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Career-Life Times, Issue #27-- When Does Your Interview Really Begin?
April 25, 2006

Issue 27, April 25, 2006

Welcome to this issue of CAREER-LIFE TIMES! I hope you find it to be informative, useful, entertaining, and--most of all--worth reading! It's designed to help you GET HIRED, GET NOTICED, and GET AHEAD! If you don't like it for some reason, let me know how I can make it better (or unsubscribe using the link below). Now, on with the show...

In This Issue:

  • When Does Your Interview Really Begin?
  • The Best Jobs in America
  • Using an Unexpected Job Offer to Bargain for a Raise
  • The It Factor
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Rants & Ramblings

    When Does Your Interview Really Begin?

    Most job candidates think their interview begins when they are introduced to the interviewer at the start of the question-and-answer session. If you wait until then to display your "best interview behavior," you may lose the job before you answer the first question!

    This is a rather extreme example, but one of the nation's leading airlines often flies job candidates to their headquarters for job interviews. The airline provides the round-trip airfares. What the lucky candidates don't realize is that their tickets are "tagged" to identify them as job applicants on their way to an interview with the airline. Those candidates are being evaluated from the moment they enter the airport! If candidate Mary Smith is inconsiderate to fellow passengers or rude to a flight attendant, for example, this information is reported to the hiring manager before Mary arrives for her interview. She'll go through the interview, may do a great job answering the questions, and will be totally mystified about why she is NOT selected for the position.

    Here are more typical situations where your interactions with people prior to your interview may affect the hiring decision:

  • When you talk to someone from HR on the telephone to schedule your interview;

  • When you exchange small talk while riding in the elevator with someone;

  • When you talk to the receptionist while waiting for your interview to begin;

  • When someone walks by while you're waiting and starts a brief conversation with you.

    Those are just a few examples.

    Imagine Joe the candidate arriving at an office building for an interview which is being held on the 18th floor. Joe gets into the elevator and says "Good morning" to a woman who is already in it. The woman responds with "Good morning. Are you here to see Mr. Jones?" Joe says "Yes. I'm interviewing with him for an engineering position." Because Joe is nervous, he says a bit too much. "I'm really dreading this. I hear Jones is a grouchy old bastard." The elevator arrives at the 18th floor and they both step out. Mr. Jones is there to greet Joe, and says, "Good morning. I see you've already met my daughter." (There's a TV commercial similar to this.)

    I'm not trying to make you paranoid, but if you suspect that every person associated with the company is a spy for the hiring manager, do you think you'll be more aware of your behavior while in their presence? You bet!

    Don't wait until you meet the interviewer to turn on the charm. Your interview may begin--and be over--long before you realize it!

    The Best Jobs in America

    The May 2006 issue of Money Magazine lists the top 10 jobs in America. They graded the jobs on pay, potential for growth, stress level, flexibility in the work environment and hours, creativity, ease of entry and advancement in the field. Here they are:

    1. Software Engineer. Needed in virtually every part of the economy, this is one of the fastest-growing job titles in the U.S. Average pay is $80,500. About 45,000 openings per year.

    2. College Professor. Enrollment is rising in professional programs, community colleges and technical schools--which means higher demand for faculty. Average pay is $81,500. About 95,000 openings per year.

    3. Financial Adviser. Nearly 300 colleges offer programs for financial planning. Lawyers, accountants and MBAs are jumping into this lucrative, but more people-friendly, profession. Average pay is $122,500. About 6,100 openings per year.

    4. Human Resources Manager. International HR and compliance issues are hot right now. HR is no longer just about benefits administration, recruitment and employee newsletters. Average pay is $52,000. About 32,000 openings per year.

    5. Physician's Assistant. Under a doctor's supervision, they provide routine and sometimes specialized health care. Thanks to an aging population, demand for health care professionals is at an all-time high. Average pay is $75,000. About 4,000 openings per year.

    6. Market Research Analyst. Before launching a product or service, companies turn to market research analysis who collect and evaluate data about consumer wants, needs and buying habits. Average pay is $82,500. About 16,000 openings per year.

    7. Computer/IT Analyst. Thanks to the rapid spread of computers and use of the internet, information technology folks are in high demand. Average pay is $83,500. About 67,300 openings per year.

    8. Real Estate Appraiser. The housing boom has increased demand for good appraisers in recent years. Unlike real estate agents, the field hasn't gotten overcrowded. And because valuations are needed whenever a property is sold, mortgaged, insured or developed, there will be plenty of appraiser work even when the housing boom fades. Average pay is $66,000. About 4,500 openings per year.

    9. Pharmacist. Demand for pharmacists is exploding as the population ages and new drugs are developed. Average pay is $92,000. About 10,000 openings per year.

    10. Psychologist. People are working harder, getting more stressed and anxious; the stigma attached to seeking professional help has greatly decreased; so the demand for psychological services is growing. Average pay is $66,500. About 6,800 openings per year.

    For more information and stats on more than 200 top jobs, visit

    Using an Unexpected Job Offer to Bargain for a Raise

    Many of us are happy with our current jobs. We like the work, the company, the people. Of course, a little bump in salary would always be nice.

    What would you do if a recruiter called, or an old colleague asked if you'd like to come work for him at a different company--and he offered you more money? Would you be tempted to use that job offer as a bargaining chip for a raise or promotion?

    It's a risky move, but one worth looking into... carefully.

    The first thing you need to do is decide how appealing the new job offer is. How much better is it than what you have now? Would you seriously consider leaving your current company and starting over with a new employer? What would need to change in order for you to decline the new offer and stay where you are? A promotion or raise? More responsibility?

    Before you talk to your boss, decide what you want, and what you're willing to do if you don't get it.

    If you really don't want to leave, don't pretend you do just to negotiate a raise. Your boss may call your bluff! Just explain that you received an unsolicited offer that you are not seriously considering, but it's prompted you to want to discuss your future.

    If you are on the fence about whether to take the new job or not, discuss the possibility with your boss in a non-committal way. You might say, "I have been contacted about a new opportunity, and I'd like your advice on figuring out what's best for my future."

    Discuss the terms of the other job, and what you're most interested in--the salary, other benefits, more responsibility, etc. Give your boss the opportunity to make a counteroffer, but do not threaten to leave if this doesn't happen. No one responds well to blackmail.

    [SIDE NOTE: Where I work an engineer received a job offer with another company. He threatened to leave if he did not get a promotion. Because he was heavily involved in several major projects, it would've caused significant problems if he left on short notice. He held all the cards, and he knew it. He got his promotion. Two years later, an even bigger promotion opportunity opened up in his department for which he was qualified. Do you think his boss gave him even the slightest consideration? No. By demanding the earlier smaller promotion, this guy doomed his chances of further career advancement at this agency. Bosses don't appreciate being threatened, and they don't forget.]

    Keep this in mind--even if your bargaining efforts are successful and you get what you want and decide to stay, your boss may now have a lesser opinion of you. Your loyalty may be in doubt, and even if the negotiation process was very non-threatening, your boss may resent having to go through the process at all.

    Consider the consequences for either outcome before you use a job offer as a bargaining chip!

    The It Factor

    This is a guest article by Nan Russell

    American Idol judge, Simon Cowell, periodically remarks about the it factor when assessing contestants. It seems to be one of those nebulous, undefined and subjective attributes one either has or doesn't have. And it falls into the category of you-know-it-when-you-see-it. He's right. You do know it when you see it and that's true in the workplace, too.

    Some people call it passion. And while that's part of it, it goes beyond the intense driving focus associated with passion. When I think of the hundreds of people I've hired in my career, there was one spark that yielded an unwavering yes decision; one spark that made me stop interviewing and put together a compelling offer; one spark worth searching unrelentingly to find.

    What's that spark? Desire. Not a person's desire for the job, although interest and enthusiasm is always a plus. But their intention or aim; their desire for greatness. I use that word carefully. I don't mean greatness in the context of being a great or famous or distinguished person, or climbing a hierarchy to achieve status, power or influence.

    Rather, the desire for greatness I'm referring to is tied to the seeds of possibility sprouting through their talents and abilities. You see, these people with the it factor desire to live their life's potential. They aren't out to win. They're out to become the unique person they are, to the fullest extent of their gifts. It's that desire that fuels their drive, motivation and persistence. It's that desire that keeps them learning and growing and stretching. It's that desire that makes them exceptional.

    You see, most of us don't desire our own greatness. We cheat ourselves from becoming ourselves. We squander our unique gifts by copying other people's approaches and styles. We mimic others' successes thinking that if we follow their path or do what they do, we'll end up at the same destination. But emulating others doesn't unleash our individual uniqueness.

    People with the it factor know the only path to their greatness is one of their own making. That's why you know them when you see them. These are people who stand out like a tulip in a rose garden. Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine defined them well when he said, "I don't want people who want to dance. I want people who have to dance."

    But here's the thing. The it factor is not a limited edition attribute. The desire to live our own greatness is available for each of us if we tap into it. It's a personal choice we can make. That's what winning at working is all about: finding your it factor.

    Sign up to receive Nan's complimentary biweekly eColumn or Podcast at Nan Russell has spent over 20 years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a columnist, writer and speaker. Visit or contact Nan at


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    Worth Quoting

    "The only place success comes before work
    is in the dictionary.Ē
    (Vince Lombardi)

    Just for Laughs

    California Job

    Jack was sitting in an airplane when another guy took the seat beside him. The new guy was an absolute wreck, pale, hands shaking, biting his nails and moaning in fear.

    "Hey, pal, what's the matter?" Jack asked.

    "Oh man... I've been transferred to California," the other guy answered. "There's crazy people in California and they have shootings, gangs, race riots, drugs, the highest crime rate..."

    "Hold on," Jack interrupted, "I've lived in California all my life, and it is not as bad as the media says. Find a nice home, go to work, mind your own business, enroll your kids in a good school and it's as safe as anywhere in the world."

    The other passenger relaxed and stopped shaking for a moment and said, "Oh, thank you. I've been worried to death, but if you live there and say it's OK, I'll take your word for it. What do you do for a living?"

    "Me?" said Jack, "I'm a tail gunner on a Budweiser truck in Oakland."

    Random Rants & Ramblings

    California Crazy. I live in California (Iíve seen that Budweiser truck!). Yesterday I pumped regular gas into my car and paid $3.02 per gallon. (Thatís crazy high, but still much cheaper than some Californians pay for bottled water or Starbucks coffee.) Our action hero governor drives a huge Hummer. But did you know itís hydrogen-powered? He has visions of a ďHydrogen Hiway.Ē Sounds like the name of a rock band or futuristic movie, huh? Meanwhile, the rain-soaked weakened levee system in our Central Valley area is at risk for collapse when the mountain snow packs start to melt and send record levels of runoff into swelling streams and rivers. And letís not forget ďthe big oneĒ thatís predicted to shake up the state within the next few years. I work in an area between the Hayward Fault (just as large, though not as well known, as the San Andreas Fault) and the Concord Fault. The bridge I drive over every day has not been retrofitted to modern earthquake standards. (Construction of a new, stronger bridge is underway; it should be ready around the time I retire.)

    I havenít always lived in California. I voluntarily moved here. I must be crazy. But I choose to focus on the positives (believe it or not, there are many) instead of the negatives. You can do that, too. With your job, your location, your relationships. It may take a bit of effort sometimes, but itís worth it. Choose to see the bright side of things; be optimistic and upbeat, regardless of your circumstances. Youíll be happieróand itíll drive those around you crazy!

    So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at

    Please forward this to your friends!


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    Lowe-Commotion Publications
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    Vacaville, CA 95687

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