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Career-Life Times, Issue #57--Cues and Clues
March 23, 2009

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In This Issue:

  • Cues and Clues: Sleuthing a Job Ad and Spotting Interviewer Problems
  • Your Questions
  • Top Five Ways to Sabotage Your Interview
  • Thank-You Note Thanks
  • Why Wasn't I Hired?
  • What You Control
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs

    Warning: this issue is longer than usual! I didn't do a normal newsletter last month and feel the need to overcompensate this time with extra helpings of quality content. I hope you don't mind. :-)

    Cues and Clues: Sleuthing a Job Ad and Spotting Interviewer Problems

    Judi Perkins (expert job coach and author of one of this issue's articles) is inviting you (as a subscriber to this newsletter) to attend an exclusive online webinar scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 8 PM - 9:15 PM (ET).

    The topic is "Cues and Clues: Sleuthing a Job Ad and Spotting Interviewer Problems."

    This webinar will teach you how to read between the lines of the job board ad to know what it's really saying--both about the organization and the person they're looking for. It will also reveal how to spot "red flag" problems in an interview, and how to deal with those.

    It's a great topic about an important but overlooked aspect of successful job hunting. I don't know of anyone who covers it better than Judi. Don't miss this webinar!

    Here's where to go to find out more and to sign up:

    Cues and Clues Webinar

    After you sign up, you'll be sent an email confirmation with the details on how to attend the online webinar. It's all done via your computer, so there won't be any long-distance charges to worry about. You'll be given a link, and you just click on that before the webinar starts--it's easy!

    If you're unable to attend live, sign-up anyway and you'll be provided with a downloadable recording of the webinar after the event.

    Don't delay in signing up... the webinar happens Wednesday night!

    Here's the link again:

    Cues and Clues Webinar

    Your Questions

    Just a reminder... the teleconference I recorded with Danny Iny (which you can listen to here: Danny Iny Interview) answered these questions sent in by readers:

    1. With so many different kinds of jobs out there, how do I know which one would be the best fit for me?

    2. How can I advance, or change careers, without the time or money to get a college degree?

    3. I find myself torn between self-employment and getting another job. How can I make the best decision? (Related Question: How can I know if I’m cut out for self-employment?)

    4. Which career is always in demand, no matter what state the economy is in?

    5. Where is the best place to search for jobs, other than job boards?

    6. Why do companies rarely choose the best candidate?

    7. How do I respond when asked what salary I expect?

    If you haven't listened to that interview with Danny yet (or read the transcript), check it out when you get a chance. There are many fantastic tips that can help you achieve your career goals! Here's the link again: Danny Iny Interview)

    By the way, I haven't forgotten the other questions you sent in. I'll be answering them soon!

    Top Five Ways to Sabotage Your Interview

    If you don't want to inadvertently sabotage your own job interview, knowing what to avoid is as helpful as knowing what to do. So with that in mind, here are the top five things you should NEVER do:

    1. Be late. If you don't make it to the interview on time, the hiring manager will think you won't make it to work on time, either. Or do anything else right. Plan to arrive 15 minutes early. Don't rely on Internet-map driving directions; go there the day before so you're clear on exactly how to get there and how long it will take. "Horrible traffic" is no excuse for being late. Every company wants to hire someone who plans ahead, anticipates potential problems, and succeeds despite those problems. If there is a REAL emergency, call to explain and ask to reschedule.

    2. Show you didn't prepare. "Ummm... mind just went blank. Can I get back to you on that?" is not a good way to answer a question. "What do you guys do around here?" is not a good question to ask. Research the industry, the company, the job, even the interviewer, if possible. You can do all of that online. Be prepared for likely questions. Be prepared to offer specific solutions to help them achieve their specific goals. Remember the 5 Ps: Preparation & Practice Preceed a Powerful Performance!

    3. Bad-mouth your current employer. No hiring manager wants to hear about the unfair, stupid, incompetent people you're trying to escape from--not even when they ask, "Why do you want to leave your current position?" It may be tempting to tell them what a jerk your boss is, but do NOT say anything negative. Ever. Even if every negative word you say is absolutely true, the hiring manager will label you as a complainer who can't get along with others. Instead, say something neutral about your current employer and then shift the focus by saying something complimentary about the hiring manager's company (based on the research you did). For example: "I'm looking for different career opportunities. That's really why I'm here. I want to contribute to an organization that is leading the way in the [whatever] industry. I know that ABC Company is not only an admired industry leader, it's making a positive difference in people's lives. I want to be part of that."

    4. Lie about your skills or accomplishments. And by "lie" I also mean exaggerate. It's dishonest. It's wrong. It's likely to be discovered. Don't do it.

    5. Be unprofessional. This includes wearing clothes that are too casual, being disrespectful to the receptionist (or anyone else), letting your cell phone ring during the interview, chewing gum, failing to listen, and countless other unprofessional behaviors. Always remember: your goal is to impress everyone you meet. Be professional!

    Getting a job is already hard enough. Don't make it impossible by sabotaging your interview!

    Thank-You Note Thanks

    I received a nice email recently from Elizabeth Branum: "Thank you so much for your advice about post-interview thank-you notes. I sent one to each person with whom I interviewed. Not only did I get the job, but the offer was way more than I had imagined it would be. Thanks again!"

    I'm sure Elizabeth's excellent job interview performance played the major role in her winning the job, but sending the thank-you notes just may have sealed the deal.

    It amazes me how many job candidates (and even some career "experts") think that sending a thank-you note after the interview is a waste of time. It's not! Imagine that the hiring manager is trying to decide between two candidates with equal qualifications who performed equally well during the job interview. The only difference: one sends a thoughtful thank-you note immediately after the interview; the other does not. Which one would YOU hire?

    Check out the article I wrote a while back: "Thoughtful Thank-Yous."

    Why Wasn't I Hired?

    (This is a guest article by Judi Perkins)

    Interviewing can be both frustrating and arduous because throughout the process, you receive little or no feedback except for the obvious: if they want you back, they contact you. If they don’t, frequently you never hear from them again. But after a first interview the reasons for not being asked back are numerous, and quite frankly, usually the reason is you: lack of experience, poor interviewing skills, inadequate preparation and research, or similar shortcomings. As a result, another candidate generated more excitement.

    But sometimes you are the candidate that generates the excitement, and you’re the one that is invited back for a second or third interview. And though you’ve reached the final stages of the interviewing process with a specific company and feel sure an offer is imminent, suddenly……nothing.

    Sometimes the process has stalled. Occasionally - and stupidly - a company finds the perfect person, but feels they have to interview a specific number of people first, and while they do, they’re under the impression you’re waiting happily in the background with your life and emotions on hold until they contact you again.

    Other times only a letter in the mail tells you it’s done. Rarely are candidates told why they didn't get the job. Unless you get this far in the process, usually you aren’t even told that much. Was it something you did? Maybe. But maybe not!

    Relax. While you are busy wondering what went wrong or trying to convince yourself it had nothing to do with you...sometimes that’s the truth! You and that company just weren't meant to be, and nothing you might have done - or not done - would have made any difference.

    Consider these factors, all of which take place without your knowing:

  • A last-minute candidate appeared on the scene who was exactly what they were looking for. Maybe you were almost perfect, but for some reason, the last-minute candidate was just a bit more whatever they were looking for. If you experienced a delay in your interviewing late in the process, odds are very good your position as the top candidate was simply usurped at the last minute.

  • An internal candidate suddenly came into the picture. Though many companies post open positions internally first and go outside only after exhausting internal options, that doesn’t account for someone changing his mind - especially if it was a person they were targeting for the opening to begin with.

  • The company decided to eliminate the position or put the hiring process on hold for a period of time. Sometimes when a company doesn’t know in which direction they want to go, they run an ad to “see what’s out there” and then eliminate the position when their water walker fails to submit a resume. On other occasions, the process might be halted as a result of some event that changed the circumstances - and thus changed their decision about interviewing.

  • The company felt you'd fit in so well, they didn't hire you. What? Sometimes a company needs someone not like everyone else to balance out the department. Sometimes a candidate’s full personality isn't really understood until the person has interviewed more than once and with additional people in the company. And yes, that's partially why you are asked to interview with more than one person!

  • One of the interviewers that came into the picture later in the process didn't like you. Perhaps you reminded them of a former employee that didn't work out. Maybe they were threatened by your expertise and skill. In any case, they carried enough weight or had enough of a valid point to get you jettisoned from the process.

    Remember that interviewing is the process by which you find a company that you like, and by which a company hires you because they feel you are the best person for the job. Everything happens for a reason, and if you missed getting a job offer with one company, something better may be just around the corner.

    So concentrate on what you can control and forget about what you can’t. If you mope around over a missed job offer, worrying about what you did or didn't do and wonder why they didn't like you or where you messed up - what you are effectively doing is letting your attitude bring about another negative outcome.

    Keep your chin up. Look objectively at whether or not you can pinpoint something you might have done differently, and then learn from it. Otherwise, put it behind you and move forward with a confident and positive outlook!

    By Judi Perkins, the Renegade Job Coach. Judi has been a career coach for three years. Before that she was a recruiter for 22 years. Now she teaches job seekers both the skill and psychological aspects of job hunting. For more of Judi’s tips, visit Find Your Perfect Job.

    What You Control

    This is a guest article by Nan S. Russell

    Thanks to frequent-flyer points and a vacation club exchange, we spent last week in Hawaii for the cost of a rental car and food. While a fun and relaxing vacation, it was strange to be at an ocean-front Maui resort during peak tourist season, without the tourists. Several restaurants on this 40-acre property were even closed.

    The bellman who showed us around told us he'd been working at the resort for eleven years and hadn't seen anything like it. "I used to work full-time," he told us. "Now I'm on a rotation with sixteen others and lucky to get one day a week. I'm not sure how I can make it, even with unemployment."

    In comparison to that distressed bellman, on the last evening of vacation we chatted with a man who delivered our room service, commenting to him about the empty hotel. "Oh," he said. "It's kind of nice. I see this like a mini- vacation. I know it'll pick up, and if not, I have some other things in the works."

    These were contrasting reactions to the same event. The bellman felt powerless and stressed-out while the room service staffer was calm and taking action. It reminded me of an experiment discussed in a recent issue of Time magazine about stress. In the experiment, two rats were locked in a cage. One was able to decide when he wanted to exercise and the other had to run his wheel whenever his counterpart did. The first rat grew new brain cells, the second one lost them.

    If both were exercising, why did one rat lose brain cells while the other gained? The answer? Control. It's what many of us already know about our own work. According to the Time article, "Psychologists have known for years that one of the biggest factors in how we process stressful events is how much control we have over our lives. As a rule, if we feel we're in control, we cope. If we don't, we collapse."

    Neither man at that Maui resort could control if the tourists came, the conventions were filled, or the weddings booked. Neither had power over how many room-nights were canceled because of challenging economic times. And neither could impact how many hours a week they were scheduled based on business needs.

    So, we might think they were like that second rat in the stress experiment - forced to respond to their work-events without an ability to control them. And that's the reaction many people who are not winning at working have. They think what's happening to them "is out of their hands," they "can't do anything about it," or "there's no way out."

    But people who are winning at working understand, like that room service staffer, some things they can control and some they can't. They focus on the ones they can. People who are winning at working may not control if they're only working one day a week, but they do control whether that one day of work is exceptional. Exceptional service brings bigger tips. And in this case, there was no question which person at that resort was getting those.

    You may not be able to control if your job gets cut, but you can control whether you're a high performer who your boss is fighting to keep. You may not be able to control how quickly you get another job, but you can control the number of daily contacts you make in your search and how you "show up," future-focused, at the interview. You may not be able to control the amount of work you get, but you do control whether you're responding as a victim or taking action toward developing your skills and contacts for a new future.

    People who are winning at working ascribed to composer Irving Berlin's philosophy, "Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it," he said. This is a pretty good time to be focusing on that ninety percent.

    (c) 2009 Nan S. Russell. Nan is the author of "Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way." She has spent over 20 years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. She is the founder and president of MountainWorks Communications, as well as an author, speaker and consultant. Visit for archived columns, Ask Nan, weblog, more about Nan's book, or to contact Nan.


    More Articles. You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index.

    30+ Websites to Visit When You’re Laid Off. One of my favorite blogs,, has put together a very comprehensive f*ree resource for people who have lost their job and are looking to get back on their feet: a collection of more than 30 helpful websites. It's a terrific list, and even if you haven't been laid off, I encourage you to check it out: 30 Websites.

    Escape From Cubicle Nation. This is a new book by Pamela Slim, the creator of the excellent blog by the same name. The subtitle is "From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur," which gives you a clear idea of what the book is all about. You can read the first chapter here: Escape, Chapter 1. The book will be available April 30; you can pre-order it now (like I did) to lock in the pre-release price here: LinkUp is a relatively new site that is already becoming a big hit. It publishes job openings that are listed on more than 10,000 employer web sites in the U.S. This is great in its simplicity: there are no duplicate listings because they are pulled from a single source, and they are always current. Check it out:

    Best Career Strategies. I have a new website, and a new ebook called "The Best Career Strategies of 2009: How to Get Hired and Get Ahead Even When the Economy is Getting Worse." It's super-duper awesome and you can grab your f*ree copy here:

    Job Interview Success System. The job market is worse than it's ever been, so doesn't it makes sense to get an advantage over your competition? Get all the details here: Job Interview Success System.

    Worth Quoting

    "An optimist is a person who sees
    a green light everywhere, while a pessimist
    sees only the red stoplight.
    The truly wise person
    is colorblind."
    (Albert Schweitzer)

    Just for Laughs

    The Four Cats

    During "Bring Your Pet to Work Day," four men were bragging about how smart their cats were.

    The first man was an Engineer, the second man was an Accountant, the third man was a Chemist, and the fourth man was a Government Employee.

    To show off, the Engineer said to his cat, "T-square, do your stuff."

    T-square pranced over to the desk, took out some paper and pen and promptly drew a circle, a square, and a triangle.

    Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

    But the Accountant said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, "Spreadsheet, do your stuff."

    Spreadsheet went out to the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into 4 equal piles of 3 cookies.

    Everyone agreed that was good.

    But the Chemist said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, "Measure, do your stuff.'

    Measure got up, walked to the fridge, took out a quart of milk, got a 10-ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly 8 ounces into the glass, without spilling a drop.

    Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

    Then the three men turned to the Government Employee and asked, "What can your cat do?"

    The Government Employee called to his cat and said, "CoffeeBreak, do your stuff."

    CoffeeBreak jumped to his feet, ate the cookies, drank the milk, shit on the paper, screwed the other three cats, claimed he injured his back while doing so, filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions, put in for Workers Compensation, and went home for the rest of the day on sick leave.


    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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