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Career-Life Times, Issue #29-- 7 Ways to Really Shine at Your Next Job Interview
July 09, 2006

Issue 29, July 9, 2006

Ready to GET HIRED, GET NOTICED, and GET AHEAD? Read on...

In This Issue:

  • 7 Ways to Really Shine at Your Next Job Interview
  • The Hidden Job Market--Are You Looking For Work in All the Wrong Places?
  • 4 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Reference Letter
  • Got Tedium? How To Enjoy the Job You Have Until You Have The Job You Want
  • How to Earn an Extra $900 Per Month in Your Spare Time
  • How to Get $20 Right Now
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Rants & Ramblings

    7 Ways to Really Shine at Your Next Job Interview

    So you’ve managed to secure a job interview for a position that fits you PERFECTLY. Now comes the moment of truth: Are you REALLY ready for the interview? If you’ve rehearsed what you’re going to say and know the perfect answer to every potential question, you’re half way there. There’s just one important thing you’ve forgotten:


    How do you sell yourself and show your potential employer how valuable you can be to their company? You want to make them hire you TODAY and not even THINK about other applicants. You know you’re the right person for the job, so how do you make THEM see that? Here are seven easy steps you can take to really make yourself shine during the interview process.

    1. First, find out everything you can about the company you’d be working for. Who are its customers? What is its mission statement? How does the job you’d be performing relate to the company’s goals? Finding out this type of information gives you great insights on what kinds of questions to ask your interviewer and shows them that you’ve done your research and already have some background related to the company’s business and objectives.

    2. Read over the job description carefully. Analyze your own strengths and see how you can tie the two together. If you have previous experience, make note of those times where you helped achieve a specific result. Employers give more serious consideration to applicants who have a background and a track record in their industry than those who do not.

    3. First impressions count. It should go without saying that you should arrive 15 minutes prior to the interview, dress appropriately (if not above) the position you’re applying for, greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the discussion process. Be enthusiastic, personable and outgoing. Show a sincere interest in the people you meet and the work you’d be doing. Interviewers can tell if you’re desperate!

    4. Show that you can solve problems and work well under pressure, since nearly every job will require both skills. If you can identify a particular problem in your industry or that you may face when doing this job, give the interviewer some ideas of how you would solve it. Be calm, relaxed and confident. Some nervousness is expected, but your overall mannerisms (such as fidgeting, nail-biting, slumping in your chair) will be an instant giveaway on how well you REALLY work under stress. Likewise, if you project confidence and security in how you carry yourself, the interviewer will definitely notice.

    5. If your mind goes blank when asked if you have any questions (and you should ALWAYS have a couple of questions ready), consider asking why this position is open. What’s the company’s track record and turnover rate? Are they performing well and keeping employees on board? Remember, you’re not just selling yourself on how you’d be a great fit for this company, but finding out how this company could also be a great fit for you.

    6. If an interviewer asks a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, smile politely and ask, “Why would you like to know?” Remember, your employer is prohibited from asking you personal questions, including references to your race, gender, sexual preference, marital status and child care situations. Your interview should be focused on how well you can perform the job, not your home and family life. So if you're asked if you have any kids, for example, give them a chance to change that to an appropriate question by asking why they'd like to know. They'll probably rephrase it to something like "Is there anything that might prevent you from working overtime?"

    7. After the interview, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note. Recount your strengths in the letter and highlight your qualifications. Touch on specific discussions or conversations you had with the interviewer to help them remember that polished, professional, enthusiastic candidate (you). Close the note by letting the interviewer know of your sincere interest in the position and your confidence in doing it well.

    If you keep all of these suggestions in mind, you’ll not only have seriously impressed your potential employer, but you’ll come away from it feeling like a winner too! Good luck!

    The Hidden Job Market--Are You Looking For Work in All the Wrong Places?

    Another morning of job hunting lies ahead of you. You pour a cup of coffee and open the paper to the employment section. With a mixture of anticipation and desperation you pick up a stub of pencil and prepare to target and identify some possible job opportunities.

    There are less ads to circle this morning and despite the promising words and vague descriptions you have begun to believe that none of these potential employers will seriously consider you. Perhaps they have family or friends or maybe you'll hear once again "I'm afraid you're overqualified for this position".

    After making a few phone calls you try to get into a positive frame of mind. You head out the door, a folder of resumes in one hand and a list of addresses at the next. You will drop off a few resumes and have plans for an interview this afternoon.

    Maybe today will be different...

    Are you or a friend looking for work? Have you heard of acquaintances laid off from long-term employment only to find four or five months later that they are still unable to find a job?

    If you think the only way to find a job is to have connections, you may be partly right. With such a demand for employment many jobs never make it to the paper. How can you compete?


    "Leave no stone unturned." Tell friends, family and acquaintances of your job search. These people can give you an 'IN' to their businesses when positions come available.

    They may also hear of someone who is hiring and keep you updated on opportunities you may not otherwise have heard about. Their personal referral can also make an impression on the employer in your behalf.


    You don't have to wait for a job to be listed in the paper, or even posted on the company board, to apply for work at a company.

    Go through the phone book and make a list of companies you'd like to work for. Call and ask if there are any positions available. Ask for the name of the human resources manager or the individual in charge of hiring for the area you are applying to.

    Send a resume and direct it to the person in charge of hiring. Write a cover letter that expresses your interest in the company and why you'd like to work for them. Follow up several days later and ask for the individual. Tell them you're checking to see that they received your resume and ask if there are any positions that may become available.

    If they are not hiring suggest you'll check back at another time. Often positions are made available unexpectedly and by keeping in contact (without pestering) you may be the first person that comes to mind.

    This is not a secret. If you're not taking advantage, someone else will. You can't afford to miss out on making yourself known to employers BEFORE the job posting is made public.

    Accessing this hidden job market may open up opportunities you never thought possible. By staying one step ahead of other job searchers you can be sure that your new job is just around the corner!

    4 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Reference Letter

    Congratulations. You’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation for an employee or colleague. This person values your opinion, and you’d be glad to help him/her advance. The problem is you’re unsure of what to say or how to say it! Here are four tips to keep in mind when preparing your recommendation.

    1. Ask the employee about the new position they are applying for. What types of job duties are involved? What sort of characteristics are they looking for in a good employee? In your letter, describe certain instances where this employee or colleague really shined – such as staying late to complete a mission-critical project, working diligently to help a customer make a product decision, providing thorough technical support or service, and so on. These specific situations have more effect on the person doing the hiring than general run-of-the-mill phrases like “terrific manager,” “enthusiastic worker” and so on.

    2. Use powerful statements that really show your depth of knowledge about the person. A description like “Joe is a keen observer who knows how to make customers act and is there with them every step of the way if they are hesitant or have questions” gives a true, in-depth knowledge of the person in a way that a casual letter may not.

    3. Print off five letters of reference on company stationery and give them to the recipient. This gives your colleague or coworker additional letters for any other positions that he or she may be applying for in the future, and saves you from having to write them if the request comes around again! If you know it, put the address of the company to whom the letter is being sent, as well as the name of the person in Human Resources who will be collecting and organizing these reference letters. A personalized greeting is far better than a general “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. For the other four copies, leave the address area blank so that the employee can use them for other job opportunities that arise.

    4. If you’re really stuck on what to write, or simply don’t have time, ask the person requesting the reference to write a letter about themselves in their own words and you’ll sign it for them. This is a great time-saver and a perfect idea if you’re struggling to put the right words on paper.

    If you keep these four tips in mind, writing a letter of recommendation will not only come easier to you, but it will let the person receiving the letter know how much you value them as an employee or colleague, and will help them feel more confident when they move on to the next step – the interview.

    Got Tedium? How To Enjoy the Job You Have Until You Have The Job You Want

    This is a guest article by Renita T. Kalhorn

    Visit a bookseller and you can find any number of books telling you how to find your dream job (a "dream job" search on Amazon returns 513 results), from using the Internet to using the rules of dating. Clearly, there is a large number of people who do not have their dream job and want help finding it. For most of them, however, the transition will not happen overnight, and what those books don't share is how to enjoy the job you have in the meantime.

    If there's no escaping the call of work, why not find a way to make the most of it. As mentioned in the previous article, any activity, no matter how tedious or unchallenging, can be restructured to create flow conditions.

    Here are three strategies I've developed through 15 years in the corporate world and put to the ultimate test: a temping gig at a Japanese bank where my one and only task was to process requests from corporate clients for balance transfers to be sent to their auditors. Yawn!

    Make It A Game. Even the most repetitive action becomes more stimulating with the addition of a competitive element, such as a self-imposed time constraint or performance measure. At the bank, for example, I would say to myself, "Okay, I'm going to finish 15 applications by lunchtime," and then reorder the various steps of the process (signature checks, printing out the statement, calling the client for confirmation, etc.) to minimize delays. My motivation was to completely overwhelm the department where the completed applications were delivered for final processing, and create a backlog on their end. As a result of my efficiency, I was able to negotiate a four-day workweek!

    Make It A Human Behavior Study. Unless you're a night-time security guard in a nuclear plant, your work environment inevitably involves interaction with people. While working in (too) close proximity with other people is not ideal for concentration, it can be an excellent opportunity to observe and study human nature in action.

    Why not take a step back, pretend you're Jane Goodall and objectively observe the interactive dynamics of those fascinating creatures, your colleagues: Who's all talk, no action; who's quiet but commands real influence; who performs better under stress, who loses it; what are their hot buttons? Get curious--don’t assume you know why they behave as they do (maybe your boss's constant posturing is not arrogance but a sense of insecurity?). As a self-anointed behavioral scientist, you should learn very quickly that people act differently than you might under the same circumstances. By making an effort to understand where they're coming from, you can use this information to smooth and enhance your own interactions with them.

    Make It A Consulting Gig. Do you feel sometimes that you’re working in a Dilbert cartoon? Rather than simmer in helpless frustration, why not put on a consultant’s hat and brainstorm concrete ways the company could improve its operations. (Even if you can’t actually voice the suggestions, it's still a valuable exercise.)

    What would you do if you were put in charge? Ben Zander, in his book The Art of Possibility, relates the story of Eugene Lehner, a long-time violist in the Boston Symphony. Lehner tells how, one day at rehearsal early in his career, the conductor Koussevitsky called on his friend and great composer, Nadia Boulanger, who happened to be in the audience listening, to take over the rehearsal when he was having difficulty getting the results he wanted. In the 43 years since then, Lehner says he hasn’t had a dull moment in rehearsal as he sits wondering what he would say to the orchestra if the conductor suddenly called to him: "Lehner, you come up here and conduct. I want to go to the back of the hall and hear how it sounds."

    What about the things you actually could change? There's no company that can't benefit from improved organization-–are there any tracking systems or processes, for example, you can create to increase efficiency? At the Japanese bank, I took it upon myself to redesign the application cover sheet to make it more consistent and easy to fill out. It was just a lowly cover sheet for internal use but the break from autopilot mode was ridiculously satisfying. (And they’re still using it!) More importantly, the ability to identify how things could be done better is a valuable skill, and one that you can apply wherever you go.

    In his book "Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience," University of Chicago professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tells the story of Joe, a welder who had worked for 30 years on a loud, dirty assembly line manufacturing railroad cars in South Chicago. Joe had achieved the seemingly impossible, transforming the work experience into an enjoyable one through his fascination of discovery. He voluntarily–-and with no ulterior motive in being promoted-–took it upon himself to master every job in the plant, earning unanimous acknowledgement as the most valuable employee. His disarming explanation of how, since childhood, he had been drawn to things that didn’t work epitomizes the unself-conscious nature of flow: "If I were that toaster and I didn’t work, what would be wrong with me?"

    The Key To Happiness. Performing surgery, because it involves numerous components of flow (clear goals, opportunity to concentrate, direct and immediate feedback, balance between ability level and challenge) is considered a quintessential flow activity. And yet, there are surgeons who find their work boring. Then you have assembly workers like Joe who are enthralled with theirs. It’s encouraging proof that the key to quality of life--and ultimately, happiness--lies not in the external conditions themselves, but how we choose to experience them.

    Renita T. Kalhorn is a personal and business coach who specializes in coaching entrepreneurs, executives and performing artists to achieve flow and perform at their peak. To learn more and sign up for a free introductory session, visit her site at

    How to Earn an Extra $900 Per Month in Your Spare Time

    This is very cool! An enterprising woman is making a nice supplemental income by--get this--redistributing used magazines she gets for free! Anyone can do this, and she shares the details in an interview which you can listen to (f * r * e * e *) at this link: A Kick-Butt Income-Producing Idea

    P.S. I don't know how long that interview will be available so you better check it out now. It's only about 12 minutes long. (And if you prefer reading to listening, there's also a handy transcript.)

    How to Get $20 Right Now

    Check out this video that shows you a free eBay-related service that allows you to bid using your cell phone. The cool thing is if you sign up and use this service one time (even if you don't actually buy anything from eBay), they will deposit $20 in your Paypal account. (Anyone can open a Paypal account for free.)

    Just watch the video for step-by-step instructions, if you feel a few minutes of your time is worth $20! Here's the link: Pocket $20 Now

    It'll show you exactly what to do and how to claim your $20.


    More Articles. If you haven't visited my website's article directory in a while, you might want to check it out. Take a look at the index by clicking on: Articles.

    A Year's Supply of Gas?. I don't know about you, but with my commute the price of gas is killing me! Here's a timely contest where you have a shot at free gas just for filling out a quick survey. Here's the link: Enter the Win Free Gas Sweepstakes

    "Job Interview Success System." I put together a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow, step-by-step system to help you ace your next job interview. It's helped hundreds of job seekers, and it can help you...guaranteed. For more info, go to Job Interview Success System.

    Like Videos? Did you know Google now has a searchable database of videos and video clips? No cost, of course. Some videos are great, some are terrible, and some are hilarious. Just go to their link and enter a keyword to find videos on topics you're interested in (like job interviews!). Here's the link: Video.Google.Com

    "Railroad Job Guide." Tired of working in a cublicle? Well, here's some good news: the railroad industry is in desperate need of people like you.Railroad employment opportunities are at an all-time high for virtually every position with virtually every railroad company. But, as with any great job featuring excellent pay and benefits, the competition is fierce. You need an edge, and the "Railroad Job Guide" ebook gives it to you. Click here for more information:

    Worth Quoting

    "Achievement seems to be connected with action.
    Successful men and women keep moving.
    They make mistakes, but they don't quit."
    (Conrad Hilton)

    Just for Laughs

    A man owned a small ranch in Montana. The Montana Department of Labor claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him. "I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent.

    "Well," replied the rancher, "There's my ranch hand who's been with me for 3 years. I pay him $600 a week plus free room and board. The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $500 per week plus free room and board. Then there's the half-wit who works here about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes $10 per week, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night."

    "That's the guy I want to talk to -- the half-wit," says the agent.

    "That would be me," replied the rancher.

    Random Rants & Ramblings

    Identity Theft. Yep, it happened to me. I'm very careful and do everything right to protect my credit card info, but none of that matters if a company you've done business with is careless.

    I'd noticed unauthorized charges on my credit card statement. (TIP: Check your statement carefully and frequently!) The charges were for an online music service. I was able to go to the website that provided the service and convince them it was an unauthorized charge, and they refunded the money without any problems. Then I canceled that credit card so no other unauthorized charges could occur. While I was scratching my head trying to figure out how someone had gotten my credit card number (and my email address and my mailing address and everything else they needed to use my card), I received a letter of apology from Guess what... one of their employees had a left a laptop computer in his car and it was stolen. That laptop contained customer account information! I'd used in the past... so this is how someone got my credit card info. LESSON: It doesn't matter how careful you are; you can be a victim of identity theft. Be vigilent!

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

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