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6 Amazing Tools to Create Perfect Digital Resumes and Portfolios

With so much competition for job placement these days, the need to stand out has never been more prevalent. A resume and cover letter simply aren't enough. Fortunately for the job seeker, the hunt for a good career can be simplified with the abundance of digital resume and portfolio platforms at our disposal.

If you're looking to add more weapons to your job hunting arsenal, here are six online tools will help you create game-changing job application documents:

LinkedIn Portfolio Feature

LinkedIn is one of the most influential and widely-used professional networking websites available today. However, a simple profile won't attract much attention anymore. Alternatively, try using the portfolio feature to showcase your skills and qualifications, including high-quality images, intriguing videos, creative presentations, and more.

Vizualize.me

Based on the data imported from your LinkedIn profile, Vizualize.me will help you create customized visual representations of your experiences and credentials. These visual aids will help flaunt your qualifications for a specific role in an informative and aesthetically pleasing way. Visualize.Me is a free resource, however, only the first 10,000 signups will have access to premium accounts.

NinjaEssays

The visual features of your digital portfolio and resume will leave a great impression, but it's still imperative to have well-written content. The certified resume writers at NinjaEssays.com can deliver top-notch, customized content to suit your career goals. Their experience with hiring managers will ensure your resume highlights your translatable skills without going overboard or sounding arrogant.

About.me

When it comes to personal branding, establishing your unique identity is critical. At About.me, you can create your own digital homepage that will present your assets, strengths and academic accomplishments. Your personal homepage will set you apart professionally by enabling you to share links to your work, your resume, professional aspirations, ideal work locations and/or digital business cards within seconds— making networking easier and more efficient than ever.

Populr.me

This online service enables you to create a one-page portfolio through a simple drag-and-drop automatic layout engine. With Populr.me, users can present their academic achievements and work experience through text, videos, photos, and documents. Users can then share their digital portfolio via email and/or social media.

Accredible

This tool is specifically designed to help users showcase their skills, knowledge and interests through portable and exportable certificates. You can create your personalized learning portfolio that will showcase your achievements. Each certificate you earn can be added to LinkedIn with a single click. Your Accredible profile can include videos, documents, photos and endorsements and can be published at any time.                                                                                                

Creating a captivating portfolio and resume before you begin your job search will better prepare you for the challenges of the highly-competitive job market. Regardless of which phase of your job search you're in, it's never too early or too late to start exploring the six tools listed above!

Friday, 10 July 2015 11:57

4 Ways To Balance Your Job Search

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Whenever I talk to job seekers who have been unsuccessfully searching for work for a long time, I often hear a common theme. These candidates have spent almost 100% of their job search time sitting behind a computer searching through online job ads. This is simply not the most effective use of your time out of the workforce.

Here are some tips for balancing your activity during your job search:

1. Make A Point To Network Every Single Week

The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," really is true. In most cases, a friend or colleague won't be able to get you a job for which you're not qualified, but they may be able to get you an interview when your resume would otherwise have been overlooked. Anything you do that involves talking to other people about your job search counts as networking, whether it's lunch with a former co-worker, coffee with a recruiter, or a formal networking event in your area.

2. Schedule Time For Follow-Ups

Whether you're inquiring about a submitted job application or following up with a colleague you met while networking, these intimidating tasks often get pushed to the back burner as you prioritize your time. Scheduling them into your weekly agenda ensures that you will set aside adequate time to close the circle with various activities that you've started.

3. Update Your Social Networking Profiles

If you've taken the time to develop your LinkedIn profile, you should be logging in at least once a week, and preferably more often. The various groups on LinkedIn offer a never-ending conversation on topics from looking for a job to news relevant to your field. Following companies allows you to discern trends related to their hiring seasons. A fully developed profile also allows recruiters and hiring managers to search for you, so keep your information as current as possible.

4. Build Your Professional Brand

The candidate who walks into a job fair or interview knowing who they are and what they can provide has a remarkable edge over a candidate who's still figuring these things out. Spend some time developing a branding statement, printing business cards for yourself, and engaging in activities that support your brand—whether that means volunteering, blogging or tweeting about your field, or consulting. When you walk into a room and say, "Hi, this is who I am and this is what I do", it makes a powerful statement.

Having a polished resume is critical to your job search. However, sending that resume off to online postings is not how you should spend 100% of your job searching time. Make sure you're interacting with other people both in person and online to maximize your chances of standing out from the crowd.

Monday, 09 September 2013 13:13

The Bronze Bullet of Job Searching

Survey after survey confirms that job boards are among the most effective ways to find a new or better job in today's tough job market. For all that success, however, there are still many job seekers who come up empty-handed when using such sites. What should they do? Learn the two secrets to putting job boards to work for you.

The first secret is based on a hard truth: no one job board can adequately connect you with the full range of employment opportunities for which you are qualified. The key to success, therefore, is to ensure you tap the full range and depth of jobs posted online that are likely to be relevant and interesting to you.

How do you do that? Use my 6:1 Method. It goes like this: 3N + 2G + 1A = 1GJ

Where:

  • 3N stands for three niche sites, one that specializes in your career field, one that specializes in your industry and one that specializes in the location where you live or want to work. If location isn't important, double up in one of the other two categories. These sites give your job search depth in the job market online.
  • 2G stands for two general purpose recruiting sites. These sites cover all or most professions, crafts and trades, industries and geographic locations. They collect employment opportunities from a broad swath of employers - large and small, local and national - so they give your job search range in the job market.
  • 1A stands for one affinity site which focuses on employment opportunities for a specific group with which you have a personal relationship. For example, it might be a job board for your professional society or trade association or your undergraduate or graduate school. These sites give you an edge over other job seekers because they are not used by the general public.
  • And, 1GJ stands for one great job - the job for which you are qualified and in which you can do your best work.


But wait, how do you know which six sites to pick? With over 100,000 employment sites now operating on the Internet, it's not easy to identify the specific ones that will work best for you. To help with your selection, therefore, I recommend that you use the insights and information of:

  • Colleagues in your field,
  • Published Guides and Directories,
  • Research librarians at your public library, and
  • Other job seekers.


Then What?

The second secret to using job boards effectively in a job search is knowing what to do with them and how best to do it. Here are three key ways to make sure these sites work for you:

  • Sign up for the site's job agent. A job agent is a software-based personal shopper for your dream job. As with human personal shoppers, however, these tools seldom provide exactly what you want on the first try. So, set your parameters as carefully as you can, and then adjust and readjust them until the job agent starts delivering exactly what you're looking for, all or most of the time.
  • Archive your resume or profile in the site's database. Not all employment sites offer such a feature, but those that do are giving you a global billboard for advertising your credentials. But, be smart about how you do it. Proof read the document after it's uploaded to make sure the technology hasn't let you down, and then, keep it up-to-date as you add to your credentials.
  • Use the site's social capabilities. Job boards invented online networking - not LinkedIn - so take advantage of the discussion forums, chats, and other social features available at these sites. And when you do, practice the Golden Rule of Networking: You have to give in order to get. Share your insights and information with others so they will want to share their knowledge and tips with you.


There is no silver bullet in today's challenging job market. Job boards, however, have established a track record of success that makes them the bronze bullet of job searching. Use them correctly and they'll add a durable strength you can count on to your job search

Thanks for Reading,
Peter
Visit me at Weddles.com

Published in Work Strong Articles

Employment branding gets a lot of coverage both at recruiting conferences and in recruiting publications. Despite the interest, however, most employers don't have an employment brand. They either can't be bothered or the brand they do create doesn't say anything memorable. As a result, they are a faceless organization, and that vacant expression becomes their image in the job market.

A strong employment brand is essential to success in the War for the Best Talent. Top performers have choices. They are almost always employed so they can stay with their current employer or they can consider a new one from among the numerous inquiries they receive on a regular basis. And, the single most important input to their assessment of the alternatives is each organization's employment brand.

Why, then, do so many organizations either lack an employment brand altogether or develop one that makes them invisible to top talent? Not surprisingly, each situation has a different cause.

The Case of the Missing Brand

Despite the constant battle for top performers in recruiting today, many employers never get around to developing a brand that will attract and engage these individuals. And yet, many of those that lack such a brand actually think they have one. They believe their organization's consumer brand is their employment brand.

Consumer brands, however, only work because buyers already know something about a product. They have experience with cars or computers or television sets, so the brand can leverage that knowledge and take shortcuts - in the form of a short phrase or tag line - to communicate an image or sense of the organization and/or its product.

Candidates, on the other hand, aren't shopping for an organization's products but rather for its employment opportunity. They've had no experience with the organization so know little or nothing about what it's like to work there. For that reason, an employment brand must be more comprehensive - in the form of a brief but descriptive statement - and communicate what the organization stands for as an employer.

Think of the difference this way: a consumer brand only has to entice a buyer, while an employment brand must educate as well as attract a prospective new hire. That's why using a consumer brand as an employment brand is the functional equivalent of not having an employment brand at all.

The Case of the Say Nothing Brand

Other employers think that they have branded themselves with the content on the career or employment page of their corporate Web-site. They believe that by describing the organization's benefits, facilities and corporate track record, they've established an employment brand that matters to top talent. They haven't.

An employment brand is not a description of the organization, but rather a window on what it's like to work for and in the organization. It is based on culture and values, to be sure, but it translates those organizational attributes into a signature statement about the unique experience it offers to the individuals who are employed there.

Why is developing such an experiential brand so important? Because research has shown that the nature of work in the organization is the #1 trigger for top talent. Sure, they want to know what the requirements and responsibilities of a job are, but whether or not they will choose to do the work will be based on the environment in which it is performed.

Top performers want to stay top performers so they look for organizations that establish the right conditions for their success. They look for an employer that provides the support, leadership, camaraderie and ethos they need to do their best work, and the first judgment they make about those conditions is based on its employment brand.

With too many open reqs to fill and too many applicants to screen, it's easy to put an employment brand on the back burner. In a highly competitive labor market, however, that brand is the single best way to reach and engage those top performers who will best contribute to an organization's success.

Thanks for reading,
Peter
Visit me at Weddles.com

Published in Work Strong Articles

The Most Unpopular Term in the Job Market For Recruiters

A.S. Byatt once opined that “Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be confined by.”  Words have meaning, of course – they convey information – but they also elicit responses – they touch nerves – that shape the perceptions of those who read them.

For that reason, the choice of words as much as their definition matters in recruitment.  In the minds of the people who visit corporate career sites and read job postings, an employer is defined as much by the words it uses as it is by the information it provides or the practices it follows.

The impression is often unintentional, but it is real and potent nevertheless.  And, one term that is now jargon to recruiters but anathema to everyone else on the planet is “job seeker.”  It says an organization views prospective employees as supplicants for work. 

The Active & Passive Interpretation

To put it bluntly, both those who are actively looking for a new job and those who are passive prospects think the term “job seeker” signals an organization that may be prejudiced against them.  After all, they read the same news reports that everyone else does – you know, the ones that report on surveys which find an unspecified number of recruiters who now view today’s job seekers as damaged goods.

Those actively in the job market may not be put off by the term – they have no choice – but to them it says the employer may well view them as Losers.  Passive prospects, on the other hand, refuse to even acknowledge that the term applies to them and avoid the organizations that use it.

If you have any doubt about that latter point, do a survey of the visitors to your corporate career site.  Ask about their employment status, and you’ll almost certainly find that the vast majority – 80 to 90 percent – are unemployed.  And, yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at any point in time, just 16 percent of the workforce is actively in transition.  In other words, your site is plumbing the depths of the small cohort of the population that has no choice and missing out altogether on the much larger cohort of people who do.

How can you redress this situation?  Not simply by using different words.  To be credible, a change in vocabulary must be more than simply a matter of semantics.  It must reflect an organization’s culture and values.

So first, change the mindset of your organization to remove any conscious or unconscious bias against any prospective hire because of their employment status.  That means ensuring a more inclusive perspective among hiring managers and receptionists as well as recruiters.

Second, change the vocabulary on your corporate career site and in your job postings to remove any impression that you view potential applicants as Losers.  To have a lasting impact on the perception of your organization’s employment brand, however, that involves more than simply replacing one word with another.

For example, you might decide to replace the term “Job Seeker” with the more respectful word “Candidate.”  Site visitors and ad readers will certainly notice the difference – it’s such a rarity among employers – but they may not understand why you’ve made the change.  So, also include a visible statement – not one hidden six clicks deep in your site – that affirms your organization’s commitment to treating everyone as a valued employment prospect.

Jargon is often criticized for its lack of clarity, but in the case of the term “job seeker,” its impact is exactly the opposite.  To active and passive candidates, it sends a clear (if unintentional) signal that the organization views them as damaged goods, and that impression, in turn, undermines the organization’s ability to recruit high caliber talent effectively.

Thanks for Reading,

Peter

Visit me at Weddles.com

Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American DreamThe Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, and WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet.  Get them at Amazon.com and Weddles.com today.

Published in Work Strong Articles
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 10:10

Understand a Resume in 6 Seconds

Resume Building Members of the human resource community are taking on more duties than ever before. With more job candidates and less time allotted for the recruitment process, HR professionals can only spend about six seconds to review one resume, according to a new study. While this may not be a lot, job seekers are starting to streamline and structure their résumés to ensure they stand out to recruiters. There are number of strategies recruiters can utilize to maximize those six seconds and find top talent.

Prioritize Relevant Information

A new study from The Ladders, a job-matching service, found HR professionals take an average of six seconds to review one résumé. According to ERE.net, four seconds are used to scan for four areas: job titles, previous employers, start/end dates and education. This narrows recruiters to only two seconds to see everything else, such as the candidate’s skill set and any compatible qualifications. The study also found recruiters spend 20 percent of the time looking for keywords that match the job description.

While many of these things are essential to performing the position’s duties, recruiters should remember to create a hierarchy of what is most important to the position. Job seekers are beginning to optimize their résumé formats for HR professionals to observe qualifications easily. Recruiters may want to consider taking one second to scan through how the candidate formatted the résumé. Doing so can provide instant insight in the job seeker’s creativity, efficiency and ability to innovate, which can show the potential for top talent. A candidate who can organize his or her résumé into a clear format may offer stronger analytical skills than their counterparts and show they are systematic.

Use the Cover Letter as a Guide

According ERE.net, only 17 percent of recruiters read cover letters. Taking the time to scan the cover letter may fall outside the six seconds recruiters allot to reading résumés, but provides information about whether the job seeker understands the position. A résumé highlights the candidate’s accomplishments and it can be easy for an applicant to embellish their experience and skill sets. Recruiters should think about reading the cover letter as a way to glean insights about how the candidate may perform on the job. It can also offer a standard that recruiters can utilize when scanning the resume. The cover letter helps HR professionals ensure they are not missing any relevant information that can aid in finding top talent.

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Joseph Azzata
Joseph J. Azzata is the founder of eCareer Holdings, Inc. From 2002 to 2010, Azzata was CEO and co-founder of Medical Connections Holdings Inc.

Published in Work Strong Articles
Friday, 28 June 2013 14:48

The Talent Within You

A terrible phenomenon has emerged in the United States since the Great Recession. I call it serial unemployment. Many of those in transition – people who are understandably anxious to get back to work – take the first job offer that comes along, only to find themselves back out on the bricks six or twelve months later looking for another job.

Why? Because the employer or the job or both didn’t match their skills, their values or their talent. Now, everybody recognizes the potential downside of the first two, but it is the mismatch with your talent that is most harmful. It more than anything else causes serial unemployment.

Why? Because when you’re not employed at your talent, two bad outcomes occur. First, you aren’t able to perform at your peak. And second, you feel dissatisfied at work. You contribute less to your employer than it deserves, and you give away one of the rights you deserve as an American – the pursuit of Happiness.

What Makes Someone Happy at Work?

You are going to spend one-third of your life on-the-job. While some believe that’s the penance you must pay for the enjoyment you get after work, recent research has found exactly the opposite to be true.

We now know that work is the single best place to be engaged with meaningful challenges. No less important, when you’re employed at that kind of work, you achieve two positive outcomes. You perform at your peak and you feel happy doing so.

The only work that will engage and challenge you, however, is work that requires you to use your talent. That presupposes that you have one, and in our culture, talent is not generally seen as a democratic attribute.

If you watch TV, for example, talent is winning a dance contest or the Super Bowl. In other words, it is the province of special people doing special things. We recognize the talent of Lady GaGa and Joe Flacco, but not the talent of a city bus driver or an accounts payable clerk or a customer service representative.

Why is that?

It all begins in elementary school when we give our kids an IQ test and, based on the results, designate a small number of them as “gifted and talent.’ By definition, then, all of the other kids are “ungifted and untalented.”

Now, of course, we want to take care of those youngsters who are academically more able, but we have to do so without telling every other child that they were at the end of the line when talent was handed out. Because nothing could be further from the truth.

The Mystery of Talent

You see, talent isn’t a skill, an occupation or an achievement. Talent isn’t the ability to hit a baseball over some fence or to act in the movies or on the stage. Talent is the capacity for excellence. And happily, it is an attribute of our species.

All of you reading this column as well as your spouse or partner, your kids and grandkids, your siblings and parents – every single one of you – has been endowed with the gift of excellence. Like our opposable thumb, it is a characteristic that defines being human.

The tragedy is that most of us don’t know what our talent is. Just a few lucky people are born with that knowledge. They’re the ones who say they have a “calling.” The rest of us can only discover our talent if we make the effort to do so.

It might be the ability to communicate technical subjects so everybody can understand them. Or, to disaggregate complex problems into smaller, more manageable tasks. It might be the ability to empathize and show compassion to others who are struggling or ill. Or, to organize a group of disparate individuals and get them to function as a team.

Such a talent resides quietly within you; you just have to take the time to make its acquaintance. Now, some will tell you that talent is your passion. It’s what you love to do. That’s nonsense. I’m passionate about golf, and Tiger Woods has nothing to worry about from me.

No, talent is what enables you to excel at work. So, it is the intersection of passion and practicality. It is what you love to do AND do best. I’ll show you how to find that intersection in my next column.

Thanks for reading,

Peter

Visit me at Weddles.com

__
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, and WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Get them at Amazon.com and Weddles.com today.

Published in Work Strong Articles
Thursday, 30 May 2013 11:14

Job Postings That Seduce Top Talent

Why are these rules so important?  Because passive, high caliber candidates are different from everyone else in the workforce.  They are almost always employed.  In order to recruit them, therefore, you have to convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change.  Your ad has to convince them to go from the devil they know – their current employer, boss and commute – to the devil they don’t know – a new employer, a different boss and an unfamiliar commute.

Rule #1:  Turn Titles into Magnets

Job postings are not position descriptions; they are electronic sales brochures.  Their purpose is to sell top candidates on the opportunity inherent in an opening.  That can’t happen, however, unless they are attracted to an opening and intrigued enough to pause and read it.  So, give your job posting titles a magnetic pull by using the three most important triggers to action among passive prospects, separating each with a dash:
◾Location – top talent want to work where they live so begin the title with the postal code abbreviation (e.g., CT) for the state in which the opening is located:
◾Skill – top talent want to see themselves in the job, not some HR job title (e.g., Programmer III) so next add the skill (e.g., C++ Programmer) they use to describe the work they do;
◾Sizzle – top talent are herd animals so ask the top performers in your organization why they came to work there and use that factor as the concluding element in your title.

So, here’s how a good title  might look: CT – C++ Programmer – Great team with a unique project

Rule #2: Develop Content for Them, Not You

Requirements and responsibilities are words only recruiters could love.  They say absolutely nothing important to top talent.  Those prospects are interested in the same information, but they want it presented in a way that indicates “what’s in it for them.”  So, describe your opening by answering five questions:
◾What will they get to do?
◾What will they get to learn?
◾What will they get to accomplish?
◾With whom will they get to work?
◾How will they be recognized and rewarded?

Rule #3: Sell First, Explain Later

Passive candidates have the attention span of a gnat, so it’s critical that you lead with your strength when composing your ad.  In effect, you have to convince them to read on before you can convince them your opening is right for them.  So, begin every job posting with an enticement – a hard-hitting summary of why the position is a rare and extraordinary opportunity.  First, tell them why it’s a dream job with a dream employer and then provide the details of “what’s in it for them.”

Rule #4: Use a Format That Gnats Would Like

Given the short attention span of passive candidates, you have to make your message accessible in the blink of an eye.  These candidates aren’t looking for a job so they simply aren’t going to plow through the thick, pithy paragraphs of a typical job posting.  The most they will do is scan your content so make it easy for them to do so.  Replace your prose with headlines and bullets, so they can quickly get an accurate picture of the position and decide if it’s right for them.

Rule #5: Get Them to Act Even if They Don’t Apply

Writing a job posting for passive, high caliber candidates is an investment of your time and talent, so make sure you derive a meaningful return on that effort.  The optimal response, of course, is an application, but if that doesn’t happen, make sure you have a fallback.  Offer them two additional ways to act on your opportunity: give them the ability to refer the opening to a friend or colleague (because top talent know other top talent) and invite them to join your network of contacts so you can keep them informed of other openings in the future.

Unfortunately, most job postings today are a modern medical miracle.  They are a cure for insomnia in 500 words or less.  To avoid that outcome, write your job postings using the five rules for seducing top talent.  They’ll be much more likely to fall for your opening if you do.

Thanks for reading, Peter Weddle

Published in Weddles Articles
Friday, 22 January 2010 21:04

Letter From The Founder

Why Should You Use ApartmentCareers.Com?

ApartmentCareers is the Industry Leader!

ApartmentCareers.Com was founded in 1998 by apartment industry professionals with over 40 years of experience in staffing for the apartment industry!  Today, we are the leading provider of online recruiting services to employers and registered job seekers in all 50 states in the apartment and property management industry.

NAA Uses ApartmentCareers!

In January 2003, ApartmentCareers became the exclusive provider of Career Center technology to the National Apartment Association.  The National Apartment Association Education Institute launched their career portal, ApartmentCareerHQ.Org, in January of 2008 with ApartmentCareers powering the career center and providing content for employers and job seekers.

Social Media and Job Distribution

ApartmentCareers.Com was the first industry specific job board to introduce a job distribution network, social media job advertising, job seeker and employer resources, and the only industry specific job board supporting local, state and national programs to promote the industry as a career path.  ApartmentCareers.Com is a Sustaining Sponsor of the Texas Apartment Association Education Foundation and helped underwrite a 15 minute video about careers in the industry titled "Home Sweet Home."  In addition, ApartmentCareers was part of the original fund raising for the "Invest in the Profession" campaign for the National Apartment Association Education Institute.

The Future

We are excited to be in our 14th Year of Operations! ApartmentCareers and our career network continue to set the standard for the industry and add value  for the end users of our products and services.

ApartmentCareers has the largest database of registered job seekers in the industry with over 100,000 property management specific job applicants!

As always, I want to hear from you about ways we can improve our service and the overall experience for employers and job seekers.  If there is anything about your experience you would like to share, please call or email me directly.

Thank you for your support !

John Cullens
Founder and President

Published in Admin and Utilities
Thursday, 30 July 2009 11:43

Interview Questions

Answers to Common Interview Questions

Your ability to quickly and confidently answer tough interview questions is a key factor in the overall impression you will make on potential employers. To ensure you are as prepared as possible, look through the questions and advice below so you can formulate your own brief, yet informative answers. If you are nervous about remembering your answers during the interview, you should write your answers down and practice speaking them aloud.

"Tell me about yourself."

This question calls for a short, organized statement of your education, professional achievements and professional goals. Then, you can briefly describe your qualifications for the job and the contributions you could make to the organization.

"Why do you want to work here?" or "What about our company interests you?"

Few questions are more important than these, so it is important to answer them clearly and with enthusiasm. To show the interviewer your interest in the company, share what you have learned about the job, the company and the industry through your own research. You should also talk about how your professional skills will match up to the position and your personal career ambitions. Do not mention the position's salary or any benefits. That could leave the interviewer wondering if you really care about the job.

"Why did you leave your last job?"

The interviewer may want to know if you had any problems at your last job. If you did not have any problems, simply give a reason, such as: you relocated away from job; the company went out of business; you were laid off; it was a temporary or contract position; there was no possibility of advancement; you want a job better suited to your skills.

If you did have problems, be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had (or still have) with an employer, but make sure you don't describe that employer in negative terms. Demonstrate that it was a learning experience that will not affect your future work.

"What are your strongest skills?"

If you have sufficiently researched the organization, you should be able to imagine what skills and experience the company values. List them, and then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills in past jobs. Some great skills that apply to all jobs include: communication and writing skills, being detail oriented, being a self-starter, etc.

"What is your major weakness?"

Be positive and turn a weakness into a strength for this answer. For example, you might say, "I am a perfectionist and often worry too much over my work. Sometimes I work late to make sure the job is done well."

"Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?"

The ideal answer is one centered around flexibility. However, be honest. Give examples describing how you have worked well in both situations.

"What are your career goals?" or "What are your future plans?"

The answer to this question can tell the interviewer whether your plans and the company's goals are compatible. Let him/her know that you are ambitious enough to plan ahead. Talk about your desire to learn more and improve your performance, and be as specific as possible about how you will meet the goals you have set for yourself.

"What are your hobbies?" and "Do you play any sports?"

When this question is asked, the interviewer is looking for evidence of your job skills outside of your professional experience. For example, hobbies such as chess or bridge demonstrate analytical skills. Reading, music, and painting are creative hobbies. Individual sports show determination and stamina, while group sport activities may indicate you are comfortable working as part of a team.

An interviewer might also ask this question if he/she is simply curious as to whether you have a life outside of work. Employees who have creative or athletic outlets for their stress are often healthier, happier and more productive.

"What salary are you expecting?"

You probably don't want to answer this question directly. Instead, deflect the question back to the interviewer by saying something like: "I don't know. What are you planning to pay the best candidate?" Let the employer make the first offer.

If you don't know what the current salary range is for the positions you are applying to, you should find out so you are prepared to negotiate when the time comes. You can find salary surveys at the library or on the Internet, and check the classifieds to see what comparable jobs in your area are paying. This information can help you negotiate compensation once the employer makes an offer.

"What have I forgotten to ask?"

Use your answer to this question to summarize your unique characteristics and attributes and how they may be used to benefit the organization. Convince the interviewer that you understand the job requirements and that you can succeed.

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