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Career-Life Times, Issue #53--Do First Impressions Matter?
October 20, 2008

Issue #53, October 20, 2008

In This Issue:

  • At Job Interviews, Do First Impressions Really Matter?
  • Answering the Job Interview Question, “Why Have You Changed Jobs So Frequently?”
  • Earn Extra Money With a Temporary/Seasonal Job
  • Help, I Work For a Bad Boss!
  • Scammers are Getting Smarter
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Inspirations

    At Job Interviews, Do First Impressions Really Matter?

    When I met Frank at a new job I’d started, my first impression of him wasn’t a good one. I thought, “What a weird man.”

    He was always smiling (while at work!?). He took off his boots and walked around in his socks while in the office (thank goodness his feet didn’t stink). He liked to be called Flash (I wondered how he got THAT nickname). And he was always eating (he’s one of those annoying people who can eat whatever they want without ever gaining weight).

    Six years later, I became his wife.

    Like me, you’ve probably changed your mind about someone after getting to know him or her better. First impressions are rarely lasting impressions.

    So what’s the big deal about making a great first impression at a job interview?

    If the hiring manager’s first impression of you is somewhat negative based on your hair, clothes, handshake, nervous eye twitch or something else, won’t he change his mind once you start answering questions? Surely he wouldn’t let such trivial things cloud his judgment about your ability to do the job… right?

    It depends.

    Joe showed up for a job interview at a large corporate headquarters wearing a polo shirt and jeans—the type of clothes he always wore at his last job with a small software company. He’d never known programmers to wear suits. Besides, Joe reasoned, the important thing was his programming skills; his clothes wouldn't matter.

    Joe was wrong. According to the hiring manager, seeing Joe’s outfit ruined any chance he had of getting the job. Here’s her reasoning: “That morning Joe thought to himself, ‘I have an important job interview at a large company’s corporate headquarters today. I think I'll wear jeans.’ That showed me Joe has bad judgment, or simply does not know how to dress for an important interview. In either case, how could I expect him to know how to complete important projects?”

    Joe’s programming skills didn’t matter. And whether the hiring manager’s decision was fair or not didn’t matter. All that mattered is that the first impression Joe created with his clothing choice ruined his chance to get the job.

    When forming a first impression of you, a hiring manager considers many things, some of which he or she isn’t even consciously aware of. We all make snap judgments based on our lifelong experiences. There’s no way you can accurately predict what that first impression of you will be.

    But you can take steps to make it more likely that the fist impression you create will be positive rather than negative. Just ask yourself, “What do I need to do to make a great first impression at my job interview?” If Joe had asked himself that question, he’d probably have that new job.

    Things that may be beyond your control (such as sweaty palms) are more likely to be overlooked than things that reflect your judgment (such as the outfit you wear).

    While it is certainly possible to overcome a bad first impression, you’ll have a better shot at getting the job if your first impression is a good one. You want all the advantages to be on your side, right?

    I overcame my first impression of Frank, but it took me weeks to do so. During a job interview, you only have a few minutes. Make them count!

    Answering the Job Interview Question, “Why Have You Changed Jobs So Frequently?”

    This is a likely job interview question if your résumé shows you’ve had several jobs in a relatively short period of time. But don’t let it worry you too much.

    The good old days when employees loyally stuck with one company for most of their career are pretty much a thing of the past. There are many reasons for this, but my point is that job-hopping isn’t that unusual now.

    The main reason employers ask this question is to find out if you are a quitter. A company will not want to invest time and resources in you if it appears that you have no commitment to them and will leave as soon as a new opportunity comes along.

    Having several jobs isn’t a negative thing if you give acceptable reasons for the frequent changes. These include things beyond your control such as a company downsizing or going out of business, lack of career advancement opportunities, relocations to be with your transferring spouse, etc.

    Never complain about former companies or bosses or say you got bored in your old jobs.

    Point out jobs that you held for a long time, and emphasize that your current goal is to stay with your next company for a long time.

    Sample Answers:

    “My husband was in the military and every time he was transferred, I’d relocate with him and find a new job. I feel this has actually been beneficial because it provided me with a broad range of experiences and expanded my knowledge and skills. He retired from the service last year and we’ve decided to make this area our permanent home, so I won’t be relocating again. I’m looking forward to obtaining a long-term position with a company such as yours.”

    "I believe my work history is somewhat misleading. I’m actually a very stable person who would prefer to stay with one employer for a long period. Note that I did work for Ruff-N-Ready for five years from 1993-1998, but I had to obtain another job when they went out of business. During the following six years I accepted three new positions for career advancement reasons when those opportunities were not available where I was. I feel all of these positions of increasing responsibility have helped me to gain the skills and experience you need, and will enable me to be a loyal, contributing member of your team. I am very eager to work for—and stay with—a company like yours."

    (Note: This was an excerpt from an element of my Job Interview Success System called “45 of the Easiest, Toughest, Silliest and Most Common Job Interview Questions—and How to Answer Them!”)

    Earn Extra Money With a Temporary/Seasonal Job

    Would you like to earn some extra money during the next few weeks? Considering getting a temporary/seasonal job.

    Despite the poor economy, people will still be spending money this holiday season. That means retail stores and delivery services will be looking for extra help.

    Here are five quick tips for getting a temporary/seasonal job:

    1. Don’t wait to start your job search. Employers are already taking applications.

    2. Go where the jobs are and apply in person. Look neat and professional. Be prepared to fill out applications by bringing your résumé or carrying a “cheat sheet” with your contact information, educational background, employment and salary history, and references. Temporary employers include the post office and other delivery services, stores, ski resorts and others that hire seasonal staff. Visit local malls and shopping centers and look for “Help Wanted” signs.

    3. Check online jobs sites. Many of them advertise part-time, temporary and seasonal jobs. Try these:


    4. Sign up with a temporary employment agency such as Kelly Services or Manpower. They offer more than just administrative jobs. Temping is one of the fast growing employment sectors in the U.S. and the range of positions has increased significantly.

    5. Be prepared for fast action. Employers are in a hurry to hire this time of year. They may want to interview you on-the-spot as you turn in your application. Decide the hours and schedule you’ll be willing to work, if asked. Be sure you have voicemail or an answering machine so you don’t miss a call.

    Help, I Work For a Bad Boss!

    (This is a guest article by Cassandra Washington)

    Bad bosses are everywhere -- hospitals, retail stores, Fortune 500 companies, factories, and schools. Most of us have had to deal with a bad boss at one time or another. A recent study involving 20,000 exit interviews found the number one reason people leave jobs is "poor supervisory behavior." Unfortunately, sometimes we learn to be good bosses by working for really bad ones and learning what not to do. If you have the misfortune of working for a bad boss, here are six coping strategies to improve your work environment.

    1. Keep up the good work.

      Take your eyes off the boss and put your focus on your job. Working for a bad boss does not give you an excuse to underperform. And don't let your attitude slip either.

    2. Document expectations.

      It is difficult to meet expectations if you don't know what is required. When the boss assigns you a task, write down the exact instructions, repeat them back, and update them if anything changes.

    3. Speak up.

      Tell your boss what you need in terms of direction, feedback, and support to be successful. But, before you do, remember RHIP -- Rank Has Its Privileges. So, first find something you respect about the boss, so it doesn't sound like a personal attack. Be polite. Tell your boss what resources, tools, information, and training you need to perform your job efficiently. Inform your boss if you encounter obstacles beyond your control as you try to do your job. And, finally, ask your boss what specifically you can do differently to be more successful.

    4. Get a venting buddy.

      Find a trustworthy sounding board to vent your frustrations and anger, but don't do it with your co-workers. Venting is therapeutic.

    5. Write it out.

      Notice I did not say e-mail it out. Record incidents in a journal. Stick to the facts and how the boss' actions impacted your performance or the rest of the team. This process alone may help to relieve your stress and help you cope. But, if you decide, at some point, to report your bad boss to HR, you have documented all the offenses.

    6. Leave, as a last resort.

      A job that effects your health and mental well-being is not worth it. Be ready to stay, but always prepared to leave. Use your network to find better opportunities. Keep your resume up-to-date so you are ready to hit the ground running.

    Bad bosses are really bad for business, but there is some good news. A 2001 Delta Road study found that 77% of employees surveyed said they would seriously consider staying in their current position if their bad boss made an honest attempt at changing.

    "The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does." -- Anonymous

    Cassandra Washington is a veteran trainer and proven coach who has helped countless men and women push their limits and expand their success. She is the author of the book, "How to Manage Unacceptable Employee Behavior." For more information, visit

    Scammers are Getting Smarter

    A week ago my friend, Son, told me a story about an email he’d received from his cousin, who was traveling in England. The message said he’d been robbed in London, and asked Son to send him money via Western Union so he could get back home. He promised to repay Son as soon as he got back. The message had come from the correct email address, and Son knew his cousin really was in England. So the message seemed to be authentic. Except for one thing: it was in English. Son and his cousin are fluent in English, but are Vietnamese; their email messages to each other are always in Vietnamese. Son replied to the message in Vietnamese, but didn’t receive a response, so he decided not to send money. He later found out that his cousin had indeed been robbed while in London, but the thief had taken only his laptop computer… and sent the same request for money to everyone in the computer’s email address book.

    Another friend of mine, Jenny, told me that her purse, credit and debit cards had been stolen. She soon received a phone call from the “Credit Fraud Investigation Service” offering to help. The “investigator” read off Jenny’s card numbers and asked if those were the cards that had been stolen. Jenny confirmed they were. Then the investigator told Jenny he could track the thief and block the fraudulent charges, but needed the personal identification number (PIN) associated with the cards to do so. Jenny provided that information to the investigator. Needless to say, her bank accounts were wiped out. It was the thief who had called.

    Just a reminder: Be careful out there!


    More Articles. You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index. Here are a couple of new ones you might enjoy:

  • Stop Sending Cover Letters

  • Job Interviews Can Be a Real Bore

    The Journal. Do you keep a diary or journal? I never used to. I do like to be organized and I write a lot of things down, but usually use spiral notebooks, stickie-pads, scraps of paper… whatever is handy. Then, of course, I lose them. For someone who uses a computer every day, you’d think I would’ve come across this excellent resource long ago, but I only recently discovered it. It’s a journaling software program that has made my life so much easier! I don’t use it as a diary, although it has an excellent daily entry feature. I use it to keep my “to-do” lists, record ideas as I’m surfing the web, save snippets of text, graphics or website links. And so much more. I can’t do it justice here; you really have to try it yourself. And you can do that f*ree for 45 days. I highly recommend it for people who like to be (or need to be) organized. Sign up for the 45-day trial here: The Journal.

    Thrive. Thrive is a new f*ree financial advisory service. More than just a budgeting tool, it helps you organize all of your accounts in one place and offers advice to help you reduce debt, save money, and invest wisely. It's visually appealing and very easy to use. Just reading their blog will help you become more money-savvy. Check it out here: Thrive.

    Idea a Day. This is a very simple site with a simple purpose: collect and share ideas. There are wacky ideas, ideas that may make someone incredibly wealthy if implemented, and everything in between. If nothing else, reading the ideas may get your own creative juices flowing. And yes, it's f*ree. Check it out here:

    Job Interview Success System. This is my guaranteed step-by-step system to help you ace your next job interview. See the details here: Job Interview Success System.

    Worth Quoting

    "You can tell whether a man
    is clever by his answers.
    You can tell whether a man
    is wise by his questions."
    (Naguib Mahfouz)

    Just for Laughs

    New Stock Market Terms

    CEO -- Chief Embezzlement Officer.

    CFO -- Corporate Fraud Officer.

    BULL MARKET -- A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

    BEAR MARKET -- A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewelry, and the husband gets no sex.

    VALUE INVESTING -- The art of buying low and selling lower.

    P/E RATIO -- The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

    BROKER -- What my broker has made me.

    STANDARD & POOR -- Your life in a nutshell.

    STOCK ANALYST -- Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

    STOCK SPLIT -- When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets equally between themselves.

    FINANCIAL PLANNER -- A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

    MARKET CORRECTION -- The day after you buy stocks.

    CASH FLOW -- The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.

    YAHOO -- What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker for $240 per share.

    WINDOWS -- What you jump out of when you're the sucker who bought Yahoo @ $240 per share.

    INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR -- Past year investor who's now locked up in a nuthouse.

    PROFIT -- An archaic word no longer in use

    Random Inspirations

    Did you notice the title change of this section? It used to be called Random Rants & Ramblings. This change is due to a reader’s suggestion.

    Susan Miller wrote to me and said, “I have a suggestion for your publication. Instead of Rants, how about a gratitude section? When we focus on the negative, it tends to bring more of it to us, but when we give gratitude, that increases our abundance.

    “Here's an example. I just came back from a short walk on this glorious October day. I noticed how the sun reflected on the abundant pyrocantha berries and rejoiced that the wild birds will have plenty to eat. A man had just mowed the lawn next to a nearby apartment, and the smell of the freshly cut grass was heavenly. I am so grateful that I have all my senses to enjoy during my walks. Small pleasures like this, which cost nothing except some time to notice them, are truly what makes my life so rich and abundant!”

    How could I refuse Susan’s excellent suggestion and example? If you’d like to share something that inspires you or fills you with gratitude, please email me and I’ll include it here. Thank you, Susan!

    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
    7402 Paddon Rd.
    Vacaville, CA 95688

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