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If you are in the job market....

Creative Networking
If there is a particular company you want to work for, find out what charities it supports and then volunteer. It is highly likely a lot of employees from that company volunteer there. Instead of paying to attend an industry conference, volunteer to help with registration in exchange for free admission.

Sign Up For A Class
Here is a perfect opportunity to further your education toward a higher degree! It not only gets you closer to another degree, it shows interviewers you have been pursuing something while your searching for the right employment opportunity.

Know the Law
Check your state unemployment commission. Several states allow you to work some hours and still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Prioritize Expenses & Debt
Cut back on outside assistance for household chores, like yard care and housecleaning. Make meals to last you two nights. Analyze all your utilities, compare companies in your area, switching plans could save you $$ every month. Make mortgage and car payments a top priority. If you will be late with payments for credit cards, call the companies. Sometimes they will waive fees if you have a good payment history.

Keep a Routine
To maintain a positive outlook, make sure you plan a structured day, like a workday. Even when you are unemployed, you still have a job-job hunting!

Interview Preparation
First impressions are very important; you will never get another chance to make a second one. Your preparation can be one of the most important phases of an interview - the better prepared you are, the more confident you will be during the interview.

The following are important points to remember:
  • Write down the exact time and location of the interview, and keep this information with you. Know the names and titles of the interview panel. Don't rely on memory; it may fail you.
  • Know the company - what does it do? Where does it operate? Before your interview, do some research. You are then able to ask intelligent questions and show a genuine interest in the position.
  • Information can be found in the public relations department, year-end reports, newsletters, the library, or by asking people in the business.

    Be well rehearsed regarding:
  • possible interview questions;
  • the actual job;
  • your skills and accomplishments in relation to the job duties;
  • questions you want to ask;
  • the organization.

    Arrive early. If you are kept waiting, don't let it make you nervous. Spend the time reading company materials - there is usually some available for visitors.

    Be prepared for the possibility of testing, and gear yourself mentally for the possibility that this interview may lead to another.

    Interview Do's and Don'ts
    Dress for success, always dress on the professional side
    Be early, at least 15 minutes
    Leave your family at home
    No gum chewing
    No perfume
    Bring another copy of our resume
    Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake
    Maintain eye contact

    Sell yourself without bragging. Keep control of yourself and the interview. Keep things moving; but most of all, keep the talk geared to what you can do for the company.

    Shut the door on your troubles: try to avoid discussions about family or financial problems. Think about what you can do for the employer.

    Think before you answer. It is quite acceptable to pause before responding in order to organize your thoughts. Don't give "yes" or "no" answers. One-liners are conversation stoppers. Elaborate briefly on your experience, your skills, and background.

    Be a good listener, but if you are asked a question you don't understand, ask for clarification. Always answer truthfully and tactfully. Don't interrupt.

    Eye contact and body language are as important in the interview as good answers. Look at the interviewer. Avoid raising barriers. Do not cross your arms across your chest. Do not place anything on the desk between you and the interviewer. Avoid the appearance of withdrawing from the interviewer.

    Be calm and poised. Be aware of your nervous habits, and try to keep them under control.

    Watch your speech. Avoid "er" and "ah", or any other annoying voice habits. Pay attention to voice level: not too soft or too loud. Use the interviewer as your touchstone--how are they speaking?

    Don't use flattery. Don't be a "yes" person. At the same time, don't argue.

    Don't criticize your old job or boss. The idea is to get a job, not sympathy.

    Don't discuss politics, religion, or controversial subjects.

    Don't volunteer any negative information.

    Don't exaggerate or compare yourself to others.

    When asking specific questions which you have prepared ahead of time, be careful about the order in which you bring them up. Don't ask about the salary or fringe benefits first.

    At the end of the interview, ask when you will hear from them about the position. Get a business card from your interviewers.

    Leave as soon as the interview is over. Don't forget to say good-bye to the receptionist. A good word from this source may help. When you get home, always send a thank you note to the interviewer(s).

    Interview Preparation II: How to Stand Out From Other Candidates
  • In each job, what special things did you do to set yourself apart? How did you do the job better than anyone else did or than anyone else could have done?
  • What did you do to make each job your own?
  • How did you take the initiative? How did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?
  • What special things did you do to impress your boss so that you might be promoted?
  • And were you promoted? Rapid and/or frequent promotions can be especially noteworthy.
  • How did you leave your employers better off than before you worked for them?
  • Did you win any awards, such as Employee of the Month honors?
  • What are you most proud of in each job?
  • Is there material you can use from your annual performance reviews? Did you consistently receive high ratings? Any glowing quotes you can use from former employers?
  • Have you received any complimentary memos or letters from employers or customers?
  • What solid evidence do you have of accomplishments -- publications you've produced, products you've developed, software applications you've written?
  • Profitability, Efficiency, and Productivity. How did you contribute to profitability, such as through sales increase percentages? How did you contribute to efficiency, such as through cost reduction percentages? How did you contribute to productivity, such as through successfully motivating your team?
  • Quantify. Employers love numbers. Examples:    
  • Increased sales by 50 percent over the previous year.    
  • Produced total mean sales 20 percent higher than those of the other servers in the restaurant.    
  • Supervised staff of 25.    
  • Served a customer base of 150, the largest on firm's customer-service team.

    Possible Responses To Some Typical Interview Questions
    Preparing answers to potential interview questions is vital to interview success. There are a number of standard interview questions which you might consider before meeting with employers.

    (1) Tell me something about yourself:
    This question is aimed at finding out what kind of person you are, not merely about your job skills. You may wish to mention your personal strengths, interests and abilities.

    (2) Why do you want to work here:
    When an interviewer asks you why you wish to work for their company, they are attempting to learn whether you will be satisfied with your job and likely to stay. It is also a way to see whether or not you have done any research on the company, know it enough to really want to work there, rather that just wanting to work anywhere. To reassure the interviewer, mention as many positive features about the job, company or organization as you can.

    (3) Why did you leave your last job:
    When the interviewer asks you why you left your last job or why you want to leave your present job, they are trying to determine whether you had difficulties that may also arise with them.
    In describing your last job, say as many positive things as you can about it even if it had many undesirable features--all jobs do. Try not to say anything negative about the company or the supervisor, only that your needs did not fit with the job. Be evasive, if possible, for if you criticize the company or supervisor, the interviewer will view you as someone who is likely to do the same to them if you are hired by their company. On the other hand, they will regard you as appreciative and pleasant if they hear you speaking in a positive way about a company you left and will feel that you are likely to be appreciative and pleasant regarding the job for which for you are interviewed.

    (4) Why should we hire you instead of someone else:
    When you are asked this direct question, the interviewer is asking you, in a sense, to make their decision for them. If you have to hesitate or can think of only one or two reasons, then they will feel that the reasons are not too obvious or not sufficient. You should quickly list your skills and positive characteristics.
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