Wednesday 5 February 2014

9 Tips For Making Success of Job Interview On the Phone

  1. Get relevant information up front
  2. Confirm the appointment
  3. Make notes
  4. Don't interview on the spot
  5. Be prepared
  6. Stand up
  7. Take your time
  8. Wrap it up well
  9. Send a thank you note

Monday 16 September 2013

10 ways in which you can negotiate your salary

1) Accept initial offer and lose Rs 1 crore

Always, always, always negotiate. Women and first-time job seekers are more prone to accepting the opening offer without questioning it. A 10% salary difference in the first job with a CTC of Rs 4 lakh represents a lifetime loss of over Rs 1 crore, assuming a 15% annual hike over a 40-year career.

So, politely restate your case and provide justification for a revised offer. In over 95% of the cases, the employer has not made his best offer right away and is expecting you to negotiate upwards. As a ballpark, ask for a 10% increase.

2) Do your homework on position & firm

Thoroughly research the market and the firm. In negotiations, as in war, the better prepared side wins. Never approach a new employer without finding out the standard market salary for the position offered based on your experience and qualification.

Start with online research, and then talk to professionals and recruitment consultants. You can also speak to people in the company to have an idea about the latest state of its business, operations and the compensation structure. Use this data to justify your stand.

3) Don't use last salary or financial need as pegs

Focus on the value you will bring to the company. Most professionals are browbeaten by the firm's hiring manager, who will peg the new offer to your last drawn salary. This is usually underselling your competence since it does not give you a fair market correction.

Similarly, do not negotiate on the grounds of how much money you need. Convey the value addition you will provide to the profile and firm, and why you deserve a better deal.

4) Have a back-up plan

Know your options if you choose to walk away from the offer. Only if you have a back-up plan can you negotiate without fear and take a stand on a fair compensation structure. This is the reason it's not advisable to quit a job before you find a new one. In today's challenging job market, a few months of savings or an alternate source of income will do wonders for your confidence during the negotiation process.

5) Let the employer start salary discussion

Let the employer talk about salary first. Most newcomers make the mistake of initiating the compensation discussion early on in the game. This exposes your inexperience and sends a negative signal that you are concerned only about the salary, not the profile. On the other hand, if the employer makes the first move and quotes a figure, it sets the floor for the negotiation and the final salary can only be negotiated upwards from there.

Thursday 16 May 2013

8 Things Productive People Do During the Workday

Forget about your job title or profession – everyone is looking for ways to be more productive at work. It’s time to set down your gallon-sized container of coffee, toss out your three-page to-do list, and put an end to those ridiculously long emails you’ve been sending.

Experiencing a highly productive workday can feel euphoric. But contrary to popular belief, simply checking tasks off your to-do list isn’t really an indication of productivity. Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things; this is actually the opposite of productivity. If you really want to be productive, you’ve got to make a point to do fewer things.

Recently I spoke with project management and productivity genius Tony Wong to find out the secret to a more productive workday. He provided me with some excellent insight into what he and other like-minded productive individuals do during their work week.

Harness your productivity by taking note of these eight things:

1. Create a smaller to-do list. Getting things accomplished during your workday shouldn’t be about doing as much as possible in the sanctioned eight hours. It may be hard to swallow, but there’s nothing productive about piling together a slew of tasks in the form of a checklist. Take a less-is-more approach to your to-do list by only focusing on accomplishing things that matter.

2. Take breaks. You know that ache that fills your brain when you’ve been powering through tasks for several hours? This is due to your brain using up glucose. Too many people mistake this for a good feeling, rather than a signal to take a break. Go take a walk, grab something to eat, workout, or meditate – give your brain some resting time. Achieve more productivity during your workday by making a point to regularly clear your head. You’ll come back recharged and ready to achieve greater efficiency.

3. Follow the 80/20 rule. Did you know that only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results? Eliminate the things that don’t matter during your workday: they have a minimal effect on your overall productivity. For example, on a project, systematically remove tasks until you end up with the 20 percent that gets the 80 percent of results.

4. Start your day by focusing on yourself. If you begin your morning by checking your email, it allows others to dictate what you accomplish. Set yourself in the right direction by ignoring your emails and taking the morning to focus on yourself, eat a good breakfast, meditate, or read the news.

5. Take on harder tasks earlier in the day. Knock out your most challenging work when your brain is most fresh. Save your busy work – if you have any – for when your afternoon slump rolls in.

6. Pick up the phone. The digital world has created poor communication habits. Email is a productivity killer and usually a distraction from tasks that actually matter. For example, people often copy multiple people on emails to get it off their plate – don't be a victim of this action. This distracts everyone else by creating noise against the tasks they’re trying to accomplish and is a sign of laziness. If you receive an email where many people are CC'd, do everyone a favor by BCCing them on your reply. If your email chain goes beyond two replies, it’s time to pick up the phone. Increase your productivity by scheduling a call.

7. Create a system. If you know certain things are ruining your daily productivity, create a system for managing them. Do you check your emails throughout the day? Plan a morning, afternoon, and evening time slot for managing your email. Otherwise, you’ll get distracted from accomplishing more important goals throughout the day.

8. Don’t confuse productivity with laziness. While no one likes admitting it, sheer laziness is the No. 1 contributor to lost productivity. In fact, a number of time-saving methods – take meetings and emails for example – are actually just ways to get out of doing real work. Place your focus on doing the things that matter most as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Remember, less is more when it comes to being productive during the workday.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Interview Preparation: Dress for Success Part 4

How to Dress for Success

Dressing for success requires understanding why your appearance matters and then using that information to best market yourself as a candidate.  As part 4 of our 4 part guide we will publish how to be prepared for that important interview.


    * Make sure your general appearance is neat and clean.
    * Make sure your hair is neatly combed and you have shaved.
    * If you have a beard, make sure it is well kept.
    * If you wear makeup, keep it conservative.
    * Make sure you brush your teeth. The easiest way to cut an interview short is bad breath. Make sure an interviewer cannot smell your last meal or your last cigarette.
    * No alcohol. Without a doubt, you will be eliminated if interviewer smells alcohol on your breath.
    * Avoid excessive perfume, cologne or shaving lotion or strong body odor.
    * Keep any jewelry modest. Dangling sparkly earrings or a bulbous, shiny watch will distract the interviewer from what you are saying.


    * Be careful what you bring to an interview. A disorganized bag is the sign of a disorganized person. If you bring a bag or briefcase:
    * Make sure it is modestly sized and easily tucked away so you can focus on the interview.
    * Keep the contents simple: 2 Pens, a clean writing pad, trade periodical, extra copies of your résumé and references and NOTHING ELSE visible to the interviewer.
    * If you are bringing an overnight bag, overcoat or umbrella, store it in the reception area or an outer office. Perhaps, a receptionist will help guide you to a closet.

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Interview Preparation: Dress for Success Part 3

How to Dress for Success

Dressing for success requires understanding why your appearance matters and then using that information to best market yourself as a candidate.  As part 3 of our 4 part guide we will publish how to be prepared for that important interview.

How do I determine what is appropriate to wear?

If you have no idea what to wear to a particular interview, ask your friends or your employment placement counselor. If you are still unsure, do some pre-interview reconnoitering. Visit the company prior to your interview to see what the employees walking into the building are wearing. (This will also ensure that you know where the company is located and how long it will take you to get there). If all else fails, Ask a Global Expert.

What else matters concerning my appearance?

Dressing for success starts the morning of your interview and entails much more than donning a nice suit. Proper grooming and accessories are equally important for success.

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Interview Preparation: Dress For Success Part 2

How to Dress for Success

Dressing for success requires understanding why your appearance matters and then using that information to best market yourself as a candidate.  As part 2 of our 4 part guide we will publish how to be prepared for that important interview.

What should I wear to an interview?

Dress for the job you want and not the job you have. On one hand, do not dress too casually, and on the other, do not dress too formally for the interview. Also, be sure not to wear uncomfortable clothes or shoes, since discomfort often makes a person seem ill-at-ease.

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Interview Preparation: How to Dress for Success Part 1

How to Dress for Success

Dressing for success requires understanding why your appearance matters and then using that information to best market yourself as a candidate.  As part 1 of our 4 part guide we will publish how to be prepared for that important interview.

Why should it matter what I wear?

A common question asked by job candidates is: “My résumé and Gild Certifications speak for themselves, I am an engineer, not a fashion model – why does it matter what I wear to an interview?”

Like it or not, empirical studies show that interviewers make decisions about candidates quickly. While your Gild Certifications help interviewers to understand your job performance potential, the first subjective impression you make in-person often begins with how you look.

Professional and fastidious self-presentation matters because it will position you as a candidate that is:

    * Respectful of the interviewer
    * Interested in the job
    * Attentive to detail
    * Confident
    * Presentable to clients
    * Professional in demeanor and approach
    * Possessing high self-esteem

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Why the Cover Letter Matters Part 2

Why the Cover Letter Matters

The cover letter is your electronic look in the eye and handshake announcing you to a prospective employer, marketing you as the best candidate for the job.

Your cover letter must get the recruiter or hiring manager to be interested enough in you to read your résumé. Recruiters look over hundreds of cover letters each and this is no easy task. Now, let’s review the steps of writing a cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd.

How to Write the Best Traditional Cover Letter


When writing a conventional cover letter that you plan to mail to a company, your cover letter should follow basic business letter writing conventions. For professional letters we recommend using 11- or 12-point type set in a legible, professional-looking font such as Times New Roman.


Put your current contact information at the top of the letter, including your:

    * Full name
    * Mailing address
    * Telephone number – put a number that you control, and it is best to include a number that accepts voicemail that only you check. If you don’t have a telephone where you can consistently get messages, do not put your telephone number down. For example, if your forgetful 7 year-old sister is in charge of taking down all messages at your home – do not include a phone number.
    * Email address – if your email address is inappropriate (for example: get a new email address that you can use for professional purposes.

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Why the Cover Letter Matters Part 1

Why the Cover Letter Matters

The cover letter is your electronic look in the eye and handshake announcing you to a prospective employer, marketing you as the best candidate for the job.

Your cover letter must get the recruiter or hiring manager to be interested enough in you to read your résumé. Recruiters look over hundreds of cover letters each and this is no easy task. Now, let’s review the steps of writing a cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd.

How To Prepare to Write the Best Conventional Cover Letter


Company Needs

Research the company you are applying to by going to their website, looking at their profile or conducting a web search on the company name to understand exactly what the company is looking for.

Company Contacts

By addressing your cover letter to the specific decision-maker, it shows your attention to detail and interest in the position since you have taken the time to find out who’s hiring for the job opportunity. This means you should find out the contact information for the employer by:

    * Searching on the Internet for “XYZ High-Tech Corporation” and “HR manager”
    * Calling the company’s main telephone line and asking for the name of the person who is hiring for the position that interests you
    * Asking any friends who work for the company whom you should contact concerning the position

If you cannot find the appropriate contact, you should still send the cover letter to “Dear Hiring Manager.” However, this generic approach should be taken only as a last resort.


A good cover letter will require considerable time and effort to create and it must be tailored to the specific company and job opportunity. Remember, any job opening you find represents, in business terms, either a problem a company needs to solve or an opportunity they want to seize. Your cover letter must address why you are the person who will solve this problem and/or address this opportunity.

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How to Write Great Résumés Part 3

As a general rule, include your work experience of the last 10 years and avoid work period gaps whenever possible. Experience older than 10 years is usually too remote and outdated—especially given how fast and relentlessly IT and relevant skill sets constantly evolve.

Include any work experience you have had, whether you were paid for it or not. If you completed the work as an intern, volunteer, or teacher’s assistant, include that information if it is relevant to the job for which you are applying. To properly list your experience, you should include three components, your employer, your position, and the time period during which you held that position. For example:

IBM, Database Administrator, June 2001 – present

Database Administrator, IBM, June 2001 – present

If your job title was significantly more impressive than the employer’s name in the industry, list your title ahead of your employer’s name. If your company is as impressive as—or more impressive than—your title, lead with the company name.

If you held different positions within the same company, use the company as a heading and list your positions below. For example:

IBMSenior Database Administrator, June 1999-present
Database Administrator, June 1998-June 1999
Standing Out From the Crowd: Positioning Your Experience

As much as any other step in your job search, positioning is incredibly important when drafting and perfecting your résumé. As you learned in How to Stand Out From the Crowd, positioning yourself is a five-step process.

   1. Take the research you have done about the company for whom you’d like to work and use it to determine what the company needs from you.
   2. Take the research and contemplation you have done about yourself and identify the skills that you have that the company needs.
   3. By understanding both the company’s needs and the skills and traits you can offer, you can compare the two and determine how you, as a potential employee, can most help the company.
   4. Explain and demonstrate to the company’s representatives how your skills will benefit them by citing specific examples of how you’ve applied your skills in the past.
   5. Lastly, be sure to show the company how your soft-skills complement and compound your technical skills, making you an even more valuable potential employee.


A widely used and very good technique for positioning your skills and experience within a résumé is commonly referred to as PAR (Problem, Action and Results). Use the PAR approach when citing past work experiences and accomplishments to explain your value to your potential new employer. PAR statements, in essence, answer the following questions in the following order:

   1. Problem – What problem did I solve for my employer?
   2. Action – What action did I take to solve the problem for my employer?
   3. Results – What were the beneficial results of my action?

Consider using the PAR structure when detailing your prior employment experience. For example, a PAR statement on your résumé would read:

Reduced cost of purchased network systems by over $35,000 by finding and negotiating with alternative suppliers.

Implemented standardized configuration control standard to streamline helpdesk operation and increase calls handled per hour by over 23%.


Make sure your résumé highlights outstanding recognition you have received for past accomplishments. Such recognition and awards might include:

    * GILD Certifications
    * Customer recognition for an achievement
    * Co-worker recognition for an achievement
    * Manager recognition for an achievement
    * A promotion
    * A company award
    * A productivity bonus
    * Being selected to assume greater, special professional responsibilities

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Sunday 12 February 2012

How to Stand Out in a Phone Interview

More employers are using phone interviews as screening mechanisms to narrow down their applicant pool. These calls can range from short and perfunctory to long and in-depth, but either way, it's crucial to be prepared for them.

Here are 10 tips to help you become a phone interview ninja:
1. Ask ahead of time how much time to allot for the call.This can tell you what type of interview to expect. If you're told it'll take 10 to 15 minutes, it's just going to be a simple screening to check your basic match-up with the job. But if you're told to set aside 45 minutes or an hour, expect a much more thorough call where you might be asked about past accomplishments and where you might face behavioral interview questions.
2. Make sure you have somewhere quiet to talk where you won't be interrupted. This sounds obvious, but some candidates on phone interviews get interrupted by kids, barking dogs, coworkers at their current jobs, or other calls coming in. Not only does this come across as unprofessional and as if you're not taking the opportunity seriously, but it also will harm your ability to focus.

When to Talk About Salary

Bringing up salary too early with a potential employer might cost you the chance of landing the job. Wait too long and you might not get to negotiate. Let's look at when to talk about salary in two scenarios: working with a recruiter and working with the company hiring manager.
When Working with a Third-Party Recruiter
Discussing your salary expectations with a recruiter early in the your relations will help her present you with the most appropriate opportunities. Remember that a recruiter wants to make the opportunity work for her client and for you, so bluffing or withholding information about the salary makes the situation more complicated than it needs to be.
She will have a better idea of what a company is able to pay; if it doesn't meet your requirements, then either she'll approach you with opportunities that are better suited or if it's not that far off, she can assess the situation upfront and open the possibilities. And remember: if she specializes in your industry niche, she can give you insider information about what you can expect in your local market.

5 Questions to Ask on Your Next Interview

When it comes to job interview prep, much emphasis is put on having the right answers. But while you're struggling to come up with responses to queries on your biggest weakness and why you should be hired, don't forget to craft some smart questions, too.
You will be judged, after all, by what you ask (or fail to ask).
"Candidates should always have questions prepared to ask during the interview," says Tom Gimbel of the Chicago-based staffing firm The LaSalle Network. "A lack of questions demonstrates a disinterest in the position and lack of preparation for the interview."

Three Clues You’re About to Lose Your Job

The firing process is God awful. (No matter how gleefully Mitt Romney extolled its virtues on the campaign trail.) People hate to cause pain, so there's major stress involved with letting someone go for underperformance. Of course this doesn't even come close to the anguish of the person beingfired. Can't this whole process be avoided?
Both sides may wonder how it ever came to this. Managers question why people don't see the writing on the wall and voluntarily exit a company. Employees feel blindsided.
I was in this exact conversation last week with a coaching client, who had an employee on a serious development plan. My client's strong desire was that this person would self-select out rather than having to go through a messy termination process. However, there was no evidence that this was the case.

10 Ways to Ruin a Job Interview

You can have the perfect resume and a compelling cover letter and show up for the job interviewready to impress, but get ready to forgo the job offer if you make one of these stumbles.
1. Being late. Arriving late to a job interview is often an instant deal-breaker. Hiring managers assume that you're on your best behavior while interviewing, so if you're late, they'll assume you'll be unreliable once on the job. Always allow more time than you'll need to get to your interview, so that you have a buffer in case something goes wrong.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Top 10 Interview Questions – Recap

Question 1. Tell me about yourself.
“Tell me about yourself” is a very common question, but it is also the question which most candidates do not do well on. The challenge is because it is normally the first question asked, job candidates miss an important opportunity to make a great first impression.
The good news is with some preparation and a lot of practice, you make a phenomenal first impression by answering this question well.
First, what not to do:
  1. Do not recite your resume or academic transcript. The interviewer can read your resumé.
  2. Do not ramble an answer. Since this is a very common question, candidates are expected to have a good, concise answer. Being caught-off guard with this question without a good answer shows recruiters that a candidate did not prepare properly.
  3. Do not give a common, boring response. Excite me. Interest me. You’re talking about yourself, so take the opportunity and promote yourself as to why the recruiter should hire you.
So, with that in mind, what should you say? Here are some ideas and tips:
  1. Talk about your passions. Why did you chose the degree you did at university? Why did you chose this career path. Let me get to know you beyond the resume and academic transcript.
  2. Talk about your goals. Why are you here? What about you and your personality excites you about my company and this job?
  3. Pick one or two KEY things and achievements about your background–the things that best define you and put you in the best light–and tell me about it. Don’t take too long, and as I said earlier, don’t tell me everything in your background. Just pick the two things you want me to know about you. What accomplishments are you most proud of? What defines you as a person? What motivates you? What was your best experience so far? Tell me that. And remember, it doesn’t have to be exclusively on the professional front. Some of the best answers I have heard from job candidates is when there were telling me about being captain of a sports team or a community group they were involved in. The important thing to remember is that your examples should show why you are a special and unique person I need to hire.
  4. Share your dreams and ambitions. Tell me an interesting story.
  5. Since this is a very common question, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Write out some ideas of key stories from your background, and then practice telling your story in a concise and entertaining manner. I strongly recommend practicing this with friends and family, and get their honest and candid feedback on your response. Be sure to ask what you can do better. Then try again.
  6. Keep the answer to a couple of minutes.
  7. Watch the body language of the interviewer. Are they interested in what you are saying? Are they smiling and listening intently?
The most important thing about this question is to make the recruiter like you. By sharing an enthusiastic story, speaking with passion about your experiences and yourself, you will be highly likable and most importantly, memorable.
The good news is since most people give a boring summary of their resume, you really have the opportunity to stand-out by being different and telling a story which is interesting and exciting.

Potential answer:

At a young age, I had a passion for technology, so when it came to select a course of study at my university, computer science was a natural decision. I have enjoyed studying for the past four years, and now look forward to not only continuing this education but also delivering world class solutions for companies. Outside of work, I enjoy group activities such as football and music.

2. What are your Greatest Strengths?

In asking this question the interviewer is simply trying to figure out whether you can do the job and whether you will fit in at the company.
To answer this question, focus on how your technical skills solve a problem the company has and may possibly benefit the company.

Potential answer:

I am very good at supervising and managing the members of our team and being the liaison with management. My team had a major project due and we hit a snag; our client had not made some necessary adjustments so the data migration was going to be delayed by three weeks. I split the team in half to focus one half on the current project while the other half dealt with the data issue. Ultimately, it worked perfectly. I kept our management team in the loop every step of the way and we came in 5% under budget and on time – under some really tough circumstances.

3. What Are Your Weaknesses?

By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to (a) screen out people who confess to weaknesses that are unacceptable given the position and (b) see how you deal with an uncomfortable question.
Answer this question by minimizing your weakness and emphasizing your strengths and giving a weakness that is also a strength. Be honest, but do not be absurdly blunt. Focus on professional traits, not personal traits, because professional traits can be learned.

Potential answer:

  • I am always working on improving my communication skills to be a more effective presenter. I recently took a seminar at MIT on effective IT communication skills.
  • One of my weaknesses was to take on too many projects with too little time to complete to my high standards. I have learned to prioritize and set realistic goals. I am now more focused and productive professionally and personally.

4. Why Should We Hire You?

By asking this question the interviewer is trying to (a) see how prepared you are, (b) determine how you handle a problem, (c) see why you would help the company and (d) determine your real motivations for seeking employment.
To answer this question, relax, this is simply a chance for you to explain how your skills and abilities provide the employer with a benefit by giving examples.

Potential answer:

  • My research indicates you need someone with a help-desk background to reduce the call volume diverted to supervisor level employees. In my 4 years at ABC, I was able to reduce call volume by over 40%. I am confident while working with your team, we could significantly reduce call volume.
  • As we have discussed, your website is very static and needs new and creative approaches to compete in today’s market. To effectively compete, the site needs to be a database-backed site with dynamically generated content, like your competitor BGM, LLC. Working with you, I am confident we could do the same here to increase sales and drive more volume to our profit centers.

5. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

By asking this question the interviewer is (a) trying to determine that you have prepared and are not just interviewing because there is an available position and (b) trying to get a sense of the value you would add.
To answer this question, focus on how your experience allows you to solve a specific problem and give examples.

Potential answer:

I have always greatly admired ABC. After researching the company I came to admire it even more and understand that you are planning to expand into Europe and will need significant support here for the European team. Based on my experiences with XYZ in providing dedicated support for their European team, I am confident that I could bring new innovative solutions to help improve the performance and efficiency of the team. Exactly like the time I was responsible for integrating, rolling out and eventually supporting SDR4, XYZ’s own project management software.

6. What Are Your Goals?

By asking this question the interviewer is (a) giving you a chance to talk about your goals, (b) trying to see if you are a thoughtful, driven candidate and (c) trying to determine whether you fit within the organization.
To answer this question, again link your skills to the customers need and show how your goals benefit the company. Sometimes it is best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals rather than locking yourself into the distant future.

Potential answer:

  • I have been looking for a position that will allow me to use C++. My primary goal was to find a company using C++ like yours. I may have some learning to do, but I hope that in six months I will be the person people turn to for the right answers. Ultimately, I look forward to managing projects.
  • My short-term goal is to come work with the team and finish Project Unicorn by using my knowledge of C++ to add functionality just like I did when XYZ put out HyperTee 2.0. My intermediate goal is to continue to build responsibility and move into a more senior position. Ultimately, I’d like to use my technical skills and leadership ability to manage a team that is building new and creative solutions that hit our bottom line.

7. Why Did You Leave (or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

By asking this question the interviewer is trying to (a) see if you will fit in, (b) see whether you will stay at the company for a suitable period of time, (c) determine if you are worth the company’s investment and (d) find out if there is anything wrong with you.
To answer this question, deal with the interviewer’s needs and state your reasons for leaving in a positive context.

Potential answer:

If you were laid off, show you were just one of many.
I joined the company because it was a startup and I would get a lot of opportunities to take on more responsibility quickly. Unfortunately, the rapid shift in the economy left us under-capitalized to properly market what ultimately will be a great product. Ultimately, for the survival of the company, management needed to reduce costs by eliminating the support team of which I was a key member.
If you were fired, show that you had a different approach than management.
I am a firm believer that all customers deserve the highest possible customer service experience even if it means being on the phone a little longer than my colleagues. My clients do not need to call back, because I take the extra time to resolve all their problems in one call. At times, going this extra mile affects my call times and the number of calls handled.
If you are a recent college graduate, show that you will fit in and that you are trainable.
  • My education has provided me with valuable job skills, but more importantly, it has equipped me with the foundation to learn skills quickly throughout my career. By learning a base set of programming languages, I now know how to pick up any new language rapidly. The best part of my education? It expanded my mind and opened me up to new ways of thinking.
  • By working in teams over the term of certain classes, I learned what makes teams tick and how to provide effective feedback that other members of the team can use.”
If you are simply switching companies, show that you will fit in, stick around and are worth the investment. For example:
Having originally joined XYZ out of college I realized that I would not have the opportunity to work in activities that hit their bottom line. I am now looking to work with you to use my buying and negotiating skills to cut costs within the IT department.

8. What do you like most about your job?

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to know (a) what motivates you and (b) about your work values.
To answer this question, stress the values held by the employer and focus on performance and getting the job done. Try to use examples.

Potential answer:

  • I was very satisfied in my last job, because I worked directly with the programmers and solving their problems; that is an important part of the job for me.
  • I enjoy working with a team of competent, energetic and innovative professionals to develop and implement exciting projects. In the past year, I worked closely with one of our best project managers and learned a great deal about decision-making and implementing solutions on a tight deadline. I am looking forward to working in a similar environment that encourages team effort and initiative. Really though, most of all, I enjoy seeing the results of our efforts translated into satisfied customers and new projects.

9. What makes you unique?

By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to get at the core of why they should hire you over the other candidates – some of whom may look remarkably similar to you. Be prepared to take this key opportunity to emphasize why you are different.
Focus on your skills, abilities, qualifications and experiences that may be unique compared to the rest of your competition.

Potential answer:

If I look carefully at my experience at ABC, I know there is one thing that really stands out, I not only write code in a variety of different languages but I can communicate in a very clear and concise manner to management why changing code could contribute to the bottom line of the business. My ability to put complex technical requirements into plain English for non-technical members of the team allowed our team to outperform every single team at ABC.

10. Why are you looking for a new job?

In asking this question the interviewer is trying to determine whether you can do the job.
To answer this question, avoid blaming other people or circumstances and focus on your ability to bring skills relevant to a company problem and demonstrate these skills by providing a specific example.

Potential answer:

I love a challenge. I am looking for a position where I get a chance to put my skills to the test on a daily basis.

How to Write Great Resumes Part 2

How to Build an IT Résumé

Remember the hard work you put in at school studying, at work building a solid reputation and a valuable set of skills? If you want it to pay dividends and get you the right job, you need to convincingly tell your story in an attention-grabbing résumé.


A standard IT résumé will consist of the following sections:
  • Header
  • Objective statement or summary of qualifications
  • Education
  • Certification
  • Technical Skills
  • Experience

The Header

Your résumé header should include:
  • Your name in bold type at least 2 points larger than type througout the rest of the document
  • Your mailing address including city, province/state and postal code
  • Telephone number – use a number that is used and “controlled” by you, exclusively, and that accepts voicemail that only you check. If you do not have a telephone where people can leave you messages which you can consistently retrieve, do include your telephone number. For example, if your forgetful 7-year-old sister is in charge of taking down all messages at your home – do not include that number. If you include a phone number, be sure to check your voicemail frequently. We recommend using a single telephone number so any and all voicemail messages are consolidated in a single location.
  • Email address – if your email address is silly, inappropriate or unprofessional (for example get a new email address that you can use for professional purposes. An address based on a combination of your first and last name, possibly using punctuation such as underscores or hyphens to divide them, will seem both professional and customized to your identity.

Objective/Summary of Qualifications

Your résumé’s Objective Statement will be one of the first things an employer reads. Therefore, it presents your first and best chance to grab their attention, announcing to them that you are the best candidate for the job and that you bring solutions to current company challenges.
Do not fall into the traditional trap of telling the HR Recruiter that you would like:
“To obtain a position as a systems administrator that utilizes my experience and knowledge of administering optimized secure LANs.”
Instead use this objective statement to market yourself and convey a powerful message about what you offer, while stating the position for which you are applying. To write a powerful objective statement:
  • Avoid clichés such as “I am a hard worker.”
  • Be aggressive and creative, but do not lie. You must be honest and not overstate your abilities. If you do, you could end up in the wrong role and seriously damage your credibility. Portray your knowledge and abilities accurately—but confidently.
  • Include personal characteristics using key words that convey your soft-skills and personality traits, such as, for example: approachable, self-motivated, team player, team leader, personable, outgoing, leader, effective communicator, customer service skills, receptive, strong soft skills, motivator, positive influence, sales and marketing, professional. There are many, many more similarly powerful descriptors you can and should use. Find the ones that best encompass your greatest strengths.
  • Keep your objective short and concise.
  • If possible, highlight your key skills and traits identical to those listed in the company’s job description. Try, however, to rephrase and use enough synonyms to suggest you are not simply mimicking their statement of job requirements.
  • Use adjectives, terminology and phrases important to IT employers.
  • Do not try to be modest—writing your résumé is a rare chance to sing your own praises without seeming conceited.
  • Describe your relevant past experiences—work, volunteer, and extracurricular—in terms of duration, scope, responsibilities, accomplishments, and recognition.
  • Emphasize your soft-skills—especially if your professional work experience is somewhat thin.
Experienced candidates often find that an objective statement no longer than five or so lines works best. In it, one should attempt to accomplish many or all of the following:
  • Summarize your experience most closely related related to your job objective.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the key components of the position – i.e. customer service, vendor management or team leadership.
  • Detail your skills which will enable you to effectively do the job – i.e. attention to detail, creative thinking, problem solving, etc.
  • Provide any educational background that complements your relevant professional experience.
  • Touch upon personal characteristics that contribute to making you a good choice for the position, i.e. self-motivated, creative, dedicated, proactive, works under pressure, etc.
Your objective statement can be formatted as either a paragraph or a list.
Because of the high volume of résumés that result from most every job posting, it is always a good idea to let the HR Recruiter know explicitly which open position for which you are applying. You can highlight the position title in the first instance where it appears in your objective statement by using a bold face font. For a great example, please refer to the Sample Experienced Résumé.


When detailing your education, the key elements are: your college or university name, the official title of the degree you earned, your graduation year and, if it is impressive, your grade point average (GPA).


Prestigious College
If you attended a prestigious college, list the name of the college first, then the degree, then the graduation year, then your GPA.
Cornell University, B.S. Computer Science, 2003 3.66/4.00 GPA

Normal or Non-Prestigious College
If you did not happen to attend a prestigious school, do not worry, list your degree, then the name of the school, then the graduation year, then your GPA. For example:
B.S. Computer Science, University of Phoenix, 2002 3.66 GPA
Typically include your degree and any relevant concentration. List any graduate degrees prior to any undergraduate degree.
If you attended college, but did not receive a degree from that school, note your studies relevant to the position for which you’re applying. For example:
Web Design and Programming, Cornell University 1999-2000
Whether to include your GPA on your résumé depends on how high/impressive it is and what in what country you hoping to work. In the U.S. you will want to include your GPA if it was 3.5 or above. In India, include your GPA if it is 7 or above. If you are unsure, ask a college placement officer. If you graduated more than 3 years ago, you may omit your GPA unless it was very impressive—the more time that has passed and the more professional work experience you have acquired, the less relevant your GPA will become.
Certifications should be listed separately within the educational experience section of your résumé.  Remember, when listing certifications use the correct abbreviations. Many résumé-scanning programs will only register strictly correct abbreviations. If you want or need to fill space, feel free to write out the certification, completely and unabbreviated, followed by the correct abbreviation in parentheses.
Additional Course and Training
This is a good area of the résumé to point out your skills in other areas that make you more attractive as a candidate and help you stand out from the crowd.
CompTIA A+ Certification, Microsoft MCSE
Additional Courses and Training:
Exchange 2000 Server: Server Administration


After the summary section, the most relevant and important section of your résumé from the perspective of an HR Recruiter is the skills section. This should be incredibly detailed, concise and well organized.
Divide the section into subcategories so the reader can quickly scan through your knowledge of programs and applications. Possible categories include: hardware, software, operating systems, networking, office productivity, programming/languages, web applications and database applications. You should only list programs/applications that you could confidently discuss in an interview. Correctly formatted, a skills section would resemble the following:
Programming: HTML, Visual Basic 5, C++, Java, Java Script, ASP
Networking: Windows 2000/NT, Linux, FTP
Applications: SQL Server 7.0, Goldmine 4.0, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Writer, Corel WordPerfect
Design: Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft FrontPage.

How to Write Great Resumes Part 1

Your résumé is one of the best tools to assist you in getting the interviews that can lead to your best career opportunities. In this section, you will learn what it will take for you to create the best possible résumé to highlight and convey what you offer potential employers.

Research, Research, Research!

By this stage in your job search, you have no doubt noticed a pattern to the steps necessary to achieving success. Like every other major endeavor you will undertake as you pursue a great job with a great company, the creation and refinement of your résumé begins with crucial preparation in the form of research.


To ensure that your résumé will set you apart from other candidates, you will need to tailor it to the specific company for whom you’d like to work. To do this, must be very familiar with each company you are applying to and understand for what they are looking.
Allow yourself ample time for this stage of the process—it can be time-intensive. The more time and effort you expend at the beginning of your job search, the more likely you will be to get an interview and ultimately, the more successful you will be in winning—then working in—your new position. By the time you’re hired, you will be amazed by how much you know about your industry and the companies driving it. In the long run, this knowledge will contribute to your professional growth. Here are some tips from our experts on how to research companies:


Research your selected potential employers and their industries until you can answer the following questions for each company with confidence and certainty:
  • What does the company do, make or offer the world?
  • Who is the typical customer of this company?
  • Who are the three leading companies in this company’s industry?
  • What are the similarities and differences between this company and its competitors?
  • How does the company match up against its competitors?
  • What key strategic and operational issues does the company face?
  • What does this company need to do to address those key issues?
  • Is this company growing or shrinking, focusing or diversifying?
  • How many employees does it have?
  • How many key locations/offices/facilities does it have?
  • Who are its major partners?
  • What differentiates this company from others?
  • Who is the management of this company?
  • Is management close to retiring?
  • What is the company’s reputation?
  • What kind of management structure does the company have?
  • What sorts of employees does it hire?
  • What is its corporate culture like?
  • What are its greatest accomplishments?
  • What are its greatest failures?
  • What is its financial condition?
  • What new things are the company pursuing? New products? New Services?


  • Why did the person who previously held the position leave? Where did they go?
  • What is the detailed job description?
  • To whom does the position report?
  • What is important to know about the position?
  • What information should you bring to your interview for this position?

Resources for Researching Companies and Positions

There is a wealth of information out there that will allow you to research companies and gather the information you need to succeed. To get started:


  • Examine the company’s profile.
  • Look at trade journals that mention the company.
  • Review the company’s website(s) – especially employee message boards.
  • Browse relevant trade group sites.
  • Talk with people you know who work, or have worked, at the company.
  • Read any business articles you can find written about the company.
  • If it’s a publicly traded company, examine its investor information. An annual report, for instance, will provide you with a wealth of information.
  • Go to job fairs to learn about the company.
  • Attend any expos, conferences, training sessions, seminars and trade briefings that the company may conduct.
  • Go to your university career center and read as much as you can about the company.
  • Ask your professors and your placement officers, and other people you respect, about companies.


Typically, there is not as much information available on specific job positions as on entire companies. To uncover the relevant information, you just may need to get creative. Some good ways to start are to:
  • Call the company and ask.
  • Ask your third-party recruiter, if you are working with one, get you the information.
  • Look at the company’s employee message board.
  • Have a friend or acquaintance who works at the company supply the information to you.
  • Review the job description on the Internet.

Understanding You Have Skills IT Employers Need

Before even considering approaching potential employers, you must first strive to understand your skills. Set aside some time—approximately two or three hours—to sit down and simply consider yourself. to begin, ask yourself the following questions and record your responses.


Technical Skills
Assess all of your technical skills including hardware, operating systems, network operating systems, networking, web development, web design, development, database development, database administration, telecom, applications, engineering, systems analysis, quality assurance, helpdesk and any other relevant technical skills.
Management Skills
Assess all of your management skills.
“Soft Skills”
Soft skills consist of your communication and other non-technical skills, including: your ability to communicate with people such as other members of your team, customers and management. These are skills that can set you apart from the crowd. Examples of soft skills are:
Written Communication skills
Your ability to clearly communicate your thoughts in written documents such as an email, letter, project proposal, progress report or application documentation.
Verbal Communication skills
Your ability to clearly communicate thoughts in conversations with people such as your supervisor, a customer or team member, and to groups of people.
Project management skills
Your ability to define, plan, organize, control and execute a range of complex interrelated tasks.
Presentation skills
Your ability to communicate a concept, speech or proposal clearly and succinctly to an audience.
Sales skills
Your ability to sell and convince others, whether it concerns an idea you have, your suitability for your next position, pitching an internal project, or selling to a client.
Meeting skills
Your ability to manage and facilitate orderly and efficient group interactions.
Leadership skills
Your ability to drive a project and team forward, by reaching consensus up and down the corporate hierarchy, directing the project managers, and properly allocating resources.
Problem solving skills
Your ability to efficiently and powerfully analyze and resolve problems and challenges.
Customer service skills
Your ability to meet the needs of customers in a way that creates or increases their loyalty to your company.
Self-direction skills
Your ability to take responsibility for a task and accomplish it in an efficient and logical way, requiring minimal leadership from your superiors.
Teamwork skills
Your ability to build a team and perform effectively as a team player while completing tasks and projects.
Your ability to manage a group and mentor others.
Foreign Language
Your ability to speak or write in other languages is very valuable in the increasing global field of IT.
Vendor Management skills
Your ability to deal with and handle vendors from a cost and direction perspective.
Marketing skills
Your ability to think creatively about how to position products
Product Development skills
Your ability to direct the creation of new products and services, and to develop new applications for existing ones.
Financial/Business Modeling skills
Your ability to look at a business as a whole from a financial and a business perspective and to use your understanding to predict the impact of different alternative strategies and tactics.


The exercise requires you to write a list of every position you have held at every company at which you’ve worked, including the title and dates of each. Next, summarize your primary responsibilities and accomplishments for each position.
If you cannot remember the details of your work history, conduct some research; look at old pay records, old job offer letters, even call former employers’ human resources offices.
Finally, review this newly minted Work History document with the stated requirements of the job position(s) for which you will applying. Look at each past job position, making notes on or highlighting the skills and requirements of each which best show you would be an excellent hire for the new position(s) which you will soon be pursuing.

Standing Out From the Crowd

Just like writing great code, writing a great résumé is as much an art as it is a science. A great IT résumé needs to do four things:
  1. It needs to get you noticed by the right company with the right opportunity for you.
  2. It needs to properly market you to that company.
  3. It needs to clear the screening process of the HR Recruiter, so you can receive the serious and deliberative consideration of the Hiring Manager.
  4. It needs to help you to get you an interview.


To get noticed and standout from the crowd, you need to follow two simple rules when preparing your résumé:
  • Believe in yourself and your abilities. Be confident! You will never get noticed unless you recognize your confidence, competitive nature and self-assuredness and let it show in the way you discuss youself, your skills, and your experience in writing. Having prepared your Skills and Experience Work History notes, you should be confident that you have skills and experience any company would be lucky to get.
  • Work to shape and manage your public image. Temporarily suppress your sense of modesty. Do not undersell yourself. Do not be ashamed or nervous about exhibiting a little pride. This can be counter-instinctual, but you can learn how to self-market.
It is important to remember and follow these two rules as you prepare your résumé.

How to Accept a Job Offer

Once you have an offer, you need to evaluate the position and the package you have negotiated and decide if it is the right fit for you. You may even have more than one offer you need to chose between.

Analyze the Offer

Your first task is to determine if the offer is the right one for you. To do this, you need to understand your needs and ambitions. Before analyzing a job offer, we strongly recommend your review your:
  • Skill set
  • Financial goals & needs
  • Short-term career goals
  • Long-term career goals
Once you have a firm understanding of your needs and goals, we recommend analyzing the job offer in four steps:
  1. First, analyze the company and the job offer to ensure it matches your personal goals:
    • Will you have to make sacrifices in terms of family commitments at the new job?
    • Will you have to travel for the new job?
    • Will you have to move for the new job?
    • Are you willing to work the hours required by the company?
    • Do you think you will like working with the people you met?
    • Will the culture and work environment bring out the best in you?
    • Will you enjoy going to work every day?
  2. Next, analyze the job offer and ensure it matches your career goals:
    • Does the job match up with your career goals?
    • Does the job seem challenging and interesting to you?
    • Does the job offer training that will help you to grow?
    • Does the position offer the opportunity of advancement?
  3. Finally, analyze if the company itself matches your career goals:
    • Does the company size and culture mesh with your career goals?
    • Does the company foster teamwork? Does this matter to you??
    • Does the company invest in developing its staff?

Make a Decision

Once you have analyzed all of this information, it is time to make your decision.
We recommend talking the job offer over with family and trusted friends to get their perspective. It is always helpful to have a fresh set of eyes review your opportunity and provide their perspective. But remember, you are the one who ultimately must do the job each and every day, so while it is important to listen to different perspectives, be sure to make the decision you make is yours alone.

Formally Accepting the Offer

Once you have decided to accept the offer, place a call or write an email or letter indicating your acceptance. In many cases, emailing your acceptance is more than suitable, but following it up with a mailed letter is a nice touch and it ensures the company received your notice of acceptance. But as always, if the company directs you on how to accept the offer, be sure to follow the instructions precisely.
If the company provided you with forms to complete and sign, by sure to do this promptly.
One final idea we recommend when appropriate: email the people you interviewed with and let them know you have accepted the job offer and are excited to begin working together.

Choosing Between Multiple Job Offers

Choosing between multiple job offers can be difficult and stressful. It is hard to turn away an opportunity.
At GILD, we recommend building a “decision matrix” which allows you to clarify how you want to make this choice so you can objectively compare the options. A decision matrix is very simply to build. Draw a table, and down the rows write the things that are important to you. Next, draw a column labeled “Priority.” In this column you should rank the list of items in order of importance. Finally, draw a column for each company. You are now ready to fill-out your decision matrix.

Golden Rules of Successful Interviewing

The following is a summary of the most important things to keep in mind while preparing for a job interview. Know them well and execute them competently and you will represent your strengths and potential as well as possible.

Do Your Research

This point cannot be overemphasized. Take time to research and deeply understand yourself and your skills, strengths and job preferences, the company for whom you would like to work, the industry in which that company competes, and, if possible, the people who will interview you. There are many excellent sources for such information; they include: industry periodicals and associations, general news media, online blogs, internet searches, online chat boards, job fairs, and casual conversation with current and former employees.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

The more you prepare for your interview, the more self-assured, competent, and well-prepared you will be.
Compose the questions you wish to ask, rehearse responses to questions you expect the interviewer to ask of you, and plan and prepare your interview outfit well in advance.
Don’t let the first time you answer a question – especially predictable questions – be in a live interview. Using the information found in PAC Career Coach, practice your responses to common questions by enlisting the help of a friend and conducting a mock or practice interview. Have your friend impersonate an interviewer, then switch roles so you can understand what the process feels like from the other person’s chair. It is very likely you will hear themes and often specific questions repeated within your practice interview. The more you hear and respond to those questions, the easier it will be to do so directly, concisely, and without hesitation once you begin the real job interview.

Be Organized

Know the exact time and location of the interview and how you will get there. Bring a nice folder or briefcase containing extra copies of your résumé and your list of references, a notepad, and multiple pens. Turn off your mobile phone prior to entering the building.

Dress Appropriately

Always dress in a conservative and sharp manner. Some interviewees underestimate the importance of a professional appearance, only to suffer as a result of their lax attention to detail. Prepare your clothes well before the interview to make sure they are clean and unwrinkled.

Arrive Early

Always arrive at the location of your interview ten minutes early. Allow plenty of extra time to accommodate any unexpected delays you may encounter on your way to the interview location. If you arrive more than ten minutes ahead of schedule, simply find a place nearby where you can relax and wait, possibly going over any last minute reviews or preparations. Also, it is best to think of the interview as starting the moment you leave your home. Treat everyone you encounter with the utmost respect and courtesy.

Be Confident and Passionate

Confidence comes from being prepared and from believing in your ability to bring value and competence to the job for which you are interviewing. You are selling yourself as the ideal candidate for the job and if you are not truly confident about yourself, you cannot expect the interviewer to be.
Being passionate is equally important. You must be passionate about accomplishing difficult things, about the company with whom you are interviewing, their industry, and the job position. People hire enthusiastic, qualified candidates. Show your confidence from the instant the interview starts with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. In your conversation with your interviewer, demonstrate your passion for your chosen profession, for working with others to solve interesting challenges, and for contributing to the success of the organization for which you work.


Always be sure to understand exactly what is being asked in the question, and try to understand what motivation or curiosity may be behind the question—what information about you the interviewer is attempting to discover. Sophisticated interviewers will rarely ask a direct question, especially if they anticipate a generic answer. You will be the one talking for the majority of the interview, as you respond to questions, so be careful to not talk over the interviewer, to let that person fully express themselves before beginning to respond. Also, remember that another way you can demonstrate your intelligence, familiarity with the business, and your priorities and values is in the questions you ask of the company representative.

Clear, Concise Answers Show Clear, Concise Thinking

During an interview, job candidates are commonly nervous. When nervous, job candidates can sometimes ramble on, fail to answer questions directly, or even forget or confuse the question they are answering.
A good answer usually has two parts: first, concisely answer the question in summary form. Then provide an example or how you arrived at or can justify the answer. Just be sure to remember that it is within the second part of the answer – when telling a story or giving an explanation – that candidates tend to go on tangents and/or lose focus, so be detailed with that part of your response, but not digressive.
As a general rule, answers should be about 60 seconds in length, and rarely go over 2 minutes. Of course, though, there will be valid exceptions to this rule. Paying attention to the body language of the interviewer—if they look distracted or impatient during one of your longer responses—you should take that as a signal to conclude that response reasonably quickly.

Provide Specific Examples

Professional interviewers believe the best predictor of future behavior is how a candidate has behaved in the past. Accordingly, prove your point or highlight your achievements by offering relevant, factually concise anecdotes of how you have addressed specific challenges in the past when discussing your approach to performing your job duties. And remember, it is usually within such examples that you can best give the interviewer a tangible sense of who you are and just how excited you are about working hard and solving problems. The more enthusiasm with which you relate stories of past accomplishments, the more excited your interviewer will probably be about the idea of adding you to their team.

Ask Insightful Questions

Asking great questions starts with great preparation. Be sure to have a list of questions before the interview, and try to ask some questions that reference or clarify or build on things the interviewer has told you. Also, it is often a good idea to ask a question or two that requires the interviewer to give their opinion, such as, “What do you like about working here?”

Follow-Up Promptly

Be sure to get the business card of every individual who interviews you, and follow-up with a thank-you email message or written note or letter to be sent no later than twenty-four hours after the interview. In your interview, be sure to reiterate why you want the job and why you believe yourself to be most qualified.

Sending A Thank You Note After The Interview

Sending a thank you note, either email or letter, after the interview can be the key to landing the job.  The thank you note allows you to better enhance your interactions you had with the interviewer and also displays your professionalism and interest in the job.

The thank you note is only effective if it is delivered in time to impact the hiring managers decision.  For that reason, the interviewer(s) must receive your thank you note within 24 hours after the job interview.

The most effective method is sending a thank you note via email.  Usually before you begin an interview, you will get a copy of the interview’s busniess card, and his or her email address will most likely be on the card.  Do not send the thank you note as an attachment, instead, write the thank you note in the body of the email.  Most people avoid opening attachments, so your thank you note may not get read.

An example of a sample Thank You Email

If you don’t readily have access to a computer, you can hand write a letter and drop it off in person.  Be sure to put your letter in an envelop and address it to the interviewer(s).  You will most likely end up giving the letter to the receptionist, so be polite and ask if he or she can pass the letter along in a timely manner.

An example of a sample Thank You Letter

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