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The Monkey – Flexibility In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 17, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

BranchFlexibility. Flexible Schedule. Flex-Time. What does that mean? Why does it matter?

Well, if you are a monkey swinging from tree to tree in the jungle, flexibility is key. You need to be flexible in order to grab the next branch to continue on your way and you need the branch to be flexible enough to hold your weight or it will snap.

In the workplace, or during an interview, flexibility is a far different thing. 14 years ago, when I first started in recruiting, I had never heard the term “flexibility” or “flexible hours” or “flexible work schedule” come up in conversation. I did hear candidates ask about the ability to leave work early if there was an emergency such as when a child was sick or the ability to work from home during a snow day.

Today, people think that they are entitled to work when they want, where they want, and how they want. They disguise this entitlement by using the term “flexible schedule” which sounds innocent enough, but is a loaded term. If the employer is not able to meet their demands, then that employer is “inflexible” and the company is potentially labeled as a bad place to work.

This week, I had a candidate who asked the client during the interview if she could work a “flexible schedule”. This question was asked during the first 5 minutes of her interview. The client was quite surprised by her question and asked for clarification. With a straight face, the candidate said, “I need to leave by 3pm each day.” The client was shocked. The client later related to me that she would not have minded a discussion on work hours later in the interview process to address any special needs that the candidate may have, but the timing and the severity of the restriction on time from their core business hours instantly put the candidate in an unfavorable light in her eyes.

Work is just that, work. You are not doing the company a favor by working there. You are applying to a position to gain employment to earn a living. You are offering your expertise to solve a business issue or need for the company. They do not owe you anything. It’s work for pay.

The appropriate time to discuss any special needs that you may have is not in the first 5 minutes of your first interview. The best time to approach the topic of “flexibility” is during the salary negotiation phase of the hiring process. Even then, you need to have realistic expectations and stay flexible yourself. If a company has core hours, see if there are alternative solutions you can explore before asking your employer or potential employer to change their policy to accommodate your needs. See if you can carpool to use HOV lanes or if a neighbor can watch your children for an hour after school so that you do not need to leave early. When all else fails, then approach your employer. Remember that you also earn trust over time with an employer. Often, flexibility is given to trusted employees after they have proven themselves in their current role. You should not expect to be given the same consideration right away when starting a new job as employees who have been with the company for a long time.

Flexibility is a 2-way street. Consider your request for “flexibility” before you ask for it, or you just might find yourself falling from that branch that you were so sure could hold you.

This guest post was contributed by Jake Hanson of the Merito Group.

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The Beasts – How To Crack An Interview In One Of The Giants In The Industry

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 5, 2016 in Interviewing Skills

EagleGetting an interview call is one thing and being successful is another thing. Everyone who has appeared for an interview knows this. It is a dream come true for anyone who successfully cracks an interview in one of the giants in the industry and start a career in Microsoft, Google, etc. We can always compare the competition involved in getting a job to that of the ways of the jungle. You need to be a powerful or a cunning one according to the situation and pounce on the prey (read job opportunity) at the right time.

Here this article will provide a view on how an interviewee can behave like a beast of the jungle to prey on a job opportunity with success. Are you going to be an opportunist or force your way to the job? Let us look at some of the ways how you can achieve it:

Be a juggernaut like a rhino

When it comes to interviews you will need to just focus on a certain goal and move rapidly towards it. In other words you need to be a juggernaut and sweep away all other candidates with your expertise. You cannot be viewed as a weak one when interviewing for one of the biggest companies in the world. They are going to grill you with some of the toughest answers that you will come across. So you need to move forward fast and without backing down.

Roar like a lion

Interviewers are going to intimidate you with some of the toughest problems and you need to let them know that you are the best suited candidate for the job. Just as the roar of a lion is distinguishable from the rest, which makes it king of the jungle, you will need to voice your skills loud enough (metaphorically) to let the interviewer know that you can do the job perfectly. Let them know that you are going to be majestic in your field.

Be cunning like a fox

Sometimes force simply does not work; you need to be careful, cunning and dodgy like the fox. If you are asked questions that seem complex, think before answering and be clever (innovative), which will give you an edge over the other candidates. Remember sometimes you will even need to dodge an answer if you are not too sure and this requires skills which you can acquire by preparing well for the interviews. Check out the type of questions that have been asked in the past and prepare accordingly.

Swoop on an opportunity like an eagle

Sometimes you will be given a hint or a glimpse that the job is yours for the taking but the interviewer is expecting more from you. In such cases you should know when to make the swoop and let him know why you are the best person for the job with clear reasons and how you are going to be successful. Good candidates know when to make the kill for the job. In simple they know when to give the right answer and how it will count.

Move fast like a cheetah

In a modern workplace, the candidates need to be fast-paced and easily adapt to the situations around them. You will also have to be a fast-learner as the competition is rising and professionals have to keep abreast of the latest technologies. These are things that the interviewer also look for in a candidate while offering them the job.

Overall you will need to be a powerful beast of a candidate to force your way into the job, when you are interviewing for a position in one of the best companies in the industry

This Guest Post was contributed by Hasib. Hasib is a professional writer working with one of the top job sites in India. He often writes articles related to interview preparations and also helps professionals in making their career decisions. He is an avid reader and passionate about the beautiful game of football. Reach him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Big Cats – Pouncing on a Career in Criminal Justice

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 30, 2011 in Career Path, Job Search

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Criminal justice is currently one of the hottest fields in the career jungle. Prowling the tracks of a criminal or flashing by in a high-speed chase may sound like a job for a big cat, but you just might have the skills to pounce on a job in this exciting field! Here are a few of the hottest jobs in criminal justice available to you.

Cheetah – Patrol Officer

Whether a police officer, sheriff deputy, or state trooper, a patrol officer is highly skilled at chasing down criminals. Just as the cheetah is known for being the fastest land animal, patrol officers are recognized for their commitment to keeping communities safe. As a result, patrol officers have the most visible careers in criminal justice. But don’t get caught speeding with one behind you!

Median Salary: $60,800

Tiger – Detective/Criminal Investigator

A tiger’s stripes help him to blend into his surroundings as he prowls along the earth, searching for prey. Similarly, detectives often conduct investigations in civilian clothes to perform secret surveillance on their prime suspects. Detectives usually specialize in a specific area of crime, such as burglary, domestic violence, battery, or homicide. It may not be the glamorous job you’ve seen on CSI or Law & Order, but it will certainly be a rewarding career.

Median Salary: $64,900

Lion – Paralegal

Lions are the only big cats that often hunt in groups – although to be more precise, the lionesses do most of the work. They hunt in a coordinated group to circle a herd, then to take down a chosen victim which they bring back to the lion of their pride. Paralegals are the hunters for attorneys – although this isn’t to say that attorneys don’t do any work! Paralegals work alongside attorneys to research and prepare for a case by readying legal documents, investigating claims, and helping to decide how the attorney should proceed with the case. While they cannot argue a case in the courtroom, paralegals are just as valuable to the law firm as the attorney.

Median Salary: $51,900

Cougar – Corrections/Probation Officer

Cougars pursue a wide variety of prey, including deer, elk, moose, cattle, horses, sheep, and even insects and rodents. Corrections officers must be versatile too -they supervise all sorts of people in detention facilities, including both those arrested and awaiting trial and those convicted of various crimes. As a result, it is essential that they keep order in the facility. Probation officers have a similar function in supervising individuals recently released from prison who are on parole.

Median Salary: $55,800

Leopard – Forensic Psychologist

The leopard is known as the smartest of the big cats. An opportunistic hunter, he will silently stalk his prey and then pounce at the last second. Likewise, forensic psychologists are some of the sharpest in their league. They analyze an offender’s behavior in order to determine the individual’s mental state and level of competency at the time of the crime. They combine psychology with criminal justice by examining the various psychological perspectives associated with a crime.

Median Salary: $50,700

All median salaries taken from

This guest post is contributed by Chris Jacobson. He runs a Criminal Justice Degree site and writes about various topics related to Criminal Justice. Criminal Justice Degree.
If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Breeze – Cool Summer Job Tips For Students

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 22, 2010 in Career Path, Self Improvement

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No one wants their kids to grow up too quickly. We can never have time back from when we were younger, but let’s face it; our kids ARE growing up more quickly. They are more technologically savvy, they have larger vocabularies and many have traveled the world before they even leave high school breezing through a more connected world.

The generations that have wanted to make their kids lives easier have succeeded. But this is actually making job searches tougher for these young people as competition for entry level jobs has dramatically increased.

Consider these tips for high school and college students-

High school summer jobs introduce us to a hard day’s work. That’s how you make money- you go to work, do a good job, and they pay you. High school is a great time for fun summer jobs where extra help is needed like camp counselors, lifeguarding, babysitting, caddying, amusement park work, landscaping, pet sitting, waiting tables, or catering.

As the college students arrive home this summer, our inclination is to let them cool off and have a break from their studies and enjoy their “free” summers (before they have to work full time.) Unfortunately, they will be at a huge disadvantage if they haven’t had a college sponsored internship or some other position giving them the chance to try out professional work before they have to work full time.

It’s easy for college students to revisit their old high school summer jobs for some extra cash, but 3 or 4 summers later, those skills aren’t going to be the ones employers are seeking. Sure, they will have shown dependability by being on time and they’ll have learned to be individually accountable for their actions, but unless they have assumed responsibility for managing, scheduling, preparing correspondence for the company, and doing some basic bookkeeping or payroll using Microsoft office including word and excel, it’s possible the skills they’re building won’t be suitable for a professional entry level job after graduation. College students should have one or two internships under their belt or in the bag by their sophomore and junior years.

Many colleges have companies that solicit interns for formalized programs. Motorola, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ebay, Microsoft and many other large corporations have formalized internship programs. If your student is interested in pursuing that type of work you can research the company websites and call human resources for information on the educational requirements for admission. These programs are very competitive but often yield job offers for participants.

Remember, over 80% of employers are small businesses. Ask the merchants you patronize as well as people you know personally if your student could interview for a 6 or 8 week assignment while they are home from college. Your local business journal or chamber of commerce are great resources to use when researching small businesses in your area.

Support your students by planning your summer vacations so they can work a meaningful 6 or 8 week program. Help them prepare their resume but show them how to research information to follow up on themselves and set up their own interviews. If they are juniors or seniors you could enlist a few sessions with an executive coach to help them hone their interview skills before sending them out to apply.

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The Ocean – Jumping In

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In the summer months, the centers of continents heat up, drawing moist air from the cooler ocean leading to the most significant rainfall on the planet. In the spirit of the symbiotic relationship between the ocean and the jungle – this summer I am taking a huge leap (and hopefully a splash) into unfamiliar territory – television.

I know there is a truly interested audience out there for a show that can follow average and not-so-average Americans in their search for work. One of the hottest topics since 2008, resume building techniques and job searching tips are some of the most talked-about items in the news and on the internet.

Imagine a talk show that focuses on this very theme including: job search, negotiation skills, promotion techniques, improving communication issues in the workplace, and exposing corporate hiring practices to the world so that Joe/Jane Job Seeker can better understand what happens behind the scenes to get his or her resume to the right person and not in another incoming email pile. A potential one stop forum for people needing assistance with any and all workplace conflict resolution, career advice, interview preparation, resume writing…anything and everything relating to career development. A place where successful celebrities and business personalities from chefs, to creative entrepreneurs, to CEO’s could share their stories of success and maybe even uncover some of the things they might have done differently. A completely different category in the talk show world where you can learn how to get any job or move up in the one you have and access a personal career coach right on your computer or television.

On the heels of the release of my third book, TEN SECRETS TO GETTING PROMOTED, I put on my life jacket, fins and oxygen tank (no pun intended) and have entered the Oprah / Mark Burnett contest for my OWN show on her new network.  CAREER CONFIDENTIAL

If you share my vision, please, take time to vote…as many times as you can! …and share this link with your friends and family that could benefit from a show like this making it to a regular time slot. 

Come join me for a swim into the vast ocean of career development. YOU have the ability to help me help them (and you!), so please…link, listen, VOTE and SHARE!

Oceanic facts from:

Carolyn Thompson

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The Rainforest Rivers – Economic Indicators

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 18, 2009 in Thinking Positive

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Tropical rainforests have some of the largest rivers in the world. These mega-rivers are fed by countless smaller tributaries, streams, and creeks. Tropical streams and creeks are even more variable than tropical rivers and can change from a virtually dry river bed to a raging torrent 30 feet deep in a matter of hours during a heavy rain.

While the recent national economic news is trending positively, like more rain for the forest, each of us has a responsibility to help support our local economy.  The larger rivers of the rainforests are pretty steady through even the worst droughts, but it is the strength of the smaller rivers and streams which are the truest indicator of whether the droughts are over.  

Small businesses account for over 80% of the employers in our country.  Whether that’s a locally owned restaurant or café, a clothing boutique, a government contractor, or auto dealership, businesses in your area depend on your patronage for their survival. 

Consciously supporting small businesses in your own community is a direct path to economic recovery for everyone. 

Small Businesses:

  • -Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • -Employ about half of all private sector employees.
  • -Pay nearly 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
  • -Have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade.
  • -Create more than half of nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • -Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer workers).
  • -Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
  • -Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 28.9 percent of the known export value in FY 2006.
  • -Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

Support your local economy and help out the smaller rivers of the rainforests by investing in the small businesses.

These statistics provided by SBA about small business and its direct correlation to employment supports this –

Tropical Rainforest facts found at

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!


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Bug Bites – First Impressions in the Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 23, 2009 in Executive Coaching, Interviewing Skills, Lessons Learned, Self Improvement

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I remember my first jungle visit very well.  I was reminded of my experience for weeks with the thousands of bug bites that overran my entire body.   Little did I know that my lightly scented daily moisturizing lotion was an immediate attraction for every type of biting fly, mosquito, spider, and gnat in the entire continent of Australia.  But, I learned from that experience.  The next opportunity I had for a jungle visit, this time in Puerto Rico, I skipped the lotion and had a great visit to the rainforest canopy and floor that didn’t leave me itching for weeks.

First impressions count. 

The last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy in our office.  Lots of new jobs coming in and MANY people who have been looking for the past few months called to tell me they had gotten offers and were moving on to new positions.

As the job market begins to pick up, it’s increasingly important to mind your p’s and q’s with regards to making first impressions.  You don’t EVER get a chance to take back that first meeting.  A friend of mine, Therese Baker from Abbtech, said to me the other day: you’ll never have the same conversation with the same person twice.  It got me thinking about first impressions, so next week, I’m presenting a webinar on the subject of making a great first impression; I hope you’ll join in on the discussion register here. 

In the meantime, keep these points in mind today as you meet someone new. Whether it’s a meeting at work, an interview, or a charity event you’re attending.  You never know who you are going to meet and where that meeting might lead, so make every first impression count:

·         Be yourself, at ease, and appropriately dressed.

·         Be on time and smile. 

·         Have good posture, grooming and be confident without being cocky.

·         Make meaningful small talk-find something in common with everyone.

·         Have a confident handshake

·         Use the person’s name when you can.

One of my close personal friends today is someone that I met randomly in the hallway at work ten years ago.   Had he never stopped me to ask directions, we never would have had the exchange that we had the second time we crossed paths again later that day.  Make each conversation you have meaningful and positive.  You never know where it will lead!

For a Webinar on how to make a GREAT first impression visit:

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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Quicksand – Don’t Panic!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 1, 2009 in Executive Coaching, Job Search, Thinking Positive

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Last week, I attended a Hay Group presentation in Tysons Corner, VA where I was able to speak one-on-one with a variety of DC area Human Resources professionals.  While we all came to the event from different companies and backgrounds, we had one major commonality last week:  companies are struggling with decision making in the quicksand of our current economy. 

Hiring authorities in many fields feel they are dangling by a vine in the quicksand.  Many are scared to make too quick a decision, which may cause the sand to collapse around them, eventually smothering their career and/or the company.  Others have jobs that they just can’t locate qualified people for (like nursing and engineering) and are grasping at any and all available vines hoping candidates they find hanging there will ultimately pull them out of their understaffed situation.

The general consensus was that this analysis paralysis is the direct result of executives now being forced to bear an unlikely double burden.  Leading an organization in an uncertain economy forces them to make the best choices they can with the information they have available.  But that information is changing at the speed of light.  One day the stock market is up, one day it’s down.  One day their best client is signing a new contract, the next day the best client is being bought out. 

These leaders are struggling just like everyone else is with loss of retirement savings coupled with concerns about job security. Yet, for the good of the company, they are forced to put up a good front for the employees that report to them, making them feel safe, secure and ensuring productivity increases with fewer resources.  It’s a tough position to be in; hanging on a vine, hoping the quicksand will fill in beneath their feet, eventually buoying them above the danger back into business as usual.

According to a study published in the current issue of the journal Nature, it is impossible for a person immersed in quicksand to be drawn completely under. The fact is, quicksand is heavier than water so humans float in it. At rest, quicksand thickens with time, but it remains very sensitive to small variations in stress. At higher stresses, quicksand liquefies very quickly. The higher the stress the more fluid it becomes. This causes a trapped body to sink when it starts to move.

The problem is that we panic. We’re fearful of drowning and we do anything we can to prevent it, when, if we trusted general physics (and mother nature), we’d ultimately rise above the danger.

At the Hay Group event, I discovered most companies are still hiring, but they are inundated with applications, thus making them feel they have plenty of choices so they don’t need to be in a rush to hire someone.  Digging a little further, though, I found that the truth is that companies really are still seeing very few exceptionally qualified people in those piles of resumes.  Essentially, the inbox is full, but not with a high quality workforce, so they are unwilling to move forward until the perfect candidate surfaces.

As a job seeker, how can you rise above the quicksand to meet the executives on the vines?  For one, make sure you are only applying to positions you are qualified for.  My recent book TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB discusses creative, unique strategies for navigating the new economy and conducting a well planned job search.  You can locate those executives, just above the quicksand, that need your help.  Get your resume right in front of them before they get sucked under by the pressure around them and convince them YOU are the person they should hire.
Watch a webinar on Job searching at:

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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The Turkey – Looking Around?

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 17, 2009 in Job Search, Thinking Positive

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Let’s talk turkey here. The turkey is notable for its inflexible neck, which makes it unable to turn its head and see the diversity of a jungle. This leads me to draw the parallel from the turkey in the jungle to the recent unemployment figures released. We need to turn our necks and really evaluate what we are hearing. How does it affect us, personally?

Look at Omaha, NE as an example. I was in Omaha last week conducting a resume workshop and promoting my new books. The US Conference of Mayors and the Nebraska Workforce Coalition both showed Omaha ending 2008 at 4.1% unemployment, and have projected the rate will increase to 4.9% by the end of 2009. With an estimated workforce of 466,000, that works out to about 3,000 more people being unemployed at the end of this year as compared to last year. That’s just fewer than 300 people a month. In contrast, in the past 30 days, 1,670 jobs in Omaha were posted on Monster and Career Builder combined. 

This trend is true in a lot of cities I’ve been visiting. It was true in Las Vegas; it’s true in DC, even in Miami.  

Take this theory and apply it to the national unemployment numbers: The US Department of Labor estimates our national workforce to be 154 Million people; 12.5M of which they estimate are unemployed. Understand that it’s easy to monitor new claims filed at the unemployment offices around the country. The way the tracking works, though, creates a build in lag time as people roll off unemployment, so those numbers are not tracked as accurately, if at all. 
Those people who file for unemployment repeatedly are also falling into the new claimant statistics. This doesn’t necessarily get reported in the news lately. 

Let’s turn our necks again to jobs being advertised. On a national level, in the past 30 days, 240,000 jobs were posted on Career Builder, according to Emily Wysocki, DC area Career Builder representative. Several representatives of Monster were unwilling to participate in this survey, but my staff researched and estimates 155,000 jobs were posted in the US in the past 30 days on their job board.   

Overall, these numbers indicate the weekly availability of jobs being posted both online and on company websites in nearly every city we polled is outpacing the number of applicants filing for unemployment.

Yes, at the end of the day, more people are unemployed now than in the recent past, creating a more competitive marketplace than we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes.  But, we also have a larger workforce than we’ve ever had, so that’s not as surprising as it might seem. 

We are a service-based nation, and we are adaptable and innovative. Necessity is the mother of invention. Who’s to say that one of those unemployed people isn’t sitting in their garage as I type, having a few beers, discussing ideas with friends, and preparing them to possibly become the next Bill Gates? 

For a list of on demand webinars relating to job searching, interviewing, and resume writing visit:

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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The Crocodile – Getting Noticed And Being Prepared

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Mar 10, 2009 in Job Search

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Crocodiles prepare for and engage in the hunt for food in a methodical way. This leads to lots of overall success in the end result. You should prepare too if you want to be successful in your interview.

Crocodiles identify their prey, move in, and then attack. Once the attack is on, crocodiles do not deviate from the goal until they get their dinner. You should also identify the job you want. Have a resume that gets you noticed and then conduct your interview process full on until you have the job you really want.

Here’s how you do it…

First, make sure you have a well written, relevant resume. If you need help writing a resume, a great resource is Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume.

This book will help you to write an excellent, professional resume. Some general rules of thumb are:


  1. -Make sure your contact information is accurate.
  2. -Make sure there are no spelling errors on your resume.
  3. -Make sure your objective is in-line with, and that you are qualified for, the position that you are applying for.
  4. -Be sure that you write a little bit about what each company does underneath the company name and then list several well thought out bullet points about your job duties and accomplishments.


Second, apply for jobs that interest you and that you are qualified for. Many people apply to positions in the hope that someone will interview them even if they know you are not qualified for a job. This almost never happens, so do not waste the time of the hiring manager on the other end of the submission. 

Third, once you get an interview, be prepared. Research the company. Learn about what they do. There is a lot of good information out on the internet these days. Utilize that information. When the hiring manager asks you what you know about their company, make sure you know. Dress professionally. Shine your shoes, cut your hair, and dry-clean your suit. Show that you care about yourself and that you take yourself seriously and the hiring manager will feel the same about you.

Finally, after the interview is complete, send a thank you note or e-mail depending on timing. Be sure to do this step since many applicants do not. This will set you apart from the competition.  

More tips to getting the job you want can be found in Ten Steps to Finding the Perfect Job.


For a list of on demand webinars relating to job searching, interviewing, and resume writing visit:

Jake Hanson
Senior Associate, CMCS

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