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The last time you applied for a job, did you get it?



Some people find it easy to apply for jobs while some dread the experience totally. In any recession, when jobs are much harder to find, applying for a job becomes worse because far more people are competing for scare positions. If you are already in a job that you like, no problems. But having to change your situation and actually focus on a new application, especially if you are unhappy and lack the confidence, is never easy.

So when was the last time you applied for a new position?

Did you get it? If not, what were the main reasons you thought held you back?

You can never please all the interviewers you might see but by sincerely and throughly going through the main reasons why you might not have got the job can only help you to get the next one.

The SIX elements to check are:

1. CV or Resume

2. Your qualifications and experience: do they match the post?

3. Your dress/attire (how do you look inside their company? One of the team or way out?

4. Your attitude (are you confident, fearful or arrogant?)

5. Your reasons for wanting the job which might not have matched theirs.

6. The way you answered the questions.

You are more likely to find your answers among those. For example, if your main reason is just money, when they are seeking a committed person who will want to develop the position, they would not think you were suitable.

However, be aware that sometimes when you don't get the job it is a good thing. After all, you might have taken it out of desperation, yet be terribly unhappy in it. So not every let down is a bad one. It's just that our ego sometimes get in the way of appreciating that simple fact!

Five main reasons why some people continually fail job interviews



As a professional seeking to establish your career, do you find yourself going to job interviews and getting the same disheartening results? Do you see yourself as more of a 'failure' than other people and are wondering where you are going wrong? Well, there are five major reasons why some people keep on doing badly in interviews and it depends on which ones among them might be affecting you most.

1. A lack of SELF-BELIEF. If you don't believe you will get the job, I would stop right there. Pointless going to the interview. It's like having a big sign on your chest saying "Don't hire me. I am useless!" When you lack self belief, you lack faith and determination as well, so why should someone choose you above another person who clearly thinks they are best for the job? If you don't think you are suitable, that you are just what they are seeking, who on earth will think you are? It's like asking the company to accept what you readily reject: You!

To have someone put their faith in you, YOU have to start with faith in yourself. You have to genuinely believe you can add something to that organisation and show what it is. If you cannot do that, you would be wrong for the position as you would only end up feeling overwhelmed, taking from the company but giving very little back. In simple terms, self-belief generates the CONFIDENCE to put yourself across, and, without that, you start at a disadvantage. A simple way to boost self-belief is to LIST up to 10 things you can offer that job, how you could make a real difference. It is very empowering seeing it in print and you would also be ready with your answers.

2. SEEKING APPROVAL. We underestimate how much we seek approval when we go to interviews. We are so desperate to be liked, and to be given a job, we will say anything to an employer, hoping that is what they want to hear, never mind that it doesn't really match with our personality or aspirations! When you can go to an interview and genuinely don't care whether you get the job or not, you will be half way to getting what you really want because you will say only the things that matter to you, and show the things you truly value. In this way, you will shine above the rest because you are simply being you. And by being you, the employer will be able to make a clearer choice as to whether you share anything with them and will fit into their environment or not.

3. Not doing your HOMEWORK. What is the point of being interviewed by a company that you know nothing about? How will you decide how you can contribute to its growth or what you will gain from it? The minute you are asked to attend an interview, you need to research on the organisation's history, service, products, ethos, reputation, conditions and potential. Identify the areas in which you could make a difference and where you would be most comfortable. Highlight the things you definitely align with and what you don't, so you can test your levels of comfort working for them. What will YOU get from them, and how? At least when they reach the crucial part about: Do you have any questions to ask us? You'll be ready with a file full to show your understanding of their objectives and agenda.

4. Choosing the WRONG EMPLOYER. Often, because we are so desperately seeking a job, we come to believe that any job will do. But when we are doing something for spurious or superficial reasons it will soon be out. It can be spotted a mile by the interviewers. For example, what is the point of applying for a job in the Army, just because they give a cash advance, if you hate taking orders from anyone. Sooner or later you will come unstuck. You can apply for any job you see, but only attend interviews for the jobs you REALLY care about and are sure you can do. In that way you will prepare for it to the best of your ability and you're more likely to be successful. You can always change your career field. But you have to show that, despite your lack of experience, you could offer a lot more to the role than expected. So don't be afraid of going after any job in the world. Just be SURE that's the one you really want when you make the time to attend the interview.

5. Not taking the INTERVIEW seriously enough. Sometimes we become punch-drunk with interviewing, if we have been on too many, using one employer to judge another, or become demoralised by not being selected. Either way, it can tempt us to just go through the motions. That is not advisable. You cannot please everyone so don't go into too much soul searching after every interview, especially if all five of these elements are in place. Just keep reminding yourself that the right job for you WILL come along. As long as you are prepared emotionally and physically, and do your best, it will happen. But the minute you become resigned or lose that self-belief, you are really lost. Try to keep your spirits up by going on training courses, talking to friends, taking encouragement from those who matter to you. And just keep at it. You do get there in the end if you have that faith, the patience and determination to succeed.

Elements of an Effective Resumé



An effective resume is no rocket science. It is a mini-life story, in no more than two pages, to give a flavour of the person you are, in a concise manner, and without too many boring details. For that reason, it would have up to eight brief sections, like modules, outlining the major aspects of your working life. It can be adapted to suit any age or experience by just removing the sections that are inappropriate or irrelevant. The key sections are listed below in order of priority.

1. Education and Qualifications

After your basic details (name, address, etc.) this should be the first section. Immediately the employer can see whether you are qualified for the job, which college you attended, your various activities and how well you did in your exams.

2. Experience

Your current, or most recent, jobs should be listed, especially the ones that are most relevant to the post you are applying for. Make sure you show progress, promotion, movement of any kind within your jobs, focusing on the nature of your duties, your responsibilities and achievements within them.

3. Skills and Training

List all the main skills you have demonstrated in your career so far, like being an organiser, communicator, team leader, data processor, or whatever they are. Also mention any recent training you've had that particularly suits the new post. This section perhaps needs to be tailored to suit each job application. If you can show that you are keeping up with the trends through regular training, even better. In our technological world, skills become rapidly out-of-date so it is very important to look as though you are on the ball when it comes to your field. Dropping in a few of the current buzzwords won't do any harm so long as it isn't overdone.

4. Reasons for Applying (this section could also be removed altogether and put in a covering letter)

Your main reasons, up to three, why you are interested in the job.

a. How it suits you: State how it aligns with your skills, it would offer you greater challenge, a step up the ladder or would enhance your current knowledge. Anything at all that goes with your particular experience and aspirations.

b. What you can contribute: Most important, you should add what you hope you can do for the company. Organisations are not just there to provide a salary. They are there to establish a presence, build a reputation and make a profit. Some, like Google, are also there to be innovative. If you can enhance the new employer in any of those aspects, to help build them rather than just take from them, you are more likely to be hired. Find out what their main goals are beforehand and mention at least one you would be able to help with.

c. What you hope to get in return: You should also mention the rewards you hope for in return (like pay, perks, conditions, working with a market leader, greater personal development and the opportunity to put your expertise into practice). Stress your loyalty, reliability and determination which you would expect to be recognised.

5. Personality

Give a flavour of the kind of person you are, your interests, likes and strengths, using some choice words to describe you like dynamic, dependable, resilient, forward thinker, etc. Stress those positive bits and avoid the negatives. You may add just one thing that you truly don't like doing etc., to show that you are human after all! It doesn't matter if it goes against you. If you really dislike doing it, and are rejected for it, you would have been in the wrong company anyway.

6. Honours and Awards

This should include every special honour or distinction you have received since college days, no matter what it is. It should also have any particular achievements you got in your jobs so far. These will show your initiative, potential and attainments so far in your career. If you have a lot, list them and be prepared to explain them at the interview.

By giving a flavour of yourself in the resume, yet concentrating on what is relevant to the new job, you would have given enough information for the additional questions they would be asking you at the interview. It would also be presented clearly, concisely and in an interesting manner. A resume is not about including as much as possible for them to read. It is mainly aout raising the employers' interest enough to want to find out more for themselves in their own way.

Are you having difficulty getting your point across? Why your communication might be failing you



Whenever we observe behaviour, listen to someone speak or gather information, we draw conclusions. If we interpret (conclude) correctly, we are likely to respond reasonably and almost to expectation. If we conclude incorrectly, our response may be negative, undeserved or received in a way we did not envisage, as in when others act aggressively in 'reasonable' situations.

This is because our reality is dictated by personal perception and our perception is noticeable through communication, which is the most important tool anyone has at their disposal to interact with others. That's the way we indicate how we feel about ourselves and our circumstances. It is through communication that we are also judged. People cannot judge us on our perception or intent because that is in our subconscious, which is not visible to the naked eye. But they can easily judge us on our words and actions which demonstrate that perception.

As each of us is unlikely to perceive as another does, often our communication is not as straightforward as we hope. There are two important issues operating there.

The first is that communication always involves interpretation: trying to clarify what is being said to judge whether it aligns with how we feel and perceive and therefore acceptable to us. Without interpreting it in ways we can understand and appreciate, especially if the communication is across cultural and gender lines, it will not be as comfortable, valuable or meaningful to our perception.

Second, because we base our interpretations on individual values, beliefs and experiences, we are likely to interpret incorrectly and against expectation. This of course helps to cause bad feelings all round, especially in status, gender or culture-sensitive situations, where there is some difference or inequality. The only way to avoid such pitfalls is through feedback. A kind of reality check that takes only a few seconds. It takes effort, sensitivity and patience to allow feedback but it is worth the time spent to improve communication, to reduce assumptions, to clarify the issues and reduce conflict.

Good feedback questions could be:

"Did that make sense to you?"

"What did you understand by my statement?"
"What was it about my statement which offended/upset you?"

"Are you happy with my view of the situation?"

"I accept your perception, but have you thought of this approach/alternative?"

Any of those questions will diffuse any potential problem and demonstrate a willingness to be agreeable and empathetic, while eliciting useful information in return.

Effective, accurate communication can be used to either reinforce a positive perception or change a negative one. It is also the key to resolving conflict in relationships, whether spouse to spouse or parent to child, but perceptions have to be recognised before any attempt to move forward.

The bottom line is: You may have the best intentions and a genuine concern for your spouse, your children and your friends, or for the welfare of your employees, but if you do not communicate this in a manner they can understand or appreciate, one that is relevant and meaningful to them, their perceptions may be just the opposite of your intention.

To begin with, one has to identify what each expects to gain from the effort because we communicate expectations to partners and children through tone of voice, facial expressions, touch and posture. These signals are not always clear-cut, especially when written, and can make the situation ambiguous. Our expectations will help or hinder the development of those we care about by influencing their self-perception. For example, a child usually lives up to the expectations of the parents, which then influences the child's self-esteem. Thus anything we believe about ourselves or someone else does affect our behaviour.

If your communication is failing, in that you are not getting the results or outcome that you expected, it could have a lot to do with how you are being perceived by the recipient or how your words and actions are being interpreted by them. There would be a blockage somewhere and only by requesting feedback of what they perceive of you will you be able to identify where the problem might lie or what interpretation is blocking the communication.

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How to write a resumé when you are in college



When you are in college it can be rather daunting writing a resume for a potential employer, especially one who likes to see some kind of experience, yet you have none! But if you have no experience, how do you get any, especially if you get no job? The classic chicken and egg situation. This is usually a fraught and worrying time for under-graduates. All college graduates begin with a disadvantage on one hand (lack of experience) but a great advantage on the other (their degree) and a brand new work history waiting to be built. So nothing to fear about getting hired. Just go for it and push yourself forward in a simple resume.

Your resume should be one page only, easy to read, concise and clear and in a medium sized font. Make sure it is done by word processor and neatly typed, with few grammatical or spelling errors, and preferably with none. The main aim is for it to be easily scanned with the key information almost leaping out at the reader. Your name and contact information should be clearly stated at the top, including email and phone details. This should be followed by your new qualifications and your degree pass level (including GPA), your college/university and your objectives. List also your expected graduation date, followed by what you aim to do with your degree, and how this job would help you to achieve that.

Next section should be a summary of your key achievements/accomplishments in your life so far, perhaps up to four, including any responsibilities or sports accolades. This should be followed by any summer jobs you did, or any other kind of job, for that matter, which might be relevant to your application. Make sure you show that you are well clued up on the industry trends, buzzwords and key concepts. Show why you would be suitable and what you are bringing with you by way of acquired knowledge, training and skills already.

Finally, have a section on your extra-curricular activities, or anything else you did at college, which show the kind of person you are, how active you were in college life, what responsibilities you had and how your worked with others. For example, if you edited the college magazine, this would be the ideal place to put it. If you still have space, a brief mention of your high school and key achievements there could also be included. Don't waffle, don't pad it and be as focused as you can in what you are seeking.

Good Spelling: Does It Make A Difference?



Q. Does spelling play any part in the discussions you choose to respond to? I hate to say it, but I'll be honest; if I see a discussion that the title interests me, but then I find the discussion details to be full of spelling errors or bad syntax, I will usually bypass that discussion. What about you?

A. Spelling, syntax, grammar etc., do make a difference, especially in job applications where one is trying to impress. But on international sites like these, one cannot be too picky. There are people trying to write in English which is not their first language, and which I admire, because I cannot speak another language properly. There will be mistakes, but at least they are trying. There is also the British vs American spelling of certain words which will always be a contention. So I tend not to let spelling and those superficial things get in the way of my appreciation of what others write. Otherwise it becomes a very narrow existence of only reading certain entries that seem 'perfect', but might have poor content, while some excellent points are missed in the ones with bad spellings.

Yes, one cannot argue that a well presented posting is far more attractive than the error-ridden ones. But we are all here to learn and share and, personally, I prefer to both learn and teach than to judge, so that we can all benefit from the process in the end. This kind of public writing is new to many people who are trying their best. I wouldn't make it more difficult for them by judging them too harshly because I know that, for the really keen and earnest ones, their own gradual practice will make them perfect in the end.

It is very easy for some people to concentrate on form over content and miss the key elements of a piece, but it is not just the structure of writing which gives it its appeal. It is mainly the content. I have seen some beautifully written prose which have been as boring as hell and did nothing to impact on me, yet have also read some wonderful material which was flawed in presentation but highly informative and engaging in content.

That's what writing should do: make us think, draw us in discussion and make us want to contribute our own bit in the process. Not just there to please the eye with correct form and very little else.

To what extent is a person judged by his or her appearance?



A person is ALWAYS judged by his/her appearance because clothes are not just a matter of choice. Clothes represent a particular statement about fashion; they represent cultural preferences and personal choices; they mark someone as belonging to a certain type, group or community and they are very prominent in indicating the kind of taste that person has in wearing a particular thing.

Clothes also immediately point to whether one is 'in' or 'out' with the people who look at them. For example, if you go for an interview and your wear a kaftan while everyone around you is wearing a suit, that might suggest to the interviewers that you are a more casual kind of person, more laid back than the type they might wish to work for them, or that you hold cultural dress very highly. It could cost you that job in a place where they value conformity and 'fitting in'.

So appearance is the biggest indicator of who we are, what we value, the fashion trends we follow and how we wish to be seen and treated; the groups we wish to align with and how we value ourselves. Without saying a word, we already give strong messages about us by our appearance and so people are always judged by it, in a short-cut kind of assessment, whether they like it or not.

6 Key Reasons Why Writing an Interview Thank-You Letter is Important



Many people are so worried about how they have performed at an interview, they are likely to forget to write a thank you letter or to consider that it is not really important. But the interview thank you letter could turn out to be very useful, especially where two interviewees might be in a tie situation and need something else to separate them.

There are six main reasons for writing an interview thank you letter.

1. To show some appreciation for the employer's interest in you and the time they have devoted to you.
Many people would have applied for that position and you have been selected. That shows appreciation for your talents, your potential and what you might have to offer them. They felt you deserved their time and resources over others. That is a big compliment to you. Give something back in return rather than take it for granted.

2. A kind of review and reminder to the employer about your qualifications for the position. If you genuinely forgot something to mention at the interview, this is the time to add it, or to briefly elaborate on it, especially in the form of: "I hope I am successful as I am looking forward to putting the skills gained through my new management certificate on the new project that was mentioned." That helps to keep the focus on your skills and suitability for the post.

3. It allows you to follow up with any requested information at the interview. Whatever else you might have been asked to provide, this would be the time to legitimately include it.

4. Demonstrate that you have good manners, great interaction skills and know to write a thank-you letter. The simple letter not only serves a purpose in showing courtesy, it also shows your ability to communicate and the way you would interact with others in a friendly supportive way, by going that extra length. Not many other interviewees would have remembered such a letter so that would put extra emphasis on your application.

5. To reaffirm your interest in the position and in the organization. By reinforcing your personal interest in the position, you show your keenness and enthusiasm and keep the focus on you. You also cement an impression that the interview was not the only thing you were interested in, that you genuinely would like to be part of the establishment.

6. It keeps attention on your performance and input long after the others might have been forgotten. Everyone likes praise and appreciation, no matter who they are. When an employer is thanked for their time and resources, it helps them to feel that the exercise was worthwhile.

While you might be fretting about your performance and the impact you might have made, write a thank you letter as well, send it out, leave it in the lap of the gods and stop worrying. You could be surprised by the result!

Communicating Effectively: How important is eye-contact in social interaction?



Taken on its own merits, the importance of eye contact is actually a cultural thing and can even cause some grave misunderstandings between cultures. Though it is expected in the main Western societies, like USA and the UK, as something which suggests integrity, sincerity and a kind of 'window to the soul', in many African, West Indian and Indian nations, eye contact is actually offensive, particularly where one person is trying to impress another, where one is older than the other and is considered wiser, more experienced and demanding of respect, where the situation is dictated by status and rank, as in a workplace relationship, and where the context involves a parent and a child. In short, in these communities, wherever the interaction has some social imbalance, eye contact is not encouraged.

If I were ever to look my mother in the eye when she was reprimanding me as a child, or to look my teacher directly in the face at any time, I would have been boxed round the ear for being cheeky and disrespectful. That was well understood in our society. But I had to learn differently when I emigrated to England and learnt the hard way that there were certain stereotypic, negative assumptions around me averting my gaze.

This cultural mismatch, of course, presents a major dilemma nowadays for people like me who are actually in Western settings, especially those seeking a job and being interviewed. They believe they are showing full respect by averting their eyes, looking downwards, and only looking up when they think it is appropriate. Yet those actions are likely to be construed by interviewers as sure signs of 'being shifty', 'insincere' and 'untrustworthy', immediately depriving them of a position for which they might be suitable.

The problem with such cultural misinterpretations is that there is no communication at all in these situations. The anticipated communication of reading a person through the warmth of their eyes, the power of their gaze and the direct nature of their focus is blocked by the cultural confusion of the actual translation of the absence of eye contact. Ipso facto, both parties to the interview will get the wrong signal as to why the interviewee was not suitable.

Conflicting cultural norms thus produce no winners, because, in effect, no real communication has actually taken place. We can only communicate when we understand and appreciate one another. When that happens, eye contact then comes into its own as an essential part of the communication process.

Is eye-contact a problem for you?