on your past interviews. I bet none of your actions came close to these unusual behaviors described during a survey of top personnel executives of major American corporations! Here's what some applicants did during their interview:

* Stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application.

* Brought her large dog to the interview.

* Wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time.

* Challenged me to arm wrestle.

* Announced she hadn't had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries in my office.

* Said if he was hired he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.

* Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions.

* When I asked about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap-dancing around my office.

* Pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him.

* Said he wasn't interested because the position paid too much.

* Asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security.

* Threw-up on my desk, and immediately started asking questions about the job, like nothing had happened.

Needless to say, none of them were hired.

The Magic of Music

Can music help you with your next job interview? It just might! Here's how.

First, it can help you during your research, preparation and practice. While it doesn't appear to work for everyone, some studies suggest that having classical music playing softly in the background as you study can boost your recall. Try it as you're reading over your prepared answers for probable interview questions.

Second, music can help you relax, put you in an positive mood, and help dispel nervousness. Think of a song you really enjoy, one that makes you feel great, and listen to it as you're driving to your interview.

A possible song you might consider is "All Star" by Smash Mouth. It's got a great, upbeat tempo, and some of the lyrics could be interpreted as advice for getting ahead:

"You'll never know if you don't go, you'll never shine if you don't glow... Hey now, you're an All Star, get your game on, go play; Hey now, you're a Rock Star, get the show on, get paid.... All that glitters is gold, Only shooting stars break the mold." Crank that up, listen to those words, and say to yourself, "I AM a shooting star, I'm going to SHINE, break the mold, and GET PAID!"

I guarantee you'll be in a confident, upbeat mood as you arrive for your interview, and that will give you a MAJOR edge over the competiton!

Do More than Expected to Get Ahead

One of the best things you can do to increase your career advancement opportunities where you work is to do more than expected.

It's often not enough to just do a fine job and expect promotions now and then based on longevity. So find opportunities to show you can handle more responsibility or different duties than those in your job description.

Here's one example from my own personal experience. I had a great job as the executive assistant to the general manager. But I often didn't have enough to do to keep me busy. I hate being bored, and I enjoy writing. So I began writing articles and submitting them for the employee newsletter, even though none were solicited.

The editor liked what I wrote, and every article I submitted was accepted and published. Readers even began looking forward to my articles.

One day the editor left for a position with another company. Having already demonstrated my writing talent, I was asked to apply for the job. I had to go through the standard hiring process and compete with other applicants, but because I had volunteered to write articles, the hiring manager had first-hand knowledge of my capabilities and I was hired. Not only was this a promotion, it was a move into a position that I found much more challenging and rewarding.

So look around and take advantage of opportunities to do more than expected. You'll enjoy more job satisfaction, help others, and -- just maybe -- get rewarded for your efforts!

Tips for Requesting a Raise

Do you think you deserve a raise? Here's how to go about convincing your boss that you're worth more than you're being paid.

First, you must realize that doing a great job is NOT a good enough reason to justify a raise. Your employer EXPECTS you to do a great job. Your performance must be "over and above" what other employees in similar positions are doing. And you can't rely on your boss to recognize your true worth without help from you. If you don't ask for one, you may never get a raise.

So here's what you do. First, make a list of your specific accomplishments that EXCEED the job you were hired to do. Make your list as specific as possible. Provide a detailed record of how you've beaten goals, taken on additional responsibilities, and contributed to the organization's success in ways that were significant.

Second, do some research, perhaps at a site like Find out what others in similar positions at other companies are making. If it's more, you definitely want to have this information to back up your request. (If it's less, don't mention it and be satisfied with what you're earning!)

When you have your ammunition ready, ask your boss if you can talk with him about your performance. Tell him that you would appreciate his considering giving you a raise, based on your "above and beyond" performance. Say you've taken the liberty of writing out your accomplishments for his easy reference, and give him your list. Then mention (if appropriate) what employees in similar positions are earning at other companies, and give him the data to back it up.

Do not mention a specific salary figure that you'd like to earn. This is the beginning of a negotiation process, and your first step is to convince your boss that your request deserves consideration. Once you pass that hurdle, be prepared to suggest a RANGE, such as a 3-5% increase.

If you've presented a good case and you know from your research that you are worth more than you are being paid, chances are good that you'll obtain your raise. But it depends on many factors, least of which may be your boss's desire to keep you on his staff. He may agree that you deserve a raise and desperately want to give it to you, but this may not be a decision he has the authority to make. Plus the company's budget is another important factor. Depending on how well things are going, there simply may not be enough in the coffers to pay you what you're worth.

If for whatever reason you are unsuccessful in obtaining a raise, you'll need to decide what your next step should be. If you love your job, you may be willing to continue working there. If not, be prepared to start looking elsewhere if a higher salary is your top priority.

Earn with EBay, Even if You Have Nothing to Sell

Millions of people sell items on EBay to earn extra money. Some even make a fine living doing nothing else. There are also many people who know about EBay and its ability to turn unwanted items into extra cash, but who do not have the capability or desire to use EBay themselves. Perhaps they don't own a computer, or think the process of selling on EBay is too complicated.

Hey, why not help them out and earn some extra money yourself? Become an EBay "middleperson" -- offer to do all the work of selling other people's items on a commission basis.

Think of all the people right in your own neighborhood who probably have items they no longer want cluttering up their closets and garages. Perhaps they don't have enough items to hold a garage sale, or just don't want to go through the hassle. You could offer to sell those items for them on EBay.

They provide the inventory, you do the selling on EBay, and you both split the profits (at whatever percentage is agreeable). They clear out their clutter, you develop a nice little side business, and everyone makes some extra cash.

A great book on how to make money on EBay is "Sell It on EBAY." You can get it for under $18 at Amazon. Click on

Worth Quoting:
"Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success."
- Henry Ford

Just for Laughs

Why did the blonde get fired from the M&M factory? She was throwing away all the W's.

A blonde was filling out an application form for a job. She filled the blocks for NAME, AGE, ADDRESS, PAST EMPLOYMENT. Then she came to the block, SALARY EXPECTED. She entered ''Yes.''

(Hey, please don't write to me if you feel that blonde jokes are politically incorrect. I'm not offended and I are one.)

Random Rants & Ramblings

Do you spend too much time "on the job"? I don't mean physically at your place of employment. I mean bringing it home with you. Do you vent your frustrations by telling your family about what a lousy day you had, or how much of a jerk your boss or co-worker is? Even if they listen politely, do you think they REALLY want to hear that every night?

It's OK to express your frustrations at home once in a while, and it can be good to get what's bothering you off your chest. If you can't complain at work, it's better to complain at home than to keep it bottled up inside until you explode and get yourself fired. But don't make it a daily habit. If you constantly force your family to listen to your grumblings, it means two things: (1) you hate your job and should look for another one; (2) you selfishly put yourself and your pain ahead of your family and the pain they go through every night having to listen to you!

Does it seem to you that Atkins has become more popular since his death? Grocery store shelves are brimming with low-carb Atkins items. Restaurants, even fast-food joints, are bragging about their new "Atkins approved" low-carb menu items. If Atkins is dead, how can he approve their menus? :-) Hey, I understand why the Atkins diet is so popular (it works), and why so many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. I'm just getting tired of hearing about it and feeling guilty when I order a big juicy burger and decide to eat it WITH the bun!

So, what did you think of this first issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Please feel free to forward this along to your friends!


P.S. I apologize for the glitches you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in the HTML format, choose that and it'll look a lot better. Don't worry, I won't have any slowing graphics.

Lowe-Commotion Publications
442 Gatehouse Dr.
Vacaville, CA 95687

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